Swiss Proverbs

Sayings of Swiss origin

Proverbs from Switzerland

  • Little strokes fell great oaks.
  • At the bottom of the sack you will find the bill.
  • Words are dwarfs, deeds are giants.
  • When a neighbor gets divorced everyone thinks of his own wife.
  • What the farmer doesn’t know, he will not eat.
  • Sometimes you have to be silent in order to be heard.
  • The devil hides himself in details.
  • What good is a golden gallows if they are going to hang you.
  • Avoid those who don’t like bread and children.
  • Luck is on your path, one takes it, the other passes by it.
  • Mountains and valleys stand firm but people meet.
  • The tongue is the worst piece of meat in the world.
  • One simple maxim is often worth more than two good friends.
  • Every man is the maker of his own fortune.
  • When in doubt who will win, be neutral.
  • A swallow does not make a summer.
  • Marriage is a covered dish.
  • It’s easier to criticize than to do better.
  • When a merchant talks about sheep he means the hide.
  • He that sleeps sound feels not the toothache.
  • Big fish eat little fish.
  • The French work to live, but the Swiss live to work.
  • Better to sell with regret than to keep with regret.
  • The apple does not fall far from the tree.
  • Think first, start later.
  • You learn how to cook on old pans.
  • Where it is customary the cow is brought to bed.
  • He who starts well is in the middle of the work.
  • A clean house is a clean mind.
  • It is always the fat ones who lead the dance.
  • To be a fool at the right time is also an art.
  • He who mocks the cripple should be straight himself.
  • If everyone looks after themselves, everyone is looked after.
  • In a house of gold the clocks are of lead.
  • The night rinses what the day has soaped.
  • The poor lack much, but the greedy more.
  • A greedy person and a pauper are practically one and the same.
  • Each problem has two sides, the wrong side and ours.
  • You should not add oil to the fire.
  • God lets things go, but only to a point.
  • Measure thrice, cut once.
  • As the stone leaves your hand it belongs to the devil.
  • Time’s most valuable when you don’t have it.
  • You learn through mistakes – no one was born a master.
  • Ask ten brewers and you will get eleven opinions.
  • Great consolation may grow out of the smallest saying.
  • When one shuts one eye, one does not hear everything.
  • He who does not work is without food.
  • It is easier to beat two devils into a child, than one devil out.
  • Who cares about every little feather should not make the bed.
  • It is good fishing in streamy water.
  • No money, no Swiss.
  • A good spectator also creates.
  • Speech is silver; silence is golden.

The Swiss Confederation

Swiss Proverbs

Switzerland is a federal republic in Europe. It consists of 26 cantons, and the city of Bern is the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western-Central Europe, and is bordered by Italy to the south, France to the west, Germany to the north, and Austria and Liechtenstein to the east. Switzerland is a landlocked country geographically divided between the Alps, the Swiss Plateau and the Jura, spanning an area of 41,285 km2 (15,940 sq mi). While the Alps occupy the greater part of the territory, the Swiss population of approximately eight million people is concentrated mostly on the plateau, where the largest cities are to be found: among them are the two global cities and economic centres Zürich and Geneva. (Source)

Switzerland has four official languages: mainly German (spoken by 63.3% of the population in 2014); French (22.7%) in the west; and Italian (8.1%) in the south. The fourth official language, Romansh (0.5%), is a Romance language.

The Romansh is a Romance language spoken predominantly in the southeastern Swiss canton of Grisons, where it has official status alongside German and Italian. It is used as the medium of instruction in schools in Romansh-speaking areas. Romansh has also been recognized as a national language of Switzerland since 1938, and as an official language since 1996, along with German, French and Italian. It is sometimes grouped by linguists with Ladin and Friulian as a Rhaeto-Romance language, though this is disputed.

The Swiss Psalm is the national anthem of Switzerland.


When the morning skies grow red
And o’er their radiance shed,
Thou, O Lord, appeareth in their light.
When the Alps glow bright with splendour,
Pray, free Swiss, Pray,
For you feel and understand,
That he dwelleth in this land.

In the sunset Thou art nigh
And beyond the starry sky,
Thou, O loving Father, ever near
When to Heaven we are departing,
Joy and bliss Thou’lt be imparting,
For we feel and understand
That Thou dwellest in this land.

When dark clouds enshroud the hills
And gray mist the valley fills,
Yet Thou art not hidden from Thy sons.
Pierce the gloom in which we cower
With Thy sunshine’s cleansing power
Then we’ll feel and understand
That God dwelleth in this land.

Towards us in the wild storm coming,
You yourself give us resistance and stronghold,
You, almighty ruling, rescuing!
During horror and nights of thunderstorms
Let us childlike trust Him!
Yes, we feel and understand;
That God dwelleth in this land.

Page info: Swiss Proverbs
Updated Jan.10,2018


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