Talk:Finnish proverbs

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  • "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.


  • "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 sellaista tietä, jota ei ennen ole käyty."
    • Translation: "There is no such path, that has not been walked along before."
  • "Ei tule lasta, eikä paskaa."
    • Translation: "Not producing baby, nor shit."
    • Translation: "Neither baby, nor poo."
    • Notes: Pushing hard with nothing to show for it.
  • "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.
  • "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.


  • "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.
  • "Joukossa tyhmyys tiivistyy"
    • Translation: "In a group stupidity condenses"


  • "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.
  • "Kelle paljon annetaan siltä paljon vaaditaan"
    • To whom is given a lot will be asked for a lot.
  • "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."
  • "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.
  • "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."


  • "Leikki on lapsen työtä."
    • Translation: "Playing is working for a child."


  • "Menikö jauhot suuhun?"
    • Translation: "Did the flour go to your mouth?"
    • English equivalent: "Did the cat catch your tongue?"
  • "Minä istun iloissani ja annan surun huilata."
    • Translation: "I sit here happy and let the sorrows slide."
    • Note: "huilata" means both to relax, and to flow or slide.


  • "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."

  • "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.


  • "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."


  • "Rakkaudesta se hevonenkin potkii."
    • Literal translation: "The horse kicks out of love, too."
    • Notes: Used, when somebody acts silly out of love.


  • "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."
  • "Sattuuhan sitä paremmisakin perheissä."
    • Translation: "It can happen even in better families."
  • "Se härjistä puhuu, joka härjillä ajaa."
    • Translation: "The man that talks about oxen, is the man that drives oxen."
  • "Se mies ei heiniä tee joka pilviä katsoo."
    • Translation: "The man who stares at the clouds will not cut any hay."
  • "Sen minkä ilotta oppii, sen suruttaa unohtaa."
    • Translation: "What one learns without joy, one forgets without grief."
  • "Sitä saa mitä tilaa."
    • Translation: "One gets what one orders."
    • Notes: Compare "Niin makaa kuin petaa".
  • "Sääliä saa ilmaiseksi, mutta kateus on ansaittava."
    • Translation: "Pity you get for free, but jealousy you must earn."


  • "Tie miehen sydämeen käy vatsan kautta."
    • Translation: "The way to a man's heart is through his stomach."


  • "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."
  • "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.
  • "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.