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Hungarian Proverbs

These are English versions of 76 Hungarian proverbs with rather equivalent proverbs added in quotation marks.

The numbers in square brackets show where to find the proverbs in a Hungarian work in which there are other translations than English ones (book references are below).


(Not) to overstretch the string. ➾ ([Not] to increase tension to the breaking point.) [369]

A dialogue between deaf people. ➾ (Each tells his own views without regard to that of the other.) [824]

A hasty work is seldom good. ➾ "Haste makes waste." [663]

A man is known by living with him. ➾ "Come live with me and you'll know me." [563]

A master's request is a command. [965]

A promise is a nice word if kept, then it is all right. ➾ "One acre of performance is worth twenty of the Land of Promise." [385]

After three days the place of the guest is behind the door (that is, outside). [1000]

After work rest is sweet. [665]

All are not your friends who smile at you. ➾ "All are not friends that speak us fair." [64]

An embarrassment due to abundance. [112]

An old man is not [necessarily] a senile man. [726]

An ox remains an ox even if driven to Vienna. ➾ "Send a fool to the market (to France, far), and a fool he will return again." [705]

Due to a nail the horse becomes lame. ➾ "For want of a nail the shoe is lost, for want of a shoe the horse is lost, for want of a horse the rider is lost." [841]

Even an old goat likes to lick salt. ➾ (Even old men like making love.) [461]

Even one hundred words lead to one end. ➾ "In brief/short." [889]

Fair words are not enough to an empty belly. ➾ "Fair words fill not the belly." [334]

First (or The main thing) is safety. ➾ "Safety first." [85]

For a thirsty ox dirty water will do as well. [709]

Have a close look at the mother and then marry her daughter. ➾ "Take a vine of a good soil, and the daughter of a good mother." [25]

Having no ointment and box why do you pose as hairdresser? (Do not undertake something you are not satisfactory equipped for.) [391]

He crushes pepper under the nose of somebody. ➾ (He annoys/irritates somebody.) [102]

He cuts the tree under himself. ➾ "To cut one's throat." [232]

He dances on a razor-edge. ➾ (He tries to face danger from two/more sides.) - "It is (like balancing) on a knife's/razor's edge." [100]

He is as impertinent as a fly at the market. ➾ "As bold as brass." [868]

He puts his hands into a wasp's nest. ➾ "To stir up a hornet's/wasp's nest." 1601 [152]

He shoots at sparrows with a (high calibre) gun. ➾ "Take not a musket to kill a butterfly." - "To use a sledgehammer to crack a nut." - "To crack nuts with a steam hammer." - "To break a butterfly on a wheel." [8]

He shows the whiteness of his teeth. ➾ "To show one's true colours." [271]

He stumbled upwards. ➾ (After failing in a job he was moved to a higher position.) [116]

He was already anything but a man hanged. ➾ (He practised many trades and professions.) [16]

He who cannot speak Arabic, should not speak Arabic. ➾ (He who has no knowledge/understanding of something should not interfere with or engage in it.) [28]

He who defends a thief [may be] a bigger thief himself. [936]

He who gets up early finds gold. ➾ "The early bird catches the worm." - "Early to bed and early to rise, makes the man healthy, wealthy and wise." [32]

He who once ventures to lie, deserves no more confidence. ➾ "He that once deceives is ever suspected." [348]

He who readily believes, will be readily disappointed. ➾ "Believe not all that you see, nor half what you hear." - "He who believes easily is easily deceived." [358]

He whose place is on the gallows, will not die in the Danube. ➾ "If you are born to be hanged, then you will never be drowned." c 1503 [14]

It is an ugly bird that defiles its own nest. ➾ "It's an ill (a dirty) bird that fouls its own nest." [614]

It is better to fear (something) than to get frightened. ➾ "Prevention is better than cure." - "Forewarned forearmed." [258]

Leave others in peace, care for yourself. ➾ "Mind your own business." [70]

Let us sleep one (night on this matter). ➾ "Night is the mother of counsel." - "To consult with (take counsel of) one's pillows." [22]

Life does not stop. Life goes on. ➾ "Business as usual." [193]

Like greeting (on arrival), like answer. ➾ "Measure for measure." "Tit for tat." [5]

Like the ocean in a drop. ➾ (A small part of something may present the main characteristics of the whole.) [919]

Luck brings friends, need tries them. ➾ "Prosperity makes friends, adversity tries them." 1500 [62]

Man lives by brain (that is, by reasoning). [215]

Neither be conceited, nor fall into despair. [191]

One cannot be cautious enough. ➾ "Remember to distrust." - "Always verify your references." [200]

One cannot put everything under one hat. ➾ (One cannot consider things/ideas identical/equal which are in fact different.) (Against treating alike/indiscriminately.) [436]

Opportunity bears the thief. [19]

Out of a foolish hole a foolish wind blows. ➾ (A fool can tell only foolish things.) - "A fool is known by his speech." 1477 [90]

Repetition is the mother of knowledge. ➾ "Repetion is the mother of learning/skill." [393]

Stretch yourself as far as your cover reaches. [907]

The air was frozen around him (about an atmosphere of distrust). [583]

The big fish eats the little fish. ➾ "Big fish eat little fish." [317]

The black soup is still to come. ➾ (The worst is still ahead.) [584]

The bride is too beautiful. ➾ (This news is too good to be true.) - "To be too good to be true." [636]

The castle of Buda was not built in one day. ➾ "Rome was not built in a day." [114]

The child is dead, the godfathership has ended. [302]

The goat has enough to eat and the cabbage remains. ➾ (Both parties are satisfied.) [459]

The good/bad example is catching. [It could even be followed.] [744]

The horse should worry, he has a big head. ➾ (Don't worry.) [589]

The trees do not grow up to the sky. ➾ (There is a limit to everything.) [235]

The work praises its master. ➾ "The work commends the master." [660]

There are more days than sausages. ➾ (One has to save for the times ahead.) [673]

There is hardly ever a loaded cart which could not carry one more forkful (of hay) [Mod]. [850]

There is no worthless thing which could not be used for something. [221]

They are rowing in the same ship. ➾ "To be/row/sail in the same boat." [316]

This is already a gnawed bone. ➾ (A matter already discussed several times.) [145]

This is not my table. ➾ (This is not my duty/responsibility/concern/task. A refusal of doing / dealing with something.) [38]

This ship is gone. ➾ (This possibility does not exist any more.) [314]

To plant an insect into one's ear. ➾ (To plant an idea into somebody's mind.) - "A flea in one's ear." [89]

To pour clean water into the glass. ➾ (To tell the truth.) [1021]]

Try and combine the pleasant with the useful [Mod]. [465]

Two pipers cannot get on in one tavern. ➾ "Two kings in one kingdom cannot reign at once." - "One master in a house is enough." [170]

Wise men learn by others' harm. ➾ "Wise men learn by other men's harms/mistakes, fools by their own." [694]

You do not need a basket to pick well-known strawberries. ➾ (Those living nearby or being quicker have already picked them.) [206]

You should not only know what is right but also do it. [424]


Hungarian proverbs, Literature  

Paczolay Gyula: 1000 magyar közmondás (1000 Hungarian Proverbs). Bárczi Géza Kiejtési Alapítván. Budapest, 2005.

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