Hindi / Urdu Proverbs


Note: The language of these proverbs is rather archaic.


  • Ahīr dekh gaḍaryā mastānā. (SF 6)

The shepherd got drunk when he saw the neatherd drunk.

(Said of a poor fellow who imitates the follies of the rich people.)


  • Ahāre, beobāre lajjā nā kāre. (SF 6)

In eating and trading there is no shame.

– lajja (Hindi लज्जा , Urdu rather: شرم  (sharm)) = shame, shyness


  • Aaj ke thāpe āj nahīṅ jalte. (SF 8)

Today’s cowpats are not to be burned today.

(Dung-fuel must of course be dry.)


  • Andherī rain meṅ baṛī jeoṛī sāṅp. (SF 12)

A rope is a snake on a dark night.

– sāṅp = سانپ (snake); wiktionary: From Sanskrit सर्प (sarpa). From Proto-Indo-European *serp- .


  • Anokhe gāoṅ meṅ ūṅṭ āyā, logoṅ ne jānā Parmeshar āyā. (SF 14)

A camel wandered into a strange village and the people took him for a God.

– anokha (अनोखा) = Urdu عجیب = strange, unique

– Parmeshar = Parameshwara (Indian God usually known as shiva, read more  here) 


  • Aankh phūṭegī to kyā bhauṅ se dekheṅge? (SF 14)

When your eyes are out will you see with your eyebrow?

(Said of someone who is cursing something or someone he relies on.)


  • Aap hī miyān mangte, bāhar khaṛe darvesh. (SF 16)

The beggar is kept standing at the beggar’s door.

(He, who is always asking others for favours, can’t serve others.)


  • Aap kāj, mahā kāj. (SF 16)

Self done is well done.

– mahā = Hindi बहुत “great, big, a lot” related to “bohut”


  • Apnā “bismillah” dūsre kā “nauz bi’llah” (SF 16)

One’s own “God bless him!”, other’s “God preserve me from him!”

– bismillah = from Arabic بسم الله  

– nauz bi’llah = from Arabic نعوذ بالله  (“we seek refuge in Allah”)


  • Apne ghar ke sab pādshāh haiṅ. (SF 17)

Everyone is a king in his own house.


  • Apne pūt kuāre phireṅ, paṛausī ke phere. (SF 18)

Leaving her own sons bachelors she marries off others’ sons.


  • Apnī aql aur parāī daulat baṛī mālūm hotī hai. (SF 18)

One’s own mind and another’s wealth always seem great.


  • Apnī ḍaṛhī sab bujhāte haiṅ. (SF 18)

Everyone extinguishes the fire in his own beard (first).

– bujhāna = Hindi बुझाना = to quench, to extinguish


  • Apnī garaz ko gadhe ko bāp banāte haiṅ. (SF 18)

To gain one’s ends a donkey is called father.

– garaz = purpose, motive

– from Arabic غرض  gharḍ (same meaning)


  • Aap se āne to āne do. (SF 19)

What comes of itself let it come.

(The story is told of the wife of a strict Musalmān who had forbidden the use of fowls for food, recounting to him with great glee how she had captured a fat capon for his dinner. The pious man was greatly shocked and desired her to throw away the unlawful thing. But the thrifty housewife remonstrated that she had spent a great deal of ghī and spices on the meal and his scruples were so far overcome that he consented to partake of the gravy only. Accordingly in deference to the good man’s scruples, every bit of meat that came along with the gravy was being carefully but back, when he cried out in the words of the proverb “What comes of itself let it come!”. The story is also told of an orthodox panḍit who preached that egg-fruit is strictly forbidden as food. One day he was presented with a basket of them. He ordered them to be returned, whereon his wife suggested that what comes of itself is acceptable in the words of the proverb, to which the pauḍit agreed.


  • Aap se gayā, jahān se gayā. (SF 19)

Gone from myself, gone from the earth.


  • Aqliāṅ pairvaī-i-nuqat na kunand. (SF 19)

The learned don’t need the dots.

(Allusion to Persian characters)


  • Aql ke pīchhe laṭh līye phirtā hai. (SF 19)

He is hunting down reason with a club.

(He is a sworn enemy to reason)


  • Aṛte se aṛ jāīye, chalte se chal dūr. (SF 20)

Fight with those who fight, but let the peaceable alone.


  • Asān nahī hai rishta-i-ulfat kā toṛnā,

Mushkil hai bāle-pan kī mohabbat kā chhoṛnā. (SF 20)

It is not easy to break the bonds of love, just like it is hard to give up the love of one’s childhood.


  • Aaskalī girā kueṅ meṅ, kahā, “yahāṅ hī bhale!” (SF 20)

A sluggard fell into a well and said “I am all right here.”


  • Bahre āge gāonā, aur gūṅge āge gal, andhe āge nāchnā, tīnoṅ al bilal. (SF 25)

To sing to the deaf, to talk to the dumb, and to dance to the bind, are three foolish things.


  • Bāingnon kā naukar nahīṅ hūṅ, āp kā naukar hūṅ. (SF 26)

I am not the egg-plant’s servant, but yours.

(The master was one day enjoying a dish of egg-plant and extolling its excellence, when the servant chimed in and said it was indeed most excellent. One day, however, the egg-plant having disagreed with him the master began to abuse it as a very unwholesome vegetable, and his servant then observed, that it was very unwholesome truly, “Why”, said the master, “did you praise it before?” “I am your servant”, the servant said, “not the egg-plant’s”!)


  • Bakrī kare ghās se yārī, to charne kahāṅ jāē? (SF 26)

If a goat forms friendship with the grass, what will he eat?


  • Bakrī yā sasse kī tīn hī ṭāṅgeṅ. (SF 26)

Goats and hares only have three legs.

(Applied to a person who having once asserted a thing however absurd, persists in it to the last without regard to argument or consequence. The saying is said to have been originated by a thief who, having stolen a leg of one of the above animals, and being charged with the theft defended himself with this absurd assertion.)


  • Bāl kā kambal karnā. (SF 27)

To make a blanket of a hair.

(To make a mountain of a mole-hill.)


  • Bandar ke gale meṅ motiyoṅ kī mālā. (SF 27)

A pearl nacklace around a monkey’s neck!

(Pearls before swine.)


  • Bandar kyā jāne ādī ka sawād. (SF 27)

What does a monkey know of the taste of ginger?


  • Banī ke sau sāle, bigṛī kā ek bahnoī bhī nahīṅ. (SF 29)

A rich man has a hundred brother-in-laws, a poor man none.


  • Ban par līn bilārī, mūsā kaheli “je hamri joe!” E. (SF 30)

When the cat is safe in the forest, the rat says “She is my wife”.


  • Bāo na batās, terā āṅchal kyoṅkar ḍolā? Wom. (SF 30)

Nor wind nor breeze, why does your garment flutter?

(All mouth and no trousers)


  • Baṛe bikhau bikhdhar ko, chalat sīs nivāe – Thoṛe bikhau bichchhū ko, chalat dum algae. ()

The deadly serpent creeps with bended head – But the milder scorpion walks with his tail up.

(Still waters run deep)


  • Barme kā kam chhidnā nahīṅ hotā. ()

The borer is not bored himself.


  • Bas kar, miyāṅ, bas kar; dekhā terā lashkar! ()

Enough, good sir, enough, I have seen your army!

(Said in derision to a boaster)


  • Bhauṅ kā gilā āṅkh ke sāmhne. ()

Complaining of the eyebrows to the eyes.

(Complaining of a man to his near relatives.)


  • Bhīgī billī batānā. (SF 41)

To say that the cat was wet.

(This phrase is founded on the story of a lazy servant who once being asked by his master to put out the light in the room replied: “Better shut your eyes, and all will be dark.” Another time when asked to go out and see whether it was raining, the servant replied that a cat had just passed him, and he had felt her wet; which gave rise to this proverbial phrase, meaning to evade an order through idleness.)


  • Bhiṛ kā chhattā. (SF 41)

A bees’ nest.

(To describe a family or tribe who adhere firmly to one another, so that whoever provokes one is attacked by the whole.)


  • Bhare samundar piyāse. (SF 40)

Thirsty amidt oceans of water.


  • Bhāri patthar dekhā, chūm-kar chhoṛ dīyā. (SF 40)

A heavy stone just touched and let alone.

(He found the task beyond his strength and therefore prudently desisted.)


  • Bhūk ko bhojan kyā aur nīṅd ko bichhonā kyā? (SF 43)

Hunger is content with any food and sleep with any bed.

– bichhona (Hindi बिछोना ) = bed, bedding – more commonly: پلنگ (palang) /  बिस्तर (bistar)


  • Bhūk sab se mīṭhī hai. (SF 43)

Hunger is the best sweet.

(Hunger is the best sauce.)


  • Bijlī kāṅsī par girtī hai. (SF 44)

Zinc attracts the lightning.

(Riches attract problems.)

– bijlī = electricity, lightning

– kāṅsi (Hindi काँसा, Urdu کانسی) = bronze, metal, zinc

– girna = to fall


  • Billī khāegī nahīṅ, par phailā tau bhī jāegī. (SF 44)

What the cat can’t eat she is sure to scatter.

(Sour grapes)


  • Bin jāne kaun māne? (SF 45)

Who believes without knowing?


  • Boe ām phale bhanṭā. (SF 46)

I planted mangoes and got egg-plants.

– bōna (Hindi बोना , Urdu بونا ) = to sow, to plant

– bhanṭā (Hindi भंटा का पौधा) = eggplant – more commonly: baingen (Hindi बैंगन, Urdu بینگن ) 


  • Kahe Kabīr, do nāve chaṛhiye, ek būṛhe to ekhe rahiye.

Kahe Kamāl, do nāo na chaṛhiye, phōṭe gāṅr, utān ho paṛiye. ()

Says Kabir, always get into two boats, for when one goes down, the other will remain for you.

Says Kamāl, never get into two boats, for your thighs will split and you will turn over.


  • Buṛbak gaīle, machhlī māre, tāp aile gaṅvāe. (Bhoj) (SF 48)

A fool went to fish and lost his rod.


  • Chāh karūṅ, pyār karūṅ, chūtaṛ tale aṅgār dharūṅ, jal jāe to maiṅ kyā karūṅ? (SF 49)

I’ll love him, and I’ll caress him and I’ll put fire under him; if it burn him, what can I do?

(Sham affection.)


  • Chal base jo log the Islām ke,

Rahgae bāqī bas Musalmān nām ke. (SF 50)

The true Muslims have gone from us,

The remainder are Musalmāns in name merely.


  • Chaṛhtī bār-gāh. (SF 53)

A walking mosque.

(Said of any holy personage.)


  • Chaukī gāoṅ-vāloṅ ko lūṭ khātī hai. (SF 54)

The police station loots the village.


  • Cherī sab ke pāoṅ dhove, apne dhotī lajāe. (SF 54)

The maid servant washes other’s feet, but feels ashamed to was her own.

(i. e., no one will serve his own relatives.)


  • Chhurī kharbūze par girī to kharbūze kā zarar,

Kharbūzā chhurī par girā to kharbīze kā zarar. (SF 56)

Whether the knife fall on the melon, or the melon on the knife, either way the melon is cut.

(It cuts both ways)


  • Daryā ko kūze meṅ bharnā. (SF 65)

To put the ocean into a goblet.

(To say much in a few words, also to attempt impossibilities.)


  • Ek machhlī sāre jal ko hāṅktā hai. (SF 79)

One stinking fish spoils the whole tank.


  • Ek “nā” sau dukh hare. (SF 79)

One “no” prevents a hundred reproaches.


  • Faqīr kī sūrat hī savāl hai. (SF 81)

The very appearance of the faqīr is his best appeal (for alms).


  • Farishtoṅ ke bhī par jalte haiṅ. (SF 81)

Even angel’s wings would burn.


  • Gadhe kī yārī, lāt kī sansanāhaṭ. (SF 82)

Friendship with an ass results in a kick.


  • Galat-ul ām fusīh. (Arabic) (SF 83)

Universal errors are correct.

(In language: usage beats grammar.)


  • Ghar meṅ dīyā, to masjid meṅ dīyā. (SF 89)

Light your lamp first at home and afterwards at the mosque.

(Charity begins at home.)


  • Ghī khichṛī ho rahe haiṅ. (SF 90)

Mixed up like khichṛī and ghī.


  • Ghī saṅvāre kām, baṛī bahū kā nām. (SF 90)

The flavour is in the ghī, but the eldest daughter-in-law gets the credit.


  • Ghoṛe kī dum baṛhegī to apnī hī makkhiyāṅ hilāegā. (SF 90)

If the horse’s tail grows longer, he will brush away the flies from his own body.

(On promotion a person will help his own relatives.)


  • Gīdāṛ girā jhere meṅ: “āj yahīṅ raheṅge.” (SF 91)

The jackal falling down a well said, “Here I’ll camp today.”


  • Godī meṅ baiṭh-ke āṅkh meṅ uṅglī. (SF 91)

Sitting in my lap he pokes out my eyes.

(Said of an ungrateful or rude person)


  • Guṅge kā guṛ khaṭṭā na māṭhā. (SF 93)

A dumb man’s sugar is neither sour nor sweet.

(Because he cannot talk about it.)


  • Guṛ na de to guṛ kī sī bāt to kahe. (SF 93)

If you can’t give sugar talk sugar.


  • Gussā meṅ aql jātī rahti hai. (SF 94)

Anger is an enemy to reason.


  • Haṅse to auroṅ ko, rove to apnoṅ ko. (SF 97)

If a man laughs, it is at others; if he weeps, it is for himself.


  • Haṅsiye dūr, paṛausī se nā. (SF 97)

Flirt with a stranger, but never with your neighbor.


  • Hāron bhī hār, jītoṅ bhī hār. (SF 99)

Lose and lose, win and lose.

(Said of suits in civil courts owing to delays, costs, and damages.)


  • Hāthiyoṅ se gamme khāne. (SF 100)

To snatch sugar-cane from elephants.

(To provoke the wrath of a strong person.)


  • Hāth kangan ko ārsī. (SF 100)

To see the bracelet on your arm needs no mirror.

(An answer to one who asks a question, the reply to which is self evident.)


  • Hoṅtoṅ se abhī dūdh kī bū nahīṅ gaī. (SF 103)

The smell of his mother’s milk has not yet left his lips.


  • Huzūrī kī mazdūrī bhalī. (SF 104)

It is well to work under the eye of the master.

(For he can see the value of it.)


  • Ilm dar sīnah, na dar safīnah. Pers. (SF 105)

Knowledge is in the heart, not in books.


  • Iqrār-i-jurm, islāh-i-jurm. Pers. (SF 105)

A fault confessed is half redressed.


  • Isā bā dīn-i-khud, Musā bā dīn-i khud. (Pers) (SF 105)

Let Jesus stick to his faith and Moses to his. (Religious toleration.)


  • Ishq, mushk, khāṅsī, khūn kharābā chhuptā nahīṅ. (SF 106)

Love, musk, a dry cough, and murder connot be hid.


  • Ishq meṅ shāh o gadā barābar. (SF 106)

In love beggars and kings are equal.


  • Itnā khāe jitnā pache. (SF 106)

Eat no more than you can digest.


  • Jab āṅkheṅ chār hotī haiṅ, muhabbat āhī jātī hai. (SF 106)

When eyes meet eyes (lit.: when eyes are four) love slips out of them.


  • Jab chane the, tab dāṅt na the,

Jab dāṅt hue, tab chane nahīṅ. (SF 107)

When I had peas, I had no teeth,

And now that I have teeth, I have no peas.


  • Jab tak dam hai, tab tak gam hai. (SF 108)

While there is life, there is sorrow.


  • Jab tīr chhuṭ gayā, to phir kamān meṅ nahīṅ ā saktā. (SF 108)

When the arrow has flown it cannot return to the bow.


  • Jahāṅ murga nahīṅ hotā, vahāṅ kyā saverā nahīṅ hotā? (SF 109)

Will it never be dawn because there is no cock to crow?


  • Jhūṭī bāt banā le, pānī meṅ āg lagā le. (SF 116)

To tell a lie is to set water on fire.


  • “Jī” kaho, “jī” kahlāo. (SF 117)

Say “Sir” and you will be called “Sir”.


  • Jis kā fikr, us kā zikr. (SF 118)

Jis ke hāṭh ḍoī, us kā sab koī. (SF 118)

Who holds the ladle has the love.

(Cupboard love: who holds the purse has the power.)


  • Jis ke liye chorī kī, vohī kahe chor. (SF 119)

For whom I have stolen calls me a thief.

(To describe ingratitude)


  • Jītī makkhī nahīṅ niglī jātī. (SF 120)

You cannot swallow a live fly.

(An evident truth cannot be denied.)


  • Jo Bāman kī jībh par, so Bāman kī pothī meṅ. (SF 121)

What is on the Brāhman’s tongue is in the Brāhman’s book.

(The devil can cite Scripture for his purposes.)


  • Jo bole so ghī ko jāe. (SF 122)

He that speaks first shall go for butter.

(It alludes to a story of four blockheads, who having agreed to provide a meal jointly, quarrelled about who should bring the ghī, and not being able to decide the matter in any other way, agreed that he who should first break silence should go. As they sat silent, they were seen by the watch, and giving no account of themselves, were carried before the Magistrate, who, as they still refused to speak flogged them all, and when one cried out with pain, the others exclaimed, “you are to go for the ghī!” hence the proverb means persistence in a foolish matter.


  • Jo phal chakkhā nahīṅ, vohī mīṭhā hai. (SF 123)

Untasted fruit is sweetest.


  • Jo piyāz kāṭegā, so āp roegā. (SF 123)

Who cuts onions shall shed tears.


  • Jo sir uṭhā-kar chalegā, so ṭhokar khāegā. (SF 124)

Walk with your nose in the air and you will trip.


  • Kābul gae, Mugal ban āe bolanlāge bānī,

“āb, āb” kar mar gae sirhāne rahā pānī. (SF 126)

He went to Kābul, became a Mugal, and so began to speak their language.

The water was by his side and he died, crying “l’eau l’eau.”

(The proverb is founded on the following story. A man, who had visited Kābul and had learnt Persian there at the sacrifice of his own mother-tongue, used to flaunt Persian phrases when he returned home to his native land, and consequently died of thirst, crying in vain for water in Persian “āb āb”, instead of the common Hindustāni “pāni”, which none of his servants and relatives could understand.


  • Kām ko kām sikhātā hai. (SF 129)

Work teaches work.

(To learn from experience.)


  • Kān par ek jūṅ nahīṅ chaltī. (SF 130)

Even a louse does not venture on his ears.

(Said of someone who does not yield to advice.)


  • Kān pyāre to bāliyāṅ, jorū pyārī to sāliyāṅ. (SF 130)

Love my ears, love my earrings; love my wife, love her sisters.

(Love me, love my dog.)


  • Khag jāne khag hī kī bhāshā. (SF 134)

Only a cow understands cows’ language.


  • Khudā detā hai, to chhappar phāṛ-ke detā hai. (SF 139)

When God gives He gives through the roof. (i. e. unexpectedly)


  • Khush-āmad se āmad hai. (SF 140)

Flattery brings income.

(You must learn to please, if you want to live at ease.)


  • Kisī kā ghar jale, koī tāpe. (SF 140)

One man’s house burns and another warms himself.

(Applied to those who are pleased with great misfortunes befalling others, if they bring a small advantage to themselves.)


  • Lābhe lohā ḍhoīye, bin lābh na ḍhoīye rāī. (SF 147)

A person will carry iron for gain, and not even cotton without it.


  • Laṛkan ke bhagvā nā, bilāī ke gātī. (SF 149)

Not a strip for the child, but a coat for the cat.

(Not a penny for my own, and help for the stranger.)


  • Laṛke ko jab bheṛiyā legayā, tab ṭaṭṭī bāṅdhī. (SF 149)

When the wolf has run off with the child the door is made fast.

(Shutting the stable door after the horse is stolen.)


  • Laṛke ko mūṅh lagāo to dārhī khasoṭe, kutte ko mūṅh lagāo to mūṅh chāṭe. (SF 149)

Pet a child and he’ll pull your beard; pet a dog and he’ll lick your face.


  • Laṛkoṅ kā khel, chiṛyā kā marnā. (SF 150)

Boys’ play is death to the birds.

(What’s fun to you is death to me.)


  • Majnū ko Lailī kā kutta bhī pyārā. (SF 153)

Even Laili’s dog is dear to Majnūṅ.

(Majnūṅ and Lailā are the Romea and Juliet of the East: love me love my dog.)


  • Māl par zakā hai. (SF 154)

Charity is for the wealthy.


  • Mare pe baid. (SF 157)

After death the doctor.


  • Mehnat ārām kī kunjī hai. (SF 160)

Labor is the key to rest.


  • Meṅdkī ko bhī zukām huā! (SF 160)

The very frog has caught a cold.

(A sailor and afraid of the sea!)


  • Mīṭhe se mare, to māhur kyūṅ dīje? (SF 162)

Why give poison, if he can be killed with sweets?


  • Miṭṭī pakṛe sonā ho. (SF 162)

If he takes up dust it turns into gold.


  • Mullā kī ḍāṛhī tabarruk meṅ gaī. (SF 164)

The Mulla’s beard goes in relics.

(It is related of a Mulla who was distributing sacred tokens among his disciples, that a wag taking a fance to his beard, plucked a hair which he desired to keep as a sacred relic. Thereupon another and another did the same till at last, in spite of the poor man’s protestatious he was left without a beard. The proverb is used when any one gives away his whole subtance in alms or in presents to his friends.)


  • Mūṅh kahe “khāyā khāyā”, halaq kahe “savād na āyā.” (SF 165)

The mouth says, “I have eaten,” and the throat says, “I felt no taste.”

(Said of a very small quantity of food.)


  • Mūṅh rahte, nāk se pānī pīye. (SF 165)

He drinks water with his nose, while he has a mouth.


  • Musalla pasār, bagal meṅ yār. (SF 166)

Kissing a girl over the praying carpet. (Said of a hypocrite.)


  • Nadī meṅ jānā aur piyāse ānā! (SF 167)

To go to a river and come back thirsty!


  • Na-koī ātā thā ghar meṅ, Na-koī jātā thā, Na-koī god meṅ le-kar mujhe sulātā thā. (SF 169)

Nobody came into the house and Nobody left, Nobody took me into his lap and put me to sleep.

(The story goes that a husband left his wife at home and went on a journey. During his absence a stranger was in the habit of visiting her and her child asked her who he was. She replied “nobody (na-koī) came and went,” and henceforth the stranger’s name to the child was Na-koī (Nobody). When the husband returned he petted the child and put the child asleep, and when he remarked that in his absence there was no one to do this for the child, it replied in the words of the proverb; the meaning to it and the father being of course quite different. Cross purposes.)


  • Namāzī kī ṭākā. (SF 169)

The holy man’s penny.

(The story goes that a mischievous boy was in the habit of pulling back the legs of the worshippers at prayer in a masjid. He did so to an old man who gave him a ṭakā (penny). This encouraged the boy, who next chanced on a Paṭhān, who turned around and killed him.)


  • Nasha us ne pīyā, khumār tumheṅ chaṛhā? (SF 171)

He drank the wine so why are you drunk?

(Said to a great man’s relatives when they give themselves airs.)


  • Niklī hoṅtoṅ chaṛhī koṭhoṅ. (SF 173)

Out of the lips is up on the housetop.


  • Pānī meṅ machhlī, nau nau ṭukṛā hissa. (SF 178)

The fish is in the water, and is being divided into nine shares.


  • Pānī meṅ patthar nahīṅ saṛtā. (SF 178)

Stones don’t rot in water.

(A claim, though suspended, is not lost.)


  • Pānī se pahle pul bāṅdthe ho. (SF 178)

You throw a bridge before there is any water. (Excessive caution.)


  • Phūl sūṅgh-kar rahte ho? (SF 184)

Do you live on the scent of flowers? (Said to a small eater.)


  • Phūṭī degchī, qalaī kī bhaṛak. (SF 184)

White-washing a broken pot.


  • Prīt na ṭūṭe an-mile, uttam man kī lāg.

Sau jug pānī meṅ rahe, chakmak taje na āg. (SF 186)

No absence can break love, where virtuous hearts are set; As flint can lose no fire, though a hundred years in water.


  • Qanāat baṛī daulat hai. (SF 188)

Contentment is the best of riches.


  • Qāzī kī lauṅḍī marī, sārā shahr āyā: Qāzī mare, koī na āyā. (SF 188)

If the Qāzī’s slave girl die, all the city attends the funeral; if the Qāzī die, not a soul will be present.

(i. e. because the Qāzī is alive in the first case and the people attend to please him, but when he is dead there is no one to please.)


  • Rāṅḍā gayā sagāī ko, āp ko lāe yā bhāī ko? (SF 192)

If a widower negociate a marriage, will it be for himself or his brother?

(He will be sure to do it for himself, so don’t send him.)


  • Rāṅḍeṅ to bahoterī raheṅ, jo ranḍve rahne deṅ. (SF 192)

Widows would be chaste, if the widowers would let them be so.

(There would be no thieves if there were no receivers of stolen goods.)


  • Rāṅḍ mūī, ghar sampat nāsī; mūṅḍ muṅḍāe bhae sannyāsī. (SF 193)

His wife dead and his riches gone; he shaved his head and become an ascetic.

(i. e. owing to circumstances and not from any religious feelings.)


  • Rāt paṛī būṅd, nām rakhā Mahmūd. (SF 194)

She conceived last night and has already named the child Mahmūd.


  • Safar aur Saqar meṅ ek nuqte kā faraq hai. (SF 202)

Between Hell and a journey there is but the difference of a dot.

(In the Persian character f which has one dot over it becomes q if another be added: Hence the point of the proverb.)


  • Sājan āvat hū suno, kuchh neṛe, kuchh dūr: Palkan hī se jhāṛ lūṅ un pāvan kī dhūr. (SF 205)

I hear my love approaching nearer and nearer: And I’ll brush the dust from off his feet with my eye-lashes.


  • Sapūtī rove ṭūkoṅ ko, nipūtī rove pūṭoṅ ko. (SF 209)

The mother with a son cries for milk, and the mother without one for a son.

(Every one cries for the moon)


  • Sāvan meṅ hue siyīr, Bhādoṅ meṅ āī bāṛ, “aisī bāṛ kabhī nahīṅ dekhī thī!” (SF 216)

In August the jackal was born, and in September he sees a flood and says “never in my life have I seen such a flood!”

(Said of one who makes a great deal of what he has never seen before.)


  • Shikār ko gae, aur khud shikār ho gae. (SF 219)

He went out to hunt, and was hunted himself. (The biter bit)


  • Sir diyā okhlī meṅ, to mūsloṅ se kyā ḍarnā? (SF 221)

If your head is in the mortar, why fear the pestle?

(When a man is engaged in a pursuit which he knows to be perilous, he ought not to shrink from danger.)


  • Thūk-kar chāṭnā. (SF 238)

To lick up one’s own spittle. (To turn back on one’s word.)


  • Tukhm tāsīr, sohbat kā asar. (SF 242)

As the seed so the result; as the society so the man.

(A tree is known by its fruit and a man by the company he keeps.)


  • Uṅṭ ḍūbeṅ, meṅḍkī thā māṅge! (SF 250)

The camel drowns and the frog wants to wade through!


  • Uṅṭ ke gale meṅ billī. (SF 251)

The cat tied to the camel’s neck.

(A man who had lost his camel made a vow that if he found him again, he would sell him for a penny. In order to keep his vow and yet save his pocket, he tied a cat to the neck of the camel and he made it a condition that the purchaser of the camel for a penny should also buy the cat, which he priced at the real value of both.)


  • Uzr-i-gunah bad-tar az gunah. Pers. (SF 254)

An excuse for a sin is worse than the sin.


  • Zabān se khandaq pār. (SF 263)

He can jump over a ditch with his tongue.


  • Zāhir Rahmān kā, bātīṅ Shaitān kā. (SF 263)

A Saint to look at, but a Devil to talk.


  • Zar kā zāyal karnā, jīte jī hai marnā. (SF 264)

To lose your money is to die before your death.


  • Jī jalāne se hāth jalānā behtar hai. (SF 268)

A burnt hand is better than a burnt heart. (Headache is better than heartache.)


  • Am jhaṛe patāī, laṛikā rove dāī dāī! (SF 276)

Only the mango blossoms are falling, and the child cries “give, give!” (mangoes)


  • Kuttā ke āṭā hoe to liṭṭī lage ke khāe. (SF 280)

If the dog had flour he would have baked bread for himself.




S.W. Fallon. A Dictionary of Hindustani Proverbs