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noun (1)

prov·​erb ˈprä-ˌvərb How to pronounce proverb (audio)
: a brief popular epigram or maxim : adage


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proverbed; proverbing; proverbs

transitive verb

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


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noun (2)

ˈprō-ˌvərb How to pronounce pro-verb (audio)
: a form of the verb do used to avoid repetition of a verb (such as do in "act as I do")

Examples of proverb in a Sentence

Noun (1) her grandfather has a proverb for every occasion
Recent Examples on the Web
Ripken became a first-ballot Hall of Famer with 98.5% of the vote, so maybe there’s something to a proverb with a murky origin and puzzling imagery. Steve Henson, Los Angeles Times, 23 Oct. 2023 But the phrase is also a Jamaican proverb — Young-White was raised by Jamaican parents in Harvey, Ill. — about learning from consequences after not heeding warnings. Stephen Daw, Billboard, 22 Aug. 2023 The evaluator may test a person's sense of right and wrong by asking them to explain the meaning of a proverb. Jessica Wapner, Scientific American, 15 Aug. 2023 Take that 15th century proverb regarding children—they should be seen, not heard—and reverse it. Jack Baruth, Popular Mechanics, 7 Aug. 2023 As the old proverb goes, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Kylie Robison, Fortune, 26 July 2023 The sauna is the poor man’s pharmacy, goes one old proverb. Carolyn Todd, Men's Health, 3 June 2023 Similar jumps occurred for other tasks including decoding the International Phonetic Alphabet, unscrambling a word’s letters, identifying offensive content in paragraphs of Hinglish (a combination of Hindi and English), and generating a similar English equivalent of Kiswahili proverbs. Stephen Ornes, Quanta Magazine, 16 Mar. 2023 Like many entrepreneurs in the space, Burkhart appears to be measuring twice to cut once, as the classic proverb posits. Rod Berger, Forbes, 14 Feb. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'proverb.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Noun (1)

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

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near proverb

Cite this Entry

“Proverb.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


: a brief popular saying expressing a wise thought

More from Merriam-Webster on proverb

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