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Old wise sayings wisdom
December 15, 2018 Anniversary Wishes 5 comments

There are a number of specific types of saying, of which proverb is probably the best [Old English: synonym for "saying" - meaning: uneducated wisdom, often.

A wise man once said…

“Practice more German to get fluent!”

Okay, okay, you don’t need to be all that wise to know that.

But Germans do have plenty of wise little expressions that won’t just make you sound smarter, but will also give you some insights into German language and culture.

Every language has its own set of wisdom quotes and proverbs that pass on knowledge from generation to generation. They can be really beneficial for language learners, too, as they highlight linguistic quirks and both the similarities and differences between languages.

Just take the following German wisdom quotes for example. Try and drop them into the conversation whenever you can and you’ll sound wise beyond your years!

15 Wonderful Wisdom Quotes Straight from Germany

Übung macht den Meister (Practice makes perfect)

If you translate Übung macht den Meister literally, you’ll get “practice makes the master.” Of course, that makes no sense in English, and our nearest translation is “practice makes perfect.”

So, take some inspiration for your German studies. The more you practice your grammar and vocabulary, the sooner you’ll become fluent!

Bald reif hält nicht steif (Early ripe, early rotten)

Literally translated, bald reif hält nicht steif means “quickly ripened doesn’t hold stiff.”

The best English equivalent, though, is “early ripe, early rotten.”

This expression is often applied to children, as it’s thought that someone with many talents early on in their childhood doesn’t hold onto them for long as they grow up.

Nur die Harten kommen in den Garten (Only the strongest survive)

When you translate this phrase literally, you get “only the strong come into the garden.”

It basically means only the strongest survive—I’m not really sure what exactly is going on in the garden, but it seems you have to be tough to make it!

Alles hat ein Ende, nur die Wurst hat zwei (Everything has an end, only the sausage has two)

Did you know that German has a lot of proverbs and sayings that revolve around sausages? It’s true! The Germans love a good wurst (sausage) so much that they can’t help but write proverbs about them.

This one is easy to understand as it’s quite literal—everything has an end, no matter how long something takes. However, that’s not the case for the good old sausage!

Kleinvieh macht auch Mist (Small amounts add up to something bigger)

If you translate this quote literally, you get “small animals also produce dung.”

That might not paint such a pretty picture, but it does have a meaningful message behind it: small amounts always add up to something bigger.

So, don’t give up on your German studies, even if it feels like you’re inching along! As this piece of German wisdom indicates, it’s a good idea to keep working on something even if you only do it bit by bit.

Das Leben ist kein Ponyhof (You can’t always get what you want)

This is another animal-themed wisdom quote as it literally translates to “life isn’t a pony farm.”

It basically means that you can’t live like a pony at a pony farm and have your every whim taken care of.

In other words, you can’t always get what you want!

Kinder und Betrunkene sagen immer die Wahrheit (Children and fools tell the truth)

“Children and drunks always tell the truth.” Well, that’s according to the literal translation of this quote. In English we might say something similar: “children and fools tell the truth.”

This phrase can be used to describe certain groups of people who are much more likely to be open and honest about a situation, for better or for worse. Children are the worst at keeping secrets and drunks are often a little loose-tongued too… while the rest of us know how to lie when we want to.

Wenn man dem Teufel den kleinen Finger gibt, so nimmt er die ganze Hand. (Give an inch; they’ll take a mile)

In English, we have the proverb “if you give an inch, they’ll take a mile.” That’s what this German wisdom quote equates to, but if we were to literally translate it, we’d get “if you give the devil your little finger, he’ll take the whole hand.”

Simply put, it means that people can take advantage of you if you let them.

Klappe zu, Affe tot (Let’s end this)

This one doesn’t make much sense when we translate it directly, as it means “close the lid, the monkey is dead.” It raises a lot of questions about that poor monkey.

The English version doesn’t have such dark connotations, thankfully. We’d simply say, “let’s end this” or even “end of story.” And no monkey gets hurt in the process!

Was ich nicht weiß, macht mich nicht heiß (What I don’t know can’t hurt me)

We’ve all heard people say “what you don’t know can’t hurt you,” which is how we’d usually translate this expression.

But have you ever heard it in German? Was ich nicht weiss, macht mich nicht heiss literally translates to “what I don’t know doesn’t make me hot.”

You can think about that in terms of the English phrase “hot and bothered,” relating to frustration or being flustered.

Was Hänschen nicht lernt, lernt Hans nimmermehr (You can’t teach an old dog new tricks)

This is such a cute saying—if you translate it straight, you get “what little Hans doesn’t learn, adult Hans will never know.”

It’s basically our version of “you can’t teach an old dogs new tricks,” but with humans! You should take particular note of the word Hänschen (little Hans) in this sentence. It’s in the diminutive form, which is often used for children’s names.

Stochere nicht im Bienenstock (Let sleeping dogs lie)

This German expression warns you, “don’t poke around in the beehive.” But it equates to another one of our dog-themed proverbs in English. We’d say, “let sleeping dogs lie.”

You don’t want to bother the bees or the sleeping dogs. Who knows what they’ll do if you disturb them!

Wo sich die Füchse gute Nacht sagen (The back of beyond)

Do you know “where the foxes say good night?” Because that’s what wo sich die Füchse gute Nacht sagen translates to.

Well, we have the answer in U.K. English. The British idiom for a highly remote place, “the back of beyond,” would be an equivalent for this quote. Seen any foxes out there lately?

Besser ein Spatz in der Hand, als eine Taube auf dem Dach (A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush)

You’ll have certainly heard the English proverb, “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” Well, it’s pretty similar in German.

Besser ein Spatz in der Hand, als eine Taube auf dem Dach actually translates to “a sparrow in the hand is better than a pigeon on the roof.” The Germans just specify which birds they’re talking about in their quote.

Arbeit ist die beste Jacke (The best way to warm yourself up is by doing something useful)

The Germans will tell you that “work is the best jacket.” And we’d agree as our version of this wisdom quote is “the best way to warm yourself up is by doing something useful.”

Feeling cold? Maybe you should try to warm yourself up by learning some German vocabulary!

So, next time you’re chatting in German, you should try and throw in some of these wisdom quotes. You’ll sound wise as well as fluent!

And One More Tip for Learning German Phrases

What’s the key to learning German language and culture effectively?

It’s using the right content and tools.

You’re not going to pick it all up from your textbook.

You’re going to learn it from real-world videos like music videos, commercials, news and inspiring talks.

Well, that’s exactly what FluentU is for. FluentU takes great videos and turns them into language learning experiences so that you can learn real German as people really speak it:

Watching a fun video, but having trouble understanding it? FluentU brings native videos within reach with interactive transcripts.

You can tap on any word to look it up instantly. Every definition has examples that have been written to help you understand how the word is used. If you see an interesting word you don’t know, you can add it to a vocabulary list.

And FluentU isn’t just for watching videos. It’s a complete platform for learning. It’s designed to effectively teach you all the vocabulary from any video. Swipe left or right to see more examples of the word you’re on.

The best part is that FluentU keeps track of the vocabulary that you’re learning, and it recommends you examples and videos based on the words you’ve already learned. This is a level of personalization that hasn’t been done before.

Start using FluentU on the website or practice anytime, anywhere with the iOS and Android apps.

Laura Harker is a freelance writer based in North Yorkshire, U.K. 

If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn German with real-world videos.

Experience German immersion online!

Proverbs are wisdom of the experienced passed down from generation to proverbs containing inspiration; many of these adages are wise sayings, express. Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will.

Proverbs - Inspirational Words of Wisdom

old wise sayings wisdom

Halloween has been celebrated in the United States since the 1800s, thanks to Irish and Scottish immigrants who brought over their All Hallows' Eve traditions. So it's no surprise that sayings in American English have risen around the holiday, including these 18 spooky regionalisms we’ve gathered in our continued partnership with the Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE).

1. Holly Eve

In Arkansas or Missouri in the 1930s, West Virginia in the 1940s, or Pennsylvania in the 1950s, you might have referred to Halloween as Holly Eve. Hence, says DARE, a Holly Eve-er is “one who goes out on Halloween.”

2. Poke of Moonshine

Another name for the jack o' lantern, at least in 1930s Connecticut. A peak in the Adirondacks shares the name and, according to The New York Times, it might come from the Algonquin Indian words pohqui, meaning "broken," and moosie, meaning "smooth," possibly referring to "the level summit and stunning east-facing cliffs.” In the case of a jack o’ lantern, it could possibly refer to its carved and intact surfaces. In South Carolina, to move like a poke of moonshine is to move slowly and lazily.

3. False Face

The term false face originated in the late 18th century, according to DARE, to mean a mask in general, and in the early 1900s came to refer specifically to a Halloween mask. A 1911 ad in the Cleveland Plain Dealer said, “Halloween Masks—We have that false face you want for Tuesday night, grotesque and funny.”

The term seems to have been popular in the 1940s and ‘50s, with DARE quotes from Ohio, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Mississippi, Kentucky, Indiana, and Texas. One individual states that their grandmother, who was born in New York City in the 1880s, used “‘false face’ (stress on ‘false’) as her ordinary word for ‘Halloween mask,’” and while the mask “didn’t have to be worn specifically on or for Halloween … it did have to cover the entire face.”

4. and 5. Help the Poor / Soap or Eats

While trick or treat is the norm for bonbon-begging, in 1930s and '40s Detroit, you might have also heard help the poor. Over in parts of California, Ohio, and Minnesota, the candy call might have been soap or eats or soap or grub. According to a Wisconsin resident, soap has to do with “threatening to soap windows” if goodies aren’t given.

6. Penny Night

Another trick or treat alternative is penny night, at least in southwest Ohio. The term also refers to the Halloween celebration itself. We're not sure what pennies have to do with it except as sweets stand-ins.

7. Beggar's Night

Parts of the North and North Midland— especially Ohio and Iowa—call Halloween like it is: beggars’ night. “Beggars’ Night, how ’bout a bite?” you might have heard in the Buckeye State. Beggars' night could be celebrated on “one or more days” the week before Halloween, much to the annoyance of several of those quoted in DARE. From a 1936 issue of the Piqua Daily Call in Ohio: “If the kids would get organized and pick on one particular date for their Beggar’s Night, we could brace ourselves for the onslaught.”

One Ohio resident said they had beggar’s night on October 30, on which they said, “Please help the poor,” while on Halloween they said, “Trick or treat.” The same practice also occurred on Thanksgiving eve, according to quotes from New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and New York City.

8. Devil's Night

As a Michigan resident, you might have called the night before Halloween devil’s night, during which, according to quotes in DARE, kids might vandalize and set fire to abandoned buildings. In 1995, Detroit rechristened devil's night as Angel's Night, a community-organized event in which tens of thousands of volunteers "help patrol and surveil the streets during the days leading up to Halloween."

9. Mischief Night

To New Jerseyans, Halloween eve has always been mischief night, on which you could expect to get TP’d, egged, or spray-painted. According to quotes in DARE, additional activities might include doorbell ringing, gate removing (hence, gate night in some parts of the Northeast), car window soaping, pumpkin stealing, and porch furniture moving.

In England, mischief night refers to the prank-filled evenings of April 30 (May Day eve), October 30, or November 4, the night before Guy Fawkes Day. The Oxford English Dictionary’s earliest citation of the term is from 1830, while DARE’s is from 1977. It’s not clear exactly when the New Jersey/southeastern Pennsylvania meaning of mischief night originated. The earliest record we could find was from 1947 in an article, “Passaic Takes the 'Mischief' Out of ‘Mischief Night.’”

A variation on mischief night might be mystery night, attested in Essex and northern Middlesex counties, as well as other parts of north and central Jersey.

10. and 11. Goosey Night / Picket Night

Garden State alternatives to mischief night include goosey night and picket night. While picket night might come from “the custom of producing noise by running a stick along a picket fence,” according to Lexical Variation in New Jersey by Robert Foster, it’s unclear where goosey night comes from. If we had to guess, perhaps from goose, meaning to poke or startle.

12. Cabbage Night

In some northern parts of the United States, October 30 is known as cabbage night, during which, according to DARE, “young people throw cabbages and refuse on people’s porches, and play other pranks.” Why cabbages? It might have to do with an old Scottish tradition in which young women would pull up cabbages to inspect their stalks. The thickness of the stalks supposedly predicted whether their future husbands would be thin or portly. Then they would inexplicably hurl the vegetables at neighbors' homes.

13. Clothesline Night

In parts of 1950s Vermont, clotheslines were apparently the victim of much TP'ing on Halloween eve. Hence, clothesline night.

14. and 15. Corn Night / Doorbell Night

Corn was the projectile of choice in Ohio areas in the late 1930s. One resident remembered the custom of celebrating the night before Halloween by chucking “dried, shelled corn” at porches. In other parts of the Buckeye State, ringing and running is preferred on what’s known as doorbell night.

16. Light Night

Over in New York, mischief makers would “fling rocks at bare street lights,” says one resident—hence, light night.

17. Moving Night

After a raucous moving night in Baltimore, you might find anything not nailed down—including gates, flower pots, and porch furniture—moved to a neighboring yard, down the block, or even on the next block.

18. Ticktack Night

The cabbage night equivalent in regions including Iowa, Ohio, Maryland, New Jersey, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania. Ticktack are various “homemade noisemakers used to make rapping or other annoying sounds against a window or door as a prank,” especially around Halloween, as well as the prank itself. In parts of Ohio, one resident said, the ticktack noises were from the sound of corn being thrown at windows.

According to Foster’s Lexical Variation in New Jersey, “Mercer County is the home of Tick Tack Night,” where the name is sometimes reinterpreted as “Tic Tac Toe Night” and some pranksters believed they were “called upon to draw tic tac toe diagrams on houses and walks."


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Wise Quotes

old wise sayings wisdom

Hi! I’m Cherryl Hanson Simpson. I’m a Jamaican entrepreneur, author, money coach, business mentor and inventor.

I LOVE Jamaican proverbs! I use them all the time, especially when I’m talking to people about money or personal development.

You see, Jamaican proverbs are chock-full of old time wisdom. If we followed them more often, we would have less problems in our relationships, in money matters, and in difficult situations.

This ‘Wise Jamaican’ website is a dream come true for me.

Many years ago, I was looking for Jamaican proverbs to use in my presentations about money, and I realised that many of these wonderful sayings were not available online. I decided to do some detailed research to find as many proverbs as possible.

My search unearthed hundreds of fascinating proverbs, many that I had never heard of before. I decided to put them all together to share with persons around the world who love Jamaican culture.

Look out for our new proverbs every week, and please leave a comment about each wise saying. Some of the proverbs may have more than one meaning, so you can also share your interpretation. Even better, please subscribe to this blog and receive a weekly bite of Jamaican wisdom in your email!

Enjoy these Jamaican Proverbs! ‘To di worl’

A proverb (from Latin: proverbium) is a simple, concrete, traditional saying that expresses a .. Therefore, "many proverbs refer to old measurements, obscure professions, outdated Wisdom from Orma, Kenya proverbs and wise sayings.

Funny Words of Wisdom

old wise sayings wisdom

Wisdom is a great source of power. It’s through others’ stories of failure and success that we learn the most. It’s through their experiences of things we have yet to witness that feeds us the knowledge we need to fly high, to build upon what we already know.

Related:A Word to the Un-Wise: 5 Keys to Wisdom and Wealth

There is little in life that a wise mind can’t conquer. And it’s the sage-like guidance that inspires us to make our life that much better.

Here are 19 insightful quotes from people who lived exceptional lives.

1. “Nobody can make you feel inferior without your permission.” —Eleanor Roosevelt

2. “You can never plan the future by the past.” —Edmund Burke

3. “He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.” —Friedrich Nietzsche

4. “Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.” —Dalai Lama

5. “Lost time is never found again.” —Benjamin Franklin

6. “He that respects himself is safe from others.” —Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

7. “Common sense is genius dressed in its working clothes.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson

8. “In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.” —Robert Frost

9. “It is the province of knowledge to speak, and it is the privilege of wisdom to listen.” —Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.

10. “Don’t take life too seriously. You’ll never get out of it alive.” —Elbert Hubbard

11. “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” —Nelson Mandela

12. “Nothing that you have not given away will ever be really yours.” —C. S. Lewis

13. “Singleness of purpose is one of the chief essentials for success in life, no matter what may be one’s aim.” —John D. Rockefeller

14. “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” —Mark Twain

15. “Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.” —Aristotle

16. “There are many ways of going forward, but only one way of standing still.” —Franklin D. Roosevelt

17. “When a thing is done, it’s done. Don’t look back. Look forward to your next objective.” —George C. Marshall

18. “Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best.” —Henry Van Dyke

19. “In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” —Abraham Lincoln

Related: Seeking Advice: The Wisest Way to Hit the Next Level of Success

Lydia Sweatt

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Lydia Sweatt is the web producer for She recently earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Texas at Arlington and is a Dallas native. She enjoys painting, a hefty taco and discovering new music.

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old wise sayings wisdom
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