pro·​ver·​bi·​al | \ prə-ˈvər-bē-əl How to pronounce proverbial (audio) \

Definition of proverbial

1 : of, relating to, or resembling a proverb
2 : that has become a proverb or byword : commonly spoken of the proverbial smoking gun

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Other Words from proverbial

proverbially \ prə-​ˈvər-​bē-​ə-​lē How to pronounce proverbially (audio) \ adverb

Examples of proverbial in a Sentence

Insanity roamed through her large midwestern tribe, cloistered in proverbial dark closets in gabled houses in areas of the country where no one else lived for miles and miles … — Lynne Tillman, Motion Sickness, 1991 I keep running across people who speak fondly about what they imagine to be the comforts of autocracy, who long for the assurances of the proverbial man on the white horse likely to do something hard and puritanical about the moral relativism that has made a mess of the cities, the schools, and prime-time television. — Lewis H. Lapham, Harper's, November 1990
Recent Examples on the Web As fun and rewarding as basketball was, the plan was to transition to the proverbial real world. Mark Zeigler, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Aztecs notes: Michael Sohikish joins basketball staff as grad assistant," 15 Oct. 2020 Here are a few coaches who might have found themselves on the proverbial hot seat in a normal season but could be saved, at least in part, by the seven-figure buyout in their contracts. Tom Schad, USA TODAY, "Too big to buy out: 7 college football coaches whose contracts could be a saving grace," 14 Oct. 2020 That goal opened the proverbial floodgates for the Union in what ended up a 3-0 loss for FC Cincinnati at Subaru Park in Chester, Pennsylvania. Pat Brennan, The Enquirer, "FC Cincinnati blanked again, losing 3-0 at Philadelphia Union," 8 Oct. 2020 There is also the proverbial rookie wall, which most young players hit late in their first NFL season. Mike Preston,, "Despite big win in season opener, Ravens still have problems to solve | COMMENTARY," 15 Sep. 2020 The Ravens were caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place. Mike Preston,, "Mike Preston: Ravens need Matthew Judon to jolt their slumbering pass rush | COMMENTARY," 6 Oct. 2020 In March, Benny Gantz, the man who came close to unseating Netanyahu in three consecutive elections in less than a year, laid down his proverbial arms and struck a deal with Netanyahu to finally form a government coalition. Marcy Oster And Gabe Friedman,, "Israel is readying refrigerated morgues. How did country get here?," 6 Oct. 2020 The club retrenched with a motley mélange of replacements, internally, externally and off baseball’s proverbial street, and immediately won five in a row. Gabe Lacques, USA TODAY, "Marlins' magical season continues with sweep of Cubs, trip to NLDS," 2 Oct. 2020 Stevens says it’s thrilling to be involved in a truly planetary-scale information system that can reveal not just the proverbial butterfly effect in weather and climate, but also how local human actions manifest globally. Paul Voosen, Science | AAAS, "Europe is building a ‘digital twin’ of Earth to revolutionize climate forecasts," 1 Oct. 2020

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

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First Known Use of proverbial

1548, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for proverbial

see proverb entry 1

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Time Traveler for proverbial

Time Traveler

The first known use of proverbial was in 1548

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Statistics for proverbial

Last Updated

22 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Proverbial.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for proverbial


How to pronounce proverbial (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of proverbial

: of, relating to, or resembling a proverb
: commonly spoken of : widely known


pro·​ver·​bi·​al | \ prə-ˈvər-bē-əl How to pronounce proverbial (audio) \

Kids Definition of proverbial

1 : of a proverb a proverbial expression
2 : commonly spoken of You have the proverbial beginner's luck.

Other Words from proverbial

proverbially adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on proverbial

Nglish: Translation of proverbial for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of proverbial for Arabic Speakers

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