[ prov-erb ]
See synonyms for: proverbpro-verbs on

  1. a short popular saying, usually of unknown and ancient origin, that expresses effectively some commonplace truth or useful thought; adage; saw.

  2. a wise saying or precept; a didactic sentence.

  1. a person or thing that is commonly regarded as an embodiment or representation of some quality; byword.

  2. Bible. a profound saying, maxim, or oracular utterance requiring interpretation.

verb (used with object)
  1. to utter in the form of a proverb.

  2. to make (something) the subject of a proverb.

  1. to make a byword of.

Origin of proverb

First recorded in 1275–1325; Middle English proverbe, from Middle French, from Latin prōverbium “adage,” equivalent to prō-pro-1 + verb(um)word + -ium-ium

synonym study For proverb

1. Proverb, maxim are terms for short, pithy sayings. A proverb is such a saying popularly known and repeated, usually expressing simply and concretely, though often metaphorically, a truth based on common sense or the practical experience of humankind: “A stitch in time saves nine.” A maxim is a brief statement of a general and practical truth, especially one that serves as a rule of conduct or a precept: “It is wise to risk no more than one can afford to lose.”

Other words for proverb

Other words from proverb

  • prov·erb·like, adjective

Words that may be confused with proverb

Words Nearby proverb

Other definitions for pro-verb (2 of 2)

[ proh-vurb ]

  1. a word that can substitute for a verb or verb phrase, as do in They never attend board meetings, but we do regularly.

Origin of pro-verb

First recorded in 1905–10; by analogy with pronoun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use proverb in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for proverb


/ (ˈprɒvɜːb) /

  1. a short, memorable, and often highly condensed saying embodying, esp with bold imagery, some commonplace fact or experience

  2. a person or thing exemplary in respect of a characteristic: Antarctica is a proverb for extreme cold

  1. ecclesiast a wise saying or admonition providing guidance

  1. to utter or describe (something) in the form of a proverb

  2. to make (something) a proverb

Origin of proverb

C14: via Old French from Latin prōverbium, from verbum word

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Cultural definitions for proverb


A brief, memorable saying that expresses a truth or belief, such as “A friend in need is a friend indeed.” (See examples under “Proverbs.”)

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.