Portuguese Proverbs

É de pequenino que se torce o pepino.

“It’s when it’s small that the cucumber gets warped.”

  • Meaning: Bad habits acquired during early life last long; children should learn moral habits from a tender age.
  • Ganho, Ana Sofia; McGovern, Timothy Michael (2004). Using Portuguese: A Guide to Contemporary Usage. Cambridge University Press. p. 89.

A necessidade não tem lei, mas a da fome sobre todas pode.

“Necessity has no law.”

  • English equivalent: idem.
  • Mawr, E.B. (1885). Analogous Proverbs in Ten Languages. p. 60.

Muita palha e pouco grão.

“Much ado about nothing.”

  • English equivalent: Much bran and little meal.
  • Strauss, Emanuel (1994). “178”. Dictionary of European Proverbs. II. Routledge. p. 173. 

Quem não arrisca não petisca.

“He who doesn’t take a chance won’t nibble.”

  • Meaning: If you don’t try, or take the risk, you can’t have any profit.
  • English Equivalent: Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
  • Taylor, Martin (1970). A Portuguese-English dictionary: revised. University Press. p. 72.

The Proverbs of Alfred XIV

‘Thus said Alfred: “You must never choose your wife by her looks, and never for anything that she brings to you. But learn to know her behaviour – she will show that very quickly! For many a man because of wealth calculates amiss, and often a man chooses as one who is beautiful one is vile. Woeful is he who brings an evil wife to his dwelling; so too is it for him in his life who marries badly, for he shall be miserable on the earth. Many a man sings who brings home a wife; if he knew what he brought, he might well weep.”

(ca. 1150-75)’

– Dunn. C.W., Byrnes. E.T. 1973. Middle English Literature New York, United States: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich (1973) p. 43

Greek Proverbs

Κόρακας κοράκου μάτι δε βγάζει

“The crow does not take the eye out of another crow.”

  • Meaning: People who are the same do not hurt each other.
  • English equivalent: Hawks will not pick out Hawk’s eyes.
  • Shqiptaro-Greke (1999). Albanohellenica. Albanian-Greek Philological Association. p. 22.

Η γλώσσα κόκαλα δεν έχει, αλλά κόκαλα τσακίζει.

“The tongue has no bones, yet it crushes bones.”

  • English equivalent: The pen is mightier than the sword.
  • Venizelos (1867). Paroimiai dēmōdeis. Ek tou typographeiou tēs “Patridos”. p. 95.

Καλή ζωή, κακή διαθήκη

“Good life, bad testament.”

  • Implying that most likely, you will leave little in your will by living a good life.
  • Chakkas (1978). Hapanta. Kedros.

Ο πνιγμένος, από τα μαλλιά του πιάνεται

“The drowning man grips to his own hair.”‘

  • Meaning: A person in a desperate situation will try the most desperate measures.
  • English equivalent: A drowning man will clutch at a straw.
  • Κριαρας (2007). Αλλελωγραφιαδυο:. ΕκδοσειςΠολυτυπο. p. 33.