Talk:Finnish proverbs

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A[edit]

  • "Aina roiskuu kun rapataan." / "Rapatessa roiskuu."
    • 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."
  • "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 elämä irvistellen somene."
    • Life will not get more beautiful by making grimaces.
  • "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 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 sellaista tietä, jota ei ennen ole käyty."
    • Translation: "There is no such path, that has not been walked along before."
  • "Ei suuret sanat suuta halkaise"
    • Translation: "Big words won't split ones mouth."
    • English equivalent: "Actions speak louder than words."
  • "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.

H[edit]

  • "Hiljaa hyvää tulee"
    • Literal translation: "Good comes slowly"
    • Translation: "Easy does it"
  • "Hyvällä nimiä paljon, pahalla tapoja."
    • Translation: "Good has many names, bad many customs."

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

K[edit]

  • "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."
  • "Kuu on nuorten miesten aurinko."
    • Translation: "The moon is the sun of young men.
  • "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."

L[edit]

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

M[edit]

  • "Maltti on valttia."
    • Literal translation: "Patience is a trump."
    • English equivalent: "Patience is a virtue."
  • "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.

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."


  • "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]

  • "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 tuttu paha kuin tuntematon hyvä"
    • Translation: "Better a known harm than an unknown benefit"
    • English equivalent: "Better the Devil you know."

R[edit]

  • "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.

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."
  • "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".
  • "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 self pity 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."

T[edit]

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

V[edit]

  • "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.