Talk:Finnish proverbs

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A[edit]

  • "Aamun torkku, illan virkku, se tapa talon hävittää."
    • Literal translation: "Asleep in the morning, Awake all evening; this is the way to lose a house."
    • Translation: "Asleep in the morning, awake in the evening; this way will destroy a house."
    • Alternate Translation: "Sleeping in and staying up late; this habit will run down your household."
    • Variation: Old Finnish hacker proverb "Illan virkku, aamun torkku", If you stay up late, you're sleepy in the morning.
  • "Ahkeruus kovan onnen voittaa."
    • Literal translation: "Diligence vanquishes hard luck."
    • Notes: Keep at it and you will succeed.
    • English equivalent: "You can't keep a good man down."
  • "Aina on oksan ottajia, kun on kuusen kantajia."
    • Literal translation: "Always exist branch grabbers, when exist fir-tree haulers."
    • Translation: "If there is someone to haul the fir-tree, there shall be no shortage of those willing to hold a branch to help."
    • Notes: This is a disparaging saying about those who are all too willing to participate in sharing credit for a major undertaking by someone else.
  • "Aina roiskuu kun rapataan." / "Rapatessa roiskuu."
    • Translation: "There will always be splatter when mortar is spread."
    • Notes: Mishaps happen when you work, it is in the nature of things.
    • English equivalent: "Shit happens" or "You can't make an omelette without breaking eggs."
  • "Akka otetaan, mies annetaan."
    • Translation: "A woman is taken, a man given."
  • "Alku aina hankala, lopussa kiitos seisoo."
    • Literal translation: "The beginning is always difficult, in the end stands the thank."
    • Notes: A good result follows from efforts.
    • English equivalent: "All's well, that ends well."
  • "Antaa vahingon kiertää."
    • Literal translation: "Let the mishap circulate."
    • Translation: "Pass the misfortune/mistake on."
    • Notes: Used for example when one has been able to sell a worthless item on which one had earlier been fooled oneself into buying. A somewhat cynical sentiment, which can however be used more lightheartedly of more trivial affairs.

E[edit]

  • "Ei auta itku markkinoilla."
    • Literal translation: "Weeping does not help at the marketplace."
    • Notes: Said when something has to be accepted, although one is not satisfied with this.
    • English equivalent: "It's no use crying over spilled milk."
  • "Ei elämä irvistellen somene."
    • Translation: "Life will not get more beautiful by making grimaces."
  • "Ei elämästä selviä hengissä."
    • Translation: "You won't survive life."
    • Meaning: No matter how you live your life, sooner or later you are going to die anyway.
  • "Ei halu halaamalla lähde."
    • Translation: "Hugs won't remove the desire."
    • Alt. Translation: "Desire won't fade with embraces."
  • "Ei haukku haavaa tee."
    • Literal translation: "A bark does not wound."
    • Translation: "Words do not physically hurt."
    • English equivalent: "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me."
  • "Eihän rahaa tarvita kuin velan maksuun."
    • Translation: "Money is only needed to pay back a debt."
  • "Ei se mikään ruusu ole mutta kukkiihan se perunakin."
    • Literal translation: "It's not a rose but even potatoes bloom too."
    • Notes: A phrase used for mocking ugly women ie. comparing a woman with a potato instead of a rose. Potatoes may be ugly but they are useful as they are edible, while roses are merely beautiful but have no other use.
    • Notes: This phrase can also be used by a man to defend his choice of a less attractive woman as a spouse, by referring between the lines to her other admirable qualities which make her dear to him. In a typically Finnish way he's saying that he loves her for who she is, even though she is no beauty queen. Traditional Finnish song "Minun kultani kaunis on" (My darling is beautiful) is reflecting the same idea: "My darling is beautiful, although she's overly skinny. Her eyes are blue although they are squinting. When I take her to the market, even the horses laugh."
  • "Ei kannata mennä merta edemmäs kalaan."
    • Literal translation: "One should not go farther than the sea to fish."
    • Notes: One should only do what's necessary, or one should not search high and low for something that is in front of them.
    • English equivalent: "No use on carrying coals to Newcastle"
  • "Ei kastunut vettä pelkää."
    • Translation: "Someone already wet will not be afraid of water."
  • "Ei kukaan ole seppä syntyessään."
    • Literal translation: "No one is a blacksmith when they are born."
    • Translation: "No one can be an expected to be an expert at something before they have tried it."
    • English equivalent: "Live and learn."
  • "Ei leikki leivässä pidä."
    • Translation: "Games wont keep you in bread."
    • Notes: One must work to stay alive.
  • "Ei niin huonoja housuja jottei hametta vastaa."
    • Translation: "Even the worst trousers are a match for a skirt."
    • Meaning: Even the humblest profession (trousers) is better than gold-digging (skirt) for living yourself
  • "Ei niin pieniä pitoja, ettei kuokkavierahia."
    • Translation: "Never such a small feast, that it won't have spongers on."
    • Notes: Has a wide variety of usage, but the traditional and everyday instance where it is most often used, is when flies are buzzing around your meal.
  • "Ei niin tuulta, ei niin tyyntä, ettei lehti heiluisi."
    • Translation: "No such breeze, no such calm, that the leaf wouldn't swing."
  • "Ei nimi miestä pahenna, ellei mies nimeä."
    • Translation: "A name doesn't make a man worse, if the man doesn't make his name worse."
  • "Ei ole koiraa karvoihin katsominen"
    • Translation: "Judge not the dog by its hair."
    • English equivalent: "Don't judge a book by its cover."
  • "Ei omena kauas puusta putoa"
    • Translation: "The apple doesn't fall far from the tree"
    • Notes: Meaning that children take to their parents quite often.
  • "Ei oppi ojaan kaada."
    • Literal translation: "Education won't knock you down in the ditch."
    • Translation: "Education keeps you on the road."
  • "Ei savua ilman tulta."
    • Translation: "There's no smoke without fire."
    • Meaning: Said when something cannot be seen, but its implications can.
    • English equivalent: "No smoke without fire"
  • "Ei se tapojansa muuta, joka ei mieltään pahenna."
    • Translation: "One will not change his habits, if he hasn't hurt his feelings."
  • "Ei sellaista tietä, jota ei ennen ole käyty."
    • Translation: "There is no such path, that has not been walked along before."
  • "Ei sota yhtä miestä kaipaa."
    • Translation: "War does not long for one man."
  • "Ei suuret sanat suuta halkaise"
    • Translation: "Big words won't split ones mouth."
    • English equivalent: "Actions speak louder than words."
  • "Ei tippa tapa ja ämpäriin ei huku."
    • Translation: "A drop does not kill, and you won't drown in a bucket."
    • Notes: This phrase has three quite distinct usages. It can be a questionable justification for excessive drinking in context of drunkards egging each other on, when already inebriated. The other two uses precede drinking and have to do with good manners and hospitality. When a guest has demurred an offered drink purely pro forma, to show that he does not wish to be seen as imposing on hospitality, the host will use the phrase to indicate by changing discursive mode to a humorous one, that there is no imposition, but rather a genuine amity, and it is quite polite to accept the offered drink offered in hospitality.
      The other way it can be used is when the guest genuinely does not wish to accept the drink, for instance having reasons why they do not wish to get drunk or if they generally do not have a habit of drinking. Then the host can use the phrase as leverage to oblige the guest to drink; since a drink offered in amity would be impolite to turn down.
  • "Ei todenpuhuja saa yösijaa."
    • Translation: "He who speaks the truth won't get shelter for the night."
  • "Ei tule lasta, eikä paskaa."
    • Translation: "Not producing baby, nor shit."
    • Notes: Pushing hard with nothing to show for it.
  • "Ei työt tekemällä lopu."
    • Translation: "Work will not run out by working."
  • "Ei vahinko tule kello kaulassa"
    • Literal translation: "An accident won't arrive with a bell on its neck."
    • Translation: "Accidents happen unexpected."
  • "Ei viina juomalla lopu"
    • Translation: "Alcohol won't run out by drinking."
    • Meaning: no matter how much you drink, there will always be booze in the world. Can either be used as an encouragement that there will always be more, or to tell somebody that they have to drink everything. Commonly told to alcoholics.
  • "Ennen maa repee kuin huora häpee."
    • Literal translation: "It's more likely for the earth to rip than for a whore to feel ashamed."
    • Meaning: Never expect impudent people to improve their manners.
  • "Epäonni pelissä, onni rakkaudessa."
    • Literal translation: "Bad luck in game, luck in love."
    • Translation: "Unlucky in games, lucky in love."
    • Notes: Used to soften the blow of a particularly hard taken defeat in a game.
  • "Esteet katoavat etevän tieltä."
    • Translation: "Barriers will disappear on the path of the skilled."
    • Notes: Alliterative.

H[edit]

  • "Happamia, sanoi kettu pihlajanmarjoista kun ei niihin yltänyt"
    • Translation: "Sour, said the fox about rowan berries, not being able to reach them"
    • Notes: Said to someone who says negative things about something he is unable to have, but he probably deep down would like to have. Cf. "Sour grapes"
  • "Haukkuva koira ei pure"
    • Translation: "A barking dog does not bite"
  • "Hedelmistään puu tunnetaan"
    • Translation: "A tree is recognized by its fruit"
  • "Herra se on herrallakin"
    • Translation: "A master has their master too."
  • "Hiki laiskan syödessä, vilu töitä tehdessä."
    • Translation: "A lazy person sweats while eating and shivers while working."
  • "Hiljaa hyvää tulee"
    • Literal translation: "Good comes slowly"
    • Translation: "Easy does it"
  • "Hukkuva tarttuu oljenkorteenkin"
    • Translation: "One who is drowning will even try to catch hold of a haystraw"
    • English equivalent: "Desperate times call for desperate measures"
  • "Hullu paljon työtä tekee, viisas pääsee vähemmällä"
    • Translation: "A fool does a lot of work, a wise man gets off easier"
  • "Hyvä antaa vähästänsä, paha ei paljostansakaan."
    • Literal translation: "A good one gives from the little he has, a bad one not even from his plentiful"
  • "Hyvä kello kauas kuuluu"
    • Translation: "A good bell can be heard wide"
  • "Hyvällä nimiä paljon, pahalla tapoja."
    • Translation: "Good has many names, bad many customs."
  • "Hätä ei lue lakia"
    • Literal translation: "Emergency does not read the law"
    • English counterpart: "Desperate times call for desperate actions"

I[edit]

  • "Ilmaista ei ole olemassakaan."
    • Translation: "There is no such thing as free of charge."
    • English: There is no such thing as a free lunch.
  • "Ilta on aamua viisaampi."
    • Translation: "The evening is wiser than the morning."
  • "Itku pitkästä ilosta ja pieru tyhjän nauramisesta."
    • Translation: "Weeping will follow a long delight and fart from laughing at nothing."
  • "Isoja kaloja kannattaa pyytää vaikkei saisikaan"
    • Translation: "Big fish are worth of fishing even if you don't catch one"
    • Meaning: When the expectable profits are big enough, risk is worth of taking even if it fails

J[edit]

  • "Jalat lämpiminä, pää kylmänä."
    • Translation: "Feet warm, head cool."
    • Notes: This is a common maxim for outdoorsmen and soldiers in Finland. It has a double meaning. Firstly it serves as a mnemnonic on how to position oneself when sleeping around a fire or a stove. Secondly it embodies the Finnish warriors' ethos. Keep at peak readiness but don't borrow trouble.
  • "Joka kuritta kasvaa, se kunniatta kuolee."
    • Translation: "Who is raised without discipline, he will die without honor."
  • "Joka menneitä muistelee, sitä tikulla silmään"
    • Translation: "A poke in the eye for those, who dwell on the past"
    • Notes: there is no use in dwelling old grudges
    • English equivalent: "Water under the bridge."
  • "Joka muotoansa moittii, se Luojaansa laittaa."
    • Translation: "Who contests his form, he mocks his Creator."
    • Notes: To be vain and conceited is to be ungrateful to God.
  • "Joka paljon lupaa, se vähän antaa"
    • Translation: "Who promises a lot, gives a little"
  • "Joka vitsaa säästää, se lastaan vihaa."
    • Translation: "He who spares his birch rod, hates his child."
    • English equivalent: "Spare the rod, spoil the child"
    • Notes: Not to be taken literally. One has to raise a child harsh to prepare him for life.
  • "Joka väärin kuulee, se väärin vastaa."
    • Translation: "Who hears wrong, replies wrong."
  • "Jonka mesi kielessä, sen on myrkky mielessä."
    • Translation: "Who has honey on his tongue has poison in his mind."
  • "Jos työ olisi herkkua, niin herrat tekisivät sen itse."
    • Translation: "If work were a delicacy, the masters would do it themselves"
  • "Jos ei viina, terva ja sauna auta, niin tauti on kuolemaksi."
    • Translation: "If tar, liquor and sauna will not be of help the disease is fatal."
    • Notes: Meant as a somewhat rough comfort in situations where more sophisticated curatives are not available. Its conclusion is reliable only in cases where the three methods have been applied simultaneously.
  • "Jota useampi kokki, sitä vetelämpi velli."
    • Translation: "The more cooks there are, the more watery the soup will be."
    • English equivalent: "Too many cooks spoil the broth."
  • "Joukossa tyhmyys tiivistyy"
    • Translation: "In a group stupidity condenses"
  • "Joka toiselle kuoppaa kaivaa, se itse siihen lankeaa"
    • Translation: "Who digs a hole for another, falls in it himself."
    • Notes: Bad things done to others will come back to you.

K[edit]

  • "Kahden kauppa on kolmannen korvapuusti"
    • Literal translation: "A good deal for two, is a clip on the ears of a third."
    • Translation: "In a trade someone always loses."
    • Inverse: Kahden korvapuusti, kolmannen kauppa
    • Translation: "When two participants quarrel, third harvests all the benefits
  • "Kasvaa se mies räkänokistakin, vaan ei tyhjän naurajista."
    • Literal translation: "A snotnose may grow up to be a man; but he who laughs without cause, never."
    • Translation: "The mocked may grow up to dignity, but the mocker will never outgrow his juvenile behaviour."
  • "Katoaa kuin pieru Saharaan."
    • Literal translation: "Disappears like a fart into Sahara."
    • Translation: "Disappears without trace."
    • Notes: When something disappears without a trace, it is said to disappear as smoothly as a fart would in the Sahara desert.
  • "Kaveria ei jätetä!"
    • Translation: "Never leave a friend behind!"
    • Notes: Finnish soldiers' motto during the Winter and Continuation Wars during World War Two; soldiers tried to recover even bodies if at all possible.
  • "Kauan on köyhä kallellaan ennenkuin kaatuu."
    • Literal translation: "A poor person stands at an angle for a long time before falling."
  • "Kauppa se on, joka kannattaa."
    • Translation: "It's trade that's profitable."
    • Notes: Often uttered in evident pleasure at one's situation.
  • "Kelle paljon annetaan siltä paljon vaaditaan"
    • Translation: "To whom is given a lot will be asked for a lot."
  • "Kenen leipää syöt, sen lauluja laulat."
    • Translation: "Whose bread you eat, his songs you'll sing."
    • English equivalent: "He who pays the piper calls the tune."
  • "Ken kuuseen kurkottaa, se katajaan kapsahtaa."
    • Literal translation: "Who reaches for the spruce, falls down onto the juniper."
    • Translation: "If you reach for something that is far too good for you, it is not going to end well."
  • "Kerta kiellon päälle."
    • Literal translation: "One time after the denial."
    • English equivalent: "One more for the road."
    • Translation: "When something has been denied of you, you can still do it once."
    • Notes: Besides the last drink in a bar, the saying is also used when pouring a drink or serving food, and it is a hospitable custom to pour or serve just a little more after the guest has said "when", in the usually mutual understanding that the guest does not want to impose, but the host will wish to be generous.
  • "Konstit on monet, sanoi eukko kun kissalla pöytää pyyhki."
    • Literal translation: "There are many means, said the lady when wiping the table with the cat."
    • English equivalent: "There are more than one ways to skin a cat."
  • "Kuin juosten kustu."
    • Literal translation: "Like a pee on the run."
    • Notes: Used when something is done in a sloppy manner.
  • "Kuin kaksi marjaa."
    • Literal translation: "Like two berries."
    • English equivalent: "As like as two peas." or "Peas in a pod." or again "Birds of a feather."
  • "Kuolema kuittaa univelat."
    • Literal translation: "Death settles sleep debts."
    • Translation: "Time enough to rest when dead."
  • "Kuu on nuorten miesten aurinko."
    • Translation: "The moon is the sun of young men."
  • "Kuu on torpparin aurinko."
    • Translation: "The moon is the crofter's sun."
    • Notes: The crofters tilled the landlord's fields on working days. An eager crofter would spend all his spare time to till his own.
  • "Kyllä jokainen on kippari kauniilla säällä"
    • Translation: "Everyone is the skipper when weather is fair"
    • Meaning: When the things are easy, everyone desires to be the boss. The capability of the one in charge is measured only in difficulties.
  • "Kyllä maailma opettaa; jos ei muuta niin hitaasti kävelemään."
    • Translation: "The world will surely teach one; if nothing else, than to walk slowly."
  • "Kyllä routa porsaan kotiin ajaa."
    • Translation: "The frost drives the pig back home."
    • Notes: Used in the sense of having patience with someone, especially when rebuffed by one's own offspring, secure in the knowledge that when the need arises, they will return like prodigal sons.
  • Kyllä se laiska kaikkein ahkerin on kun vain ryypyn saa
    • Translation: "The lazy is the most eager if only given a drink"
    • Notes: proper motivation is the alpha and omega of everything
  • "Kyllä siinä melua syntyy, kun kaksi hullua yhteen tulee."
    • Translation: "There will surely be some noise, when two madmen come together."
  • "Kännissä ja kihloissa on kiva olla, krapulassa ja naimisissa yhtä helvettiä."
    • Translation: "It is pleasant to be drunk and engaged, but hell to be hungover and married."
  • "Köyhyys ei ole mikään häpeä, mutta keinottomuus on."
    • Translation: "Poverty isn't a shameful thing, but unresourcefulness is."
    • Notes: Means that one should should have the mental wits to survive even with little material riches. Often said when one has come up on some clever stratagem.

L[edit]

  • "Laita lapsi (/tyhmä) asialle, tee itse perässä"
    • Literal translation: "Send a child (/fool) to do your errands, do it yourself afterwards."
    • Translation: "You can't trust that a job will be done properly unless you do it yourself"
    • Notes: Used to reprimand someone who has failed in something, usually not a child.
    • English equivalent: "Never send a boy to do a man's job."
  • "Lapsen suusta totuus kuuluu."
    • Translation: "The truth can be heard from the lips of a child."
    • English equivalent: "Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings come all wise sayings."
  • "Leikki on lapsen työtä."
    • Translation: "Playing is working for a child."
  • "Loppu hyvin, kaikki hyvin"
    • Literal translation: "End well, all well"
    • English equivalent: "All's well that ends well."
  • "Lähti kuin kuppa Töölöstä."
  • Literal translation: "Left like syphilis from Töölö."
  • Notes: Töölö is a neighbourhood in Helsinki where a syphilis hospital used to be located. Penicillin proved dramatically effective against syphilis, thus eliminating the need for a specialized hospital. The saying is used of someone who leaves with great purpose and despatch, or simply to amplify that somebody is definitely not present anymore.

M[edit]

  • "Maassa maan tavalla."
    • Translation: "In a land by its customs."
    • English equivalent: "When in Rome, do as the Romans do."
  • "Maasta se pienikin ponnistaa."
    • Translation: "Even the smallest will take off of the ground."
    • English equivalent: "Out of little acorns (grow mighty oaks)."
  • "Makkee on matonen nauris, tuima hiiren turmelema."
    • Translation: "A worm-infested turnip is sweet, but bitter the one that a mouse has bitten."
  • "Maltti on valttia."
    • Literal translation: "Patience is a trump."
    • English equivalent: "Patience is a virtue."
  • "Markassa on tuhannen alku."
    • Translation: "A penny is the root of a fortune."
    • English equivalent: "A penny saved is a penny earned."
  • "Melkein on metri rannasta."
    • Translation: "Almost is one metre off the shore"
    • English equivalent: "Almost is only good for horseshoes and hand grenades."
  • "Menikö jauhot suuhun?"
    • Translation: "Did the flour go to your mouth?"
    • English equivalent: "Did the cat catch your tongue?"
  • "Meni syteen tai saveen."
    • Translation: "Whether it will go into clay or charcoal"
    • Notes: When tempering a scythe blade, a smith will heat the blade red-hot on charcoal bed but protect the back of the blade with clay to keep it from heating before quenching it to water. Too hot (too much charcoal) leaves the blade hard but brittle, while too much clay prevents the blade heating enough to harden properly.
    • Meaning: Don't be afraid to try even if you are on risk of failure
  • "Mies on isäntä talossa vaikka penkin alla."
    • Translation: "A man is the master of his house, even under a bench."
  • "Mikä laulaen tulee, se viheltäen menee."
    • Translation: "What comes singing, leaves whistling."
    • English: Easy come, easy go.
  • "Mikäs pahan tappais, Jumala ei huoli ja piru ei pidä kiirettä."
    • Translation: "What would kill the bad; God doesn't want them, and the devil is not in a hurry."
    • Notes: Often given as a philosophical or mildly ironic reply to a query on how one is faring.
  • "Mikään ei kuivu kyyneltä nopeammin."
    • Translation: "There's nothing that dries faster than a tear."
  • "Minkä nuorena oppii, sen vanhana taitaa."
    • Translation: "What one learns while young, one masters when old."
  • "Minä istun iloissani ja annan surun huilata."
    • Translation: "I sit here happy and let sorrow catch some breath."
  • "Moni kakku päältä kaunis, vaan on silkkoa sisältä." or "Moni kakku päältä kaunis, silkkaa silkkoa sisältä."
    • Literal translation: "Many breads [are] beautiful on the outside, but are nothing but [pettu] on the inside." (Silkko is a bread made from pettu, a flour substitute used as a last resort against starvation during famines.)
    • Meaning: Appearances can be deceptive.
  • "Myöhäistä itkeä kun on kakat housuissa."
    • Translation: "There's is no use crying when the crap is already in your pants."
    • Notes: One shouldn't feel down, if there is nothing he can do to change the situation.
    • English equivalent: "No use crying over spilt milk."

N[edit]

  • "Neuvottu mies on puoliksi autettu."
    • Translation: "A man who is given advice, is helped half the way."
  • "Niin makaa, kuin petaa."
    • Literal translation: "One sleeps like one makes his bed."
    • Translation: "Actions have consequences."
    • English equivalent: "As you sow, so shall you reap."
  • "Niin metsä vastaa kuin sinne huudetaan."
    • Literal translation: "The forest answers in the same way one shouts in it."
    • English equivalent: "The world you get is the world you give away" or "What comes around, goes around".
  • "Nuorena vitsa väännettävä."
    • Translation: "Whilst childhood the rod has to be bended."
    • Notes: Good manners or other traits have to be taught at young age.
    • English equivalent: "Bend the tree while it is young."
  • "Nuttu nurin, onni oikein."
    • Literal translation: "Tunic overturned, luck right."
    • Translation: "Inside out turned tunic, right way turns your luck."
    • Notes: This is a common superstition. It is considered good luck if one completely innocently puts on ones shirt or coat inside out in error when dressing up. Should be noted that it is not considered valid if one does it consciously. The idea is perhaps that when one is doing things without being too self-conscious, instinctively, things will go more smoothly.

O[edit]

  • "Ojasta allikkoon."
    • Literal translation: "From the ditch to deep water."
    • English equivalent: "Out of the frying pan (and into the fire)." and "Go from bad to worse."
  • "Oma apu paras apu."
    • Literal translation: "Own help [is the] best help."
    • Translation: "Helping yourself is the best way to help yourself."
    • English equivalent: "Physician, heal thyself."
  • "Oma koti kullan kallis."
    • Literal translation: "Own home is worth gold."
    • English equivalent: "Home sweet home."
  • "Oma lehmä ojassa."
    • Literal translation: "(to have) their own cow in the ditch"
    • Note: An expression of suspicion or knowledge of ulteriour motives.
  • "Oma maa mansikka; muu maa mustikka."
    • Literal translation: "Other land blueberry; own land strawberry."
    • Translation: "Foreign places are nice enough, but home is sweeter."
    • English equivalent: "There's no place like home."
  • "Oma suu on lähinnä."
    • Translation: "Your own mouth is the one closest to you."
    • Variation: "Oma suu on lähempänä kuin kontin suu."
    • Translation: "Your own mouth is closer than the mouth of your backpack."
  • "Oma tupa, oma lupa."
    • Literal translation: "Your own living room license."
    • Translation: "One's Own Cabin, One's Own Freedom."
    • Meaning: When you have your own property, you are your own boss.
  • "On taottava silloin kun rauta on kuuma."
    • Translation: "Iron must be forged when it is hot."
    • English equivalent: "You should hammer your iron, while it is glowing hot," and "Strike while the iron's hot"
    • Meaning: You should employ the opportunity when you notice one.
  • "On virka varkaallakin."
    • Literal translation: "Even the thief has his job to do."
    • Translation: "Even thieves are just doing their job."
  • "On vähäkin tyhjää parempi."
    • Translation: "Little is better than nothing."
    • English equivalent: "Beggars can't be choosers."
  • "Oppia ikä kaikki."
    • Translation: "[To] learn [through] whole life.", lifelong learning.
    • English equivalent: "Live and learn."
  • "On vuohellakin parta, vaan ei miehen mieltä."
    • Translation: "A goat may have a beard, but not the mind of a man."
    • Meaning: Mere formal signs of authority does not make one.

P[edit]

  • "Paha saa palkkansa."
    • Translation: "Evil will get its share(/pay)."
    • Notes: Doing wrong will get you problems in the end.
    • English equivalent: "What goes around, comes around."
  • "Paistaa se päivä risukasaankin."
    • Literal translation: "The sun will shine even into a pile of twigs.
    • Notes: Happiness can come even for the poor.
  • "Paljon mahtuu puheita maailmaan, tekoja sopii aina odottaa."
    • Translation: "Many speeches can be heard throughout the world, but one always has to wait for deeds."
  • "Parempi laiha sopu kuin lihava riita."
    • Literal translation: "Better a bony agreement than a fat disagreement."
    • Notes: A meager deal which both parties agree with is better than a good deal where the other party is left discontent. Don't make enemies when doing business.
  • "Parempi karvas totuus kuin makea valhe."
    • Translation: "Better a bitter truth than a sweet lie."
  • "Parempi pyy pivossa, kuin kymmenen oksalla."
    • Literal translation: "Better one hazel grouse in the bag, than ten on the branch."
    • English equivalent: "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush."
    • Proverb: A bird in the hand multilingual
  • "Parempi tuttu paha kuin tuntematon hyvä"
    • Translation: "Better a known harm than an unknown benefit"
    • English equivalent: "Better the Devil you know."
  • "Parempi päivä elettynä kuin kaksi kuoltuna."
    • Translation: "Better a day alive than two dead."
  • "Parempi virsta väärään kuin vaaksa vaaraan."
    • Literal translation: "Better a verst into the wrong [direction], than a span into danger."
    • Translation: "Better a mile of detour than an inch of a dangerous way."
  • "Parempi vähän annettu kuin paljon luvattu."
    • Translation: "Better the little that is given, than the plentiful that is promised."
  • "Pata kattilaa soimaa, musta kylki kummallakin"
    • Literal translation: "The pot reproaching the kettle, the side of both is black."
    • English equivalent: "The pot calling the kettle black."
  • "Pessimisti ei pety."
    • Translation: "A pessimist will not get disappointed."
  • "Pieniä on silakat joulukaloiksi."
    • Translation: "Herrings are quite small to be served at Christmas dinner."
    • Notes: Observing a lack of resources.
  • "Pihlaja ei kahta taakkaa kanna."
    • Translation: "The rowan will not carry two loads."
    • Notes: An adage expressing the superstition that one may predict how much snow the next winter will have, from the amount of berries on the rowan tree.
  • "Puhtaus on puoli ruokaa."
    • Literal translation: "Cleanliness is half a meal."
    • Translation: "Keeping yourself and your food clean, you'll get more from it."
    • English equivalent: "Cleanliness is next to godliness."
  • "Puhuen asiat selkenevät."
    • Translation: "Through talking things will be solved."
  • "Puhumatta paras."
    • Translation: "Best not to talk."

R[edit]

  • "Raja se on raittiudellakin."
    • Translation: "Even abstinence has its limit."
  • "Rahalla saa ja hevosella pääsee."
    • Translation: "With money one gets, with a horse one goes."
    • Notes: This is a slightly ebullient phrase used to indicate that one is a person of no small means, and willing to pay the price.
  • "Rahasta saa vaikka kirkossa tapella."
    • Translation: "With the money for it one is allowed even to have a fight inside the church."
    • English equivalent: "Anything can be had for a price."
  • "Raha tulee rahan luo."
    • Translation: "Money comes to money."
    • English equivalent: "Them's that's got, gets."
  • "Rakkaalla lapsella on monta nimeä."
    • Literal translation: "A dear child has many names."
    • Notes: Something popular is known by many names (has many synonyms); or something that is fundamental/universal, will have a word for it in every language.
  • "Rakkaudesta se hevonenkin potkii."
    • Literal translation: "The horse kicks out of love, too."
    • Notes: Used, when somebody acts silly out of love.
  • "Rehellisyys maan perii."
    • Translation: "Honesty will inherit the earth."
  • "Riita repii, rauha rakentaa."
    • Translation: "An argument rips, but peace builds."
  • "Rohkea rokan syö, kaino ei saa kaaliakaan."
    • Literal translation: "A brave man eats the soup, a shy won't even get cabbage."
    • Notes: Used to motivate someone to do a certain thing.
  • "Ruudut suuret, sano lasimestari."
    • Translation: "big diamonts said glass maker."
    • Literal translation: "Squares large, said glass master"
    • Notes: Used in card game called in "tikki/Katko when putting on the table big diamond cards."

S[edit]

  • "Saat viisaan nimen, jos et virka mitään."
    • Translation: "You will be named after a wise man, if you keep your mouth shut."
    • Notes: Wisdom is not measured by the amount of talking.
    • English equivalent: "A silent man is a wise one."
  • "Samanlaiset linnut lentävät yhdessä."
    • Translation: "The same kind of birds fly together."
    • English equivalent: "Birds of a feather fly together." or "Birds of a feather flock together."
  • "Sanasta miestä, sarvesta härkää."
    • Translation: "A man by his word, an oxe by its horn."
  • "Sattuuhan sitä paremmisakin perheissä."
    • Translation: "It can happen even in better families."
  • "Sauna on köyhän apteekki."
    • Translation: "The sauna is a poor mans pharmacy."
  • "Se ei pelaa, joka pelkää."
    • Translation: "He who is afraid does not gamble."
    • English equivalent: "Who dares, wins"
  • "Se härjistä puhuu, joka härjillä ajaa."
    • Translation: "The man that talks about oxes, is the man that drives oxes."
  • "Se koira älähtää, johon kalikka kalahtaa."
    • Translation: "The dog will howl, which is hit by the stick ."
    • Notes: Used, when someone reacts to accuses that were not directed against this person in particular.
    • English equivalent: "If the shoe fits, wear it." or "The lady doth protest too much."
  • "Se mies ei heiniä tee joka pilviä katsoo."
    • Translation: "The man who stares at the clouds will not cut any hay."
  • "Se mikä on ollutta, on mennyttä."
    • Translation: "What has been is gone."
    • English equivalent: "It's all water under the bridge."
  • "Sen minkä ilotta oppii, sen suruttaa unohtaa."
    • Translation: "What one learns without joy, one forgets without grief."
  • "Sen minkä taakseen jättää, edestään löytää."
    • Translation: "What you leave behind, you will find in front of you."
    • English equivalent: "What comes around, goes around."
  • "Se parhaiten nauraa joka viimeksi nauraa."
    • Translation: "He who laughs last, will have the best laugh."
  • "Seura tekee kaltaisekseen."
    • Translation: "The company makes one alike."
  • "Sitä niittää mitä kylvää"
    • Translation: "You reap what you sow"
    • English equivalent: "As ye sow shall ye reap"
  • "Sitä saa mitä tilaa."
    • Translation: "One gets what one orders."
    • Notes: Compare "Niin makaa kuin petaa".
  • "Siitä puhe mistä puute."
    • Translation: "One talks about what one does not have."
  • "Silmistä sielu paistaa."
    • Translation: "The soul shines from the eyes."
  • "Silmät ovat sielun peili."
    • Translation: "The eyes are the mirror of the soul."
    • English equivalent: "The eyes are the windows to the soul."
  • "Suku on pahin."
    • Literal translation: "Family is the worst."
  • "Suu säkkiä myöten."
    • Translation: "[Adjust] the mouth in accordance with the bag."
    • English equivalent: "Don't bite off more than you can chew."
  • "Suuttua saa, vaan ei vihoissaan olla."
    • Translation: "It's okay to get mad, but one shouldn't stay angry."
  • "Suu valehtelee, silmät puhuvat totta."
    • Translation: "The mouth lies, but the eyes tell the truth."
  • "Sääli on sairautta."
    • Translation: "Pity is an illness."
    • Notes: This is often said when somebody is trying to elicit pity and consolation from others when help is not really needed. A person feeling selfpity is often portraying him/herself as sicker/worse off than he/she is or is reacting to common and shared misfortunes (e.g. catching a cold) as if his/her case is much worse than the average case and therefore deserving a special treatment.
  • "Sääliä saa ilmaiseksi, mutta kateus on ansaittava."
    • Translation: "Pity you get for free, but jealousy you must earn."
  • "Sää sodatkin estää."
    • Translation: "[Bad] weather prevents even wars."
  • "Söisi kattikin kaloja, vaan ei kastais kynsiänsä."
    • Translation: "A cat would eat the fish, but not be ready to wet its paws."

T[edit]

  • "Tee työt, ja opi pelaamaan."
    • Literal translation: "Do the works, and learn to play."
    • Translation: "Deal the cards, and learn to play."
    • Notes: Depending on the manner it is said, this can be sarcastic or merely traditional and humorous remark, referring to the custom that in a game of cards, the loser of the round will shuffle the cards and be the dealer of the next round.
  • "Tilaisuus tekee varkaan."
    • Translation: "The opportunity makes a thief."
  • "Tie miehen sydämeen vie vatsan kautta."
    • Translation: "The way to a man's heart leads through his stomach."
  • "Tieto lisää tuskaa."
    • Translation: "Knowledge adds pain."
    • English equivalent: "Ignorance is bliss."
  • "Tieto on taidon perusta."
    • Translation: "Knowledge is the foundation of skill."
    • Notes: Alternative translation: "Knowledge is the foundation of art."
  • "Toivossa on hyvä elää."
    • Translation: "It's good to live in hope."
  • "Tyhjät tynnyrit kolisevat eniten."
    • Translation "Empty barrels clack the most [when being rolled along]."
    • Notes: people who have least knowledge, speak loudest
  • "Tyhmäkin käy viisaasta, jos suunsa kiinni pitää."
    • Translation: "Even a stupid one seems wise if he keeps his mouth shut."
  • "Tyhmästä päästä kärsii koko ruumis."
    • Translation: "Of a stupid head the whole body has to suffer."
  • "Tyttö nuorena, kahvi kuumana."
    • Translation: "A girl young and a coffee hot."
    • Notes: opportunities should be seized and not let slip away
  • "Tyvestä puuhun noustaan"
    • Translation: "A tree is climbed from its base."
  • "Työ tekijäänsä kiittää."
    • Literal translation: "Work thanks its doer."
    • Translation: "Work is rewarding."
  • "Työ tekijäänsä opettaa."
    • Literal translation: "Work teaches it's doer."
    • English equivalent: "Learning by doing."

V[edit]

  • "Vahingosta viisastuu."
    • Translation: "An accident makes one wiser."
  • "Vaikeuksien kautta voittoon."
    • Translation: "Through difficulties into victory."
    • Notes: A finnish form for the latin adage "Per aspera ad astra."
  • "Vaihtelu virkistää."
    • Translation: "Variation refreshes."
    • Notes: Sometimes given in the humorous form "Vaihtelu virkistää, sanoi kissa kun eukolla pöytää pyyhki" ("Varying things is refreshing, said the cat when using the lady of the house to wipe the table.") Compare to "Konstit on monet, sanoi eukko kun kissalla pöytää pyyhki."
  • "Valheella on lyhyet jalat/jäljet."
    • Translation: "Lies have short legs/tracks."
    • Meaning: The one who told the lie will be found out soon.
  • "Vastamäessä mies syntyy, jos syntyy."
    • Literal translation: "A man is born in uphill, if he's born."
    • Translation: "A man is made in times of struggle, if he conquers these."
  • "Velka on veli ottaessa, veljenpoika maksettaessa."
    • Translation: "A loan is a brother when taken, a nephew when paid back."
  • "Vesi vanhin voitehista."
    • Translation: "Water is the oldest ointment."
  • "Vian ei tarvitse olla suuri, jos se on päässä."
    • Translation: "The flaw doesn't need to be big, if it is in the head."
    • Notes: even a small failure in a critical system can cause a large damage
  • "Viina on viisasten juoma."
    • Translation: "Liquor is the drink of wise men."
    • Notes: Points out, that only who can control himself should drink.
  • "Viisas oppii toisten virheistä - tyhmä ei omistaankaan"
    • Translation: "A wise one learns from mistakes of others, a dumb one won't learn even from one's own."
  • "Viisas tyhmä on viisaampi kuin tyhmä viisas."
    • Translation: "A wise fool is wiser than a foolish wise man."
  • "Vähiin käy ennenkuin loppuu."
    • Translation: "It gets less before it's gone."
  • "Väärin sammutettu."
    • Translation: "Incorrectly put out fire."
    • Notes: a wry phrase used of people who just offer criticism without doing the work themselves. The unwritten assumption is that the phrase is uttered by a fireman coming late to the fire, after others have already put it out.

Y[edit]

  • "Yrittänyttä ei laiteta."
    • Translation: "He who has tried will not be scolded."

Ä[edit]

  • "Ällös lainaa kulloinkaan suuntaan kumpaankaan."
    • Literal translation: "Never have loans, in neither direction."
    • Translation: "Never give or take a credit"
    • English: "Neither a borrower nor a lender be"
  • Älä itke ruma lapsi, ei se itku kaunista
    • Translation: "Don't cry, ugly child, crying won't make you any more beautiful"
    • Meaning: complaining and whining won't make a hopeless situation any better
  • "Älä itke ruma lapsi, huomenna ostetaan naamari."
    • Translation: "Don't cry, ugly child, tomorrow we'll buy you a mask."
    • Meaning: if you fail, you may always bluff your way into success
  • "Älä, poika, opeta isääs naimaan."
    • Literal translation: "Don't you, son, teach your father how to fuck."
    • Meaning: One should not try to teach people who know more of the matter than one does.
  • "Äänellänsä se variskin nauraa."
    • Translation: "With its voice even the crow laughs."
    • Meaning: do not be afraid to try with the assets you have