To Speak‎ > ‎

Italian Proverbs

 Italian proverb
 Literal translation
 English equivalent/explanation
Non dire "gatto" se non ce l'hai nel sacco.* Don't say "cat" if you don't have it in the bag. Don't count your chickens before they are hatched.
Costa un occhio della testa. It costs an eye from (one's) head. It costs an arm and a leg.
Chi dorme non piglia pesci. Who sleeps does not catch fish. Early bird gets the worm.
Chi tardi arriva, male allogia. Who arrives late, finds a bad place to stay. Early bird gets the worm (when referring to showing up early to get a good spot) or First come, first served.
Non si può avere la botte piena, e la moglie ubriaca You can't have the wine cask full and your wife drunk. You can't have your cake and eat it, too.
Nella botte piccola, c'è il vino buono. In the small wine cask, there is good wine.  Good things come in small packages.
L'abito non fa il monaco. The habit does not make the monk. Don't judge a book by its cover. or Clothes don't make the man.
Chi cerca, trova. Who seeks, finds. Seek and ye shall find.
Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate Abandon all hope, ye who enter here. (Written on the Gates of Hell in Dante's Inferno.)
Tra il dire e il fare c'è di mezzo il mare. Between saying and doing there is in between the sea. Easier said than done.
(Essere come) il bue che dice "cornuto" all'asino. (To be like) the ox who calls the ass a "cuckold." (To be) the pot that calls the kettle "black."
Meglio un uovo oggi che una gallina domani. Better an egg today than a hen tomorrow. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
Paese che vai usanza che trovi. In the country you go, customs you find. When in Rome, do as the Romans do.  (although not quite the same--probably closer to "Different strokes for different folks.")
Tutti le strade portano a Roma. All roads lead to Rome. [the same]
Meglio tardi che mai. Better late than never. [the same]
Tutti i gusti sono gusti. All tastes are tastes. There's no accounting for tastes.
Tocca ferro. Touch iron. Knock on wood.
Beccare con le mani in pasta. To catch with hands in the pasta.  To catch red-handed or with hands in the cookie jar
Sposa bagnata, sposa fortunataWet bride, lucky brideRain on your wedding day is lucky
È stato la goccia che ha fatto traboccare il vasoIt was the drop that made the vase spill overIt was the straw that broke the camel's back
 Troppi cuochi guastano la minestra. Too many cooks spoil the soup. Too many cooks in the kitchen.
 Chi semina spine, non vada scalzo. Who sows thorns, shouldn't go barefoot. You reap what you sow (or Those in glass houses shouldn't throw stones)

Other sources of proverbs:
See Neapolitan page for more proverbs in Neapolitan
Comments