Danish Proverbs

Proverbial Wisdom from Denmark

Sayings of Danish origin

Love is one-eyed, hate is blind.

Eggs and oaths are easily broken.

No one gets into trouble without his own help.

It is good to lend to God and the soil; they pay good interest.

No one can be caught in places he does not visit.

What you are is God’s gift to you what you do with yourself is your gift to God.

Great men’s requests are commands.

God feeds the birds that use their wings.

He who doesn’t open his eyes when he buys must still open his purse to pay.

Better the child cry, than the mother sigh.

If you would live healthy, be old early.

Good men must die, but death cannot kill their names.

The most difficult mountain to cross is the threshold.

You have either to suffer a lot or die young.

When love is not madness, it is not love.

If I die, I forgive you If I live, we shall see.

Faults are thick where love is thin.

A silent man’s words are not brought into court.

Tomorrow is the busiest day of the year.

A chain is as strong as its weakest link.

Better a friend’s bite than an enemy’s caress.

Kind words don’t wear the tongue.

A good handicraft rests on a golden foundation.

An old man’s sayings are rarely untrue.

Children are the poor man’s wealth.

He who has no falcon must hunt with an owl.

To have a woman is bad; to lose her is worse.

If the beard were all, the goat might preach.

They are most cheated who cheat themselves.

Don’t throw away dirty water before you have more clean water.

Not everybody is as bad as he is dressed.

Lawyers and painters can soon change white to black.

It’s no disgrace to be poor, but it can be inconvenient.

One drink is just right, two is too many and three are too few.

He who says what he likes must hear what he does not like.

The dog’s kennel is not the place to keep a sausage.

The first drink with water, the second without water, the third like water.

Heaven dries what it has made wet.

Ambition and revenge are always hungry.

Daylight will come, though the rooster does not crow.

Earnest and sport go well together.

To God’s council-chamber we have no key.

A good example is like a bell that calls many to church.

Vice is learned without a schoolmaster.

Happiness does not give, it only lends.

If three people say you are an ass, put on a bridle.

Take off your hat quickly but slowly take hold of your purse.

Don’t sail out farther than you can row back.

A lazy boy and a warm bed are difficult to part.

Everything has an end — except a sausage, which has two.

Danish Proverbs

Denmark is a Scandinavian country in the European Union. The southernmost of the Nordic countries, it is southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. [Source]

Copenhagen is the capital and most populated city of Denmark. The city is situated on the eastern coast of the island of Zealand; another small portion of the city is located on Amager, and is separated from Malmö, Sweden, by the strait of Øresund.

Danish is a North Germanic language spoken by around six million people, principally in Denmark and in the region of Southern Schleswig in northern Germany, where it has minority language status. There are also minor Danish-speaking communities in Norway, Sweden, Spain, the United States, Canada, Brazil and Argentina. Due to immigration and language shift in urban areas, around 15–20% of the population of Greenland speak Danish as their home language.

More Danish Proverbs and Sayings

A wound never heals so well that a scar cannot be seen.

He who comforts never has a headache.

Diligent working makes an expert workman.

Blame is the lazy man’s wages.

Gifts should be handed, not thrown.

He who flees proves himself guilty.

A fool only wins the first game.

Happiness and glass break easily.

Many are fain to praise what is right and do what is wrong.

If envy were a fever, all the world would be ill.

Slander expires at a good woman’s door.

How beautiful it is to do nothing, and then rest afterward.

What is sweet in the mouth is not always good in the stomach.

Care, and not fine stables, makes a good horse.

Good counsel is no better than bad counsel, if it is not taken in time.

Food tastes best when you eat it with your own spoon.

Every fool thinks himself clever enough.

Rather an egg to-day than a hen to-morrow.

Even a small star shines in the darkness.

The nobler the blood, the less the pride.

There is a witness of the evil deed in one’s own bosom.

Every man must carry his own sack to the mill.

Fools need no passport.

Better a bite from a friend than a caress from an enemy.

If there are no nightingales one must settle for owls.

He who marries a widow with three children marries four thieves.

Every person is a fool in somebody’s opinion.

Every man has his lot, and the wide world before him.

Joy is like the ague; one good day between two bad ones.

Love is blind and thinks that others don’t see either.

If you want to be respected, you must respect yourself.

Act honestly, and answer boldly.

It is too late to learn to swim when the water is up to your lips.

The sky is not less blue because the blind man does not see it.

Onions, smoke and women bring tears to your eyes.

Many have too much, but none enough.

Live with wolves, and you learn to howl.

Do as others do, and few will laugh at you.

Live according to your means.

God help the sheep when the wolf is judge.

Laws, like the spider’s webs, catch the flies and let the hawk go free.

Don’t despise a slight wound or a poor relative.

Jest with your equals.

To own is to fear.

Faint hearts never win fair ladies.

The greater the fear the nearer the danger.

Act so in the valley that you need not fear those who stand on the hill.

Riches breed care, poverty is safe.

If you have no money, be polite.

He that feeds himself from waiting could die of hunger.

He must cry loud who would frighten the devil.

Gold is tried in the fire, friendship in need.

The stone that is not in your way does not bother you.

It is a poor horse that is not worth its oats.

An ounce of mother is worth a pound of priests.

Follow the customs or fly the country.

Children are certain sorrows, but uncertain joys.

All water flows into the ocean or into the purse of the rich.

Praise a fool and you may make him useful.

There is often a royal heart under a tattered coat.

An ounce of blood is worth more than a pound of friendship.

If you want some lies to be believed wrap them up in truths.

God never sends mouths but He sends meat.

Don’t praise the bread that is not out of the oven.

God gives all birds their food but does not drop it into their nests.

As the man is, so is his language.

The absent are always to blame.

Drink nothing without seeing it Sign nothing without reading it.

He is not a bad driver who knows how to turn.

Luck stops at the door and inquires whether prudence is within.

He is nearest to God who has the fewest wants.

The fire doesn’t care about the owner of the coat that is burning.

Beauty carries its dower in its face.

The man loves with his head, the woman thinks with her heart.

No one falls low unless he attempt to climb high.

Many men are like clocks that show one hour and strike another.

Since we cannot get what we like, let us like what we can get.

If you would be pope, you must think of nothing else.

If you can’t heal the wound, don’t tear it open.

An honest man does not make himself a dog for the sake of a bone.

Labor has a bitter root but a sweet taste.

Where God has his church the Devil will have his chapel.

Laziness is the devil’s pillow.

No one is so rich that he can do without a good neighbor.

Let no one look into your heart or into your purse.

They brag most of their ancestors who are unworthy of them.

Though your enemy is the size of an ant, look upon him as an elephant.

Who takes the child by the hand, takes the mother by the heart.

Fish and guests smell at three days old.

Almost kills no man.

Silence is a wonderful jewel for a woman but she seldom wears it.

Call not the devil; he will come fast enough without.

Ask advice only of your equals.

Fresh air impoverishes doctors.

Misfortune sits on a rich man’s lap but grabs the throat of the pauper.

One hand full of money is more persuasive than two full of truth.

It is a bold mouse that makes her nest in a cat’s ear.

God gives the will; necessity gives the law.

When the master hurts his foot the servants limp.

Every one finds sin sweet and repentance bitter.

Fine words without deeds go not far.

One eye is a better witness than two ears.

Speech is often repented, silence never.

Beauty without virtue is a rose without scent.

Great lords have great hands, but they do not reach to heaven.

All who snore are not asleep.

It is hard to pay for bread that has already been eaten.

You may light another’s candle at your own without loss.

It is time enough to doff your hat when you see the man.

Where there is love, there is pain.

Better suffer for truth than prosper by falsehood.

Better to be a free bird than a captive king.

Bad is never good until worse happens.

Art finds its food everywhere.

Who leaves a son isn’t really dead.

Every little fish expects to become a whale.

They must stand high who would see their own destiny.

Tell nothing to thy friend which why enemy may not know.

A rich child often sits in a poor mother’s lap.

An old error has more friends than a new truth.

The year has a wide mouth and a big belly.

Abstinence and fasting cure many a complaint.

One should speak a little with others and a lot with oneself.

He who builds to every man’s advice will have a crooked house.

What is play to the cat is death to the mouse.

Walk till the blood appears on the cheek, but not the sweat on the brow.

The strongest among the weak is the one who doesn’t forget his weaknesses.

Favor and gifts disturb justice.

To tell the truth is dangerous; to listen to it is boring.

Kisses are the messengers of love.

Envy does not enter empty houses.

Let every bird sing its own note.

Fools are like other folks as long as they are silent.

Life without a friend is death without a witness.

Every man carries an enemy in his own bosom.

He who would leap high must take a long run.

Money is more eloquent than twelve members of parliament.

He who wants to catch foxes must hunt with geese.

He who would be everywhere will be nowhere.

A short cut is often a wrong cut.

To the good listener, half a word is enough.

Keep your mouth and keep your friend.

A donkey that carries a lot of books is not necessarily learned.

After pleasant scratching comes unpleasant smarting.

Truth is always homeless.

Every one rakes the fire under his own pot.

A royal heart is often hid under a tattered coat.

Flowers are the pledges of fruit.

Don’t stop sowing just because the birds ate a few seeds.

One bag of money is stronger than two bags of truth.

Love’s plant must be watered with tears and tended with care.

No matter how high a bird can fly, it still has to look for food on the ground.

Don’t speak unless you can improve on the silence.

A small cloud may hide both sun and moon.

From a fallen tree, all make kindling.

The horse that you love draws more than four oxen.

The next mile is the only one a person really has to make.

When there is room in the heart there is room in the house.

Rest is good after the work is done.

It is better to suffer for truth than to prosper by falsehood.

He that doesn’t know his bed is too hard sleeps well.

A deaf husband and a blind wife will always make a happy couple.

The person who loves sorrow will always find something to moan about.

Death does not blow a trumpet.

If your house is on fire, warm yourself by it.

It is no disgrace to be poor, but it can be inconvenient.

He is not yet born who can please everybody.

The best advice is found on the pillow.

Alone in counsel, alone in sorrow.

Better one poor horse than an empty stall.

He who lets another sit on his shoulder will soon have him on his head.

Never advise anyone to go to war or to marry.

Presents make women affable, priests indulgent, and the law crooked.

Better poor on land than rich at sea.

When the government has no ears to listen with, then she has no head for governing.

If your head is made of butter, don’t be a baker.

The ground is always frozen for the lazy swine.

What the sober man has in his heart, the drunkard has on his lips.

A good king is better than an old law.

Don’t offer me advice give me money.

The greater knave, the better luck.

Better to ask twice than to lose your way once.

Many small streams make a large river.

He who wants to tell the truth will always stand before closed doors.

Keep your nose out of another’s mess.

Age is a sorry travelling companion.

He is most cheated who cheats himself.

Old mistakes need more friends than new truths.

Life is not holding a good hand; Life is playing a poor hand well.

Riches and favor go before wisdom and art.

Wise care keeps what it has gained.

When everyone minds his own business the work is done.

Correction is good, administered in time.

A single bag of money is stronger than two bags of truth.

After an earner comes a waster.

Advice after injury is like medicine after death.

Rust consumes iron, and envy consumes itself.

The eye of the master does more than his two hands.

Enough is great riches.

Unanimity is the strongest fortress.

To circumstances and custom the law must yield.

Wise men do not quarrel with each other.

To a friend’s house the road is never long.

The fall of a leaf is a whisper to the living.

If a bird knew how poor he was it wouldn’t sing so beautifully.

The more by law, the less by right.

Quick and well seldom go together.

Big words seldom accompany good deeds.

If you hunt with cats you’ll catch mice.

Fortune often knocks at the door, but the fool does not invite her in.

Father and mother are kind, but God is kinder.

Riches are often abused, never refused.

He who is of no use to himself is of no use to anyone.

Never repent a good action.

A fool is like all other men as long as he remains silent.

The teeth often bite the tongue, still the two stay together.

An honest man is not the worse because a dog barks at him.

Love has produced some heroes but many idiots too.

Flattery is sweet food for those who can swallow it.

It is bitter fare eating one’s own words.

If the cat had wings all sparrows would die.

The branch is seldom better than the stem.

We get too soon old and too late smart.

Unwilling service earns no thanks.

He who gives to me teaches me to give.

One who is willing to help does not wait till he is asked.

Frequent washing makes not the crow whiter.

Death does not look at your teeth.

Your friendship is your needs answered.

The herb patience does not grow in every man’s garden.

“Der er et yndigt land”  There is a lovely country, is one of the national anthems of Denmark.

English Lyrics:

There is a lovely country
it stands with broad beech-trees,
near the salty eastern shore
It bends itself in hill, valley,
its name is ancient Denmark
and it is the hall of freya
There sat in former times,
the armour-suited warriors,
rested from conflict
Then they went forward to the enemies’ injury,
now their bones are resting
behind the mound’s menhir
That country is still lovely,
because the sea waves so blue frolic,
and the foliage stands so green
And noble women, beautiful maidens,
and men and brisk swains
inhabit the Danes’ islands
Hail king and fatherland!
Hail every a Dane-citizen,
who works, what he can
Our old Denmark shall endure,
as long as the beech-tree reflects
its top in the blue wave

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