Basque proverbs

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The Basque language (called Euskara by the Basque language speakers or Basques themselves) is the oldest language in Europe, the only non Indo-European language that survived after the administration of the Roman Empire spread throughout Europe. It is spoken by about one million people in the seven provinces of the Euskal Herria, that is, in North East Spain and South West France. No relationship between Basque and any other language has been established with certainty. The alphabet used for Basque employs Roman letters. The first printed book in Basque appeared in the 16th century. Basque is both agglutinative and polysynthetic.

A[edit]

  • A zer parea! Karakola eta barea![1]
    • Translation: Oh, what a pair! A snail and a slug!


  • Abadearen lapikoa, txikia baina gozoa.[1]
    • Translation: The priest's pot is small but tasty.
    • CLERGY, FOOD
    • LAZINESS, WORK
  • Aberats izatea baino, izen ona hobe.
    • Translation: It's better to have a good name than to be rich.
    • English equivalent: A good name is the best treasure.
    • Source: Aske, (1994) p. 2
  • Adiskidegabeko bizitza, auzogabeko heriotza.[1]
    • Translation: Life without friends means death without neighbors.


  • Aditu nahi ez duenak, ez du esan behar.[1]
    • Translation: He who doesn't want to hear, shouldn't say.


  • Alferkeria, askoren ondamendia.
    • Translation: Laziness leads many people astray.
    • Latin equivalent: Ignavum fortuna repugnat.
      • Translation: Fortune disdains the lazy.
    • Meaning: Laziness deceives wisdom.
    • Source: Aske, (1994) p. 2
    • WEALTH, REPUTATION
    • LAZINESS
  • Adiskide onekin, orduak labur.[1]
    • Translation: With a good friend the hours are short.
  • Agindua zorra, esan ohi da.[1]
    • Translation: A promise is a debt, it's always been said.
  • Aita biltzaileari, seme hondatzaile.[1]
    • Translation: A thrifty father begets a squandering son.
    • FAMILY, DIFFERENCES, FATHERS, SONS
  • Aita ongi eginkari (xarakiten zau) seme berartrakari.
    • Translation: A father doing good things will have a similar son.
    • English equivalent: Like father, like son.
    • Meaning: Sons may look and behave like their fathers. This is due to inheritance and the example observed closely and daily.
    • Source for meaning and proverbs: Paczolay, Gyula (1997). European Proverbs in 55 languages. DeProverbio.com. p. 170. ISBN 1-875943-44-7. 
  • Alferrak, beti lanez beterik.[1]
    • Translation: Lazy people are always busy.
    • English equivalent: Busy people have the most spare time.
    • FRIENDSHIP, TIME
    • LAZINESS
  • Alferrarendako lanik ez, eta astirik ez.[1]
    • Translation: The lazy person has no work and has no time.
    • FRIENDSHIP, DEATH, LIFE, LONELINESS
    • LAZINESS, TIME
  • Alferrarentzat jana eta langilearentzat lana, ez da inoiz faltako.[1]
    • Translation: There is never a lack of food for the lazy person, nor of work for the industrious.
    • TALKING
    • LAZINESS, WORK, FOOD
  • Aditzaile onari, hitz gutxi.[1]
    • Translation: A good listener needs few words.
  • Alferrik da, ura joan eta gero, presa egitea.[1]
    • Translation: It is useless, once the water is gone, to hurry.
    • TALKING, CONVERSATION
    • OPPORTUNITIES, TIMING
  • Amari egindako zorrak ez dira inoiz ordaintzen.[1]
    • Translation: The debts made to one's mother are never paid.
    • DEBT, PROMISES
    • MOTHERS, DEBT
  • Amen: Zu hor eta ni hemen.[1]
    • Translation: Amen: you there and me here.
  • Apaizaren eltzea, txikia baina betea.[1]
    • Translation: The priest's pot is small but full.


  • Ardi galdua atzeman daiteke, aldi galdua berriz ez.[1]
    • Translation: The lost sheep may be recovered, the lost time cannot.
    • Meaning: Time is more valuable than money because it can never be recalled.
    • Source: Aske, (1994) p. 3
  • Ardi txikia, beti bildots.[1]
    • Translation: The small sheep, always a lamb.
    • WISDOM, KNOWLEDGE
    • REPUTATION, CATEGORIZATION
  • Ardiak beeka egonik, ez du jaten belarrik.[1]
    • Translation: A bleating sheep eats no grass.
    • CONSOLATION, CONTENTMENT
    • ACTING, TALKING
  • Arian, arian, zehetzen da burnia.[1]
    • Translation: Working and working at it, iron can be pulverized.
    • English equivalent: Constant dripping wears the stone.
    • FAMILY, EXPENSES
    • INDUSTRY, PERSISTENCE, PERSEVERANCE
  • Aŕian handiak yaten ditu tipiak.
    • Paczolay, Gyula (1997). European Proverbs in 55 languages. DeProverbio.com. p. 420. ISBN 1-875943-44-7. 
  • Arotzaren extean keŕena zurez.
    • Translation: The craftsman has a bad roof.
    • English equivalent: The shoemaker goes barefoot.
    • Meaning: "Working hard for others one may neglect one's own needs or the needs of those closest to him."
    • Source for meaning and proverbs: Paczolay, Gyula (1997). "7". European proverbs: in 55 languages, with equivalents in Arabic, Persian, Sanskrit, Chinese and Japanese. Veszprémi Nyomda. p. 65. ISBN 1-875943-44-7. 
  • Arranoak lumak behar, txepetxak ere bai.[1]
    • Translation: The eagle needs feathers, and the wren does too.
    • SIMILARITIES
    • REVENGE
  • Arrotz-herri, otso-herri.[1]
    • Translation: A foreign land is a land of wolves.


  • Aseak gosea ezin ikus.[1]
    • Translation: The satiated cannot see the hungry.
    • HUNGER, INEQUALITY, SELFISHNESS
  • Aski ez duena, deusik ez duena.[1]
    • Translation: Not having enough is like not having anything.
    • ARGUMENT, DISAGREEMENT
    • DISSATISFACTION, PRIVATION
  • Asko baduk/n, asko beharko duk/n.[1]
    • Translation: If you have much, you will need much.
    • CLERGY, FOOD
    • SIMPLICITY, AMBITION, WEALTH
  • Asko daki zaharrak, erakutsi beharrak.[1]
    • Translation: Old people know much; they were taught by necessity.
    • English equivalent: Time discloses all.
    • NECESSITY, OLD AGE, KNOWLEDGE, EXPERIENCE
    • TIME
  • Asko dakin/k/zu, bizitzen baldin badakin/k/zu.[1]
    • Translation: You know much if you know how to live.
  • Askoren mina, tontoen atsegina.[1]
    • Translation: The stupid find relief in the suffering of others.
  • Asto askok, lasto asko.[1]
    • Translation: A lot of donkeys means a lot of hay.


  • Astoari ezin mendeka, mendeka albardari.[1]
    • Translation: Not able to take revenge on the donkey, take it out on the saddle.
  • Aukera maukera, azkenik trankera.[1]
    • Translation: The choosy one ends up with the ordinary.
    • DISTRUST, STRANGERS, FOREIGNERS
    • CHOICES, RELATIONSHIPS, HUSBANDS, COURTSHIP
  • Aurrera begiratzen ez duena, atzean dago.[1]
    • Translation: Those who don't look forward, stay behind.
    • Latin equivalent: If you are not moving forward, you are losing ground.
  • Bat izatea hobe, bi itxo egitea baino.
    • Translation: It's better to have one than be waiting for two.
    • English equivalent: A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
    • Source: Aske, (1994) p. 4
    • EXCELLENCE, INDUSTRY
    • SECURITY, CERTAINTY
  • Azeri zaharrak ile zaharra uzten du, aztura zaharrik ez.
    • Translation: The old fox sheds its old hair, but not its old habits.
    • English equivalent: Old habits die hard.
    • Source: Aske, (1994) p. 4
  • Azeria solas ematen zaukanean ari, gogo emak heure oiloari.[1]
    • Translation: When the fox is engaging you in conversation, keep an eye on your chicken.
  • Azken gaizto egingo duk, txoria, gazterik egiten ez baduk habia[1]
    • Translation: You will have a sad end, bird, if you don't make your nest while you're still young.
    • Meaning: Take advantage of youth while you still have it. It won't last for long. Once you are old, some doors will close for you.
    • English equivalent: They who would be young when they are old must be old when they are young; Youth once gone is gone.

B[edit]

  • Bihotzean dagoena, mihira irten.
    • Translation: What is in the heart, comes to the tongue.
    • English equivalent: The tongue ever turns to the aching tooth.
    • Source: Aske, (1994) p. 5

E[edit]

  • Ez egin gaitzik eta ez izan beldurrik.
    • Translation: If you do no wrong, you need not be afraid.
    • English equivalent:. Avoid evil and it will avoid thee.
    • Source: Aske, (1994) p. 8

M[edit]

  • Mendiak mendiaren behaŕik ez, bainan gizonak gizonaren bai.
    • Translation: It is the mountains that do not move to help one another; but one man surely comes to the help of another.
    • English equivalent: A mountain never meets a mountain, but a man meets a man.
    • Meaning: "There are some things/events that are impossible, like an encounter of mountains, but there is always a chance for people to meet. or Once can always find a possibility for revenge."
    • Source for proverbs and meaning: Paczolay, Gyula (1997). European Proverbs in 55 languages. DeProverbio.com. p. 213. ISBN 1-875943-44-7. 

O[edit]

  • Ongi nahi hauenak negar eginaraziko dauk/daun/dizu, gaizki nahi hauenak barre eginaraziko dauk/daun/dizu.
    • Translation: The one who loves you will make you cry, the one who hates you will make you laugh.
    • Swedish equivalent: A friend's slap has honest intentions, your enemies' kisses are meant to deceive.
    • Source: Aske, (1994) p. 14
  • Osasuna, paregabeko ondasuna.
    • English equivalent: Health is above wealth.
    • "What shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world-and loses his health?"
    • Dale Carnegie, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living (1948)
    • Source: Aske, (1994) p. 8

U[edit]

  • Untsa habiatu den lana, erdi akabirik.
    • Translation: Well begun, is half done.
    • English equivalent: Also, Well begun, is half done.
    • Meaning: Starting properly ensures the speedy completion of a process. A – beginning is often blocked by one or more obstacles (potential barriers) the removal of which may ensure the smooth course of the process.
    • Source for meaning and proverbs: Paczolay, Gyula (1997). European Proverbs in 55 languages. DeProverbio.com. p. 228. ISBN 1-875943-44-7. 

References[edit]

  1. a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag Basque Proverbs - Esaera Zaharrak. Collection of Basque proverbs. Jon Aske. November 29, 1994.

See also[edit]

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