Talk:Tamil proverbs

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Nalethukey intha ulagatil kalaam mey illa.. Nambe manusanage poranthupotha vaavalthey tollai Nalla kaalam enuka mathum innum poralake Naa naai vesham podatalai tenanum kolaikuren... Ponai nu nenaichi puli vaale pidichiten



  • ஐந்தில் வளையாதது ஐம்பதில் வளையுமா?
  • Transliteration: Aintil vaḷaiyātatu aimpatil vaḷaiyumā?
  • Translation: Which character or habit that (you) cannot change at 5 years old, (you) won't be able to change at 50 years old.

Arai koththarisi anna dhaanam. Vidiya vidiya maela thaalam.

  • Tamil: அரை கொத்தரிசி அன்ன தானம். விடிய விடிய மேள தாளம்.
  • Literal: Half a handful of rice is given as charity, but the announcing drumming is done all night.
  • Meaning: when you indulge in charity, do not announce it with trumpets -

Aadath thireyathaval medaii konal enralaam

  • Tamil: ஆடத் தெரியாதவள் மேடை கோணல் என்றாளாம்.
  • Literal: She who cannot dance says the stage is imperfect.
  • Meaning: A bad workman blames his tools.

Aarellaam paalaaip ponaalum naai nakkiththaan kudikkum

  • Tamil: ஆறெல்லாம் பாலாய்ப் போனாலும் நாய் நக்கித்தான் குடிக்கும்.
  • Literal: Even if a river's waters change into milk a dog can only drink it by licking only (it can't suck like a cow, horse....) .
  • Meaning: Inherent characteristics cannot be changed.

Aadu maadu illathavan adai mazhaiku raja

  • Tamil: ஆடு மாடு இல்லாதவன் அடை மழைக்கு ராஜா.
  • Literal:Farmers without cows and goats are the king of storm and heavy rain
  • Meaning:Those without liabilities need not worry about anything.


Ciru thulli peru vellam

  • Tamil:சிறு துளி பெரு வெள்ளம்.
  • Literal: Little drops make a big ocean.
  • Meaning: When a person saves little money everyday, one day it will become a huge amount of money.

Aalai Illa Oorukku iluppa poo sarkkarai?

Where you did not get sugar, there you can use Iluppa Flower as sugar.(with medicinal impact)


erumbu oorak kallum theyum

  • Tamil: எறும்பு ஊரக் கல்லும் தேயும்.
  • Literal: Walk of ant(s) can wear out a rock.
  • Meaning: Persistence never fails.


innaa seithaarai oruththal avar naana nannayam seithu vidal

  • Tamil: இன்னா செய்தாரை ஒறுத்தல் அவர் நாண நன்னயம் செய்து விடல்.
  • Literal: Make a wrong doer feel shy, by doing him a favour. (Source: Thirukkural)
  • Meaning: If others harm you, do good unto them, so that they are shamed into realizing their mistakes.

izhavukku vanthaval thaliaruppala?

  • Tamil: இழவுக்கு வந்தவள் தாலியறுப்பாளா?
  • Literal: A lady who came for a condolence wouldn't cut off her thali (literal) - thali signifies marital bond, and it is cut off only when the husband dies. A lady attending a funeral can't become a widow herself.
  • Meaning: The problems of a person cannot be shifted to others.


kudigAran pEchchu vidinjA pOchu

  • Tamil: குடிகாரன் பேச்சு விடிஞ்சா போச்சு.
  • Literal: A drunkard's words are gone by the next dawn.
  • Meaning: Don't promise,when unconsious.

kaathali suddaal ethiri madiyil maranam

  • Tamil: காதலி சுட்டால் எதிரி மடியில் மரணம்.
  • Literal: When the lover (female) shoots you, you die on enemy's knee.
  • Meaning: Its better to die on enemy's feet feet than being beck stabbed/betrayed by loved one.

kAkkaikum than kunju pon kunju

  • Tamil: காக்கைக்கும் தன் குஞ்சு பொன் குஞ்சு.
  • Literal: Even a crow thinks its child is golden.
  • Meaning: Though one has very little wealth, its a treasure to oneself. Others may not see them as treasure.

kadugu ciruththAlum kAram kuraiyAthu

  • Tamil: கடுகு சிறுத்தாலும் காரம் குறையாது.
  • Literal: Thee mustard might be small, but that doesn't remove its spicyness.
  • Meaning: Don't measure the worth of a person by their size/shape.

kAtrulla pOthe thootrikkol

  • Tamil: காற்றுள்ள போதே தூற்றிக்கொள்.
  • Literal: Make hay while the sun shines.
  • Meaning: Make use of every opportunity you get.

kattradhu kai maN aLavu, kallAthathu ulagaLavu

  • Tamil: கற்றது கைமண் அளவு, கல்லாதது உலகளவு.
  • Literal: What is learnt is a handful of sand, while what is unknown is the size of the world. (Source: Avvaiyar)
  • Meaning: Known is a drop unknown is an ocean.

Kattikkodutha saappaadum sollikkodutha vaarthaiyum pala naal thaangathu

  • Tamil: கட்டிக்கொடுத்த சாப்பாடும் சொல்லிக்கொடுத்த வார்த்தையும் பல நாள் தாங்காது.
  • Literal: Packed food and words of wisdom from others don't last more than a few days.
  • Meaning: Self-reliance lasts longer than depending on others.

kUzhukkum Asai meesaikkum Asai

  • Tamil: கூழுக்கும் ஆசை மீசைக்கும் ஆசை.
  • Literal: You can't drink thick porridge if you want to keep your mustache clean.
  • Meaning: Can't have your cake and eat it too.

kuppura vizhundhAlum meesaiyil man ottavillai

  • Tamil: குப்புர விழுந்தாலும் மீசையில் மண் ஒட்டவில்லை.
  • Literal: I fell flat on my face, but there is no dust on my mustache.
  • Meaning: Saving face after an insult.

gAna mayilAdak kaNdirundha vAn kozhi, thaanum adhuvAgap pAvithu than pollach chiRagai virithu AdumAm

  • Tamil: கான மயிலாட கண்டிருந்த வான்கோழித் தானும் அதுவாகப் பாவித்துத் தன் பொல்லாச் சிறகை விரித்து ஆடுமாம்.
  • Literal: A turkey, seeing a peacock, imagined itself as one and started dancing opening its horrible feathers.
  • Meaning: One should know one's position and not try to copy others blindly.


Mayirai katti malayai izhu - vanthal malai ponal mayir

  • Tamil: மயிரைக் கட்டி மலையை இழு. வந்தால் மலை போனால் மயிர்.
  • Literal: Pull a mountain by tying a hair to it. If you succeed you will get a mountain, if you lose you will lose a hair.
  • Meaning: There is no harm in trying, especially if it is a low-hanging fruit.

Maamiyaar udaithaal mann kudam. Marumagal udaithaal pon kudam

  • Tamil: மாமியார் உடைத்தால் மண் குடம். மருமகள் உடைத்தால் பொன் குடம்.
  • Literal: If the mother-in-law breaks it, it is a mud pot. If the daughter-in-law breaks it, it is a golden pot.
  • Meaning: Don't see partiality.

Mullai Mullal thaan edukka vendum

  • Tamil: முள்ளை முள்ளால் தான் எடுக்க வேண்டும்.
  • Literal: A thorn can only be removed with another thorn^.
  • Meaning: Fight fire with fire; Diamond cuts diamond.

Moorthy chinnathaanalum keerthi periyathu

  • Tamil: மூர்த்தி சின்னதானாலும் கீர்த்தி பெரியது.
  • Literal: The idol may be small, its fame is big.
  • Meaning: Don't judge the worth of a person by their size.
  • Meaning: Size does not matter.

Minnuvathellam pon alla.

  • Tamil: மின்னுவதெல்லாம் பொன்னல்ல.
  • Literal: All that glitters is not gold.
  • Meaning: Don't believe everything blindly.

Malayai kelli eliyai pidiththaanaam

  • Tamil: மலையைக் கெல்லி எலியைப் பிடித்தானாம்.
  • Literal: (He) uprooted a mountain to catch a mouse.
  • Meaning: (He) wastes a lot of effort to do simple jobs.

Muyarchi udayar igalchi adayar.

  • Tamil: முயற்சி உடையார் இகழ்ச்சி அடையார்.
  • Literal: There is no downward journey for those who keep trying.
  • Meaning: The one who tries will always end up in greater heights


Nirai Kudam Neer Thalumbaadhu kurai kudam Koothadum

  • Tamil: நிறை குடம் நீர் தளும்பாது. குறை குடம் கூத்தாடும்.
  • Literal: Fully filled pot (a knowlegeable person) is silent. Empty vessels (idiots) make the most noise.
  • Meaning:

Nizhalin arumai veiyilil thaan theriyum

  • Tamil: நிழலின் அருமை வெயிலில் தான் தெரியும்.
  • Literal: Only when in the sun do you miss the shade.
  • Meaning:

Naai vitra kaasu kurakkaadhu

  • Tamil: நாய் விற்ற காசு குரைக்காது.
  • Literal: The money from selling a dog doesn't bark.
  • Meaning: All money looks the same (no matter what was sold). (Also known as the Money-launderer's Manifesto.)

Naai vaalai nimirtha mudiyathu

  • Tamil: நாய் வாலை நிமிர்த்த முடியாது.
  • Literal: A dog's tail can't be straightened.
  • Meaning: It is difficult to change one's nature (similar to 'a leopard can't change its spots').

Naai vedam pottal kuraiththuthaan aagavendum

  • Tamil: நாய் வேடம் போட்டால் குரைத்துத்தான் ஆகவேண்டும்.
  • Literal: When (you) dress up as a dog, be prepared to bark.
  • Meaning: If you take on a role, be prepared to do whatever the role demands (think before you decide).

Nondi kuthiraikku sarukkinathu saattu

  • Tamil: நொண்டி குதிரைக்கு சறுக்கினது சாட்டாம்.
  • Literal: For a lame horse, slippery is an excuse.
  • Meaning: A person not willing to do work will complain about anything.

nunalum than vaayaal kedum

  • Tamil: நுணலும் தன் வாயால் கெடும்.
  • Literal: Even the tiny frog is spoilt by its mouth (literal) - because its noise invites snakes.
  • Meaning: Know when to keep quiet.


Paambin kaal paambariyum

  • Tamil: பாம்பின் கால் பாம்பறியும்.
  • Literal: A snake knows the trails left by another snake.
  • Meaning: The persons involved in similar activities know each other better than others do.
  • Meaning: The subtleties of each trade is known only to those in the trade.

Puli Pasitthalum Pullai Thinnadhu

  • Tamil: புலி பசித்தாலும் புல்லைத் தின்னாது.
  • Literal: Even if the tiger is hungry,it wont eat grass.
  • Meaning: A person never loses his nature no matter how hard-pressed.

Poruththaar Boomi Aazhvaar

  • Tamil: பொறுத்தார் பூமி் ஆள்வார்.
  • Literal: The patient will rule the world.
  • Meaning:

Petra pillai illaatiyum vacha pillai thani ootrum.

  • Tamil: பெற்ற பிள்ளை இல்லாட்டியும் வச்ச பிள்ளை தண்ணி ஊற்றும்.
  • Literal: Even if your children are not helping you, the coconut that you planted will take care of your old age.
  • Meaning:

pudichAlum puliam kombA pudichitAr

  • Tamil: புடிச்சாலும் புளியம் கொம்பா புடிச்சிட்டார்.
  • Literal: He has gotten hold of the tamarind branch.
  • Meaning: He has taken a strong position (in the activity he is engaged in).

pAlukkum kAval pUnaikkum thOzhan

  • Tamil: பாலுக்கும் காவல், பூனைக்கும் தோழன்.
  • Literal: Guardian of milk, as well as friend of the cat.
  • Meaning: Beware of those that get a commission from both parties.

pazhaimaiye sirandhadhu

  • Tamil: பழமையே சிறந்தது.
  • Literal: Old is gold
  • Meaning:


Sadhi irundozhiya verillai, ittar periyor idadhar izhigulathor (Source: Avvaiyar)

  • Tamil: சாதி இரண்டொழிய வேறில்லை, இட்டார் பெரியோர் இடாதார் இழிகுலத்தோர்.
  • Literal: There are only two castes in this world: ones that give, and ones that don't.
  • Meaning: There are only two types of people in this world: those who share, and those who don't.

Sundaikkai kal panam sumaikkuli mukkal panam

  • Tamil: சுண்டைக்காய் கால் பணம் சுமைக்கூலி முக்கால் பணம்.
  • Literal: A quarter for the berry, three quarters for the delivery.
  • Meaning:

Sattiyil irundhal dhan agappaiyil varum.

  • Tamil: சட்டியில் இருந்தால் தான் அகப்பையில் வரும்.
  • Literal: The vessel needs to contain something, for the spoon to fetch it.
  • Meaning:


Thani Maram Thopu aagadhu

  • Tamil: தனி மரம் தோப்பு ஆகாது.
  • Meaning: Literal: A single tree makes not an orchard.
  • Meaning: Unity is strength.

Thannirai kooda salladail allalam, athu panikati agum varai poruthal

  • Tamil: தண்ணீரைக் கூட சல்லடையில் அள்ளலாம், அது பனிக்கட்டி ஆகும் வரை பொருத்தால்.
  • Literal: Even water can be held in a sieve, if you wait till it turns to ice.
  • Meaning:

Theeyinal sutta punn ullaarum aaraathe naavinaal sutta vadu

  • Tamil: தீயினால் சுட்ட புண் உள்ளாறும் ஆறாதே நாவினால் சுட்ட வடு.
  • Literal: The wounds of fire would vanish with time but the wounds caused by words never. (Source: Thiruk-kural)
  • Meaning:

Theedhum nandrum pirar thara vaara

  • Tamil: தீதும் நன்றும் பிறர் தர வாரா.
  • Literal: Good or bad, it doesn't come from others.
  • Meaning: What happens to one, good or bad, it doesn't come from the actions of others, but from their own deeds.


Ooru mechum, ulveedu patni

  • Tamil: ஊரு மெச்சும், உள்வீடு பட்டினி.
  • Literal: Famous person in the village but a poor family that can't feed itself.
  • Meaning: Fame does not automatically fetch one money.

Verumkai enbathu moodathanam,un viralgal pathum mooladhanam.

  • Tamil: வெறும் கை என்பது மூடத்தனம் உன் விரல்கள் பத்தும் மூலதனம்.
  • Literal: Saying 'empty hands' is foolishness. The fingers ten are the investment.
  • Meaning: Your effort is what all you have got.

Veetai kattipaar,kalyanathai senjuppar

  • Tamil: வீட்டைக் கட்டிப்பார், கல்யாணத்தைப் பண்ணிப்பார்.
  • Literal: Try building a home, try organizing a wedding.
  • Meaning: If you think daily life is painful, try building a home or organizing a wedding. These activities involve bringing a lot of people together and can never be done in a day, and hence expose a person to the complexities of project and people management.

vITTilE eli veLiyilE puli

  • Tamil: வீட்டிலே எலி வெளியிலே புலி.
  • Literal: A mouse at home, a tiger outside.
  • Meaning: Some men act big to the outside world, but at home they're like a mouse (in front of their wives).

Vidhiyai madhiyaal vellalaam

  • Tamil: விதியை மதியால் வெல்லலாம்.
  • Literal: Even fate can be won over with brains.
  • Meaning: Don't assume that fate is final. With intelligence, even fate can be changed.

Vekkankettapayal virunthukku ponanam, kooda ooru chokkan kuthavaikkaponanam

  • Tamil: வெக்கங்கெட்ட பயல் விருந்துக்குப் போனானாம், கூட ஒரு சொக்கன் குத்தவைக்கப் போனானாம்.
  • Literal: A shameless person went for a party and another useless fellow accompanied.
  • Meaning: Never be in the company of bad person.

Vettaruvaalukku viraiyala, kachala.

  • Tamil: வெட்டரிவாளுக்கு விரையலா காய்ச்சலா.
  • Literal: A pickaxe will never suffer from cold or fever.
  • Meaning: A family-less person will not have to face troubles.

VilakkamAtrukkup pattuk kunjalam

  • Tamil: விளக்கமாற்றுக்குப் பட்டுக்குஞ்சலம்.
  • Literal: A silk tassel for a broom.
  • Meaning: An unfitting ornament or an attempt to show something lowly as commendable by superficial decoration.

VitharakaLLi viRagu odikkap pOnALAm, kathAzhai muLLu kothOdu kuthittAm"

  • Tamil: வித்தரக்கள்ளி(?) விறகு ஒடிக்கப் போனாளாம், கத்தாழை முள்ளு கொத்தோடு குத்திட்டாம்.
  • Literal: A deceit woman went for collection of fire wood when a bunch of agave spines pricked her.
  • Meaning: A person who is not interested in work will blame the nature of work.


Yaanaikkum Adi Sarukkum

  • Tamil: யானைக்கும் அடி சறுக்கும்.
  • Literal: Even elephants do slip.
  • Meaning: Even the mighty slip at times.
  • Meaning: The great Homer sometimes nods.

Yaanai than thalail thaane mann alli pota madiri

  • Tamil: யானை தன் தலையில் தானே மண் அள்ளி போட்ட மாதிரி
  • Literal: Elephants ruin themselves
  • Meaning: Dig one's own grave

Vinai vithaithavan vinai aruppan, thinai vithaithavan thinai aruppan

  • Tamil: வினை விதைத்தவன் வினை அறுப்பான், திணை விதைத்தவன் தினை அறுப்பான்.
  • Literal: Do good, beget good; Do bad, beget bad.
  • Meaning:you reap what you sow
  • The Heritage. Chandamama Publications. 1989. 

Keeping the page[edit]

I object that the article is getting deleted. The problem is Tamil proverbs are written on palm leaves, hence there won't be any clear references in net. However, I can help to try to trace some cites. --Luigi Boy (talk) 23:34, 7 January 2017 (UTC)

Ok Luigi Boy, A Classified Collection of Tamil Proverbs by Jensen Herman looks like a good source (better than palm leaves), but there are some problems with your citations:
  • Herman, Jensen (1897). A Classified Collection of Tamil Proverbs (Abbreviated ed.). Indiana University. pp. 499. ISBN 9780781805926. 
  1. The 1897 edition does not have an ISBN (they had not been invented yet). That edition (the first) was published by The Methodist Episcopal Publishing House, Madras. (Viewable here at
  2. The ISBN identifies a Hippocrene Books printing (1997, New York) of the Asian Educational Services edition (1997, New Delhi, Madras). (Listed here at Amazon.)
  3. Indiana University has never, to the best of my knowledge, published any edition of this book. (A copy of the 1986 Asian Educational Services edition in their library was digitized here by Google Books.)
So, which edition were you actually quoting? Since Wikiquote lives online, it may be best to use one of the online editions here. ~ Ningauble (talk) 14:51, 13 March 2017 (UTC)
@Ningauble Well I've typed the name and afterwards "ISBN" in Google and then the web crawler's listed some ISB-Numbers. Then I've picked the first one. And on Google Books I've found some additional information like the Indiana University. --Luigi Boy (talk) 19:55, 17 March 2017 (UTC)