Scottish Proverbs


Sayings of Scottish origin

  • You will never know a man till you do business with him.
  • When the heart is full the tongue will speak.
  • All that’s said in the kitchen should not be told in the hall.
  • A proud mind and an empty purse grow ill together.
  • A plump widow needs no advertisement.
  • Understand the boat and the boat will understand you.
  • No fool like an auld fool.
  • They talk of my drinking but never my thirst.
  • The geese will tell it in autumn.
  • Better be ill spoken of by one before all than by all before one.
  • The Devil’s a busy bishop in his own diocese.
  • Never take a wife till you know what to do with her.
  • Every man to his taste, as the man said when he kissed his cow.
  • Self-assurance is two thirds of success.
  • Danger and delight grow on one stalk.
  • We’ll never know the worth of water till the well go dry.
  • With violets and goats’ milk anoint your face, and every king’s son in the world will be after you.
  • A rich man’s wooing need seldom be a long one.
  • Ye can’t make a silk purse of a pig’s ear.
  • Willful waste makes woeful want.
  • A bold foe is better than a cowardly friend.
  • Wink at small faults, for you have great ones yourself.
  • A new walk in an old field.
  • Be happy while you’re living, for you’re a long time dead.
  • If you don’t see the bottom, don’t wade.
Scottish Proverbs

Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and covers the northern third of the island of Great Britain. It shares a border with England to the south, and is otherwise surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the south-west. In addition to the mainland, the country is made up of more than 790 islands, including the Northern Isles and the Hebrides.(Source)

Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland and one of its 32 council areas. It is located in Lothian on the Firth of Forth’s southern shore.

The languages of Scotland are the languages spoken or once spoken in Scotland. Each of the numerous languages spoken in Scotland during its recorded linguistic history falls into either the Germanic or Celtic language families. The classification of the Pictish language was once controversial, but it is now generally considered a Celtic language. Today, the main language spoken in Scotland is English, while Scots and Scottish Gaelic are minority languages. The dialect of English spoken in Scotland is referred to as Scottish English.

There is no official national anthem of Scotland. However, a number of songs are used as unofficial Scottish anthems, most notably “Scotland the Brave”.

More Scottish Proverbs & Sayings

  • It’s sin and not poverty that makes men miserable.
  • Bad shoes on a shoemaker’s wife, bad horseshoes on a smithy’s horse, bad trousers on a tailor’s son, a bad cart at a jointer.
  • Learn young, learn fair; learn old, learn more.
  • Beggars can’t be choosers.
  • Three things come without being wanted, age, love, and rheumatism.
  • They that live longest, see most.
  • A new besom sweeps clean.
  • If I had a dog as daft, I would shoot him.
  • A tale never loses in the telling.
  • Peace is the well from which the stream of joy runs.
  • A shored tree stands long.
  • Forbid a fool a thing and that he will do.
  • Nobody can serve two masters.
  • Enough’s as good as a feast.
  • They are good that are away.
  • Forsake not God till you find a better master.
  • Friends are lost by calling often and calling seldom.
  • Five for silver, six for gold,
  • A fool may earn money, but it takes a wise man to keep it.
  • When wine sinks words swim.
  • If you want to live a life that is long, don’t get between she who is red haired and a rock.
  • Big fish eat little fish.
  • They that will not be counseled cannot be helped.
  • It’s an ill cause that a lawyer thinks shame of.
  • Glasses and lasses are fragile ware!
  • Good company on a journey is worth a coach.
  • It’s sin and not poverty that makes men miserable.
  • A man at forty is either a fool or a physician.
  • A cock is valiant on his own dunghill.
  • One whisky is all right; two is too much; three is too few.
  • Little wit o’ the head gives the feet much to do.
  • Hours are time’s shafts, and one comes winged with death.
  • If the Devil were dead, folk would do little for God’s sake.
  • A good tale never tires in the telling.
  • If ye had as little money as ye have manners, ye would be the poorest man of all your kin.
  • Twelve highlanders and a bagpipe make a rebellion.
  • A close mouth catches no fleas.
  • Better bend than break.
  • Penny wise and pound foolish.
  • One glass, not the better and not the worse my body or my soul of it. Two glasses, the better my body of it and not the worse my soul of it. Three glasses, the worse my soul of it and not the better my body of it.
  • There isn’t a flood which will not subside.
  • They that dance must pay the fiddler.
  • It’s an ill cause that a lawyer thinks shame of.
  • A muffled cat was ne’er a good hunter…
  • If the doctor cures, the sun sees it; if he kills, the earth hides it.
  • Whisky may not cure the common cold, but it fails more agreeably than most other things.
  • From saving comes having.
  • A penny saved is a penny gained.
  • One man’s meat is another man’s poison.
  • Where vice is vengeance follows.
  • A fool and his money are soon parted.
  • Who wants to lick honey must not shy away from the bees.
  • Repentance won’t cure mischief.
  • While a person gets they can never lose.
  • Praise the fine day in the evening.
  • Waves will rise on silent water.
  • Listen to the wind upon the hill till the waters abate.
  • Be slow in choosing a friend but slower in changing him.
  • He’s the slave of all slaves who serve’s none but himself.
  • Fools look to tomorrow; wise men use tonight.
  • The Devil’s boots don’t creak.
  • A house without a dog, a cat, or a little child is a house without joy or laughter.
  • Egotism is an alphabet of one letter.
  • A turn well done is soon done.
  • Of two ills, choose the least.
  • He can make a church or a mill of it.
  • A bad wound may heal, but a bad name will kill.
  • The people meet each other but the hills do not.
  • He that marries a widow will have a dead man’s head often thrown in his dish.
  • Better wear out shoes than sheets.
  • Plenty makes dainty!
  • A nod of an honest man is good enough.
  • What we first learn we best know.
  • Diet cures more than doctors.
  • Give you an inch and you’ll take a yard .
  • A hungry stomach is aye craving.
  • A man’s best fortune or his worst is a wife.
  • A hungry man smells meat far.
  • A liar should have a good memory.
  • The wise make jests and fools repeat them.
  • Get what you can and keep what you have; that’s the way to get rich.
  • Pay him in his own coin.
  • To heal all disease, take garlic and May butter; drink along with that white goats’ milk.
  • There never came ill of good advisement.
  • He has licked the butter off my bread.
  • Never draw your dirk when a blow will do it.
  • May God bless you to live as long as you want to; and want to as long as you live!
  • Carelessness is worse than a thieve.
  • Money is flat and was meant to be piled up.
  • Often has a shoemaker’s wife had bad shoes.
  • When one door sticks, another one opens.
  • Do as the lassies do – say “no” and take it.
  • A misty morning may become a clear day.
  • He that teaches himself has a fool for a master.
  • Slippery is the flagstone at the mansion-house door.
  • A gloved cat was never a good hunter.
  • Ye may not sit in Rome and strive with the Pope.
  • A man of words, but no deeds, is like a garden full of weeds.
  • Many a good tale is spoiled in the telling.
  • Such mother, such daughter.
  • What cannot be cured must be endured.
  • When it comes on one it comes on all.
  • A table without bread is not a table but bread is a table on its own.
  • One may survive distress, but not disgrace.
  • A bird in the hand’s worth two fleeing by.
  • War makes thieves, and peace hangs them.
  • The best mirror is a friend’s eye.
  • There never was a five-pound note but there was a ten-pound road for it.
  • A light purse makes a heavy heart.
  • A man is a lion in his own cause.
  • Better to be alone than in bad company.
  • Three that come unbidden – love, jealousy and fear.
  • None but a dog eats his fill.
  • A nod’s as good as a wink to a blind horse.
  • It is the milk of the goat foaming and warm, that gave the strength to the past generations of people.
  • A slothful man is a beggar’s brother.
  • He that peeks through a keyhole may see what will vex him.
  • One for sorrow, two for joy.
  • A thread will tie an honest man better than a chain a rogue.
  • A good word is as soon said as an ill one.
  • A black hen lays a white egg…
  • What may be done at any time will be done at no time.
  • Either a man or a mouse.
  • Better half hanged than ill married.
  • Monday is the key day of the week.
  • Open confession is good for the soul.
  • False friends are worst than bitter enemies.
  • Birds of a feather flock together.
  • Look after the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves.
  • Were it not for hope the heart would break.
  • In this context, “May” is the Mayflower or Hawthorn, which blooms well before the end of May.
  • Law’s costly — take a pint and agree.
  • In at one ear and out at the other.
  • Never marry for money. You can borrow it cheaper.
  • Luck never gives; it only lends.
  • Fools make feasts and wise men eat them,
  • If the cat is away, the mice play.
  • There’s no medicine for fear.
  • The day has eyes, the night has ears.
  • Choose your wife with her nightcap on.
  • Three for a girl, four for a boy.
  • A friend by thee is better than a brother far off.
  • A day to come seems longer than a year that’s gone.
  • It is better to have broken Gaelic than dead Gaelic.
  • Take care of your pennies and your dollars will take care of themselves.
  • A blate cat makes a proud mouse.
  • A pound of care will not pay an ounce of debt.
  • He goes long barefoot that waits for dead men’s shoes.
  • Married folk are like rats in a trap — fain to get others in, but fain to be out themselves.
  • A child may have too much of his mother’s blessing.
  • A blind man needs no looking glass.
  • Better to be off with the old love before we be on with the new.
  • Any port in a storm.
  • A crook in the forth is worth an earldom in the north.
  • A friend in need is a friend indeed.
  • A dry simmer ne’er made a dear peck.
  • A fu’ purse never lacks friends.
  • They that sow the wind shall reap the whirlwind.
  • Better keep the devil at the door than have to turn him out of the house.
  • It is an ill cause that the lawyers think shame of.
  • Such father, such son.
  • Confessed faults are half-mended.
  • A begun turn is half ended.
  • He’s as welcome as water in a holed ship.
  • Laws catch flies, but let hornets go free.
  • A cold needs the cook as much as the doctor.
  • Modesty is the beauty of women.
  • Time and tide will tarry on no man.
  • A great boaster is rarely a great performer.
  • A fair exchange is no robbery.
  • That put the red kite among the hens.
  • You may as well keep your breath to cool your porridge.
  • Double drinks are good for thirst.
  • When the cup is full, carry it even.
  • A taking hand will never want…
  • A dry lent, a fertile year.
  • Never let your feet run faster than your shoes.
  • A wise lawyer never goes to law himself.
  • Prayer and practice is good rhyme.
  • The cure may be worse than the disease.
  • It’s a sad house where the hen crows louder than the cock.
  • He that lives upon hope has a slim diet.
  • Be a friend to yourself and others will.
  • Money is better than my lord’s letter.
  • To marry is to halve your rights and double your duties.
  • Perfect love cannot be without equality.
  • Better to be a cuckold and not know it than to not be one and everybody say so.
  • I would as soon see your nose be cheese, and the cat get the first bite of it.
  • Every man’s tale is good till another’s be told.
  • Better the day, the better deed.
  • Never show your teeth unless you can bite.
  • Confession is good for the soul.
  • It ill becomes a carpenter to be heavy-handed, a smith to be shake-handed, or a physician to be tenderhearted.
  • He that loves law will soon get his fill of it.
  • A bad reaper never gets a good sickle.
  • They that smell least smell best.
  • The medicine that hurts the most is generally the best healer.
  • And seven for a secret that must never be told.

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