Greek proverbs

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Proverbs from all Greek speaking parts of the world.


  • Δώσε τόπο στην οργή.
    • Shove anger aside.
    • "Two things a Man should never be angry at; what he can help, and what he cannot help."
    • Thomas Fuler, Gnomologia (1732)
    • Nea hestia. I. D. Kollaros \& Sa.. 1996. 


  • "Αγάλι-αγάλι γίνεται η αγουρίδα μέλι."
    • 'A green fruit gets ripe slowly.
    • English equivalent: Patience is a virtue, and a little will not hurt you.
    • Proverbium. 23. Ohio State University. 2006. p. 129. 


  • "Είπε ο γάιδαρος τον πετεινό κεφάλα."
    • "The donkey called the rooster bigheaded."
    • Similar to "The pot calling the kettle black" or "Look who's talking".
    • Aravantinos, Panagiotis (1863). "294". Paroimiasterion. (Epirotische Sprüchwörter.) (neogr.). p. 38. 
  • Ἐν οἴνῳ ἀλήθεια
    • There is truth in wine.
    • English equivalent: In wine there is truth.
    • Latin equivalentː In vino veritas.
    • "Alcohol consumed removes the inhibition against telling the truth that occasionally one would like to keep secret."
    • European Proverbs in 55 languages. 1997. p. 272. ISBN 1-875943-44-7. 


  • Η φτήνια τρώει τον παρά.
    • English equivalent: If you buy cheaply, you pay dearly.
    • Spoudōn (1998). Λεξικό της κοινής νεοελληνικής. Αριστοτέλειο Πανεπιστήμιο Θεσσαλονίκης. p. 1027. 
  • Η γλώσσα κόκαλα δεν έχει, αλλά κόκαλα τσακίζει.
    • English equivalent: The pen is mightier than the sword.
    • "The play's the thing,
      Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king."
    • William Shakespeare, Hamlet (1600–1), Act II, scene ii
    • Venizelos (1867). Paroimiai dēmōdeis. Ek tou typographeiou tēs Patridos. p. 95. 


  • Κάλλιο γαϊδουρόδενε, παρά γαϊδουρογύρευε.
    • English equivalent: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
    • Βασιλειάδης. ΈγκλημαστοΚΕΛΥΦΩΣ Αστυνομικόμυθιστόρημα. Dimitri Vasileiadis. p. 105. 
  • Kάλλιο πέντε και στο χέρι, παρά δέκα και καρτέρι.
    • English equivalent: A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
    • "Laugh and be fat."
    • John Taylor, title of a tract (1615)
    • Berettas (1863). Syllogēparoimiōn tōn neōterōn Hellēnōn meta parallēlismou pros tas tōn archaiōn. Ek tou typ. ho Hellēnopelasgos. p. 37. ISBN 1 Invalid ISBN. 
  • Κόρακας κοράκου μάτι δε βγάζει.
    • English equivalent: Hawks will not pick out Hawk's eyes.
    • "One belonging to a group having common interests is not likely to act against or find fault with another member of the same group. Solidarity may prevail over law, justice or truth."
    • Paczolay, Gyula (1997). "X". European proverbs: in 55 languages, with equivalents in Arabic, Persian, Sanskrit, Chinese and Japanese. Veszprémi Nyomda. p. 96. ISBN 1-875943-44-7. 
    • Shqiptaro-Greke (1999). Albanohellenica. Albanian-Greek Philological Association. p. 22. 
  • Καλή ζωή, κακή διαθήκη.
    • English equivalent: Fools live poor to die rich.
    • Chakkas (1978). Hapanta. Kedros. 


  • Μία χελιδὼν ἔαρ οὐ ποιεῖ.
    • English equivalent: One swallow does not a summer make.
    • Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, (1098a18)


  • Ο χρόνος είναι ακριβός
    • English equivalent: Time is precious.
    • Paczolay, Gyula (1997). European Proverbs in 55 languages. p. 428. ISBN 1-875943-44-7. 
  • Όποιος γίνεται πρόβατο τον τρώει ο λύκος.
    • He who becomes a sheep is eaten by the wolf.
    • English equivalent: He that makes himself a sheep shall be eaten by the wolf.
    • Dostoyevsky, Koteliansky (2010). Dostoevsky: Letters and Reminiscences. Kessinger Publishing. pp. 304. ISBN 1163449024. 
  • Όφις ην μη φάγη όφιν, δράκων ου γενήσεται.
    • Alternatively: Όφις ει μη φάγοι όφιν, δράκων ου γενήσεται. (see Robert Nares)
    • A serpent, unless it devours a serpent, will not become a dragon. (Erasmus, translated by Barker)
    • Quoted by Erasmus, Michael Apostolius, and in Suda (according to Robert Nares)
    • Translated into Latin by Apostolius, Erasmus, and Francis Bacon.
    • Paraphrased in English by John Dryden (Oedipus III.1): "A serpent ne'er becomes a flying dragon, / Till he has eat a serpent." (see Robert Nares)
    • Sources:
      • Robert Nares, A Glossary, p. 781. (Nares's "φύγοι" emended to "φάγοι" based on Apostolius's text.)
      • Erasmus III iii 61, translated in William Watson Barker, ed. The Adages of Erasmus, p. 271.
      • Michael Apostolius, Paroemiae [Proverbs]. Ed. Daniel Heinsius. Leiden, 1619. p. 187.
      • A search of the Suda does not return this proverb.
  • Ο πνιγμένος, από τα μαλλιά του πιάνεται.
    • English equivalent: A drowning man will clutch at a straw.
    • Κριαρας (2007). Αλλελωγραφιαδυο:. ΕκδοσειςΠολυτυπο. p. 33. 


  • Συν Αθηνά και χείρα κίνει.
    • Move your hand along with Athena (Minerva)
    • English equivalent: Heaven help those who help themselves.
    • "When in trouble first of all every one himself should do his best to improve his condition."
    • Paczolay, Gyula (1997). European Proverbs in 55 languages. p. 150. ISBN 1-875943-44-7. 
    • Karagiōrgos, Panos (1999). Greek and English proverbs. P. Karagiorgos. p. 99. 


  • Τα εν οίκω μη εν δήμω.
    • English equivalent: Don't wash your dirty linen in public; It is an ill bird that fouls its own nest.
    • "Why wantonly proclaim one's own disgrace, or expose the faults or weaknesses of one's kindred or people?"
    • "It is considered contemptible to defy the rule of solidarity by revealing facts harmful to the group one belongs to."
    • Proverbs of All Nations. W. Kent & Company (late D. Bogue). 1859. p. 109. 
    • Paczolay, Gyula (1997). "106". European proverbs: in 55 languages, with equivalents in Arabic, Persian, Sanskrit, Chinese and Japanese. Veszprémi Nyomda. p. 466. ISBN 1-875943-44-7. 
    • Karagiōrgos, Panos (1999). Greek and English proverbs. P. Karagiorgos. p. 99. 
  • Τα μεγάλα πνεύματα συναντώνται
    • English equivalent: Great minds think alike.
    • Karagiōrgos, Panos (1999). Greek and English proverbs. P. Karagiorgos. p. 138. 

See also[edit]