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French Proverbs





French proverbs offer insight into French culture, history, and society, and are often used in speech and writing. There is no substitute for knowing them, and if you can use them in yourself, so much the better. Below are all the standard proverbs used in French, along with English translations and explanations. Use the Search Box at left if you cant't navigate your way to what you want.

A B C D E F G H I J L M N O P Q R S T U V


un chien regarde bien un évêque
a cat may look upon a king (lit.: a dog may look at a bishop)

un chien vivant vaut mieux qu’un lion mort
a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush (lit.: a live dog is worth more than a dead lion)

un clou chasse l’autre
one man goes and another steps in; life goes on (lit.: one nail drives out another)

un de perdu, dix de retrouvés
easy come, easy go; there are many fish in the sea (lit.: one lost, ten found)

un homme averti en vaut deux
forewarned is forearmed (lit.: a warned man is worth two)

un malheur ne vient jamais seul
it never rains but it pours (lit.: misfortute never comes alone)

un mauvais arrangement vaut mieux qu'un bon procès
a poor arrangement is worth more than a good [legal] process (i.e.: court battles can be so costly and time-consuming that a disappointing agreement of some sort reached out of court can be preferable)

un menteur doit avoir bonne mémoire
a liar must have a good memory

un tiens vaut mieux que deux tu l’auras
a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush (lit.: having one is worth more than having two in the future)

une âne grate l’autre
little things please little minds (lit.: one donkey scratches another)

une fois n’est pas coutume
once is not habit (lit.: one time is not a custom)

une hirondelle ne fait pas le printemps
one swallow doesn't make a summer (lit.: one swallow doesn't make spring)


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