Gaelic Proverbs

By | February 3, 2018

Gaelic Sayings

Gaelic languages form one of the two groups of Insular Celtic languages, the other being the Brittonic languages.

Goidelic languages historically formed a dialect continuum stretching from Ireland through the Isle of Man to Scotland. There are three modern Goidelic languages: Irish (Gaeilge), Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig) and Manx (Gaelg), the last of which died out in the 20th century but has since been revived to some degree. (Source)

  • It is not with the first stroke that the tree falls.
  • Praise the good day at the close of it.
  • Self-assurance is two-thirds of success.
  • A man may do without a brother, but not without a neighbour.
  • ‘Tis hard to hold a conger by the tail.
  • Two should stay together when crossing a ford.
  • Evil thoughts often come from idleness.
  • Every dog sets upon the stranger dog.
  • A clean bird never came out of a kite’s nest.
  • See that your own hearth is swept before you lift your neighbor’s ashes.
  • The moon is none the worse for the dogs’ barking at her.
  • The active mother makes the lazy daughter.
  • There is no smoke in a lark’s house.
  • A gossip’s mouth is the devil’s postbag.
  • The cat wonders at its own tail.
  • The scraping hen will find something, but the creeping hen will find nothing.
  • The man who puts not a knot on his thread loses the first stitch.
  • Hold back your dog till the deer falls.
  • It is at the year’s end that the fisher can tell his luck.
  • The chief’s house has a slippery doorstep.
  • A dimple on the chin, the devil within.
  • The fated thing will happen.
  • Better a good retreat than a bad stand.
  • The drunk man thinks himself the only one sober.
  • The learning in youth is the pretty learning.
  • Do not judge by appearances; a rich heart may be under a poor coat.
  • No wonder the cast smells of the herrings that it holds.
  • The man that divides the pudding will have the thick end to himself.
  • The hand that gives is the hand that gets.
  • A ‘thank you’ doesn’t pay the fiddler.
  • Go courting afar, but marry next door.

Favorite saying of Gaelic origin

  • Wet fuel may kindle, but a stone never will.
  • The strong foot will not find more than the big belly will devour.
  • He who would enjoy the fruit must not spoil the blossoms.
  • Nothing is easy to the unwilling.
  • Beauty won’t boil the pot.
  • Nothing can get into a closed fist.
  • The night is long for the husband of a bad wife.
  • Grass does not grow on the high road.
  • Check your purse before you please yourself.
  • A feast is no use without good talk.
  • A wild goose never laid a tame egg.
  • A man’s fault will be as big as a mountain before he sees it.
  • It’s no secret if three know it.
  • The wine is sweet, the paying bitter.
  • Who is born to be hanged will never be drowned.
  • The value of the well is not known until it goes dry.
  • A lazy youth will make an active old man.
  • Keep a thing seven years and you’ll find a use for it.
  • The windy day is not the day for thatch-wattles.
  • Honey may be sweet, but no-one licks it off a briar.
  • It is easy to straighten in the oak the crook that grew in the sapling.
  • The bitter cup we strive to remove from us holds the medicine we are most in need of.
  • Two never kindled a fire but it lit between them.
  • A patch is better than a hole.
  • Common sense hides shame.
  • When thieves dispute, honest men will get their own.
  • A little hole will sink a big ship.
  • No hero is proof against injury.
  • Even God cannot make two mountains without a valley in between.
  • The smart fellow’s share is on every dish.
  • What comes with the wind will go with the water.
  • The man who always goes out with his net will catch birds sometimes.
  • Go carefully with a full cup.
  • The tartan is all of the one stuff.
  • It’s no health if the glass is not emptied.
  • A priest should be learned, but learning won’t make a priest.
  • A cat in mittens won’t catch mice.
  • The mouse is mistress in her own house.
  • The man with a big nose thinks everyone talks of it.
  • A dog yells not when hit with a bone.
  • Lofty is the deer’s head on the top of the mountain.
  • A king’s son is no nobler than his company.
  • Where the stream is shallowest, it is noisiest.
  • A wave will rise on quiet water.
  • The grass that grows in March disappears in April.
  • Many a thing drops from the man who often flits.
  • No door ever closed, but another opened.
  • Men will meet, but the hills will not.
  • Swift is the slut’s husband over the hill, on a bleak day in Spring.
  • Avoid the evil, and it will avoid thee.
  • Sharp would the dog be that could snatch his tail from him.
  • Don’t give cherries to pigs or advice to fools.
  • Hot water will quench fire.
  • A covetous eye never got a good bargain.
  • He who will not sow in March will not reap in autumn.
  • The best apple is on the highest bough.
  • No man ever broke his bow but another man found a use for the string.
  • A son is a son until he comes of age; a daughter is a daughter all her life.
  • What the little ones see, the little ones do.
  • Poor is the bagpipe when widowed.
  • A fire of broken peat, and a boy’s love, do not last.
  • More than we use is more than we want.
  • The lion is known by the scratch of his claws.
  • Dig your bait while the tide is out.
  • Assurance is two-thirds of success.
  • There is no greater fraud than a promise not kept.
  • A friend’s eye is a good looking-glass.
  • The willing horse should not be spurred.
  • Who God does not teach, man cannot.
  • Welcome the coming, speed the parting guest.
  • Peats don’t fall from empty creels.
  • The little fire that warms is better than the big fire that burns.
  • Marriage takes the heat out of love.
  • He that will not look forward must look behind.
  • Some of the sweetest berries grow among the sharpest thorns.
  • Though you should take a wife from Hell, yet she will bring you home.
  • Whoever burns his backside must himself sit upon it.
  • Who comes uninvited will sit down unbidden.
  • If it is worth taking, it is worth asking for.
  • The essence of a game is at its end.

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