Yiddish proverbs

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Proverbs in the Yiddish language.

With original Yiddish[edit]

  • .אַ קלוגער פֿאַרשטייט פֿון איין וואָרט צוויי
    • A kluger farshteyt fun eyn vort tsvey.
    • A wise man hears one word and understands two.
    • Source: Stutchkoff, Nahum (1950). דער אוצר פֿון דער ייִדישער שפּראַך. YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. p. 304. ISBN 0-914512-46-3. 
    • German gloss (unattested): Ein Kluger versteht von einem Wort zwei.
  • .אַחרי מות קדושים
    • Akhre moys kdoyshim. (direct quote from Hebrew)
    • After death, [a person is] holy.
    • Meaning: After a person's death, one should speak only of his virtues. Do not speak ill of the dead.
    • Meaning when used ironically: After death, even the most ordinary person becomes a saint.
    • Source: Bernstein, Ignaz (1988). Jüdische Sprichwörter und Redensarten. Fourier Verlag. p. 10. ISBN 3-925037-25-X. 
    • Latin equivalent: De mortuis nihil nisi bonum. (About the dead, nothing but good [should be said].)
  • .‎אויף איין שלאָג פֿאַלט קיין בוים ניט אום
    • Af eyn shlog falt keyn boym nit um.
    • A tree doesn't fall with one blow.
    • English equivalent: Little strokes fell great oaks.
    • Meaning: A difficult task cannot be accomplished quickly. It is achieved gradually in small steps.
    • Source: Bernstein, Ignaz (1988). Jüdische Sprichwörter und Redensarten. Fourier Verlag. p. 279. ISBN 3-925037-25-X. 
    • German gloss (unattested): Auf (Mit) einen Schlag fällt kein Baum (nicht) um.
  • .אויף פֿײַער זאָל מען קיין בוימל ניט גיסן
    • Af fayer zol men keyn boyml nit gisn.
    • Don't pour oil on fire.
    • English equivalent: Don't add fuel to the fire.
    • Meaning: Don't make a bad situation worse by making an injudicious remark.
    • Source: Stutchkoff, Nahum (1950). דער אוצר פֿון דער ייִדישער שפּראַך. YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. p. 454. ISBN 0-914512-46-3. 
    • German equivalent: Man soll kein Öl ins Feuer gießen.
    • German gloss (theoretical): Auf Feuer soll man kein (Baum-) Öl (nicht) gießen.
  • ‎אַמאָל איז די רפֿואה ערגער פֿאַר דער מכּה‫.‬
    • Amol iz di refue erger far der make.
    • Sometimes the cure is worse than the disease.
    • Source: Stutchkoff, Nahum (1950). דער אוצר פֿון דער ייִדישער שפּראַך. YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. p. 423. ISBN 0-914512-46-3. 
    • German gloss (theoretical): Einmal (Manchmal) ist die Refue ärger für (als) die Macke.
  • .אַז דער שטיין ליגט אויף איין אָרט ווערט ער אויך באַוואַקסן מיט גראָז
    • Az der shteyn ligt af eyn ort vert er oykh bavaksn mit groz.
    • If a stone stays in one place, it becomes overgrown with grass.
    • English proverb expressing the converse: A rolling stone gathers no moss.
    • Source: Bernstein, Ignaz (1988). Jüdische Sprichwörter und Redensarten. Fourier Verlag. p. 271. ISBN 3-925037-25-X. 
    • German gloss (unattested): Als (wenn) der Stein liegt auf einem Ort wird er auch bewachsen mit Grass.
  • .אַז מען לעבט, דערלעבט מען
    • Az men lebt, derlebt men.
    • When one lives, one experiences.
    • Meaning: If you live long enough, you live to see surprising things.
    • Source: Furman, Israel (1968). יידישע שפריכווערטער און רעדנסארטן. Hamenora Publishing House. p. 219. 
    • German gloss (unattested): Als (wenn) man lebt, erlebt man.
  • .‎פֿון אַ חזיר־שווענצל קען מען קיין שטרײַמל ניט מאַכן
    • Fun a khazer-shventsl ken men keyn shtrayml nit makhn.
    • You can't make a shtreimel from a pig's tail.
    • English equivalent: You can't make a silk purse from a sow's ear.
    • Meaning: "You cannot produce anything of good quality from poor raw material; often used of people."
    • Source for meaning of English equivalent: Martin H. Manser (2007). The Facts on File Dictionary of Proverbs. Infobase Publishing. p. 313. ISBN 978-0-8160-6673-5. 
    • Source: Bernstein, Ignaz (1988). Jüdische Sprichwörter und Redensarten. Fourier Verlag. p. 105. ISBN 3-925037-25-X. 
    • German gloss (theoretical): Von einem Chaser-Schwänzel kann man keinen Schtreimel (nicht) machen.
  • .דער מענטש טראַכט און גאָט לאַכט
    • Der mentsh trakht un Got lakht.
    • Man plans and God laughs.
    • English equivalent: Man proposes, God disposes.
    • English equivalent: "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." (John Lennon, Beautiful Boy, 1980)
    • Source: Furman, Israel (1968). יידישע שפריכווערטער און רעדנסארטן. Hamenora Publishing House. p. 248. 
    • German equivalent: Der Mensch denkt und Gott lenkt.
    • German gloss (unattested): Der Mensch trachtet und Gott lacht.
  • .דאָס עפּעלע פֿאַלט ניט ווײַט פֿון ביימעלע
    • Dos epele falt nit vayt fun beymele.
    • English equivalent: The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.
    • Meaning: Children follow the example of their parents.
    • Source: Bernstein, Ignaz (1988). Jüdische Sprichwörter und Redensarten. Fourier Verlag. p. 193. ISBN 3-925037-25-X. 
    • German equivalent: Der Apfel fällt nicht weit vom Stamm.
    • German gloss: Der Apfel fällt nicht weit vom Baum.
  • .אַ באַרג מיט אַ באַרג קומט זיך ניט צונויף, אָבער אַ מענטש מיט אַ מענטשן יאָ
    • A barg mit a barg kumt zikh nit tsunoyf, ober a mentsh mit a mentshn yo.
    • Two mountains can't come together, but two people can.
    • Meaning: There is always a way for people to find common ground.
    • German gloss (unattested): Ein Berg mit einem Berg kommt sich nicht zusammen, aber ein Mensch mit einem Menschen ja (schon).
    • Source: Stutchkoff, Nahum (1950). דער אוצר פֿון דער ייִדישער שפּראַך. YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. p. 30. ISBN 0-914512-46-3. 
  • געשוויגן הייסט אויך גערעדט‪.‬
    • Geshvign heyst oykh geredt.
    • Even silence speaks.
    • English equivalent: Silence gives consent.
    • "Anarchism says, Make no laws whatever concerning speech, and speech will be free; so soon as you make a declaration on paper that speech shall be free, you will have a hundred lawyers proving that "freedom does not mean abuse, nor liberty license"; and they will define and define freedom out of existence. Let the guarantee of free speech be in every man's determination to use it, and we shall have no need of paper declarations."
    • Voltairine de Cleyre , "Anarchism & American Traditions" in Mother Earth (December 1908/January 1909)
    • Source: Bernstein, Ignaz (1988). Jüdische Sprichwörter und Redensarten. Fourier Verlag. p. 265. ISBN 3-925037-25-X. 
    • German equivalent: Schweigen ist auch eine Antwort.
    • German gloss (unattested): Geschwiegen heißt auch geredet.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

Wikipedia
Wikipedia has an article about:
  • Yiddish Wit - Yiddish proverbs in Yiddish (Hebrew letters), YIVO transliteration, and English translation.