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Slovak proverbs

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Proverbs from all Slovak speaking parts of the world.



  • Aká matka, taká Katka.
    • Translation: Like mother, like Kate.
    • English equivalent: Like mother, like daughter.
    • Meaning: "Daughters may look and behave like their mothers. This is due to inheritance and the example observed closely and daily."
    • Source for meaning and proverb: Paczolay, Gyula (1997). European Proverbs in 55 languages. p. 137. ISBN 1-875943-44-7. 
  • Aký otec, taký syn.
    • Translation: Such father, such son.
    • English equivalent: Like father, like son.
    • Meaning: "Sons may look and behave like their fathers. This is due to inheritance and the example observed closely and daily."
    • Source for meaning and proverbs: Paczolay, Gyula (1997). European Proverbs in 55 languages. p. 170. ISBN 1-875943-44-7. 
  • Ani strom naraz nezotnú.
    • English equivalent: Little strokes fell great oaks.
    • Meaning: "A difficult task, e. g. removing a person/group from a strong position, or changing established ideas cannot be done quickly. It can be achieved gradually, by small steps, a little at a time."
    • Source for proverbs and meaning: Paczolay, Gyula (1997). European Proverbs in 55 languages. p. 252. ISBN 1-875943-44-7. 


  • Božie mlyny melú pomaly, ale isto.
    • Translation: God's mills grind slowly, but for sure.
    • Meaning: "Justice awaits everyone, sooner or later."


  • Čím viac tým lepšie.
    • Translation: The more the merrier.
    • Slovensképohl'ady. Tlačou kníhtlačiarskeho účastinárskeho spolku. 1900. p. 408. 


  • Čo môžeš urobiť dnes, neodkladaj na zajtra.
    • English equivalent: Never put off till tomorrow what can be done today.
    • Meaning: "It may be more difficult or sometimes even impossible to do something later, which can be easily done now."
  • Čo si si navaril, to si aj zjedz.
    • Translation: What you cooked yourself, eat it as well.
    • Meaning: "When you do something stupid, deal with consequencies by yourself."


  • Darovanému koňovi na zuby nepozeraj.
    • Translation: Do not look at teeth of gifted horse.
    • English equivalent: Never look a gift horse in the mouth.
    • Meaning: "Don't critize gifts.."
  • Daj prst, vezme ti celú ruku.
    • Translation: Give a finger, he will take whole arm.
    • English equivalent: Give him an inch and he will take a yard.
    • Meaning: "When you help someone without expecting to receive anything, but by continuing doing it the other person gets used to it and wants more."
  • Dobrý počiatok - polovica práce.
    • English equivalent: Well begun, is half done.
    • Meaning: "Starting properly ensures the speedy completion of a process. A – beginning is often blocked by one or more obstacles (potential barriers) the removal of which may ensure the smooth course of the process."
    • Source for meaning and proverbs: Paczolay, Gyula (1997). European Proverbs in 55 languages. p. 228. ISBN 1-875943-44-7. 
  • Dvakrát meraj a raz rež.
    • Translation: Measure twice, cut once.
    • English equivalent: Look before you leap.
    • Meaning: "Think longer than do something stupid quickly." or "Think before you speak out."


  • I z citaného vlk berie.
    • English equivalent: Cats eat what hussies spare.
    • Meaning; "What a person tries to keep back through meanness is just as likely to be wasted anyway."
    • Source for meaning of English equivalent: Pickering, David (1997). "X". Cassell Dictionary of Proverbs. Continuum International Publishing Group, Limited. p. X. ISBN 978-0-304-35020-9. 
    • Strauss, Emanuel (1994). Dictionary of European proverbs (Volume 2 ed.). Routledge. p. 641. ISBN 0415096243. 


  • Jablko nepadá ďaleko od stromu.
    • Translation: An apple does not fall far from the tree.
    • Meaning: Children observe daily and — in their behaviour — often follow the example of their parents.
    • Ústav svetovej literatúry a jazykov (1984). Slavica Slovaca. Vydavatel'stvo Slovenskej akadémie vied.. p. 88. 
    • Source for meaning: Paczolay, Gyula (1997). European Proverbs in 55 languages. p. 259. ISBN 1-875943-44-7. 
  • Jedna lastovička leto nerobí.
    • Translation: One swallow creates no summer.
    • English equivalent: One swallow does not make a summer.
    • Meaning: "Do not feel sure or rejoice noticing a favourable sign. The appearance of a single sign of a favourable event is not yet a definite indication of its coming. It may be an unrelated, sporadic appearance."
    • Source for meaning of English equivalent: Paczolay, Gyula (1997). European Proverbs in 55 languages. p. 49. ISBN 1-875943-44-7. 
    • Jazykovednýústav L̕udovíta Štúra (1979). Kultúra slova. Vydavatelʹstvo Slovenskej akadémia vied.. p. 274. 


  • Každý si je strojcom svojho šťastia.
    • Translation: Everyone is creator of his own fortune.
    • English equivalent: Every man is the smith of his own fortune.
    • Meaning: "In shaping one's own fortune one should not rely on the help of others, as they are also concerned mainly about their own matters."
    • Source for meaning and proverbs: Paczolay, Gyula (1997). European Proverbs in 55 languages. p. 388. ISBN 1-875943-44-7. 
  • Kde sa nič nezaseje, tam sa nič nenaveje.
    • Translation: What you reap is what you sow.
    • Strauss (1998). Concise Dictionary of European Proverbs. Routledge. p. 394. ISBN 0415160502. 
  • Krátka správa lepšia ako dlhá pravda.
    • English equivalent: A bad compromise is better than a good lawsuit.
    • Strauss, Emanuel (1994). Dictionary of European proverbs (Volume 2 ed.). Routledge. p. 68. ISBN 0415096243. 
  • Kto chce jadro, musí orech prehryznúť.
  • Bez práce nie sú koláče.
    • Translation: There are no cakes without work.
    • English equivalent: No pain, no gain.
    • Strauss, Emanuel (1994). Dictionary of European proverbs (Volume 2 ed.). Routledge. p. 680. ISBN 0415096243. 
  • Kto sa hanbí, má prázdne gamby.
  • Kto druhému jamu kope, sám do nej spadne.
    • Translation: He who digs a pit for others, will fall in it himself.
    • Strauss, Emmanuel (1994). Dictionary of European Proverbs, Volym 1. Routledge. p. 651. ISBN 0415096243. 
  • Kto nepracuje, nech neje.
    • Translation: He who does not work is without food.
    • English equivalent: He that will not work, shall not eat.
    • Meaning: Without due effort one is not entitled to the fruits of the work.
    • Source for proverb and meaning: Paczolay, Gyula (1997). European Proverbs in 55 languages. p. 256. ISBN 1-875943-44-7. 
  • Kto šetrí, má za tri.
    • Translation: He who saves has three times more.
    • English equivalent: A penny saved is a penny earned.
  • Kuj železo za horúca.
    • Translation: Forge iron while it is hot.
    • English equivalent: Make hay while the sun shines.
    • Meaning: "Do before it is too late to act."


  • Lakomec je rovný svini, len po smrti činí.
    • English equivalent: A covetous man does nothing that he should till he dies.
    • Strauss, Emanuel (1994). Dictionary of European proverbs (Volume 2 ed.). Routledge. p. 79. ISBN 0415096243. 
  • Láska prechádza žalúdkom.
    • Translation: The love goes through the stomach.
    • English equivalent: The way to a man's heart is through his stomach.
  • Lepšie neskoro ako nikdy.
    • English equivalent: Better late than never.
    • Meaning: "It is better that somebody arrives or something happens later than expected or desired, than not at all."
  • Lepší vrabec v hrsti ako holub na streche.
    • English equivalent: A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
    • Translation: Bettter sparrow in the hand than pigeon on the roof.
    • Meaning: "Something you have for certain now is of more value than something better you may get, especially if you risk losing what you have in order to get it."
  • Lož má krátke nohy.
    • English equivalent: A lie has short legs.


  • Mrcha vták, čo do vlastného hniezda nečistí.
    • English equivalent: It is an ill bird that fouls its own nest; Don't wash your dirty linen in public.
    • Meaning: Don't speak ill off yourself and the groups you belong to.
    • Source for meaning and proverbs: Paczolay, Gyula (1997). European Proverbs in 55 languages. p. 466. ISBN 1-875943-44-7. 


  • Nepľuj do pohára, z ktorého si pil.
    • English equivalent: Cast no dirt into the well that gives you water.
    • "People who can put themselves in the place of other people – who can understand the workings of their minds, need never worry about what the future has in store for them."
    • Dale Carnegie, How To Win Friends And Influence People (1934)
    • Strauss, Emanuel (1994). Dictionary of European proverbs (Volume 2 ed.). Routledge. p. 634. ISBN 0415096243. 
  • Nesúď knihu podľa jej obalu.
    • English equivalent: Don't judge a book by its cover.
    • Meaning: "Do not form an opinion about something or somebody based solely on outward appearance."
  • Nešťastie v hre, šťastie v láske.
    • English equivalent: Unlucky in game, lucky in love.


  • Pes, ktorý šteká, nehryzie.
    • Translation: Dog that barks does not bite.
    • English equivalent: Barking dogs seldom bite.
    • Meaning: "Someone who threatens too much does this to frighten his enemies but in fact doesn’t have enough courage to do anything about it."
  • Po boji je každý generál.
    • Translation: After a battle everyone is a general.
    • Meaning: "It is easy to say you know best after all the worst possibillities were tested and you know everything about the situation."
  • Po každej búrke príde slnko.
    • Translation: After every storm comes the sun.
    • Meaning: "After experiencing sad events, there is always the end to them."
  • Pomaly ďalej zájdeš.
    • English equivalent: Slow but sure wins the race.
    • Translation: You will slowly get further.
  • Prázdny sud najviac duní.
    • Translation: Empty barrel rumbles the most.
    • English equivalent: It is not the hen that cackles the most that lay the most eggs.
    • Meaning: He who advertises for himself the most can not achieve the greatest results.
    • slovenská, vied, Štúra (1995). Slovenskáreč: časopis pre výskum a kultúru slovenského jazyka. p. 136. 
  • Priateľa si drž blízko, nepriateľa ešte bližšie.
    • Translation: Keep your friend close, enemy even closer.
    • Meaning: "Have someone to back you up, but watch your enemy so you know his intentions sooner than your friend's."
  • Prísť k niečomu, ako slepá kura k zrnu.
    • English equivalent: Even a blind pig may occasionally pick up an acorn.
    • Meaning: "An incompetent person or an unsystematic approach is bound to succeed every now and then by chance."
    • Source for meaning of English equivalent: Martin H. Manser (2007). The Facts on File Dictionary of Proverbs. Infobase Publishing. p. 75. ISBN 978-0-8160-6673-5. Retrieved on 8 September 2013. 
    • Strauss, Emanuel (1994). Dictionary of European proverbs (Volume 2 ed.). Routledge. p. 36. ISBN 0415096243. 
  • Pýcha predchádza pád.
    • English equivalent: Pride comes before the fall.


  • Ráno múdrejšia večera.
    • Translation: Dinner is better in the morning.
    • English equivalent: Morning is wiser than the evening.
    • Meaning: "Good ideas may come after resting."
  • Ryba smrdí od hlavy.
    • English equivalent: A fish stinks from the head.
    • Meaning: "A corrupting influence often spreads from a leader to the rest of the organization group."
  • Rybu treba chytiť za hlavu, nie za chvost.
    • English equivalent: You might as well try to hold an eel by the tail.
    • Meaning: Don't take a man by his word.
    • Strauss, Emanuel (1994). Dictionary of European proverbs (Volume 2 ed.). Routledge. p. 480. ISBN 0415096243. 


  • Starý a nemá rozum!
    • Meaning: Age will not refrain people from acting foolish and imprudently.
    • English equivalent: ”Wisdom goes not always by years.”
    • Strauss, Emanuel (1998). Concise Dictionary of European Proverbs (Abbreviated ed.). Routledge. p. 39. ISBN 0415160502. 


  • Šaty robia človeka.
    • English equivalent: Fine feathers make fine birds.
    • Translation: Clothes make men.
  • Šťastie praje pripraveným.
    • English equivalent: Fortune favors the bold.
    • Meaning: "Those who act boldly are most likely to succeed."


  • Tichá voda brehy myje.
    • Translation: Silent water washes the shores.
    • English equivalent: Still water runs deep.
    • Meaning: "Silent person hides many mysteries."
  • Trpezlivosť ruže prináša.
    • Translation: Patience brings the roses.
    • English equivalent: Patience and time overcome all things. or Patience is the best remedy.


  • Veľké ryby žerú malé.
    • Translation: Big fish eat little fish.
    • English equivalent: Men are like fish; the great ones devour the small.
    • Meaning: "Small organizations or insignificant people tend to be swallowed up or destroyed by those that are greater and more powerful."
    • Source for meaning: Martin H. Manser (2007). The Facts on File Dictionary of Proverbs. Infobase Publishing. p. 27. ISBN 978-0-8160-6673-5. Retrieved on 1 July 2013. 
    • Paczolay, Gyula (1997). European Proverbs in 55 languages. p. 420. ISBN 1-875943-44-7. 
  • Viac hláv, viac rozumu.
    • Translation: More heads, more wisdom.
    • English equivalent: Two heads is better than one.
    • Meaning: "More people can find solution easier."
  • V núdzi poznáš priateľa.
    • Translation: You will know a friend when in need.
    • English equivalent: A friend is known in adversity, like gold is known in fire.
  • Vo víne pravda prebýva.
    • Translation: There is truth in vine.
    • English equivalent: In wine there is truth.
    • Meaning: Alcohol consumed removes the inhibition against telling the truth that occasionally one would like to keep secret.
    • Source for meaning and proverbs: Paczolay, Gyula (1997). European Proverbs in 55 languages. p. 272. ISBN 1-875943-44-7. 
  • Vrana k vrane sadá, rovný rovného si hľadá.
    • Translation: Crow sits to crow, the equal looks for equal.
    • English equivalent: Birds of the same feather flock together.
  • Všade dobre, doma najlepšie.
    • Translation: Good everywhere, the best at home.
    • Meaning: "You can nowhere feel as good as at home."
  • Výnimka potvrdzuje pravidlo.
    • English equivalent: The exception proves the rule.


  • Zakázané ovocie chutí najlepšie."
    • Translation: Forbidden fruit tastes best.
    • English equivalent: Forbidden fruit is sweet.
    • Meaning: "Things that you must not have or do are always the most desirable."
  • Zíde z očí, zíde z mysle. or Čo oči nevidia, srdce nebolí.
    • Translation: It fades from eyes, it fades from mind.
    • Translation: The heart does not hurt what eyes do not see.
    • English equivalent: Out of sight, out of mind.
    • Meaning: "Seeing somebody reinforces the memory while a long abscence and the appearance of new impressions may result in a gradual fading of it."
  • Zlá zelina nevyhynie.
    • Translation: Evil herb never dies out.
    • Swedish equivalent: Evil gun powder doesn't go away easily.
    • Hofbauer (1998). Slovensko na križovatke: články a prejavy 1997-1998. Juga. p. 28.