Yoruban Proverbs

The Yorùbá people are a Niger-Congo ethnic group of southwestern and north-central Nigeria, as well as southern and central Benin.

Let every beast take heed how the lion feeds,
for the lion does not eat stale meat.

Patience is the best of dispositions; he who
possesses patience, possesses all things.

Laziness lends a helping hand to fatigue: one must persevere,
because fatigue must be felt every day.

The laborer is always in the sun;
the landowner is always in the shade.

Inquiry saves a man from mistakes.

The vulture scents the carcass, however high in the air he may be.

He who has done you a kindness should never be ill-used.

A white cloth and a stain never agree.

A man may be as strong as the buffalo, yet he has no horns.

One birth does not differ from another birth; as the slave
was born, so was the free-born child.

The fly heeds not death; eating is all to him.

The eagle is the father of birds of prey.

The thumb cannot point straight forwards.

If a bush is surrounded, the animals in it are easily killed.

A store of food is the best equipment for war: when war
is proclaimed, every man takes up his wallet.

It is easy to cut to pieces a dead elephant,
but no one dares attack a live one.

A thing which cannot be accomplished should never be undertaken.

A peacemaker often receives wounds.

If they do not want you in their company, go aside.

The butcher has no regard for the breed of the beast.

When a tree is cut in the forest, the echo repeats the sound.

He who causes one's starvation is not one's friend.

A bribe blinds the judge, for a bribe cannot give a true judgment.

When the wild cat becomes a leopard, it will devour large beasts.

When a man becomes an old bachelor, he makes his own fireplace.

Covetousness is the father of disease.

The river is never so full as to obscure the sight of the fish.

A small bed will not hold two persons.

He who marries a beauty marries trouble.

One day's rain makes up for many days' drought.

He who tries to shake the trunk of a tree only shakes himself.

By labor comes wealth.

The smith always follows a pattern.

No one will throw away venison for squirrel's flesh.

If you are modest, you are modest to your own advantage.

Rags disgrace a handsome person.

A wise man who knows proverbs reconciles difficulties.

An old story does not open the ear as a new one does.

He who disappoints another is unworthy to be trusted.

Silver is the father of lead; gold is the father of brass.

A proverb is the horse of conversation.

The influence of a fountain makes the brook flow.

He who waits for chance may wait a year.

The borrower who does not pay, gets no money lent to him.

A parasite has no root; every tree is its kindred.

Peace is the father of friendship.

A fugitive never stops to pick the thorns from his foot.

Do not ask the fish what happens in the plain;
nor the rat what takes place in the water.

Ordinary people are as common as grass,
but good people are dearer than an eye.

With shoes one can get on in the midst of thorns.

The young cannot teach tradition to the old.

An accident is not like an expected result.

The king regards rebels with an evil eye.

Trust not to an inheritance;
the produce of one's hands is sufficient for one.

We should fear him who sends us a message,
not him to whom we are sent.

A lazy man seeks easy employment:
He would never choose a laborious one.

When the fox dies, the fowls never mourn;
for the fox never rears a chicken.

If the stomach be not strong, do not eat cockroaches.

A great affair covers up a small matter.

The sieve never sifts flour by itself.

There is no medicine against old age.

A heedless dog will not do for the chase.

The eagle is the prince of fowls:
The eagle is the prince of birds of prey.

The thread follows the needle.

A bald-headed man does not care for a razor.

He is an enemy who slanders one's name.

Covetousness is the father of unsatisfied desires.

A large morsel chokes a child.

Ashes fly back in the face of him that throws them.

A man with a cough cannot conceal himself.

Bird-lime is the death of a bird.

The name given to a child becomes natural to it.

When a man becomes an old bachelor, he makes his own fireplace.

One here, two there, so the market is filled up.

The husband's death is the widow's sorrow.

If you send no one to the market, the market will send no one to you.

As the grass cannot grow in the sky, so the dead
cannot look out of the grave into the road.

Poverty destroys a man's reputation.

The stream may dry up, but the water course retains its name.

Wherever a man goes to dwell, his character goes with him.

He who is pierced with thorns
must limp off to him who has a lancet.

Calamity has no voice; suffering cannot speak
to tell who is really in distress.

Perseverance is everything.

Gold should be sold to him who knows the value of it.

A great matter puts a smaller out of sight.

If clothes remain long in the bag they rot.

Every man's character is good in his own eyes.

Consideration is the first born,
calculation the next, wisdom the third.

Hunger does not allow saving of money:
hunger makes the body lean.

A viper allows no insolence.

You cannot shave a man's head in his absence.

A basket with its bottom burst is useless.

It is difficult to encompass a leopard.

Famine compels one to eat the fruit of all kinds of trees.

When your enemy's horse falls into a pit, do not rejoice,
for your own child may fall into it too.

A boulder is the father of rocks.

A stupid dog will not do for the chase.

The dog which is known to be very swift is set to catch the hare.

A heedless dog will not do for the chase.

Unless the tree falls, one will never get at the branches.

The tongs are at the head of the blacksmith's shop.

The dusk of the buffalo is lost in that of the elephant.

Respect the elders: they are our fathers.

Competition and reward induce a child to work.

When the hawk hovers the owner of the fowls feels uneasy.

He who claps his hands for the fool, is no better than the fool.

The man who has bread to eat does not
appreciate the severity of a famine.

If one is not able at once to build a house, a shed is first erected.

The executioner never lets the sword be passed across his own neck.

The dog which is known to be very swift is set to catch the hare.

The appearance of the wise differs from that of the fool.

A delicate thing is not difficult to be injured.

When we compete in working, our hands quicken.

When the snail crawls, its shell accompanies it.

A gun is not so hard to buy as powder:
A gun is bought one day,
powder must be bought again and again.

A stupid dog will not do for the chase.

Disobedience is the father of insolence.

When there are no elders, the town is ruined.

When many guests are absent, the house is desolate.

He who enlivens the party is missed.

He who cannot raise an ant, and yet tries to raise
an elephant, shall soon find out his folly.

What is not wished to be known is done in secrecy.

The sole of the foot is exposed to all the dirt of the road.

A gun is not to be held carelessly.

We cannot dwell in a house together
without speaking one to another.

Though a man may miss other things,
he never misses his mouth.

Continual sweeping makes a high rubbish heap.

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