Toms Deutschseite is dedicated to my dear wife Catherine Höfler.

German grammar, vocabularies, texts, pronunciation ...


Startseite Inhaltsverzeichnis Zeitplan Forum Spende

Deutsche Sprichwörter (proverbs)

Proverbs and sayings are the icing on the cake of every language. We love to use a saying or proverb in the right situation especially to show how well we can handle our own language.

When we are watching tv in the evening, there is no movie you don't hear at least one of them. Best example: Rendezvous mit Joe Black with Brad Pitt and Anthony Hopkins. There are scenes with more sayings than "normal" sentences.

In 2008 we decided to write down one saying or proverb per day and try to explain its meaning and where you can use it and it became fun for Cathy to use them in daily life. Every time we hear one in a movie or see it in a book/magazine we smile at each other. It's fun!


German proverb

English equivalent



Was du heute kannst besorgen*,
das verschiebe nicht auf morgen.
*procure (here: manage / do)

A stitch in time saves nine.

It's the best to do the things now as long as you have enough time because you don't know what happens tomorrow.


hat Gold im Mund.
*Morgenstund' consists of Morgen and Stunde

The early bird catches the worm.

It means you should get up early in the morning to do your stuff/work because you can do a lot during the day if you get up early and you can experience the sunrise and the fresh air and so on.


Wo ein Wille ist,
da ist auch ein Weg.

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

I think the meaning is clear.


Der Apfel fällt nicht weit vom Stamm.

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

It means that children often look like their parents and adobe their habits and behaviour.


Geteiltes Leid ist halbes Leid.

A sorrow shared is a sorrow halved.

I think the meaning is clear.


Besser spät als nie.

Better late than never.

I think the meaning is clear.


Man soll den Tag nicht
vor dem Abend loben*.
*loben = to praise

Don't count your chicken before they are hatched.

It means that you shouldn't celebrate and announce a success or happy event before it has happened.


Eine Hand wäscht die andere.

One good turn deserves another.

It means: If you help me I will help you.


Kleider machen Leute.

Clothes make the man.

It means: People get a complete different first impression depending on what kind of clothes you wear.


Hochmut kommt vor dem Fall.

Pride comes before the fall.

It means: People who are arrogant and treat other (poorer) people bad will end up one day in the same situation.


In der Ruhe liegt die Kraft.

Haste makes waste.

It means: If you want to do something properly/proper you have to do it slowly and carefully.


Gelegenheit macht Diebe.

Opportunity makes the thief.

It means: If you leave something nice/valuable unattended you encourage/entrap him or her to steal it.


Stille Wasser sind tief (und dreckig).

Still waters run deep.

It means: Calm and inconspicuous people do often the worst (dirtiest) things.


Was sich liebt, das neckt sich.

The quarrel of lovers is the renewal of love.

It means: People who like/love each other tease each other. (especially at the beginning of a relationship)


Kleinvieh macht auch Mist.

A penny saved is a penny earned./
Many a mickle makes a muckle.

It means: Even if you just earn/get a bit of money, you can always save small amounts and it will turn out to be a lot one day.


Gut Ding will Weile haben.

Haste makes waste.

It means: If you want to do something properly/proper you have to do it slowly and carefully.


Wer zuletzt lacht, lacht am besten.

He laughs best who laughs last.

It means: Maybe you won this "battle" right now but let's see who will win the "war" at the end.


Wer den Pfennig nicht ehrt, ist den Taler nicht wert.

A penny saved is a penny earned.

People who don't appreciate little money are not worth getting big money.


Wer Wind sät, wird Sturm ernten.

They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind.

It means: If you harm your enemy he will pay it back to you twice and more.


Schuster bleib bei deinen Leisten!

A cobbler should stick to his last.

It means: Keep doing what you learned/studied and don't try to do a job you are not qualified for.


Ein gebranntes Kind scheut das Feuer.

Once bitten, twice shy.

It means: Once you made a bad experience with something you keep away from.


Scherben bringen Glück.

Broken crockery brings you luck.

It just means if you destroy something made of glass or chinaware it will bring you luck.


Wenn zwei sich streiten, freut sich der dritte.

When two people quarrel, a third rejoices.

It means: If two people quarrel often a third person can take advantage of the situation.


Wer anderen eine Grube gräbt, fällt selbst hinein.

Harm set, harm get.

It means: If you prepare a trap for somebody else. Watch out! It might be you fall into your own trap.


Getroffene Hunde bellen.

Methinks thou dost protest too much.

People who deny loudest they havn't done something are mostly the one who did it.


Wie gewonnen, so zerronnen.

Easy come, easy go.

You can win something fast but you can loose it fast as well.


Zu viele Köche verderben den Brei.

Too many cooks spoil the broth.

It means: If too many people participate in a project it might go wrong. (especially if each of them thinks his way is the only one)


Auf Regen folgt Sonnenschein.

Every cloud has a silver lining.

It means: After bad times will come good times. Just keep on fighting.


Was man nicht im Kopf hat, hat man in den Beinen.

Those who can’t use their head must use their back.

It means: If you always forget things you have to go the same way more than once.


Wenn die Katze aus dem Haus ist, tanzen die Mäuse auf dem Tisch.

When the cat’s away, the mice will play.

Typical situation: The boss is out of the office and the employees do everything except from working.


Einem geschenkten Gaul, schaut man nicht ins Maul.

Never look a gift horse in the mouth.

It means: If somebody gives you something for nothing don't criticize it, just take it.


Lügen haben kurze Beine.

Lies have short legs.

It means: A lie will never be for long. It's just a question of time when the truth comes out.


Kommt Zeit, kommt Rat.

Time will tell.

It means: Sometimes it's necessary to put away a problem for a while. Maybe next day you can solve it within seconds.


In der Kürze liegt die Würze.

Brevity is the soul of wit.

It means: Some short clear explanations are more helpful than thousands of words (bla bla).


Ein Unglück kommt selten allein.

It never rains but it pours.

If one thing goes wrong mostly many more unfortunate things will follow.


Wie man in den Wald hineinruft, so schallt es heraus.

As the question, so the answer.

It means: The way you treat other people is the way they will treat you.


Reden ist Silber, Schweigen ist Gold.

A shut mouth catches no flies.

It means: Sometimes it's better to say nothing.


Wer den Schaden hat, braucht für den Spot nicht zu sorgen.

The laugh is always on the loser.

If you do something funny/stupid unmeantly you need not make jokes. They will laugh about you anyway.


Quäle nie ein Tier zum Scherz, denn es fühlt wie du den Schmerz.


Never torture an animal just for fun.
It feels the pain like you!


Man trifft sich immer zwei Mal im Leben.


It means: Watch out how you treat somebody. You might meet the person again one day.


Ehrlich währt am längsten.

Honesty is the best policy.

It means: Honesty lasts longest.


Aller guten Dinge sind drei.

Three is a lucky number.

It means: If something failed already twice, at the third time it will work.


Einbildung ist auch eine Bildung.

Such conceit knows no bounds.

It means: If a stupid arrogant person hasn't got any education it got at least the education of "conceit".


Lieber ein Ende mit Schrecken, als ein Schrecken ohne Ende.

It's best to get unpleasant things over and done with.

It means it's better something ends with horror than a never ending horror.


Andere Länder, andere Sitten.

When in Rome, do as the Romans do!

It means things which might be strange to us are normal in other countries.


Wer nicht kommt zu rechten Zeit, der muss sehen, was übrig bleibt.


It means: Who comes too late has to take what's left.


Die Hoffnung stirbt zuletzt.

Hope dies last.

It means even in a hopeless situation is still a little chance to be successful.


Wer nicht hören will, muss fühlen.

He who doesn't want to listen will have to experience.

It a typical expression parents use. If you don't listen to them you must face the consequences.


Es ist nicht alles Gold, was glänzt.

All that glitters is not gold.

It means not everything what makes a nice impression from the outside is valuable.


Wer zuerst kommt, mahlt zuerst.

First come, first served.

It means who comes first has the biggest choice.

to be continued ...

worksheet for your folder

proverbs no. 1 - 50 (5 pages)