noun (1)
prov·​erb | \ ˈprä-ˌvərb How to pronounce proverb (audio) \

Definition of proverb

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : a brief popular epigram or maxim : adage


proverbed; proverbing; proverbs

Definition of proverb (Entry 2 of 3)

transitive verb

1 : to speak of proverbially
2 obsolete : to provide with a proverb


noun (2)
\ ˈprō-ˌvərb How to pronounce pro-verb (audio) , -ˈvərb \

Definition of pro-verb (Entry 3 of 3)

: a form of the verb do used to avoid repetition of a verb (such as do in "act as I do")

Synonyms for proverb

Synonyms: Noun (1)

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Proverbs probably appeared with the dawn of language. Sayings such as "A stitch in time saves nine", or "Pride goeth before a fall", or "Least said, soonest mended", or "To everything there is a season" are easily memorized nuggets of wisdom. But the convenient thing about proverbs is that there's often one for every point of view. For every "Look before you leap" there's a "He who hesitates is lost". "A fool and his money are soon parted" can be countered with "To make money you have to spend money". A cynic once observed, "Proverbs are invaluable treasures to dunces with good memories".

Examples of proverb in a Sentence

Noun (1) her grandfather has a proverb for every occasion
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun As the proverb goes, one swallow does not a summer make. Jon Sindreu, WSJ, 21 Apr. 2022 Even during talks with some truly noxious rivals throughout history, Washington would adopt a Russian proverb doveryai, no proveryai—or as Americans came to know it via Ronald Reagan, trust but verify. Philip Elliott, Time, 30 Mar. 2022 His productivity mentality, as evidenced in his influential Poor Richard’s Almanack from which the above proverb is taken, extends a line of thinking on making the most of your day going back hundreds of years, if not more. Dorian Rolston, Forbes, 7 Mar. 2022 As the old proverb goes: There's no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes. Richard Godwin, Travel + Leisure, 26 Feb. 2022 There's an old proverb that says tragedy comes in threes, and the Daniels family of New Berlin is all too familiar. Samantha Hendrickson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 24 Feb. 2022 As the proverb goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Marc Saltzman, USA TODAY, 22 Jan. 2022 This Japanese proverb speaks volumes about the importance of perseverance. Expert Panel®, Forbes, 1 Nov. 2021 As the old proverb says: all roads lead to Rome — or in this case, all personal journeys lead back to us. Csaba Toth, Forbes, 20 Jan. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'proverb.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of proverb

Noun (1)

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun (2)

1907, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for proverb

Noun (1)

Middle English proverbe, from Anglo-French, from Latin proverbium, from pro- + verbum word — more at word

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Time Traveler for proverb

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The first known use of proverb was in the 14th century

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Last Updated

6 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Proverb.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for proverb


prov·​erb | \ ˈprä-ˌvərb How to pronounce proverb (audio) \

Kids Definition of proverb

: a short well-known saying containing a wise thought : maxim, adage "Haste makes waste" is a proverb.

More from Merriam-Webster on proverb

Nglish: Translation of proverb for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of proverb for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about proverb


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