Definition of proverb

Saying is a word with an etymological origin that refers us to the French language and the word refrain. It is a short sentencewhose use is shared by a community, which promotes reflection, transmits a lesson or serves as an example.

Sayings are common in everyday speechUnlike the proverbs and of the aphorisms, which are expressions with similar characteristics. All these sentences are part of the group of paremias.

“Raise crows and they’ll gouge your eyes out” is a well-known saying.


Characteristics of a proverb

The main characteristic of a proverb is that it arises from the experience. Through their expression, an action can be explained or advice given. That is why it can be said that proverbs have an instructive purpose.

These councils are forged and shared socially over time. weatherbased on what was experienced by a community. In this way the proverbs are part of the cultural heritage from the people. They do not arise from the inventiveness of a single person, but are built and installed collectively. In fact, the proverbs are anonymous (its author is unknown).

To all this we must add another important characteristic about proverbs and that is that, with few exceptions, most of them have been transmitted from generation to generation through oral language. And it is that we have all known, assimilated and used them since we have heard them from our parents, grandparents, great-grandparents…


“You don’t look a gift horse in the teeth” is a saying that alludes to the importance of not criticizing a gift.

the proverbs

The collection of proverbs is known as proverb. When a proverb is published, the proverbs pass from speech to the printed word.

It is considered that one of the richest and widest collection of proverbs in the world is Spanish, since it is determined that it is made up of more than 100,000 different proverbs. An amount that comes to demonstrate the value and importance of oral tradition in that language. However, among the best known are some such as the following:

-“A good listener, few words are enough”.

-“A god begging and with the hammer giving”.

-“We were few and the grandmother gave birth”.

“Raise crows and they’ll gouge out your eyes.”

-“Tell me who your friends are and I’ll tell you who you are”.

– “He who has a godfather is baptized.”

-“Every cloud has a silver lining”.

-“Barking dog, little biter”.

-“The avarice breaks the bag”.

-“A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”.

Precisely all of these and many more are collected, for example, in the book “Spanish proverbs”. A work carried out in 2001 by Berta Pallares and María Josefa Canellada, in which they not only present us with the most popular and used proverbs, as well as an ordered classification of these, but also their origin or even their meaning.

The famous saying of the gift horse

“A gift horse in the teeth not look” is another one example of proverb The phrase is linked to the traditional custom of observing the teeth of the animal before buying it to know its age and health conditions.

If he “horse” It is not a purchase, it is a gift. “You don’t look at his teeth”: accepted as is, without criticism.


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