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

There are many different reasons for remaining in the proverbial closet. Joelle Monique, The Hollywood Reporter, "How 'It: Chapter Two' Leaves Richie Tozier Behind," 7 Sep. 2019 But even in industries where pinstripes and pencil-skirt suits or uniforms remain the norm, there’s increasing evidence that employers are willing to loosen their proverbial neckties. Michelle Cheng, Quartz at Work, "Half of US companies still don’t allow casual dress at work," 29 Aug. 2019 The fungus spreads like proverbial wildfire, clogging up the plant’s vascular system, and killing it. Steve Bender, Southern Living, "Yes, We’ll Have No Bananas," 20 Aug. 2019 But there are tales and tales, and too often the life of Richard Holbrooke, at least as recounted by George Packer, is indeed that proverbial Shakespearean one of sound and fury that signifies far less than Packer seems to imagine. David Rieff, Harper's magazine, "An American in the Treetops," 19 Aug. 2019 Offering third party content is a good way to feed the proverbial content machine. Sangeeta Tanwar, Quartz India, "Reliance Jio’s OTT blitzkrieg needn’t worry rivals—for now," 14 Aug. 2019 He's belittled by Shiv, Roman, and Connor, when Logan comes in to throw the final proverbial punch. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "Succession Season One Recap: Here's Where We Left the Roy Family," 10 Aug. 2019 In some ways he was perhaps seen as the proverbial one-hit wonder because ‘LOVE’ was so immensely iconic and immensely huge in pop culture,’ said Dan Mills, the director at Bates College Museum of Art. Chris Stirewalt, Fox News, "Fox News Power Rankings: Dem divides emerge," 23 May 2018 Paranoia, propaganda, and PTSD are part of the proverbial sickness that infects the characters in season 10. Nick Romano,, "New The Walking Dead season 10 photos tease intense fights and new characters," 8 Aug. 2019

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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Statistics for proverbial

Last Updated

11 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for proverbial

The first known use of proverbial was in 1548

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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

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More from Merriam-Webster on proverbial

Spanish Central: Translation of proverbial

Nglish: Translation of proverbial for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of proverbial for Arabic Speakers

Comments on proverbial

What made you want to look up proverbial? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


authorized for issue (as a bond)

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