c.1300, in boke of Prouerbyys, the Old Testament work, from Old French proverbe (12c.) and directly from Latin proverbium "a common saying, old adage, maxim," literally "words put forward," from pro- "forth" (see pro-) + verbum "word" (see verb). Used generally from late 14c. The Book of Proverbs in Old English was cwidboc, from cwide "speech, saying, proverb, homily," related to cwiddian "to talk, speak, say, discuss;" cwiddung "speech, saying, report."
A brief, memorable saying that expresses a truth or belief, such as “A friend in need is a friend indeed.” (See examples under “Proverbs.”)
a trite maxim; a similitude; a parable. The Hebrew word thus rendered (mashal) has a wide signification. It comes from a root meaning "to be like," "parable." Rendered "proverb" in Isa. 14:4; Hab. 2:6; "dark saying" in Ps. 49:4, Num. 12:8. Ahab's defiant words in answer to the insolent demands of Benhadad, "Let not him that girdeth on his harness boast himself as he that putteth it off," is a well known instance of a proverbial saying (1 Kings 20:11).