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italian proverbs

Best Italian proverbs: 115 sayings

In this post, you’ll find the best Italian proverbs to learn the Italian language!

Some of them don’t have an English equivalent. This is why we’ll give you their literal translations.

Let’s get started!

The value of Italian proverbs

A proverb is a short, pithy saying that expresses a traditionally held truth or piece of advice, based on common sense or experience.

Nothing defines a culture as distinctly as its language, and the element of language that best encapsulates a society’s values and beliefs is its proverbs.

Proverbs are used in conversation by adults more than children, partially because adults have learned more proverbs than children.

Italian proverbs, because they are indirect, allow a speaker to disagree or give advice in a way that may be less offensive.

Many authors have used proverbs in their writings, for a very wide variety of literary genres: epics, novels, poems, and short stories.
With this list of Italian proverbs, you can show off your wisdom and understanding of the Italian culture during your next conversation with a native speaker.

Italian proverbs are a treasure of popular wisdom!

115 Italian proverbs to learn

Sometimes it’s hard to find the English equivalent of an Italian proverb and the literal translation doesn’t make sense, but you can still guess from the context.

italian proverbs about life

A caval donato non si guarda in bocca.

Literal translation: Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.
English equivalent: Never look a gift horse in the mouth!

A chi fa male, mai mancano scuse.

He who does evil, is never short of an excuse.

Aiutati che Dio t’aiuta.

Help yourself and God will help you.

Belle parole non pascon i gatti.

Fine words don’t feed cats.

Chi dorme non piglia pesci.

Literal translation: Those who sleep don’t catch any fish.
English equivalent: You snooze, you lose. Or, early bird catches the worm.

Quando l’amico chiede, non v’è domani.

When a friend asks, there is no tomorrow.

Il dolce far niente.

It is sweet to do nothing.

L’amore è cieco.

Love is blind.

L’amore vince sempre.

Love conquers all.

La vita è un sogno.

Life is a dream.

Mangia bene, ridi spesso, ama molto.

Eat well, laugh often, love much.

Nulla nuova, buona nuova.

No news is good news.

Quando finisce la partita il re ed il pedone finiscono nella stessa scatola.

When you finish the game, the king and pawn end up in the same box.

Una cena senza vino è come un giorno senza sole.

A meal without wine is a day without sunshine.

È meglio qualche cosa che niente.

Something is still better than nothing.

Ciò che è rimasto ha sapore più dolce.

The sweetest flesh is near the bones.

Fuggi il piacer presente, che accena dolor futuro.

Skip the enjoyment that you will regret.

I fratelli uniti tra loro formano un fascio che pùo resistere agli sforzi più robusti.

Literal translation: The siblings joined together form a bundle that can withstand the most robust efforts.
English equivalent: United we stand, divided we fall; Union is strength.

La galline fanno l’uova dal becco.

Literal translation: The hens lay eggs from their beak.
English equivalent: It’s by the head that the cow gives the milk.

Ogni cosa si compra a prezzo.

Everything you buy at the price.

Ride bene chi ride ultimo.

Literal translation: He who laughs last, laughs best.
English equivalent: He who laughs last, laughs longest.

Scusa non richiesta, accusa manifesta.

Literal translation: Unsolicited excuse, evident charge.
English equivalent: A guilty conscience needs no accuser.

Senza tentazioni, senza onore.

Literal translation: Without temptation, without honor.
English equivalent: Where there is no temptation there is no glory.

Si dice sempre il lupo più grande che non è.

The wolf is said to be bigger than it is.

Si mira più dell’affetto che all’effetto.

Literal translation: Affection is aimed more than effect.
English equivalent: Take the will for the deed.

Spazzatoio nuovo spazza ben la casa.

A new broom sweeps well the house.

More Italian proverbs

Here are some more Italian proverbs:

Ogni cosa ha cagione.

Everything has a reason.

Buon seme dà buoni frutti.

Good seed makes good fruit.

Chi due lepri caccia, l’una non piglia e l’altra lascia.

Grasp all, lose all.

Chi non è meco, è contro a meco.

He who is not with me is against me.

Tra il dire e il fare c´è di mezzo il mare.

Literal translation: There’s a sea between saying and doing.
English equivalent: Easier said than done.

La buona moglie fa il buon marito.

A good wife makes a good husband.

Uomo avvisato, mezzo salvato.

Literal translation: Man warned half saved.
English equivalent: Forewarned is forearmed.

Il riso fa buon sangue

Literal translation: Laughter makes good blood.
English equivalent: Laughter is the best medicine.

Chi fa falla, e chi non fa sfarfalla.

Those who act, make mistakes; and those who do nothing really blunder.

Meglio un uovo oggi che una gallina domani.

Literal translation: Better an egg today than a hen tomorrow.
English equivalent: A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

Non c´è rosa senza spine.

No rose without a thorn.

Chi fa da sé, fa per tre.

Literal translation: Who does it by itself does it for three people.
English equivalent: Do it yourself if you want it done right.

italian sayings

La famiglia è la patria del cuore.

Family is the heartland of your heart.

Ne ammazza più la gola che la spada.

Gluttony kills more than the sword.

Chi non fa, non falla.

Those who do nothing make no mistakes.

L’ozio è il padre di tutti i vizi.

Idleness is the father of all vices.

Quando a Roma vai, fai come vedrai.

When in Rome, do as the Romans.

Chi molto pratica, molto impara.

Practice makes perfect.

O la va, O la spacca.

All or Nothing.

Chi dorme non piglia pesci.

Those who sleep don’t catch any fish.

La troppa bonezza finisce nella monnezza.

Nice guys finish last.

Proverbs to learn Italian

Steal my secrets

Don’t give up and keep reading some Italian proverbs:

Far d’una mosca un elefante.

Literal translation: Make an elephant fly out of a fly.
English equivalent: To make a mountain out of a molehill.

O mangiar questa minestra o saltar questa finestra.

Literal translation: Either eat this soup or skip this window.
English equivalent: You can take it or leave.

Ad ogni santo vien sua festa.

Every saint has his own festival.

Ai mali estremi, mali rimedi.

For severe ills, severe remedies.

Aiutati che Dio ti aiuta.

Helf yourself and God will help you.

Amor non conosce travaglio.

Literal translation: Amor knows no labor.
English equivalent: Love never tires.

Amor tutti fa uguali.

Love makes all men equal.

L’amore è cieco.

Love is blind.

italian sayings about life

Assai ben balla a chi Fortuna suona.

He dances well to whom Fortune pipes.

Bella cosa tosto è rapita.

A pretty thing is soon taken.

Breve orazione penetra.

God listens to short prayers.

Cavallo che corre non ha bisogno di sproni.

Do not spur the willing horse.

Cercare il pelo nell’ uovo.

To seek the hair in the egg, to pick faults where there are none.

Che sarà sarà.

What is to be, will be.

Chi be vive, ben muore.

A good life makes an easy death.

Chi bestia va a Roma bestia ritorna.

He that goes to Rome a foot returns a fool.

Chi cerca mal, mal trova.

He who looks for evil generally finds it.

Chi la dura la vince.

He who perseveres wins at last.

Chi più sa, meno parla.

He who knows most, talks least.

Così fan tutte.

That is the way of all women.

Chi niente sa, di niente dubita.

Who knows nothing, doubts nothing.

Random Italian proverbs

Italian proverbs about just anything!

Danari fanno danari.

Money makes money.

Del male non fare e paura non avere.

Do no evil and have no fear.

Detto fatto.

No sooner said, than done.

Dì il vero e affronterai il diavolo.

Speak the truth and shame the devil.

Dove l’oro parla, ogni lingua tace.

Where gold speaks, every tongue is silent.

I gran dolori sono muti.

Great sorrows are mute.

L’abito non fa il monaco.

The cowl does not make the monk.

La calma è la virtù dei forti.

The calm is the virtue of the strong.

La donna è mobile.

Woman is a fickle thing.

La povertà è la madre di tutte le arti.

Necessity is the mother of invention.

Mal comune, mezzo gaudio.

A shared trouble is half joy.

Meglio tardi che mai.

Better late than never.

Morta la bestia, morto il veneno.

When the beast is dead, the venom is dead.

Necessità non ha legge.

Necessity knows no law.

Ogni pazzo vuol dar consiglio.

Every fool is ready with advice.

Parla bene, ma parla poco.

Speak well, but speak little.

Quel ch’è fatto, è fatto.

What is done is done.

Rosso di sera, bel tempo si spera.

Red sky in the evening, one hopes for good weather.

Tempo al tempo.

All in good time.

Traduttore, traditore.

Translator, traitor.

Tutte le strade conducono a Roma.

All roads lead to Rome.

Tutto è bene ciò che finisce bene.

All is well that ends well.

Un bel morir tutta la vita onora.

A noble death is an honor to the whole life.

Vedi Napoli e poi mori.

See Naples, and then die!

Finchè c’è vita c’è speranza.

Where there’s life, there’s hope.

Meglio un giorno da leone che cento da pecora.

Better one day as a lion than a hundred as a sheep.

Val più la pratica della grammatica.

Experience is more important than theory.

Vivi e lascia vivere.

Live and let live.

Proverbs, quotes, sayings, and idioms

This is not an exhaustive list of Italian proverbs! Here are more Italian proverbs.

To learn from famous people, read this collection of Italian quotes, Italian sayings, and Italian idioms.

If you’re going to Italy, you need something more practical like these common Italian sentences.

Are you serious about learning Italian? Check out our premium resources to become fluent fast!

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