Hungarian proverbs

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Hungarian proverbs are short expressions of popular wisdom from Hungary.

A, Á[edit]

  • Addig nyújtózkodj, amíg a takaród ér.
    • English equivalent: Don't have too many irons in the fire.
    • Hegedüs, Rita (2005). Magyar mozaik 4: Nyelvkönyv. Akademiai Kiado. p. 126. ISBN 963058221X. 
  • Amilyen az anya, olyan a lánya.
    • English equivalent: Like mother, like daughter.
    • "Daughters may look and behave like their mothers. This is due to inheritance and the example observed closely and daily."
    • Source for meaning: Paczolay, Gyula (1997). "21". European proverbs: in 55 languages, with equivalents in Arabic, Persian, Sanskrit, Chinese and Japanese. Veszprémi Nyomda. p. 137. ISBN 1-875943-44-7. 
  • Amilyen az apa, olyan a fia.
    • English equivalent: Like father, like son.
    • "Sons may look and behave like their fathers. This is due to inheritance and the example observed closely and daily."
    • Source for meaning: Paczolay, Gyula (1997). "28". European proverbs: in 55 languages, with equivalents in Arabic, Persian, Sanskrit, Chinese and Japanese. Veszprémi Nyomda. p. 170. ISBN 1-875943-44-7. 
  • A falnak is füle van.
    • English equivalent: The walls have ears.
    • "What you say may be overheard; used as a warning."
    • Source for meaning of English equivalent: Martin H. Manser (2007). The Facts on File Dictionary of Proverbs. Infobase Publishing. p. 287. ISBN 978-0-8160-6673-5. Retrieved on 27 September 2013. 
    • Tudományos Akadémia, Magyar (2007). Acta ethnographica Hungarica, Volym 52, Utgåva 1–2. Akadémiai Kiadó. 
  • A fösvény anélkül is szűkölködik, amije van, anélkül is, amije nincs.
    • English equivalent: The covetous man is good to none and worst to himself.
    • Strauss, Emanuel (1994). Dictionary of European proverbs (Volume 2 ed.). Routledge. p. 83. ISBN 0415096243. 
  • A nagy hal megeszi a kis halat.
    • English equivalent: Men are like fish; the great ones devour the small.
    • "Small organizations or insignificant people tend to be swallowed up or destroyed by those that are greater and more powerful."
    • Source for meaning: Martin H. Manser (2007). The Facts on File Dictionary of Proverbs. Infobase Publishing. p. 27. ISBN 978-0-8160-6673-5. Retrieved on 1 July 2013. 
    • Paczolay, Gyula (1997). "91". European proverbs: in 55 languages, with equivalents in Arabic, Persian, Sanskrit, Chinese and Japanese. Veszprémi Nyomda. p. 420. ISBN 1-875943-44-7. 
  • A nyavalya lóháton jön, gyalog megy el.
    • English equivalent: Misfortune comes on horseback and goes away on foot.
    • Strauss, Emanuel (1994). Dictionary of European proverbs (Volume 2 ed.). Routledge. p. 52. ISBN 0415096243. 
  • A hazug embert hamarabb utolérik, mint a sánta kutyát.
    • English equivalent: A lie has short legs.
    • Tudományos Akadémia, Magyar (2007). Acta ethnographica Hungarica, Volym 52, Utgåva 1. Akademiai Kiado. 
  • A szép almákban is vannak savanyuk.
    • English equivalent: A fair face and a foul heart.
    • Strauss, Emanuel (1998). Concise Dictionary of European Proverbs (Abbreviated ed.). Routledge. p. 34. ISBN 0415160502. 
  • Ajándék lónak ne nézd a fogát|Ajándék lónak ne nézd a fogát!
    • English equivalent: Don't look a gift horse in the mouth.
    • "Gifts and donations in general, whether their value be more or less, should be accounted tokens of kindness and received with promptness and cordiality."
    • Porter, William Henry (1845). Proverbs: Arranged in Alphabetical Order .... Munroe and Company. p. 127. 
    • Zoltán, Kövecses (2006). English-Hungarian Dictionary. Akademiai Kiado. p. 126. 
  • Ki korán kel, aranyat lel|Aki korán kel, aranyat lel.
    • English equivalent: Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.
    • "A lifestyle that involves neither staying up late nor sleeping late is good for body and mind and leads to financial success."
    • Source for meaning: Martin H. Manser (2007). The Facts on File Dictionary of Proverbs. Infobase Publishing. p. 70. ISBN 978-0-8160-6673-5. Retrieved on 5 September 2013. 
    • Tudományos Akadémia, Magyar (2007). Acta ethnographica Hungarica, Volym 52, Utgåva 1. Akademiai Kiado. 
  • Amelyik kutya ugat, az nem harap|Amelyik kutya ugat, az nem harap.
  • Amilyen az adjonisten, olyan a fogadjisten.
    • English equivalent: As one hollows in the woods, so it echoes back.
    • Tudományos Akadémia, Magyar (2007). Acta ethnographica Hungarica, Volym 52, Utgåva 1. Akademiai Kiado. p. 52. 
  • Amit ma megtehetsz, ne halaszd holnapra!
    • English equivalent: What you can do today don't put off to tomorrow.
    • Tudományos Akadémia, Magyar (2007). Acta ethnographica Hungarica, Volym 52, Utgåva 1. Akademiai Kiado. p. 142. 
  • Aki két nyulat hajt egyet se ver.
    • English equivalent: Grasp all, lose all
    • Strauss, Emmanuel (1994). Dictionary of European Proverbs, Volym 1. Routledge. p. 886. ISBN 0415096243. 
  • Aki másnak vermet ás, maga esik bele.
    • English equivalent: Whoever digs a hole for someone else, will fall in it themselves.
    • Strauss, Emmanuel (1998). Dictionary of European Proverbs. Routledge. p. 653. ISBN 0415160502. 
  • Az idő pénz.
    • English equivalent: Time is money.
    • Strauss, Emanuel (1994). Dictionary of European proverbs (Volume 2 ed.). Routledge. p. 1008. ISBN 0415096243. 

B[edit]

  • Borban az igazság.
    • English equivalent: In wine there is truth.
    • "Alcohol consumed removes the inhibition against telling the truth that occasionally one would like to keep secret."
    • Source for meaning and proverbs: Paczolay, Gyula (1997). European Proverbs in 55 languages. DeProverbio.com. p. 272. ISBN 1-875943-44-7. 

C[edit]

  • Csöbörből vödörbe / Cseberből vederbe.
    • English equivalent: Out of the frying pan into the fire.
    • Kövecses (2006). English-Hungarian Dictionary. Akadémiai Kiadó. p. 253. ISBN 9630583577. 

D[edit]

  • Sokat hallgass keveset szólj.
    • English equivalent: God gave us two ears and one mouth.
    • "Many people today believe that cynicism requires courage. Actually, cynicism is the height of cowardice. It is innocence and open-heartedness that requires the true courage -- however often we are hurt as a result of it."
    • Erica Jong, How To Save Your Own Life (1977)
    • Strauss, Emanuel (1998). Concise Dictionary of European Proverbs (Abbreviated ed.). Routledge. p. 160. ISBN 0415160502. 

E[edit]

  • Egy fecske nem csinál nyarat.
    • English equivalent: One swallow does not make a summer.
    • Meaning: "One person alone is too little to change things."
    • Source for meaning: Hungarian sayings retrieved 2013-07-10
    • Forgács, Tamás (2003). Magyar szólások és közmondások szótára: mai nyelvünk állandósult szókapcsolatai példákkal szemléltetve. Tinta Könyvkiadó. p. 175. ISBN 9639372668. 
  • Elássa a csatabárdot.
    • English equivalent: Forgive and forget.
    • Zoltán, Kövecses (2006). English-Hungarian Dictionary. Akademiai Kiado. p. 284. 

F[edit]

  • Fejétől bűzlik a hal.
    • English equivalent: A fish rots from the head down.
    • Meaning: A fault in an organization exists because of the leaderboard.
    • "A man's enemies have no power to harm him, if he is true to himself and loyal to God."
    • John Bartholomew Gough, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 208.
    • Strauss, Emanuel (1994). Dictionary of European proverbs (Volume 2 ed.). Routledge. p. 1117. ISBN 0415096243. 
  • Ne fesd az ördögöt a falra!
    • English equivalent: "Don't bring the devil aboard!"
    • Forgács, Tamás (2003). Magyar szólások és közmondások szótára: mai nyelvünk állandósult szókapcsolatai példákkal szemléltetve Volym 6 of Magyar nyelv kézikönyvei. Tinta Könyvkiadó. p. 170. 

G[edit]

  • Gyermëk, részëg, bolond mondják az igazat.
    • English equivalent: Children, fools and drunken men tell the truth.
    • Meaning: Children and fools have no inhibition, and alcohol consumed removes the inhibition against telling the truth that occasionally one would like to keep secret.
    • Source for proverbs and meaning: Paczolay, Gyula (1997). European Proverbs in 55 languages. DeProverbio.com. p. 272. ISBN 1-875943-44-7. 
  • Gyümölcséről lëhet megismerni a fát.
    • English equivalent: The apple does not fall far from the tree.
    • Meaning: Children observe daily and — in their behaviour — often follow the example of their parents.
    • Strauss, Emanuel (1994). Dictionary of European proverbs (Volume 2 ed.). Routledge. p. 488. ISBN 0415096243. 
    • Source for meaning: Paczolay, Gyula (1997). European Proverbs in 55 languages. DeProverbio.com. p. 259. ISBN 1-875943-44-7. 

H[edit]

  • A hazug embert hamarabb utolérik, mint a sánta kutyát.
      • English equivalent: A lie has short legs.
    • Forgács, Tamás (2003). Magyar szólások és közmondások szótára: mai nyelvünk állandósult szókapcsolatai példákkal szemléltetve Volym 6 of Magyar nyelv kézikönyvei. Tinta Könyvkiadó. p. 151. 

I[edit]

J[edit]

  • Jó a vén eb ugatására kitekinteni.
    • English equivalent: An old dog barks not in vain.
    • Strauss, Emanuel (1998). Concise Dictionary of European Proverbs (Abbreviated ed.). Routledge. p. 55. ISBN 0415160502. 
  • Jó bornak nem kell cégér.
    • Translation: Good wine needs no label.
    • Note: Originally It was customary since early times to hang a grapevine, ivy or other greenery over the door of a tavern or way stop to advertise the availability of drink within.
    • English equivalent: Good wine needs no bush.
    • "Advertising sells you things you don't need and can't afford, that are overpriced and don't work. And they do it by exploiting your fears and insecurities, and if you don't have any they'll be glad to give you a few by showing you a nice picture of a woman with big tits. That's the essence of advertising: big tits. Threateningly big tits."
    • George Carlin (1997), "40 Years of Comedy".
    • Source for meaning of English equivalent: Martin H. Manser (2007). The Facts on File Dictionary of Proverbs. Infobase Publishing. p. 109. ISBN 978-0-8160-6673-5. 
    • Margalits, Ede (1897). Magyar közmondások és közmondásszerü szólások. Kókai L.. p. 77. 
  • Jobb ma egy veréb, mint holnap egy túzok.
    • Translation: Rather today a sparrow than a bustard tomorrow.
    • English equivalent: A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
    • Meaning: "Something you have for certain now is of more value than something better you may get, especially if you risk losing what you have in order to get it."
    • Source for meaning of English equivalent: Martin H. Manser (2007). The Facts on File Dictionary of Proverbs. Infobase Publishing. p. 28. ISBN 978-0-8160-6673-5. Retrieved on 29 July 2013. 
    • András Dugonics (1820). Magyar példa beszédek és jeles mondások. Grünn Orbán. p. 23. Retrieved on 29 July 2013. 

K[edit]

  • Ki korán kel, aranyat lel.
    • Translation: Who wakes early finds gold.
    • English equivalent: It is the early bird that gets the worm.
    • Meaning: "Those who are late to act, arrive, or get up tend to miss opportunities already seized by those who came earlier."
    • Source for meaning: Martin H. Manser (2007). The Facts on File Dictionary of Proverbs. Infobase Publishing. p. 70. ISBN 978-0-8160-6673-5. Retrieved on 5 September 2013. 
    • Emanuel Strauss. "435". Dictionary of European Proverbs. Routledge. p. 1128. ISBN 978-1-134-86460-7. Retrieved on 6 September 2013. 
  • Ki mint vet, úgy arat. also "Amit vetsz, azt aratsz"
    • Translation: They way you sow is the way your reap.
    • English equivalent: As you sow, so shall you reap.
    • Halász, Előd (2006). Német-magyar kisszótár. Akademiai Kiado. p. xxiv. 
  • Kivétel erősíti a szabályt.
    • Translation: Exception strenghtens the rule.
    • English equivalent: The exception proves the rule.
    • Teichmann, Peter (2004). Kutyák. Tessloff-Babilon. p. 22. ISBN 963944653X. 

L[edit]

  • Lónak négy a lába, mégis megbotlik.
    • Translation and English equivalent: The horse has four legs and still stumbles.
    • Strauss, Emanuel (1998). Concise Dictionary of European Proverbs (Abbreviated ed.). Routledge. p. 57. ISBN 0415160502. 

M[edit]

  • Madarat tolláról, embert barátjáról.
    • Translation: Birds (are known/recognized) from their feather, humans (are known/recognized) from their friend.
    • English equivalent: A man is known by the company he keeps..
    • Meaning: If you want to know someone, look at the friends they have.
    • Ede Margalits (1897). Magyar közmondások és közmondásszerü szólások. Kókai L.. p. 43. 
  • Más kárán tanul az okos.
    • Translation: The smart one will learn from the mistakes of others.
    • English equivalent: Wise men learn by other men's mistakes, fools by their own.
    • Margalits, Ede (1897). Magyar közmondások és közmondásszerü szólások. Kókai L. p. 389. ISBN 963944653X. 
  • Mikor az isten nyulat teremtett, a bokorról is gondoskodott.
    • English equivalent: Each day brings it own bread.
    • Meaning: As Dale Carnegie said: "Remember, today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday."
    • Source for meaning: How to Stop Worrying and Start Living (1948) , Part 8 : How I Conquered Worry, p. 237.
    • Strauss, Emanuel (1994). Dictionary of European proverbs (Volume 2 ed.). Routledge. p. 757. ISBN 0415096243. 
  • Mindenki a maga szerencséjének kovácsa.
    • Translation: Everyone's the blacksmith of their own fate.
    • "Don't avoid the clichés - they are clichés because they work!"
    • George Lucas to Marty Sklar, quoted in "The Imagineering Way: Ideas to Ignite your Creativity" (Disney Editions, 2003)
    • Hegedüs, Rita (2005). Magyar mozaik 4: Nyelvkönyv. Akademiai Kiado. p. 173. ISBN 963058221X. 

N[edit]

  • Ne csinálj szúnyogból elefántot.
    • Translation: Don't make an elephant out of a mosquito.
    • English equivalent: Don't make a mountain out of a molehill.
    • Meaning: Don't make something momentous out of a trifle.
    • Paczolay, Gyula (1997). European Proverbs in 55 languages. DeProverbio.com. p. 409. ISBN 1-875943-44-7. 
  • Ne igyál előre a medve bőrére.
    • Translation: Don't drink ahead to the bear's hide
    • English equivalent: Don't count your chickens before they are hatched.
    • Alternate translation: Don't waste your favours before you get them (also works with money)
    • Sinor, Denis (1969). Inner Asia. Routledge. p. 10. ISBN 0700703802. 
  • Néha a vak is patkóra talál.
    • Translation: Sometimes the blind can see horseshoes.
    • English equivalent: Even a blind pig may occasionally pick up an acorn.
    • Meaning: "An incompetent person or an unsystematic approach is bound to succeed every now and then by chance."
    • Source for meaning of English equivalent: Martin H. Manser (2007). The Facts on File Dictionary of Proverbs. Infobase Publishing. p. 75. ISBN 978-0-8160-6673-5. Retrieved on 8 September 2013. 
    • Strauss, Emanuel (1994). Dictionary of European proverbs (Volume 2 ed.). Routledge. p. 36. ISBN 0415096243. 
  • Nem esik messze az alma a fájától.
    • English equivalent: The apple does not fall far from the tree.
    • Meaning: Children observe daily and — in their behaviour — often follow the example of their parents.
    • Source for proverbs and meaning: Paczolay, Gyula (1997). European Proverbs in 55 languages. DeProverbio.com. p. 259. ISBN 1-875943-44-7. 
  • Nem látja a fától az erdőt.
    • Translation: Can't see the forest from the trees.
    • Meaning: A minor detail blinds him to see the big picture. / He misses the point.
    • English equivalent: Cannot see the wood for the trees.
    • Bizottság, Nyelvművelő (1899). Magyar nyelvőr. Akadémiai Kiadó. 
  • Nem kell belesírni a kiömlött tejbe
    • Translation: Don't cry over the spilled milk.
    • Bizottság, Nyelvművelő (1972). Hid, Utgåva 7–12. Fórum Lapkiadó Vállalat. p. 1874. 
  • Nëm këll a tűzre olajat önteni.
    • Translation: You should not add oil to the fire.
    • English equivalent: Don't add fuel to the fire.
    • Meaning: One should not make a bad situation even worse by an improper remark.
    • Source for meaning and proverbs: Paczolay, Gyula (1997). European Proverbs in 55 languages. DeProverbio.com. p. 338. ISBN 1-875943-44-7. 
  • Nem mind arany, ami fénylik.
    • Translation: Not all that glitters is gold.
    • English equivalent: All that glitters is not gold.
    • Meaning: An attractive appearance may be deceptive. It may cover or hide a much less favourable content.
    • Source for meaning: Paczolay, Gyula (1997). European Proverbs in 55 languages. DeProverbio.com. p. 114. ISBN 1-875943-44-7. 
    • Bizottság, Ferencz (1886). English-Hungarian dictionary Volume 1. Franklin-társulat. p. 1874. 
  • Nem zörög a haraszt, ha a szél nem fújja.
    • Translation: The bushes don't rattle if there's no wind.
    • English equivalent: There's no smoke without fire.
    • Meaning: There is a reason for everything that happens.
    • Other meaning: A rumour contains some truth.
    • O. Nagy, Gábor (1999). Magyar szólások és közmondások. Talentum. p. 269. ISBN 9636450811. 
  • Nem repül a sült galamb a szádba.
    • Translation: The fried dove/pigeon (or chicken) will not fly into your mouth
    • Meaning: Very few major problems are going to solve themselves. The only thing you can do is to work yourself to get rid of them.
    • O. Nagy, Gábor (1999). Magyar szólások és közmondások. Talentum. p. 230. ISBN 9636450811. 
  • Nesze semmi, fogd meg jól!
    • English equivalent: Here's nothing, hold it well!
    • Meaning: It is an ironic proverb, used when someone gets something high-sounding, but useless or meaningless.
  • Nincs drágább az idönél.
    • Translation: There is nothing more precious than time.
    • English equivalent: Time is precious.
    • Paczolay, Gyula (1997). European Proverbs in 55 languages. DeProverbio.com. p. 428. ISBN 1-875943-44-7. 

O, Ó, Ö[edit]

  • Olcsó húsnak híg a leve.
    • Translation: Cheap meat produces thin broth.
    • Meaning: Usually the price of an item predicts its quality (cheap means worse materials were used)
    • English equivalent: "If you buy quality you only cry once." and "If you buy cheaply you pay dearly."
    • Tudományos Akadémia, Magyar (2000). Acta ethnographica Hungarica, Volym 45, Utgåva 3–4. Akadémiai Kiadó. p. 286. ISBN 0700703802. 

S[edit]

  • Segíts magadon, (és) az Isten is megsegít.
    • Translation: Help yourself and God will help you also.
    • English equivalent: God helps those who help themselves.
    • Meaning: When in trouble first of all every one himself should do his best to improve his condition.
    • Source for meaning: Paczolay, Gyula (1997). European Proverbs in 55 languages. DeProverbio.com. p. 150. ISBN 1-875943-44-7. 
    • Tapon, Francis (2012). The Hidden Europe: What Eastern Europeans Can Teach Us. SonicTrek, Inc.. p. 249. ISBN 0976581221. 
  • Szëgény ëgér, melynek csak egy lyuka van.
    • English equivalent: It is a poor mouse that has only one hole.
    • Meaning: It is dangerous to always depend on just one thing, because if it fails you, you will not have any alternatives.
    • Strauss, Emanuel (1994). Dictionary of European proverbs (Volume 2 ed.). Routledge. p. 375. ISBN 0415096243. 

U,Ú[edit]

  • Új seprű jól seper.
    • Translation: A new broom sweeps well.
    • Meaning: Newcomers are the most ambitious.
    • Zoltán, Kövecses (2006). English-Hungarian Dictionary. Akademiai Kiado. p. 80. ISBN 9630583577. 
  • Üres hasnak nem elég a szép szó, hanem a czipó.
    • Translation: Fine words are not enough for the empty stomach, it needs bread.
    • English equivalent: Fine words butter no parsnips.
    • Meaning: Merely talking about a problem will not solve it.
    • Strauss, Emanuel (1994). Dictionary of European proverbs (Volume 2 ed.). Routledge. p. IOI. ISBN 0415096243. 

V[edit]

  • Vak tyúk is talál szemet.
    • Translation: Even the blind chicken finds grains.
    • English equivalent: A stopped clock is right twice a day.
    • Meaning: Even an incompetent person will eventually be right about something.
    • Makai, Mihály (2004). Merre vagy szellem napvilága?: a megismerés rögös útjai. Typotex Kft. p. 116. ISBN 9639548197. 
  • Várja, míg szájába repül a sült galamb.
    • English equivalent: Birds fly not into our mouth ready roasted.
    • Meaning: One cannot (or should not) expect to benefit without making some effort.
    • Source for meaning: Paczolay, Gyula (1997). European Proverbs in 55 languages. DeProverbio.com. p. 455. ISBN 1-875943-44-7. 
    • Strauss, Emanuel (1994). Dictionary of European proverbs (Volume 2 ed.). Routledge. p. 171. ISBN 0415096243. 
  • Vizet hord a Dunába.
    • Translation: He is taking water to the Danube.
    • English equivalent: It's like bringing coal to Newcastle.
    • Meaning: He is doing something pointless or superfluous; Don't do things in a needlessly laborious way.
    • Országh (1960). Angol-magyar Szótár. Akadémiai Kiadó. p. 106. 

Ö[edit]

  • Ökörtül tanulá a tinó.
    • Translation: What kind of parents, such children.
    • Meaning: Children will become like older generations.
    • Source: Strauss, Emmanuel (1998). Dictionary of European Proverbs. Routledge. p. 138. ISBN 0415160502.