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Selected Norwegian Proverbs


Proverbial literature suggests we add moderating elements to it as we find it fit, or at least keep a "maybe", "sometimes" and so on in mind. The ones below are a little sample from the first national collection of Norwegian proverbs by Ivar Aasen [Oa]. About 2.200 of them are published in Nynorsk Norwegian on the site. Moreover, some 3500 Norwegian proverbs are published in a partially bilingual edition on the site too.

LoThe best fruits of severe experiences are useful to many

Need sells. (Oa 152: incomplete)

It's too bad to want a thing and not be allowed it. (Oa 135)

Make deft use of what you learn to the degree you can gather. (Oa 153)

You don't have to put out the fire when all is burnt out. (Oa 188)

What's good is often forgotten, what's bad is often hidden. (Oa 70]

Good reckoning forms decent friendship. (Oa 164)

It is impossible to be the friend of everyone for long. (Oa 241].

Rather free in a foreign place than slave back home. (Oa 62)

Shameful deeds bring on revenge. (Oa 89)

The headless army can be in for a hard time. (Oa 95)

The best fruits hang highest. (Oa 62)

The summer moments always pass quickly. (Oa 203]

LoSkills in interpreting figurative mentions may be needed to "crack" some proverbs.

Exposing yourself to danger by weapons in hand, is bad. (Oa 130)

Poor thanks is of the way of the world. (Oa 231)

There is no shame in clothing you have not cut yourself. (Oa 111)

When the glacier sees the spring sun, he weeps. (Oa 103)

Who marries too hastily can regret it too constantly and wistfully. [Oa 70]

Rather a bit correctly than much incorrectly. (Oa 164)

The lowest fence it the easiest to get across. (Oa 69)

It's bad to be ashamed for something very well done. (Oa 183)

It's hard to talk in front of empty pews. (Oa 210)

When you're not given it, you don't have to thank anyone either. (Oa 66]

LoFair counsel is a good thing. Some proverbs offer it, other proverbs not

Everybody's friend is true to none. (Oa 241)

It's better to remain with a little shame than to come home again with a great one. (Oa 181)

Hid away hardly means forgotten. (Oa 82)

Who little ventures, little gains. (Oa 250)

You can give a piece of advice, but not good luck along with that. (Oa 171)

It's hard to condemn others, being guilty yourself. (Oa 44)

Anyone has to live on top of good customs where he is settled. (Oa 130)

To be without money is better than to be without honour. (Oa 160)

The lame runs if he has to. (Oa 83)

It's best to search while the trail is new. (Oa 125)

The shame you cannot lift away, you had better let lie. (Oa 197) ✪ 

A weeping suitor, a barefoot smith, a runaway horse and a stammering minister, who do you prefer? [Oa 218)

To gather and spare can last long. (Oa 193]


In sum
  1. Weird counsel may be inspected, as wild-looking sayings can contain much heart-warming counsel, and useful counsel too.

  2. Maxims and bon mots are often used to steer enterprises.

  3. Seek the helpful counsel of experienced and successful persons that trust you.
In nuce

Weird counsel often steers successless persons - Heart-warming counsel of experienced ones is to be sought after.


More Norwegian Proverbs

The proverbs gathered here, are from an old collection by Ivar Aasen. The proverbs below are occasionally modified somewhat.


Where there is no discipline, there is no honour.

Der det er ingen age, er det heller inga ære.

Without discipline, the world would get out of order.

Utan age gjekk verda ut av lage.

Fodder and care make the cattle pleasant. - Ivar Aasen

Foring og stell gjer kveget trivelig.

It is a poor ear of grain that is without an awn on it. (: It is a miserable creature that never gets irritated.)

Det er dårleg aks som det ikkje er ei snerpe på (: Det er ein stakkar som aldri kan bli hissig.


Age changes the hair, but not always the mind.

Alder endrar håra, men ikkje alltid hugen.

Age is nothing to boast of; you get it for free.

Alder er ikkje å skryte av; ein får den for ingenting.

Age does not always help against foolishness.

Alder hjelper ikkje alltid for dårskap.

Age wants honour.

Alder vil ha ære.

Old age and poverty are a spiteful company • Age and disease walked to the village. There they found destitution; then they were three.

Alderdom och fattigdom er eit vondt følge • Alder och sjukdom gjekk seg til by. Der fann dei armod; så var dei tre [Avstutta].

Age is not like youth.

Alderdommen er ikkje lik ungdommen.

Age brings much with it • Age does not come alone; it brings so much with it.

Alderen fører mye med seg • Alderen kjem ikkje aleine; han fører så mye med seg.

Age is likely to lead to something worse.

Alderen fører sikkert til det som er verre.

His age does not forget the man • Even though the man forgets how old he is, his age does not forget him.

Alderen gløymer ikkje mannen • Om mannen gløymer alderen sin, så gløymer ikkje alderen han.

Where age gets in, he will never get out again.

Der alderen kjem inn, vil han aldri ut att.

When old age is good, youth is forgotten.

Når alderen er god, blir ungdommen gløymt.


Norwegian proverbs, Literature  

Aasen, Ivar: Norske ordsprog. 3rd ed. Vestanbok. Voss, 1982. ⍽▢⍽ 2000 of these proverbs, arranged by key words, is on-site.

✑ A larger collection: 3500 Norwegian proverbs - In part bilingual.

✑ A few more Norwegian proverbs in English and Norwegian

Norse proverbs, translated by Olive Bray

Norse proverbs, translated by Henry Adams Bellows

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