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Annoying Proverbs - The ones that grate on your nerves with repetition

(263 entries, updated July, 2020)

Annoying proverbs are the kind that are repeated with such frequency that many of us visibly wince whenever we hear them. Part of this, perhaps, is that most of them have an "I told you so" quality about them, sort of a pointless triteness. The collection is listed in alphabetical order by first word, with a few over-used metaphors thrown in for to add to the nausea.


    - A -
  1. Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

  2. Actions speak louder than words.

  3. All for one and one for all. -- Dumas, The Three Musketeers

  4. All's fair in love and war.

  5. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

  6. All's well that ends well.

  7. An apple a day keeps the doctor away.

  8. An apple never falls far from the tree.

  9. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

  10. Appearances can be deceiving.

  11. April showers bring May flowers.

  12. - B -
  13. Bad news travels fast.

  14. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

  15. Beauty is only skin deep.

  16. Beggars can't be choosers.

  17. Behind every good man is a good woman.

  18. The best defense is a good offense.

  19. The best laid plans of mice and men (often go astray). -- a variant on a line from To a Mouse by Robert Burns

  20. Better late than never.

  21. Better quit while you're ahead.

  22. Better safe than sorry.

  23. Better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.

  24. Beware of Greeks bearing gifts. -- My candiate for the oldest "I told you so" in history

  25. The bigger thet are the harder they fall.

  26. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

  27. Birds of a feather flock together.

  28. Blood is thicker than water.

  29. Boys will be boys.

  30. - C -
  31. Caught between a rock and a hard place.

  32. A chain is only a strong as its weakest link.

  33. Charity begins at home.

  34. The chickens have come home to roost.

  35. Cleanliness is next to godliness.

  36. Close, but no cigar.

  37. Cold hands, warm heart.

  38. Crime doesn't pay.

  39. The cure is worse than the disease.

  40. Curiosity killed the cat.

  41. The customer is always right.

  42. - D -
  43. Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

  44. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

  45. Discretion is the better part of valor.

  46. A dog is a man's best friend.

  47. Don't believe everything you hear.

  48. Don't bite off more than you can chew.

  49. Don't bit the hand that feeds you.

  50. Don't change horses in midstream.

  51. Don't count your chickens before they hatch.

  52. Don't cry over spilt milk.

  53. Don't cut off your nose to spite your face.

  54. Don't judge a book by its cover.

  55. Don't lock the stable door after the horse is gone.

  56. Don't look a gift horse in the mouth.

  57. Don't make a mountain out of a mole-hill.

  58. Don't put all your eggs in one basket.

  59. Don't put the cart before the horse.

  60. Don't rock the boat.

  61. Don't talk the talk if you can't walk the walk.

  62. Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.

  63. Don't upset the apple cart.

  64. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

  65. - E -
  66. Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.

  67. The early bird catches the worm.

  68. Easy come, easy go.

  69. Easy does it.

  70. The end justifies the means.

  71. Enjoy it while it lasts.

  72. Even a broken clock is right twice a day. (Though the digital age has ruined this one)

  73. Every cloud has a silver lining.

  74. Every dog has its day.

  75. Every man pays his price.

  76. The exception that proves the rule.

  77. Experience is the best teacher.

  78. - F -
  79. Failing to plan is planning to fail.

  80. Feed a cold, starve a fever.

  81. Finders keepers, losers weepers.

  82. First things first.

  83. Fish, or cut bait.

  84. A fool and his money are soon parted.

  85. Forgive, and forget.

  86. A friend in need is a friend indeed.

  87. - G -
  88. Give the devil his due.

  89. God helps those who help themselves.

  90. Going to hell in a handbasket.

  91. Good fences make good neighbors.

  92. Good men are hard to find.

  93. Great minds think alike.

  94. Good things come in small packages.

  95. Good things come to he who waits.

  96. The grass is always greener (on the other side of the fence).

  97. Great oaks from little acorns grow.

  98. - H -
  99. Half a loaf is better than none.

  100. Haste makes waste.

  101. Here today, gone tomorrow

  102. He who hesitates is lost.

  103. He who laughs last, laughs best. (or 'longest')

  104. He who lives by the sword, dies by the sword.

  105. Hindsight is 20-20.

  106. His bark is worse than his bite.

  107. Honesty is the best policy.

  108. Honey catches more flies than vinegar.

  109. Hope for the best but prepare for the worst.

  110. A house is not a home.

  111. - I -
  112. Idle minds are the devil's workshop.

  113. If at first you don't succeed, try, try again.

  114. If God had meant us to fly he'd have given us wings.

  115. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

  116. If it's not one thing, it's another.

  117. If the shoe fits, wear it.

  118. If wishes were horses then beggars would ride.

  119. If you can't lick 'em, join 'em.

  120. If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.

  121. If you have your health, you have everything.

  122. If you lie down with dogs, you wake up with fleas.

  123. If you want a thing done right, do it yourself.

  124. Ignorance is bliss.

  125. Immitation is the sicerest form of flattery.

  126. In for a penny, in for a pound.

  127. Into every life a little rain must fall.

  128. It ain't over till the fat lady sings.

  129. It never rains but it pours.

  130. It's a small world.

  131. It's better to give than to receive.

  132. It's never too late to change.

  133. It's not over 'till it's over.

  134. It takes one to know one.

  135. It takes two to tango.

  136. - J -
  137. A jack of all trades is master of none.

  138. - K -
  139. Keep your powder dry.

  140. Keeping up with the Jonses.

  141. Kill two birds with one stone.

  142. - L -
  143. Laugh, and the world laughs with you; (cry, and you cry alone.)

  144. Laughter is the best medicine.

  145. Leave no stone unturned.

  146. Leave well enough alone.

  147. A leopard cannot change its spots.

  148. Let bygones be bygones.

  149. Let sleeping dogs lie.

  150. Let the chips fall where they may.

  151. Lightning never strikes twice in the same place.

  152. Like father, like son.

  153. Like mother, like daugher.

  154. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

  155. Little strokes fell great oaks.

  156. Live and learn.

  157. Live and let live.

  158. Look before you leap.

  159. Love is blind.

  160. - M -
  161. Make hay while the sun shines.

  162. Man does not live by bread alone.

  163. A Man's home is his castle.

  164. Many hands make light work.

  165. Measure twice, cut once.

  166. Mind your own business.

  167. Mind your p's and q's.

  168. Misery loves company.

  169. A miss is as good as a mile.

  170. Money doesn't grow on trees.

  171. Money is the root of all evil.

  172. Monkey see, monkey do.

  173. The more the merrier.

  174. - N -
  175. Necessity is the mother of invention.

  176. Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.

  177. Never trouble trouble till trouble troubles you.

  178. No news is good news.

  179. No pain, no gain.

  180. No rest for the weary.

  181. No rest for the wicked.

  182. Nothing is certain but death and taxes.

  183. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

  184. - O -
  185. Oil and water don't mix.

  186. Old age and treachery will overcome youth and skill.

  187. Old habits die hard.

  188. Once bitten, twice shy.

  189. One good turn deserves another.

  190. One man's junk is another man's treasure.

  191. One picture is worth a thousand words.

  192. One rotten apple spoils the whole barrel.

  193. Opportunity seldom knocks twice.

  194. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

  195. Out of sight, out of mind.

  196. - P -
  197. Patience is a virtue.

  198. The pen is mightier than the sword.

  199. A penny saved is a penny earned.

  200. People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.

  201. A place for everything and everything in its place. -- A Shaker addage

  202. Possession is nine-tenths of the law.

  203. Practice makes perfect.

  204. Practice what you preach.

  205. Pride comes before a fall.

  206. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. (Nowadays mysteriously shortened to "the proof is in the pudding")

  207. Put up or shut up.

  208. Put your money where your mouth is.

  209. - R -
  210. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

  211. A rolling stone gathers no moss.

  212. Rome wasn't built in a day.

  213. Rules were meant to be broken.

  214. - S -
  215. Scratch my back and I'll scratch yours.

  216. Seeing is believing.

  217. Shape up or ship out.

  218. The show must go on.

  219. Silence is golden.

  220. Slow and steady wins the race.

  221. Spare the rod, spoil the child.

  222. Speak softly and carry a big stick.

  223. The squeaky wheel gets the grease.

  224. Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words (sometimes 'names') will never hurt me.

  225. Stick to your guns.

  226. Still waters run deep.

  227. A stitch in time saves nine.

  228. Stop and smell the roses.

  229. Strike while the iron is hot

  230. - T -
  231. Take it with a pinch of salt.

  232. Talk is cheap.

  233. There is safety in numbers.

  234. There's a sucker born every minute.

  235. There's more than one way to skin a cat.

  236. There is no accounting for tastes.

  237. There's no fool like an old fool.

  238. There is no honor among thieves.

  239. There's no place like home.

  240. There's no time like the present.

  241. They don't make things like they used to.

  242. This too shall pass.

  243. Time heals all wounds.

  244. Time is money.

  245. To err is human, to forgive, divine.

  246. Too many cooks spoil the broth.

  247. Truth is stranger than fiction.

  248. Turnabout is fair play.

  249. Two heads are better than one.

  250. Two's company, three's a crowd.

  251. Two wrongs don't make a right.

  252. - U -
  253. Up a creek without a paddle.

  254. - V -
  255. Variety is the spice of life.

  256. - W -
  257. Waste not, want not.

  258. A watched pot never boils.

  259. The way to a man's heart is through his stomach. -- So why isn't there a dating show on the cooking channel?

  260. Well begun is half done.

  261. What goes around comes around.

  262. Whatever will be, will be.

  263. What's done is done.

  264. What you see is what you get.

  265. When it rains, it pours.

  266. When in Rome, (do as the Romans do.)

  267. When the cat's away the mice will play.

  268. When one door closes another door opens.

  269. When the going gets tough, the tough get going.

  270. Where there's a will, there's a way.

  271. Where there's smoke, there's fire.

  272. A woman's work is never done.

  273. - Y -
  274. You cannot serve two masters.

  275. You can't have your cake and eat it too.

  276. You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink.

  277. You can't please everyone.

  278. You can't take it with you.

  279. You can't teach an old dog new tricks.

  280. You can't win them all.

  281. You get what you pay for.

  282. You have to break a few eggs to make an omlette.

  283. You have to take the good with the bad.

  284. You reap what you sow.

  285. You win some, you lose some.

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