Ethiopian Proverbs and Wise Sayings
Ethiopian proverbs and wise sayings have been passed down from generation to generation over the centuries.
Most of the Ethiopian proverbs and wise sayings are specific to its culture but in most instances their meaning is universal and useful to anyone, anywhere in the world.
Most Ethiopian proverbs may sound simple and obvious but when contemplated enough they are a very effective means of communicating that add metaphorical expressiveness to anyone attempting to get a thought across.
This has been true since the ancient times, and Ethiopia with its illustrious and long history proves this.
Ethiopian proverbs and wise sayings originated most assuredly from one wise person but eventually made its way to becoming the property of the general population at large.
Today, whether we know it or not, we are all governed in some way by the social and ethical norms expressed in the simple and common sense wisdom of these proverbs and wise sayings.
The following is a list of 155 Ethiopian proverbs and wise sayings in both English and Amharic that we believe shall enrich the lives of the reader.
Ethiopian Proverbs and Wise Sayings in English
1. Counsel and advice him, if he refuses to listen, then let adversity teach him.
2. The dog barks after the hyena has left.
3. A rat's witness is another rat.
4. No one became wealthy because they broke a holiday, and no one who gained weight because they broke a fast.
5. One who plants grapes by the road side, and one who marries a beautiful woman, share the same problem.
6. A woman without a man is like a field without a seed.
7. The son of the Nile thirsts for water.
8. One should punish a child the first time he comes home with a stolen egg, or else, the day he returns home with a stolen ox, it will be too late.
9. When one is in love, a mountain top becomes a flat field.
10. The slimming of an elephant and the losses of a wealthy man are not noticeable.
11. When webs of a spider join together, they can trap a lion.
12. A good conversation is always better than a good bed.
13. Slowly by slowly an egg will walk.
14. One keeps travelling on until one returns home; one lives on until one returns to earth.
15. One who hides thier illness cannot expect to be cured.
16. If one is not in a hurry, even an egg will start walking.
17. It is foolish to start a fire just to see the flames.
18. One who learns, will eventually teach.
19. If you offend, ask for forgiveness; if you are offended, forgive.
20. Singing "Halleluja" everywhere does not prove one's piety.
21. A fool at forty is a fool indeed.
22. A house with no woman is like a barn with no cow.
23. A foolish daughter teaches her mother how to give birth to children.
24. Do not blame God for creating the tiger, just thank Him for not giving it wings.
25. Do not catch a leopard by it's tail, but if you do, then do not let it go.
26. I have a cow in the sky, but cannot drink her milk.
27. Ridicule the palm tree only after the date harvest is finished.
28. There are no better witnesses than your own eyes.
29. Restless feet may lead you into a snake pit.
30. One who has not learned to walk cannot climb a ladder.
31. He who recovers from sickness forgets about God.
32. Pride cannot replace a dinner.
33. The frog wanting to be as large as the elephant, ended up bursting.
34. The sky is very near for those who sit.
35. That which is over inflated will burst into pieces.
36. When the Nile River knows a secret the desert will soon come to know it too.
37. Whether it rains or not, the lentils have two eyes.
38. Love and a cup of coffee taste best when hot.
39. Do not procrastinate or you will be left in between doing something, having something and being nothing.
40. Do not spend the evening in a house where you cannot spend the night.
41. The person who grew up without guidance will find his mouth slipping instead of his foot.
42. A partner in business will not put an obstacle to it.
43. An eye and a friend are easily hurt.
44. Telling a secret to an unworthy person is like carrying grain in a bag with a hole in it.
45. Evil enters like the needle but spreads like an oak tree.
46. If you are hurt by a friend, run to your wife.
47. It is better to be the cub of a living jackal than that of a dead lion.
48. When the heart is sad, tears will flow.
49. If you are going to a place where corn grows, take a cutting tool with you.
50. What one wishes for is always better than what one has.
51. The best of mankind is a farmer and the best type of food is fruit.
52. The Nile River has no resting place it travels around carrying a log.
53. When the heart is overflowing, it will come out through the mouth.
54. To one who does not know, a garden is a forest.
55. The one who is mistaken is the one who does nothing.
56. The skin reacts according to the country it is in.
57. Where there is no shame, there cannot be any honor.
58. Where man is, disagreement follows.
59. While the heart of a fool is in his mouth, the mouth of a wise man is in his heart.
60. Only he who is not hungry says the coconut has a hard shell.
61. Snake at your feet - stick at your hand.
62. Regret, like a tail, comes at the end.
63. One does not become fat because he chose to break a fast.
64. One is born, one dies, but the land continues to flourish.
65. Saying that it is for her child, she gets herself a loaf of bread.
66. Termites live beneath the ground.
67. A coward will sweat even in water.
68. The mouse is silent while laboring, but when the baby is born, she cries.
69. It is foolish for one to be thirsty while he is in around water.
70. It is simple to become a monk in one's old age.
71. He who chooses to barter usually knows what is best for himself.
72. If they speak, they are wind; if they are silent, they are gourds (water holding instrument).
73. If you see that a town respects a calf, then cut the grass and feed it.
74. Move your neck in accordance to the music.
75. Life has no meaning for one without a home.
76. No one can know what the new day will bring.
77. One shovels with a shovel.
78. One who attempts to hide with a dog, child, goat, or a person with the flu will not stay hidden long.
79. Calves do not fear their mother’s horns.
80. The leopard keeps an eye on the goat, and the goat keeps an eye on the leaves.
81. The fool speaks, while the wise man listens.
82. The needle’s point must always pass first.
83. That which has blown away, will not be found again.
84. Repentance and tails are always behind one.
85. If one hides their illness, they can never find the cure.
86. When one walks carefully, thorns prick only lightly.
87. One usually does not take a small piece for oneself.
88. Fooling the chicken landed her in the basket.
89. A home cannot be built for the rainy season that has past.
90. Unless you call out, who will open the door?
91. One thinks of water only when the well is empty.
92. The dog I bought bit me; the fire I kindled, burned me.
93. You are like dew even before it rains.
94. One may have two legs, but that does not mean one can climb two trees at the same time.
95. A fool thinks he is being praised while being insulted.
96. The same water never runs into the same river.
97. They took from me my own cry.
98. The arrogant blind man picks a fight with his guide.
99. One will lose the horse, while looking under the saddle.
100. Hardships do not come to those that are prepared.
101. When there are too many women, the cabbage will be ruined.
102. Those who wish to eat a vulture, will call it a guinea fowl.
103. A fool searches for dung in places where the cow never grazed.
104. A fool will pair an elephant with an ox.
105. Sitting is being crippled.
106. A man that is too modest will go hungry.
107. A powerful friend becomes a powerful enemy.
108. A hyena will enter through open spaces left by a dog.
109. A loose tooth will not rest till it is pulled out.
110. A sad face is noticeable but not a sad heart.
111. A mouse that seeks death will go and sniff a cat's nose.
112. A shameless person has no sense of shame at all.
113. A cactus tastes bitter only to those that taste it.
114. Because he killed his wife he took shelter with his in-laws.
115. A single stick may smoke, but it will not cause a fire.
116. Having a good name is better than having a good perfume.
117. It is better to be an egg this year than to be a chicken the next year.
118. Look forward to the good so that you may enjoy it.
119. By protecting the egg, it will walk on legs.
120. Clothes put on while running will come off while running.
121. Cow dung cannot be collected where no cow has been.
122. As the wound inflames the finger, so the thought inflames the mind.
123. Dine with a stranger, but save your love for your family.
124. Do not demand that what you write in the Nile will be read in the desert.
125. Only eat when the food is ready and speak when the time is right.
126. Evil gotten is evil spent.
127. Great men have big hearts.
128. Fifty lemons are a load carried by one person, but for fifty people they are perfume.
129. Even if Jesus Christ's death could have been prevented, Judas would still have been a traitor.
130. Even being offered cold pudding, the coward says: "It will burn my mouth".
131. Horns are not too heavy for the cow.
132. If relatives help each other, what harm can reach them?
133. If you gladly stoop to the ground do not be surprised if they step on you.
134. It is like using a spoon to get water from the Nile River.
135. Invite him so as to not provoke him, shove him away as to not to let him eat.
136. While men fear danger, women only fear the sight of it.
137. Oh! Ageing hyena eat me without making excuses.
138. He who knows much does not speak much.
139. One who runs alone cannot be outrun by another.
140. The cattle is as good as the grazing land in which it grazes.
141. The first camel in the train holds everyone up, but it is the last camel which gets the beating.
142. The small stars always shine while the great sun is often eclipsed.
143. The cow knows the cowherd but not the owner.
144. Calm seas do not create skillful sailors.
145. "O, sheep if I do not eat you, you will eat me," said the hyena to the sheep.
146. A fool and water will go the way they are diverted.
147. One who searches too deep for a fish may come out with a serpent.
148. A cat may go to a monastery, but she still remains a cat.
149. If you are pepper, I am mustard; if you are a needle, I am a knife.
150. While trying to reach for something of value, she lost what she had under her arms.
151. A close friend can also become a close enemy.
152. A knife will not cut another knife and a cheat will not cheat another cheat.
153. A cow gave birth to fire and she wanted to lick it, but it burned her, she then wanted to leave it, but she could not because it was her own child.
154. A belt fastened while running will come undone while running.
155. A bird hanging between two branches will get bitten on both wings.
Ethiopian Proverbs and Wise Sayings in Amharic
1. ሳል ይዞ ስርቆት ቂም ይዞ ፀሎት
2. የቆጡን አወርዳለሁ ብላ የብብቷን ጣለች
3. ጊዜ የሰጠው ቅል ድንጋይ ይሰብራል
4. ለጥምቀት ያልሆነ ቀሚስ ይበጣጠስ
5. ያጣ ለማኝ ተሳድቦ ይሄዳል
6. በቦሃ ላይ ቆረቆር
7. ከዕባብ እንቁላል እርግብ አይፈለፈልም
8. ጌታዋን የተማመነች በግ ላቷን ውጭ ታሳድራለች
9. ከዝንጀሮ ቆንጆ ምን ይመራርጡ
10. በሬ ሆይ ሳሩን አይተህ ገደሉን ሳታይ
11. የዕብድ ገላጋይ ድንጋይ ያቀብላል
12. የላጭን ልጅ ቅማል በላት
13. ገንዘብ ካለ በሰማይ መንገድ አለ
14. ፈረስ ያደርሳል እንጂ አይዋጋም
15. ዘመደ ብዙ ጠላው ቀጭን ነው
16. ድሀ በህልሙ ቅቤ ባይጠጣ ኖሮ ንጣት ይገለው ነበር
17. ሁሉ አማረሽን ገበያ አታውጧት
18. ዶሮን ሲያታልሏት በመጫኛ ጣሏት
19. መቀመጥ መቆመጥ
20. የማያጠግብ እንጀራ ከምጣዱ ያስታውቃል
21. ከድጡ ወደ ማጡ
22. ተልባ ቢንጫጫ በአንድ ሙቀጫ
23. ፍየል ከመድረሷ ቅጠል መበጠሷ
24. የደላው ሙቅ ያኝካል
25. በአንድ ራስ ሁለት ምላስ
26. ሲሾም ያልበላ ሲሻር ይቆጨዋል
27. ምነው እናቴ እንቁላል ስሰርቅ በቀጣችኝ
28. የአገሩን መሬት በአገሩ በሬ
29. ታሞ ከመማቀቅ አስቀድሞ መጠንቀቅ
30. ሰርገኛ መጣ በርበሬ ቀንጥሱ
31. አተርፍ ባይ አጉዳይ
32. ከእጅ አይሻል ዶማ
33. ሆድን በጎመን ቢደልሉት ጉልበት በዳገት ይለግማል
34. አስቀድሞ ነበር መጥኖ መደቆስ አሁን ምን ይሰራል ድስት ድጦ ማልቀስ
35. የማያውቁት አገር አይናፍቅም
36. ማን ላይ ቆመሽ እግዜርን ታሚያለሽ
37. የበላችው ያገሳታል በላይ በላዩ ያጎርሳታል
38. አዛኝ ቅቤ አንጓች
39. ንገረው ንገረው እምቢ ካለ መከራ ይምከረው
40. የአህያ ባል ከጅብ አያስጥል
41. አስቀድሞ ነበር መጥኖ መደቆስ አሁን ምን ይሰራል ድስት ድጦ ማልቀስ
42. ህልም ተፈርቶ ሳይተኛ አይታደርም
43. በሽታውን የደበቀ መድሀኒት አይገኝለትም
44. ውሀ ሲወስድ እያሳሳቀ ነው
45. የትም ፍጪው ዱቄቱን አምጪው
46. ሲሮጡ የታጠቁት ሲሮጡ ይፈታል
47. ከስስታም አንድ ይወድቀው አንድ ይተርፈው
48. ልጅን ሲወዱ እስከነ ንፍጡ ነው
49. ምንም ብቀጥን ጠጅ ነኝ
50. በለፈለፉ ባፍ ይጠፉ
51. ትልቁ ዳቦ ሊጥ ሆነ
52. አመድ በዱቄት ይስቃል
53. አንቺው ታመጪው አንቺው ታሮጪው
54. ሰውና እንጨት ተሰባሪ ነው
55. ታሞ የተነሳ እግዜርን ረሳ
56. ትለብሰው የላት የምትከናነበው አማራት
57. ዶሮ ጭራ ጭራ መታረጃዋን ታወጣለች
58. ለወሬ የለው ፍሬ
59. ዞሮ ዞሮ ወደቤት ኖሮ ኖሮ ወደ መሬት
60. ላም አለኝ በሰማይ ወተቷንም አላይ
61. ሳይከካ ተቦካ
62. አለባብሰው ቢያርሱ በአረም ይመለሱ
63. ሰው ጥራ ቢሉት ራሱ መጣ
64. የወደቀ ግንድ ምሳር ይበዛበታል
65. ለተቀማጭ ሰማይ ቅርቡ ነው
66. በእንቅርት ላይ ጆሮ ደግፍ
67. ለሰው ብሎ ሲያማ ለኔ ብለህ ስማ
68. የድሀ ቅንጡ እንጀራ ሲሰጡት ይላል ድልህ አምጡ
69. ወሬ ቢበዛ በአህያ አይጫንም
70. ለቀባሪው አረዱት
71. ከሞኝ ደጃፍ ሞፈር ይቆረጣል
72. ሀምሳ ሎሚ ለአንድ ሰው ሸክሙ ለሀምሳ ሰው ጌጡ
73. ያልጠረጠረ ተመነጠረ
74. ጨው ለራስህ ብለህ ጣፍጥ
75. ለጌታም ጌታ አለው
76. ለራስ ሲቆርሱ አያሳንሱ
77. በቅሎን አባትሽ ማነው ቢሏት እናቴ ፈረስ ነች አለች
78. የልጅ ነገር ሁለት ፍሬ አንዱ ብስል አንዱ ጥሬ
79. አይጥ ሞቷን ስትሻ ሄዳ ታሸታለች የድመት አፍንጫ
80. እውነቱን ተናግሮ ካመሹበት ማደር
81. ፍየል ወዲህ ቅዝምዝም ወዲያ
82. ከሞመት መሰንበት
83. እንኳን ዘንቦብሽ እንዲያውም ጤዛ ነሽ
84. ሰዶ ማሳድድ ካማረህ ዶሮህን በቆቅ ለውጥ
85. ላም ባልዋለበት ኩበት ለቀማ
86. መልካም ስም ከመልካም ሽቶ ይበልጣል
87. ጽድቁ ቀርቶብኝ በቅጡ በተኮነንኩኝ
88. ድር ቢያብር አንበሳ ያስር
89. ዘመድ ከዘመዱ አህያ ከአመዱ
90. ካለ ፈጣሪ አሟጠሽ ጋግሪ
91. ስራ ያጣ መነኩሴ ቆቡን ቀዶ ይሰፋል
92. የፈሰሰ ውሀ አይታፈስም
93. የማያውቁት አገር አይናፍቅም
94. ትለብሰው የላት የምትከናነበው አማራት
95. ብላ ባለኝ እንዳባቴ በቆመጠኝ
96. ስጋ ቁጠር ቢሉት ጣፊያ አንድ አለ
97. ያለ አንድ የላት ጥርስ በዘነዘና ትነቀስ
98. አልጠግብ ባይ ሲተፋ ያድራል
99. ከድሀ ከመበደር ከባለጸጋ መስረቅ ይቀላል
100. ሴት የላከው ሞት አይፈራም
101. አፍንጫ ሲመታ አይን ያለቅሳል
102. አወቅሽ አወቅሽ ቢሏት መጽሀፍ አጥባ ቆየች
103. ጭብጥ ቆሎ ይዘህ ወደ አሻሮ ተጠጋ
104. ሰውን ማመን ቀብሮ አለች ቀበሮ
105. ከልብ ካለቀሱ እንባ አይገድም
106. ሆድ ያባውን ብቅል ያወጣዋል
107. የጅብ ችኩል ቀንድ ይነክሳል
108. የወጋ ቢረሳ የተወጋ አይረሳም
109. ዳሩ ሲወረር መሀሉ ዳር ይሆናል
110. ሌባ ላመሉ ዳቦ ይልሳል
111. የጅብ ፍቅር እስኪቸግር
112. አታግባና የሰው አጥር ዝለል
113. የአፍ ወለምታ በቅቤ አይታሽም
114. አህያውን ፈርቶ ዳውላውን
115. አላዋቂ ሳሚ ንፍጥ ይለቀልቃል
116. ዞሮ ዞሮ ወደቤት ኖሮ ኖሮ ወደ መሬት
117. ከወፈሩ ሰው አይፈሩ
118. ልጅ ለናቷ ምጥ አስተማረች
119. ጉልቻ ቢቀያየር ወጥ አያጣፍጥም
120. አትሩጥ አንጋጥ
121. የፈሪ ዱላው ረጅም ነው
122. ሲስሟት ቀርቶ ሲስቧት
123. አባይ ማደሪያ የለው ግንድ ይዞ ይዞራል
124. ዞሮ ዞሮ ወደቤት ኖሮ ኖሮ ወደ መሬት
125. የማይመስል ነገር ለሚስትህ አትንገር
126. የምጣዱ እያለ የእንቅቡ ተንጣጣ
127. ራሴን ሲበላኝ እግሬን ቢያኩኝ አይገባኝም
128. አያ ጅቦ ሳታመካኝ ብላኝ
129. እሱ የከፈተውን ጉሮሮ ሳይዘጋው አያድርም
130. በሬ ከአራጁ ይውላል
131. ተንጋለው ቢተፉ ተመልሶ ካፉ
132. ዶሮ ጭራ ጭራ መታረጃዋን ታወጣለች
133. ቀድሞ ማን ቢስምሽ ታሞጠሙጫለሽ
134. ላለፈው ክረምት ቤት አይሰራለትም
135. ወረቀትና ሞኝ የያዘውን አይለቅም
136. የነ ቶሎ ቶሎ ቤት ግድግዳው ሰንበሌጥ
137. ቀስ በቀስ እንቁላል በእግሩ ይሄዳል
138. የሞኝ ዘፈን ሁልጊዜ አበባዬ
139. አላርፍ ያለች ጣት ስትጠነቁል ትያዛለች
140. አልጠግብ ባይ ሲተፋ ያድራል
141. የአፍ ወለምታ በቅቤ አይታሽም
142. ያልሰማ ጆሮ ከጎረቤት ያጣላል
143. የፈሪ በትር ሆድ ይቀትር
144. አልሸሹም ዞር አሉ
145. እግረ ቀጭን ይሞታል ሲሉ እግረ ወፍራም ይቀድማል
146. ታጥቦ ጭቃ
147. ያልታደለ ከንፈር ሳይሳም ያረጃል
148. ማን ይናገር የነበረ ማን ያርዳ የቀበረ
149. በባዳ ቢያኮርፉ: በጨለማ ቢያፈጡ: ምን ሊያመጡ
150. አታግባና የሰው አጥር ዝለል
151. በቅሎ ግዙ ግዙ አንድ አሞሌ ጨው ላያግዙ
152. መካሪ የሌለው ንጉስ አንድ አመት አይነግስ
153. እጸድቅ ብዬ ባዝላት ተንጠልጥላ ቀረች
154. የቸገረው እርጉዝ ያገባል፣ የባሰበት እመጫት
155. በሰው ቁስል እንጨት ስደድበት