30 Best English Proverbs For Children, With Meanings

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A proverb is a short and popular saying that gives a piece of advice, expresses a universal truth, or imparts wisdom, based on common sense or experience. Proverbs are generally passed on from generation to generation and are generally specific to a particular culture or country.

In this post, MomJuction brings you a curated list of some of the most common English proverbs for young children. We also provide you with the meanings of these proverbs.

Some Interesting Things About Proverbs

Before we explore some of the famous proverbs, here are a few things that might interest you:

  • Proverbs are also called axioms, old saws, sayings, or adages.
  • A few English proverbs are borrowed from other cultures.
  • Proverbs are wise sayings that can provide you with answers to several questions about life.
  • They can help you improve your language skills and make you wiser.
  • Proverbs can help you sound sophisticated.

30 English Proverbs For Children, With Their Meanings

Here’s a list of 30 simple and short English proverbs for students, along with their meanings:

1. A friend in need is a friend indeed.

You may have many friends, but a true friend is someone who helps you at a difficult time or when you really need help.

Did you know: This proverb is found in many languages. The earliest version of it was in Latin and dates back to the 3rd century BC.

2. Actions speak louder than words.

What you do is more important than what you say. If you say one thing and do something else, there is no meaning in what you have said.

Did you know: The proverb dates back to 1628 and was first voiced by John Pym, an English parliamentarian, during the English Civil War.

3. A little learning is a dangerous thing.

The proverb conveys the idea that if a person shares their views and opinions without much knowledge on a particular subject, it could lead to dangerous situations. It is a warning to us that we should do extensive research on a topic before we think we are an expert on it.

Did you know: This proverb has been in use since the 18th century and is attributed to Alexander Pope, a great English poet.

4. A stitch in time saves nine.

It is better to deal with a problem early and in time because if we keep postponing, it could get worse and take longer to deal with.

Did you know: This adage has its roots in the 18th century and is attributed to Thomas Fuller, a British physician, preacher, and intellectual.

5. All that glitters is not gold.

Gold is a precious and rare metal, but there are other metals that look like gold. The proverb tells us that not everything that looks good on the outside is valuable.

It also tells us that we should not judge a person by their looks because they may look innocent but be completely different.

Did you know: This saying is attributed to William Shakespeare. It appears in his play The Merchant of Venice as “All that glisters is not gold.”

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

We should make time for relaxation and not work all the time. Focusing all our time on work could make us dull and is also unhealthy.

Did you know: The first record of this adage in print dates back to the 17th century.

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

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The proverb expresses the idea that we should not risk losing something we have to get something that we think is better. If you do, it may result in nothing.

Did you know: This adage is attributed to John Capgrave, an English historian of the 15th century. The original version reads, “It is more sekyr [certain] a byrd in your fest, Than to haue three in the sky a‐boue.”

8. An apple a day keeps the doctor away.

The proverb expresses the idea that eating fruits daily can help us maintain good health.

Did you know: In Old English, the word apple was used to describe any round fruit that grew on a tree.

9. Better late than never.

It is better for someone to be late than never to arrive at all. It can also mean, it is better to do a task (or a good deed) late than never doing it at all.

Did you know: This proverb is attributed to Geoffrey Chaucer, a great English poet and author of the 14th century. The original version reads, “For bet than never is late.”

10. The early bird catches the worm.

It is used to tell someone that if they do something before anyone else, they have an advantage.

Did you know: This proverb first appeared in a book of proverbs compiled by John Ray in the 17th century.

11. Don’t count your chickens before they hatch

The proverb expresses the idea that we should not make hasty calculations and build castles in air even before we have anything concrete in our hands.

Did you know: This proverb first appeared in Thomas Howell’s New Sonnets and Pretty Pamphlets in 1570.

12. Don’t put the cart before the horse.

This proverb is used to tell someone that they are doing something in the wrong order.

Did you know: This saying is known to have been in existence in English since the early-1500s.

13. Every cloud has a silver lining.

This old saying conveys the meaning that every situation has some good or positive aspects. It is generally used to encourage someone who is facing a difficult situation or problem.

Did you know: This adage is commonly attributed to John Milton. It appears in his poem Comus as, “Turn forth her silver lining on the night, And casts a gleam over this tufted grove.”

14. Curiosity killed the cat.

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This proverb conveys the idea that being too curious about something can get one into trouble. It is also used to tell someone not to ask too many unnecessary questions about something.

Did you know: This wise saying is attributed to the 16th century English playwright Ben Jonson.

15. Look before you leap.

The proverb tells us that we shouldn’t act or make a decision before considering the possible consequences and dangers.

Did you know: Doesn’t this remind us of Aesop’s fable about the fox and the goat? In fact, the proverb alludes to that story.

16. Make hay while the sun shines.

This is an old saying that tells us to make the most of a good situation or an opportunity that is not likely to last long.

Did you know: This adage has a close resemblance to Proverbs 10:5 in the Book of Proverbs of the Bible, which reads, “He who gathers crops in summer is a prudent son, but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son.”

17. Pride comes/goes before a fall.

If you are overconfident about your abilities, something bad will happen that will make you look foolish.

Did you know: This proverb is a variant of Proverbs 16:18 found in the Book of Proverbs, which reads, “Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”

18. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

It takes time and effort to achieve something important. Good things do not happen overnight.

Did you know: The earliest version of this saying appeared in the collection of medieval French poems Li Proverbe au Vilain in the 12th century. It came to be used in English only in the 16th century.

19. When in Rome do as the Romans do.

When you are visiting another place, you should follow and abide by the customs of the people in that place.

Did you know: This saying dates back to 390AD, and appears in St Augustine’s Letter 54 to Januarius. The letter was translated to English in 1951.

20. Every dog has its day.

This old proverb is often used to say that everyone will have luck or success at some point in their life.

Did you know: This adage dates back to the 16th century and is attributed to Queen Elizabeth I.

21. Strike while the iron is hot.

The proverb tells us to take advantage of an opportunity as soon as it arises.

Did you know: The adage is attributed to Richard Edwards, a 16th century English poet, playwright, and composer.

22. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

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If you do a wrong, do not try to cover it up with more wrongs, because this way you can never make it right.

Did you know: The proverb is believed to have been first used in 1783 and went as, Three wrongs will not make one right.

23. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

Great things start with simple beginnings. No matter how difficult a task may seem, it is important to start it in order to finish it successfully.

Did you know: This adage is attributed to Laozi (Lao Tzu) and first appeared in the Tao Te Ching, a classical Chinese Taoist text that was written between the 4th and 6th century BC.

24. As you sow so you shall reap.

This is a biblical proverb that conveys the message that if you do good to others, others will do good to you in return.

Did you know: The original version of the proverb appears in Galatians VI of the Bible as, “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”

25. You can’t judge a book by its cover

The proverb is used to convey that you shouldn’t judge a person or thing based on their outward appearance.

Did you know: This adage first appeared in 1867 in the newspaper Piqua Democrat.

26. An idle mind is a devil’s workshop.

If we allow our mind to remain idle or do not occupy ourselves with constructive work, we end up thinking about evil and mischievous things.

Did you know: The English version of the proverb can be found in works as early as the 12th century when Chaucer referred to it.

27. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

This popular adage means that you shouldn’t put all your money, hopes, etc., in one single thing, because if that endeavor fails, you will be left with nothing.

Did you know: This proverb is known to have first appeared in the novel Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes. The novel’s version reads, “It is the part of a wise man to keep himself to-day for to-morrow, and not to venture all his eggs in one basket.”

28. A penny saved is a penny earned.

This common saying is used to emphasize the importance to save money. It also conveys that saving money is as important as earning money.

Did you know: This old saying is attributed to George Herbert, a major English religious poet of the 17th century.

29. It’s no use crying over spilled milk.

It is a saying that is used to tell someone not to worry about something that has already happened because they cannot undo it.

Did you know: Jonathan Swift’s Polite Conversation in 1738 contains the phrase, “Tis a folly to cry for spilt milk”.

30. The pen is mightier than the sword.

Thinking and writing have more influence on people than the use of force.

Did you know: This proverb appears in the play Richelieu; Or the Conspiracy, written by Edward Bulwer-Lytton in 1839.

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