Persian Proverbs

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86 terms · Complete list of Persian Proverbs and English meanings taken from: http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Persian_proverbs

آب از دستش نمیچکه

Literal Translation: Even water doesn't trickle out his hand.
Connotation: He is a skinflint. She is tight-fisted.

آب از سر چشمه گل آلوده

Literal Translation: Water is muddy at the fountainhead.
Connotation: The issue is muddled at the core.

آب از آب تکان نمیخوره

Literal translation: The water doesn't move.
Connotation: Nothing is disturbed. No waves are made.

آب از سرش گذشته

Literal Translation: Water is past his head.
Connotation: He has lost his chance; it's over for him.
English Equivalent: She's in deep water. He's got in over his head.

آب پاکی روی دستش ریخت

Literal Translation: She poured cleansing water on his hand.
Connotation: She told him the (bitter) truth.

آب در کوزه و ما تشنه لبان میگردیم

Literal Translation: Water is in the jug, yet we're wandering around with parched lips.
Connotation: The solution is under our nose, yet we're searching far and wide for it.
English Equivalent: We can't see the wood for the trees

آب را گل آلود میکنه که ماهی بگیره

Literal Translation: He makes the water muddy to fish.
Connotation: He creates a confusing situation for opportunistic reasons.
English Equivalent: He is fishing in troubled waters.

آب زیر پوستش افتاده

Literal Translation: Water has seeped under her skin.
Connotation: She has become hale. Her appearance has improved.
English Equivalent: She is in the pink.

آب که یه جا بمونه، میگنده

Literal Translation: When water remains in one place, it spoils.
Connotation: Absence of change causes stagnation.
English Equivalent: A rolling stone gathers no moss.

آبکش و نگاه کن که به کفگیر میگه تو سه سوراخ داری

Literal Translation: Look at the colander telling the pierced serving spoon, "You have three holes."
Connotation: Applied when a person mentions the problems of another without seeing his own bigger problems.
English Equivalent: The pot calling the kettle black.

آب که از سر گذشت، چه یک ذرع چه صد ذرع ـ چه یک نی چه صد نی

Literal Translation: Once water goes over your head, may it be one zar or hundred zars, may it be one nay or a hundred nays.
Connotation: Once one is in deep trouble, the exact magnitude of one's misfortune becomes immaterial.
English Equivalent: Might as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb. In for a penny, in for a pound.

آب که سر بالا میره، قورباغه ابوعطا میخونه

Literal Translation: When water flows uphill, frogs sing Abu Ata.
Connotation: An event is so improbable that its occurrence is akin to cacophony sounding mellifluous.
English Equivalent: Pigs might fly.

آب نمی‌بینه و گرنه شناگر قابلیه

Literal Translation: He doesn't see any water; otherwise, he is a skilled swimmer.
Connotation: He doesn't find the appropriate occasion to demonstrate his talents and abilities.
English Equivalent:

آبی از او گرم نمیشه

Literal Translation: No water is heated by him.
Connotation: He is not an agent of change. He is not a difference-maker. He provides no support or benefit.
English Equivalent: He's a good-for-nothing.

آتش که گرفت، خشک و تر میسوزد

Literal Translation: Once fire spreads, the damp and the dry burn.
Connotation: Once a situation gets out of hand, the guilty and the innocent get harmed equally.
English Equivalent: Fire is a good servant but a bad master.

آخر شاه منشی، کاه کشی است

Literal Translation: He who puts on lordly airs winds up hauling hay.
Connotation: He who has had his nose in the air bites the dust in the end.
English Equivalent: Pride comes before a fall

آدم با کسی که علی گفت، عمر نمیگه

Literal Translation: If you talk Ali to him, don't mention Omar.
Connotation: Speak in the frame of reference of your audience.

آدم بد حساب، دوبار میده

Literal Translation: One who is poor at finace pays twice.
Connotation: One who is inept incurs costs twice as much as necessary.
English Equivalent: A fool and his money are soon parted.

آدم تنبل، عقل چهل وزیر داره

Literal Translation: A sluggard claims the wisdom of forty viziers.
Connotation: He talks the talk but doesn't walk the walk
English Equivalent: Great talkers are little doers.

آدم خوش معامله، شریک مال مردمه

Literal Translation: An honest broker shares in people's wealth.
Connotation: People entrust an honest man with their wherewithals.
English Equivalent: Share and share alike.

آدم دست پاچه، کار را دوبار می‌کنه

Literal Translation: A hasty man does things twice.
Connotation: A slapdash work requires rework.
English Equivalent: Haste makes waste. Measure twice, cut once.

آدم دست پاچه دوبار می‌شاشه

Literal Translation: A hasty man pisses twice.
Connotation: A slapdash work requires rework.
English Equivalent: Haste makes waste. Measure twice, cut once. Less haste, more speed.

آدم زنده، زندگی می‌خواد

Literal Translation: A living person needs a life.
Connotation: Human beings need meaningful lives.
English Equivalent: Remember to live before you die.

آدم زنده وکیل وصی نمی‌خواد

Literal Translation: A living man doesn't need an heir or an executor.
Connotation: He who is alive and well needs no proxies to speak and act for him.
English Equivalent: Eat drink and make merry, for tomorrow you might die

آدم گدا، اینهمه ادا؟

Literal Translation: So down-and-out, so high-and-mighty!
Connotation: For someone who has very little to offer, he makes a great deal of demands.
English Equivalent: Beggars can't be choosers. Lying in the gutter, looking at the stars.

آدم گرسنه، خواب نان سنگک می‌بینه

Literal Translation: A hungry man dreams of sangak bread.
Connotation: Those with meager means dream of riches.

آدم ناشی، سرنا را از سر گشادش میزنه

Literal Translation: A bungler blows into Sorna's bell.
Connotation: An incompetent person does not know how to go about doing a task (he blows into trumpet's bell instead of its mouthpiece).
English Equivalent: He doesn't know which end is up. Uses wrong end of the shovel.

آرد خودمونو ریختیم، الک مونو آویختیم

Literal Translation: We sifted our flour and hung up our sifter.
Connotation: I took care of my own business.
English Equivalent:

آرزو بر جوانان عیب نیست

Literal Translation: Aspiration is not a defect for youngsters.
Connotation: It's ok for youths to be dreamers.
English Equivalent:

آستین نو بخور پلو

Literal Translation: O New Sleeve, eat pilau!
Connotation: People admire and value your trappings and outer personalities instead of your inner self.
English Equivalent: Don't judge a book by its cover

آسوده کسی که خر نداره --- از کاه و جوش خبر نداره

Literal Translation: Comfortable is he who doesn't have a donkey -- He who doesn't know of its straw and barley.
Connotation: Lucky are those who don't have too many responsibilities.

آسه برو آسه بیا که گربه شاخت نزنه

Literal Translation: Go slowly, come slowly, lest the cat should gore you.
Connotation: Do your work quietly, so that you won't get in trouble. Keep a low profile.
English Equivalent: Don't rock the boat. Don't make waves.

آشپز که دوتا شد، آش یا شوره یا بی‌نمک

Literal Translation: Between two cooks, the soup becomes either salty or bland.
Connotation: Too many decision-makers may doom the outcome.
English Equivalent: Too many cooks spoil the broth.

آش نخورده و دهن سوخته

Literal Translation: Uneaten soup and burned mouth.
Connotation: Applied in situations where one gets in trouble for an action one hasn't committed.
English Equivalent:

آفتابه خرج لحیمه

Literal Translation: The ewer is cheaper than its solder.
Connotation: It's less costly to dispose of an item than to repair it.
English Equivalent: It's no use throwing good money after bad.

آفتابه لگن هفت دست،اما شام و ناهار هیچی

Literal Translation: Seven sets of ewers and washbowls, but no dinner or lunch.
Connotation: Applied when there's a lot of side-preparation/advertisement for an event without any important event.
English Equivalent: All fur coat and no knickers

آفتابه و لولهنگ هر دو یک کار می‌کنند، اما قیمتشان موقع گرو گذاشتن معلوم می‌شه

Literal Translation: A ewer and a hose do the same thing, but their real values show when they are pawned.
Connotation: Goods have value only to those who desire them.
English Equivalent: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

آمدم ثواب کنم، کباب شدم

Literal Translation: I attempted to be benevolent, but I got burnt.
Connotation: I was trying to help out, but I got in trouble myself.
English Equivalent: No good deed goes unpunished.

آمد زیر ابروشو برداره، چشمش را کور کرد

Literal Translation: He tried to pluck her eyebrow, but blinded her eye.
Connotation: He tried to solve a simple problem, but made it worse.
English Equivalent:

آنانکه غنی‌ترند، محتاج‌ترند

Literal Translation: The richer they are, the needier they are.
Connotation: The rich are subjugated by their greed for more riches.
English Equivalent: Mo' Money, Mo' Problems.

آنچه دلم خواست نه آن شد --- آنچه خدا خواست همان شد

Literal Translation: What I wished for happened not -- What God willed happened to a dot.
Connotation: Events are governed by the will of God, not the whims of men.
English Equivalent: We are not in charge of our own destiny.

آنرا که حساب پاکه، از محاسبه چه باکه؟

Literal Translation: He who is honest at finance, what fear of audit will he have?
Connotation: One who's innocent is not afraid of investigation.
English Equivalent: The honest don't need to lie.

آنقدر بایست، تا علف زیر پات سبز بشه

Literal Translation: Stand so long until grass grows under your foot.
Connotation: You can wait as much as you want, but it's useless.
English Equivalent: You can stay here until the cows come home.

آنقدر سمن هست، که یاسمن توش گمه

Literal Translation: Amongst the genus of Jasminum, a single jasmine does not stand out.
Connotation:
English Equivalent: We are all unique

آنقدر مار خورده که افعی شده

Literal Translation: He has eaten so many snakes that he has become a viper.
Connotation: He has dealt with so many scoundrels that he himself has become the chief rogue.
English Equivalent: When you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.

آن ممه را لولو برد

Literal Translation: Bugbear took that pacifier.
Connotation: Applied when something one wanted/expected is no longer available.

آنوقت که جیک‌جیک مستانت بود، یاد زمستانت نبود؟

Literal Translation: While you were chirping with vernal giddiness, didn't you think of brumal harshness?
Connotation:
English Equivalent:

آواز دهل شنیدن از دور خوشه

Literal Translation: Kettledrum sounds dulcet when heard from afar.
Connotation: What you hear about something may not be equivalent to its qualities.
English Equivalent: All that glitters is not gold.

اجاره نشین خوش نشینه

Literal Translation: A renter becomes a comfortable dweller.
Connotation:
English Equivalent:

ارزان خری، انبان خری

Literal Translation: Buy cheap, buy a heap.
Connotation:
English Equivalent:

از اسب افتاده‌ایم، اما از اصل نیفتاده‌ایم

Literal Translation: We have fallen off the horse, but we have not fallen from nobility.
Connotation: We might've had some misfortunes, but that doesn't lower our class or diminish our patriciate.
English Equivalent:

از اونجا مونده، از اینجا رونده

Literal Translation: Left out of there, driven from here.
Connotation: Applied when one loses reputation in/is expelled from every group one belongs to.
English Equivalent:

از اون نترس که های و هوی داره، از اون بترس که سر به زیر داره

Literal Translation: Don't be afraid of he who raises a hue and cry; be afraid of he who holds his head down.
Connotation: The reticent can be more dangerous than the boisterous.
English Equivalent: Empty vessels make the most noise. Barking dogs seldom bite.

از این امامزاده کسی معجزه نمی‌بینه

Literal Translation: Nobody sees any miracle from this shrine.
Connotation: No benefit has come from this individual.
English Equivalent:

از این دم بریده هر چی بگی بر‌میاد

Literal Translation: You name it, this imp has done it.
Connotation: This prankster doesn't stop short of any tricks.
English Equivalent: I wouldn't put it past him.

از این ستون به آن ستون فرجه

Literal Translation: From this column to that column may be a relief.
Connotation: Trying every situation may bring a solution.
English Equivalent: Try, try, try again

از بی‌کفنی زنده‌ایم

Literal Translation: We're alive for the lack of shroud.
Connotation: Our means are exiguous. (We continue to live, because we couldn't afford the funeral cost, if we were to die.)
English Equivalent:

از دست پس میزنه، با پا پیش می‌کشه

Literal Translation: He pushes it away with the hand, and pulls it back with the foot.
Connotation: He pretends he doesn't want something, even though he reaches for it.
English Equivalent:

از تنگی چشم پیل معلومم شد --- آنانکه غنی‌ترند محتاج‌ترند

Literal Translation: The smallness of elephant's eye made me realize -- The ampler they are, the meager they are.
Connotation:
English Equivalent:

از تو حرکت، از خدا برکت

Literal Translation: From you, action, from God, benediction.
Connotation: You have to work towards something first instead of expecting luck.
English Equivalent: God helps those who help themselves.

از حق تا نا حق چهار انگشت فاصله است

Literal Translation: Just and unjust are four fingers apart.
Connotation:
English Equivalent:

از خر افتاده، خرما پیدا کرده

Literal Translation: He has fallen off the donkey, but has found a date.
Connotation: A bad event had a good sequel.
English Equivalent:

از خرس موئی، غنیمته

Literal Translation: Even a hair off the bear is serendipitous.
Connotation: It is so unlikely to obtain anything from this person that even a smidgen is a win.
English Equivalent: Half a loaf is better than no bread.

ز خر میپرسی چهارشنبه کیه؟

Literal Translation: Are you asking the donkey about Wednesday?
Connotation: Why you asking an idiot?
English Equivalent:

از خودت گذشته، خدا عقلی به بچه‌هات بده

Literal Translation: You aside, may God give your children some intelligence.
Connotation: You're dimwitted.

از درد لا‌علاجی به خر میگه خانمباجی

Literal Translation: Out of desperation, he calls donkey dame.
Connotation: His options are so limited that he has to settle for the worst pinchbeck.
English Equivalent: Beggars can't be choosers.

از دور دل و میبره، از جلو زهره رو

Literal Translation: At a distance, she takes the heart; up close, she takes the gall-bladder.
Connotation:
English Equivalent: She's a Monet.

از سه چیز باید حذر کرد، دیوار شکسته، سگ درنده، زن سلیطه

Literal Translation: Three things must be shunned: a broken wall, a ferocious dog, and a shrew.
Connotation:
English Equivalent:

از شما عباسی، از ما رقاصی

Literal Translation: You offer an Abbassi, we offer a dance.
Connotation: You're serious but we're not
English Equivalent:

از کوزه همان برون تراود که در اوست

Literal Translation: What percolates out of the jug is what's inside it.
Connotation:
English Equivalent: Every tree is known by its fruit.

از کیسه خلیفه می‌بخشه

Literal Translation: She doles out of Caliph's purse.
Connotation: Someone is being generous at someone else's expense.
English Equivalent: Borrowing from Peter to pay Paul.

از گمال پس است و از جان عاصیدا چه یک نان بگیرند و چه بدهند

Literal Translation: Be it a bread given to the beggar, be it one taken from him.
Connotation: The person is so destitute that his fortune will not change with a penny given or taken.
English Equivalent:

از گیر دزد در آمده، گیر رمال افتاد

Literal Translation: He escaped the thief, and fell in fortune-teller's trap.
Connotation:
English Equivalent: Out of the frying pan into the fire.
French Equivalent: Tomber de Charybde en Scylla!

از ماست که بر ماست

Literal Translation: It's from us that's upon us.
Connotation: We're responsible for our own misfortune.
English Equivalent: Keep your own counsel. Watch your back.

از مردی تا نامردی یک قدم است

Literal Translation: Doughtiness and cowardice are one step apart.
Connotation:
English Equivalent: Cowards may die many times before their deaths.

از نخورده بگیر، بده به خورده

Literal Translation: Take it from the famished and give it to the nourished.
Connotation:
English Equivalent: The rich get richer, the poor get poorer.

از نو کیسه قرض مکن، قرض کردی خرج نکن

Literal Translation: Don't borrow from a parvenu; if you do, don't spend it.

از هر چه بدم اومد، سرم اومد

Literal Translation: Whatever I disliked happened to me.

از هول هلیم افتاد توی دیگ

Literal Translation: So raring for haleem, he fell into the pot.
Connotation: Out of extreme desire for achieving something, he got in trouble.

از یک گل بهار نمیشه

Literal Translation: A single flower makes not Spring.
Connotation:
English Equivalent: One swallow does not a summer make.

از این گوش میگیره، از آن گوش در میکنه

Literal Translation: She takes in from one ear, and lets out from the other ear.
Connotation: One doesn't pay attention to the given advice.
English Equivalent: Goes in one ear comes out the other.

اسباب خونه به صاحبخونه میره

Literal Translation: Household goods take after the homeowner.
Connotation:
English Equivalent:

اسب پیشکشی رو، دندوناشو نمی‌شمرند

Literal Translation: They don't count the teeth of a gift horse.
Connotation: Do not be critical of what has been given to you for free.
English Equivalent: Don't look a gift horse in the mouth.

اسب ترکمنی است، هم از توبره میخوره هم ازآخور

Literal Translation: The horse is Turkmen; it feeds off both the nose-bag and the manger.
Connotation: A person is trying to benefit from being close to opposing parties.
English Equivalent: Runs with the hare, hunts with the hound.

اسب را گم کرده، پی نعلش میگرده

Literal Translation: He has lost the horse, yet, he's looking for the horseshoe.
Connotation:
English Equivalent: Putting the cart before the horse. Closing the barn door after the horses get out.

اسب و خر را که یکجا ببندند، اگر همبو نشند همخو میشند

Literal Translation: Hitch a horse and an ass to the same post; if they don't smell the same, they'll behave the same.
Connotation:
English Equivalent:

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