What is a Proverb?

A Proverb is a brief saying in popular use, remarkable for some shrewd and novel turn. Proverbs are common sayings that apply to a variety of situations.

A typical proverb must be concise, well known and current. It must be compact, and convey a profound meaning. Proverbs can be taken from the sayings of gods, wise men, or poets, from the theatre, from legend, fable, or history, from the qualities of objects or animals, or from apophthegms.

Benefits of Proverbs

ErasmusOpens in new window, in the AdagiaOpens in new window, collects proverbs from his reading in literary works of the Ancient Greece and Rome so that with it, his pupils can add variety of embellishment in their writings. But he insists that proverbs are also useful in guiding one’s life, for persuasion, and in enabling one to understand what earlier writers have written. He shows that collections of proverbs have a long and respectable ancestry and that great authors, both pagan and Christian, frequently use them.

In addition, he laid emphasis on Aristotle’sOpens in new window Rhetoric and QuintilianOpens in new window, on the role which proverbs can play in winning an argument; he discusses their usefulness in enriching style and introducing humour. At the same time, he cautions of the jumpy effect caused by excessive use of proverbs, since proverbs have a conclusiveness which requires the writer to make a new beginning.

Common Examples of Proverb include:

All work and no play make jack a dull boy.

All things taste sweet to those who have not tasted them.

If you lie upon roses when young, you lie upon thorns when old.

A man can not spin and reel at the same time.

Beauty, unaccompanied by virtue, is as a flower without perfume.

Better to die standing than live kneeling.

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