pro·ver·bi·al | \prə-ˈvər-bē-əl \

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 \ 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

But the proverbial ball was rolling and starting in 2013-14, Morgan beat Buford 69-45 at the Macon Centerplex to win the Class AAA championship. Robert Alan Richardson,, "‘Unfinished business’ mentality fueling Morgan County boys; top Class AAA games this weekend," 18 Jan. 2018 What happens in a theater performance is defined by its separation from the actual world, by that proverbial fourth wall, which makes the fiction of the stage real. Jordan Cutler-tietjen, sacbee, "Behind the scenes at Music Circus: "The better you are at your job, the less people notice"," 6 July 2018 That seemingly small need for human connection is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg as Jones revisits past trauma that ranges from a harsh break-up to the death of his mother. Lauren Delgado,, "Review: Hello - Fringe 2018," 15 May 2018 These were names synonymous with late rallies and postseason triumphs, two proverbial ‘things that don’t show up in the box score’ but each contender wants sprinkle into its clubhouse. Staff,, "Nine Innings: The Fear-Inducing Yankees, Examining MLB's Trends and Banning the Shift," 14 May 2018 Fox stuck its proverbial foot in major college football coverage in . Kirkland Crawford, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan-Ohio State, Michigan-Michigan State football on Fox in fall," 15 May 2018 There’s often a proverbial fine line separating similar wine words — a single letter difference, or an inflection. Michael Austin,, "A lesson on wine terms that will go down easy," 13 June 2018 Particularly on the road, Auburn has allowed opponents to dictate the pace more during the first half of games and then puts its proverbial foot on the gas after halftime. James Crepea,, "Depth the reason for Auburn basketball's consistent 50-point second halves," 25 Jan. 2018 But what everyone really remembers about these proverbial times isn’t their purity. Film Crit Hulk, The Verge, "Don’t feed the trolls, and other hideous lies," 12 July 2018

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

9 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for proverbial

The first known use of proverbial was in 1548

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More Definitions for proverbial



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 \

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).


not any or not one

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