The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






Italian proverbs



  • "A buon intenditor poche parole."
    • Translation: "A good listener needs only few words"
  • "A caval donato non si guarda in bocca."
    • Translation: "Never look a gift horse in the mouth. Don't criticize gifts."
  • "Aiutati che Dio ti aiuta."
    • Translation: "Help youself and God will help you as well."
  • "Al contadino non far sapere quanto &egrave buono il cacio con le pere."
    • Translation: "Don't let the peasant know how good the cheese with the pears is."
  • "Amicu ca non ti duna, parendi ca non ti mpresta, fuili comu la pesta"
    • Sicilian Translation: "Relatives who wont give, friends who wont lend you a hand, avoid them like the plague."


  • "Can che abbaia non morde."
    • Translation: "The dog that barks doesn't bite."
  • Chi fa da se - fa per tre.
    • Translation: Those who do things for themselves - do for three.
  • "Chi bene incomincia &egrave a met&agrave dell'opera."
    • Translation: "Well begun is half done."
  • "Chi dice Siena, dice Palio."
    • Translation: "He who mentions Siena , mentions the Palio" (that city's famous horse-race).
    • Notes: said of something that one cannot mention without calling some other thing to mind.
  • "Chi fa da s&egrave fa per tre."
    • Translation: "He who act by himself, act with the same strength as three persons."
    • Notes: ironically contraddicted by: "L'unione fa la forza (The union produces the might)."
  • Chi ha la mamma sua - non piange mai.
    • Translation: Who has their own mother - never cries.
  • "Chi la dura la vince."
    • Translation: "He who perseveres wins at last."
  • "Chi la fa l'aspetti."
    • Translation: "He who wrongs someone has to expect something in retaliation."
  • "Chi mangia solo, crepa solo."
    • Translation: "He who eats alone, dies alone."
  • Chi parla in faccia - non è traditore.
    • Translation: Who speaks to your face - is not a traitor.
  • "Chi pensa male fa peccato ma indovina."
    • Translation: "He who thinks badly commits a sin but hits the mark."
  • Chi si alza sarà abbassato - chi si abbassa sarà innalzato.
    • Translation: Those who have airs will be laid low - those who abase themselves will be raised up.
  • Chi s'impiccia degli affari altri - di tre parte gl'ie ne resta due.
    • Translation: Who meddles in others' affairs - will be left with two of three parts.
  • Chi tante male azioni fa - una grossa ne aspetta.
    • Translation: Who does many bad deeds - will receive a big one.
  • "Chi troppo vuole, nulla stringe."
    • Translation: "He who wants too much doesn't catch anything."
  • "Chi trova un amico, trova un tesoro."
    • Translation "He who finds a friend, finds a treasure."
  • "Chi va piano, va sano e va lontano."
    • Translation: "He who goes slow, goes safely and goes far." Has to do with driving
  • "Commediante! Tragediante!"
    • Transliteration: "Comedian! Tragedian!"
    • Notes: exclaimed by Pope Pius VII during a violent scene that Napoleon made before him.


  • Dio ci salvi dal povero arricchito - e dal ricco impoverito.
    • Translation: God save us from the poor become rich - and from the rich become poor.
  • Dagli amici mi guardi Iddio, che dai nemici mi guardio io.
    • Translation: God protect me from my friends - from my enemies I'll protect myself.
  • Del male non fare e paura non avere.
    • Translation: Do no evil and have no fear.
  • "Del senno di poi son piene le fosse."
    • Transliteration: "The graves are filled with the after-wisdom."
    • Meaning: "It's easy to be wise after the event."
  • Donna che piange, uomo che giura, cavallo che suda - tutta impostura.
    • Translation: Woman who cries, man who swears, horse that sweats - all imposture.


  • "E' meglio un uovo oggi di una gallina domani."
    • Translation: "An egg to-day is better than a chicken to-morrow."
    • or "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush"
  • "Eppur, si muove!"
    • Translation: "Nevertheless, it moves."
    • Notes: Galileo is supposed to have said this after being forced by the Church to abjure the heliocentric theory .
  • "E' la gaia pioggerella a far crescer l'erba bella."
    • Translation: "The gay, drizzling rain makes grass to grow fine."


  • "Fatti maschi, parole femmine."
    • Translation: "Facts are male, words are female."
    • Alternative: "Manly deeds, womanly words."
    • Notes: Motto of the state of Maryland


  • "Gallina vecchia fa buon brodo."
    • Translation; "The old hen makes a good broth"


  • "In bocca al lupo."
    • Translation: "Into the wolf's mouth."
    • Notes: used by students to wish each other good luck before exams. The response is "Crepi!" ("May it die!")
  • "In un mondo di ciechi un orbo &egrave re."
    • Translation: "In a world of blind people a one-eyed man is king."


  • "L'Italia farà da sè."
    • Translation: "Italy will take care of itself."
    • Notes: a common expression when Italy was in the process of reunification.
  • "La madre degli idioti &egrave sempre incinta."
    • Translation: "Idiots' mother is always pregnant."
  • "La morte mi deve trovare in vivo."
    • Translation: "Death will find me alive."
  • "Lasciate ogni speranza, voi ch'entrate."
    • Translation" "Abandon all hope, ye who enter here."
    • Notes: inscribed above the gates of Hell in Dante Alighieri's Inferno (III, 9)   Also commonly written above the entrance to examination halls in Universities.
  • "L'abito non fa il monaco."
    • Transliteration: "The habit does not make the monk."
    • Translation: "Clothes do not make the man."


  • "Mal comune, mezzo gaudio."
    • Translation: "Trouble shared is trouble halved."


  • "Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita. / Mi ritrovai per una selva oscura. / Ché la diritta via era smarrita..."
    • Translation: "In the middle of the road of our life / I found myself in a dark forest / As the straight path had been lost."
    • Notes: opening lines of Dante Alighieri's Inferno.
  • "Nessuna nuova, buona nuova."
    • Translation: "No news, good news."


  • "Rosso di sera, bel tempo si spera"
    • Translation: "Red sky in evening, we hope in good weather."
    • Translation: "Red sky at night, shepherd's delight"


  • "Se non è vero, è ben trovato."
    • Translation: "If it's not true, it's a good story."


  • Tanto va la gatta al lardo che ci lascia lo zampino.
    • Translation: "The she-cat is so greedy to eat the bacon-fat that she looses her paw at last"
    • Notes: equivalent to the english: "The pitcher goes so often to the well that it comes home broken at last"
  • "Tanto gentile e tanto onesta pare la donna mia..."
    • Translation: "so kind and so honest my lady appears to be .."
    • Notes: famous opening lines of Dante Alighieri's Sonnet 26 from La Vita Nuova
  • "Tempo, marito e figli, vengono come li pigli."
    • Meaning: "If you want to be happy, you must accept the weather, your husband and sons as they are."
  • "Tra dire al fare, c'e in mezzo il mare."
    • Translation: "Between doing and saying lies the sea."
  • "Traduttore, traditore."
    • Translation: "Translator, traitor."
  • "Tu duca, tu signore e tu maestro."
    • Translation: "You are my guide, my lord, and my master."
    • Notes: said by Dante Alighieri to Virgil before entering Hell (Inferno, II, 140).
  • "Tutte le strade portano a Roma."
    • Translation: "All streets lead to Rome."


  • Una buona mamma vale cento maestre.
    • Translation: A good mother is worth a hundred teachers.


  • Vai in piazza e chiedere consiglio - vai a casa e fai come ti pare.
    • Translation: Go to the square and listen to advice - [then] go home and do what you like.
  • "Val pi&ugrave la pratica della grammatica."
    • Translation: "The experience is more important than the theory."
  • "Vedi Napoli, e poi muori!"
    • Translation: "See Naples , and then die!"
    • Notes: used to express admiration for Naples.

See also List of proverbs.

Last updated: 10-26-2005 03:52:15