Best Italian proverbs with English translation

Today you are going to discover some of the best Italian proverbs with English translation.

Italian proverbs with English translation

Italian is indeed a beautiful and highly expressive language, which you will discover after a few lessons. You will soon find that the Italian language uses many interesting proverbs and colourful expressions you need to know. This article will discuss some of the best Italian proverbs.

Learning Italian proverbs can help you to express yourself more creatively and this is also a great way to learn more about Italian culture, popular wisdom and traditions. In fact, these well-loved sayings form part of the ancient Italian tradition and have origins from many sources.

At times, you may find that Italian sayings sound bizarre or do not make much sense as a foreigner, but as you come to understand the deeper meaning, it will soon make a lot of sense!

Italian proverbs about life:

Below are some useful Italian proverbs about life that you can use as the need arises:

  • A caval donato non si guarda in bocca – It is an admonishment to be grateful when you receive a gift. Its English equivalent is “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth”. This proverb refers to the practice of evaluating a horse’s age from its teeth.   
  • Chi fa da sé fa per tre – Literally “He who does it by himself, does it for three people”. It means that if you want something done well, it’s better to do it yourself.  
  • Chi va con lo zoppo impara a zoppicare – Literally “He who goes with the lame, learns to limp”. It means that bad company brings bad habit. Its English equivalent is “If you sleep with dogs, you’ll wake up with fleas”.
  • Il lupo perde il pelo ma non il vizio – Literally “the wolf can lose its fur but not its bad habits”. It means that a person’s character, especially if it is bad, will never change. Its English equivalent is “a leopard can’t change its spots”.
  • Labito non fa il monaco Literally “The dress doesnt make the monk”. It means that you cannot judge a person solely by appearances. Its English equivalent is “Dont judge a book by its cover”.
  • Prendere due piccioni con una fava – Literally “To catch two pigeons with one fava bean”. This proverb is used when you succeed in achieving two things in a single action. Its English equivalent is “To kill two birds with one stone”.
  • Tanto va la gatta al lardo che ci lascia lo zampino – Literally “The cat goes so often to the bacon that she loses her paw”. It means that if you continue doing the same bad thing over and over again, you will pay the consequences of your action.

When translated literally or directly into English (or another language), the translation may not make much sense and it is therefore wise to remember that these Italian proverbs do not always have a direct equivalent in English or in your own language.

As you will have noticed, Italians love to play with words and sentences and this can be evidenced in their use of sayings and proverbs. These proverbs have stood the test of time and date back centuries but they are still used by both the older and younger generations on a daily basis and show no signs of dying out any time soon!

We recommend that you take some time out to master these Italian proverbs with English translation as it can go a long way in improving your grasp of the language, as well as your ability to express yourself elegantly.

If you want to discover more Italian proverbs or just learn Italian with a native and qualified Italian tutor, contact us! We offer one-to-one Italian lessons in London and via Skype.