noun prov·erb \ ˈprä-ˌvərb \
Updated on: 3 Dec 2017

Definition of proverb

1 : a brief popular epigram or maxim : adage
2 : byword 4

Examples of proverb in a Sentence

  1. her grandfather has a proverb for every occasion

Recent Examples of proverb from the Web

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.

Did You Know?

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".

Origin and Etymology of proverb

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




Definition of proverb

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

First Known Use of proverb

14th century


noun \ ˈprō-ˌvərb , -ˈvərb \

Definition of pro-verb

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

First Known Use of pro-verb


PROVERB Defined for English Language Learners



Definition of proverb for English Language Learners

  • : a brief popular saying (such as “Too many cooks spoil the broth”) that gives advice about how people should live or that expresses a belief that is generally thought to be true

PROVERB Defined for Kids


noun prov·erb \ ˈprä-ˌvərb \

Definition of proverb for Students

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

Word Root of proverb

The Latin word verbum, meaning “word,” gives us the root verb. Words from the Latin verbum have something to do with words. A verb is a word that shows action. An adverb is a word that modifies a verb, adjective, or other adverb. A proverb, or short saying containing a wise thought, is made up of a few well-chosen words. Anything verbal is made up of spoken words.

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a man who seduces many women

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