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Russian sayings

Tags: russia russian sayings proverbs wisdom

Added: 2011-02-07T15:56:59

Russian sayings

I was digging through my old files, and I came across a list of Russian sayings I'd been collating.

Some of them are funny, some are bizarre, and some insightful. (Some, I think, have been made up. I can't find any reference to the supposed Anton Chekhov one about women learning languages, apart from on a site that seems to have copied my list from when it was online before).

Anyway, enjoy.

A bird may be known by its flight.
A drop hollows out a stone.
A drowning man clutches at straw.
A fly will not come into a closed mouth.
A kind word is like a spring day.
A man is judged by his deeds, not by his words.
A man should not be struck when he is down.
A man without a wife is like a man in winter without a fur hat.
A wolf won't eat wolf.
After a storm fair weather, after sorrow joy.
All are not cooks that walk with long knives.
All cats are grey at night.
All is not gold that glitters.
All is well that ends well.
All roads lead to Rome.
An enemy will agree, but a friend will argue.
Any fish is good if it is on the hook.
As you cooked the porridge, so must you eat it.
As you make your bed, so you will sleep.
Better late than never.
Better to stumble than make a slip of the tongue.
Beware of a quite dog and still water.
Do not look at gift horse's mouth.
Every sandpiper praises its own swamp.
Every seed knows its time.
He need not search his pockets for words.
He who doesn't risk never gets to drink champagne.
Idleness is the mother of all vices.
If you are a host to your guest, be a host to his dog also.
It is a bad workman that has a bad saw.
It is good to be visiting, but it is better at home.
One fisherman sees another from afar.
One who sits between two chairs may easily fall down.
Take the bull by the horns.
The appetite comes during a meal.
The end is the crown of any work.
The hammer shatters glass but forges steel.
The offender never forgives.
The one who draws the cart is urged on.
The sun will shine into our yard too.
The tongue speaks, but the head doesn't know.
The wolf will hire himself out very cheaply as a shepherd.
There is no evil without good.
There will be trouble if the cobbler starts making pies.
To ask is no sin and to be refused is no calamity.
You do not need a whip to urge on an obedient horse.
You do not swap horses while crossing the ford.
"Your feet are crooked, your hair is good for nothing," said the pig to the horse.
'Tis a hard winter when one wolf eats another.
A bad peace is better than a good war.
A big mouth is too lazy to work.
A cat always knows whose meat it eats.
A drop hollows out a stone.
A farm doesn't gain value from its decorations but from its hospitality.
A field held in common is always ravaged by bears.
A fly cannot enter a closed mouth.
A good citizen owes his life to his country.
A guest has not to thank the host, but the host the guest.
A jug that has been mended lasts two hundred years.
A kind word is like a Spring day.
A lizard on a cushion will still seek leaves.
A lonely person is at home everywhere.
A long pull and a strong pull and a pull altogether.
A man is judged by his deeds, not by his words.
A mile walk with a friend has only one hundred steps.
A net will catch more than a pole.
A priest's beard is always soaked in butter.
A priest's belly is made up of several sheepskins.
A proverb can't be judged.
A revolution's only chance of success is when the bottom layer of society no longer accepts authority and the top layer no longer is able to rule.'- Vladimir Lenin
A scientist not doing practical work is like a raincloud without rain.
A true communist can also change the course of a river.
A wife is not a pot, she will not break so easily.
A word of kindness is better than a fat pie.
Absentmindedness is searching for the horse you are riding.
Abuse doesn't hang on the collar.
Acknowledgement is half of correction.
After the head is off, one does not cry over the hair.
All ages are submissive to love.
All are not cooks who walk with long knives.
All lay loads on a willing horse.
An egg is dear on Easter day.
An enemy will agree, but a friend will argue.
An icy May fills the granaries.
An indispensable thing never has much value.
An old loan repaid is like finding something new.
Any sandpiper is great in his own swamp.
As long as a child does not cry it does not matter what pleases it.
Ask a lot, but take what is offered.
Ask a silly question and you get a silly answer.
Bad luck is fertile.
Beat your own and others will fear you.
Better a dove on the plate than a woodgrouse in the mating place.
Better a fair pair of heels than a halter.
Can we be human if we are always careful? - Alexander Solzenitsyn
Chickens are counted in autumn.
Confide a secret to a dumb man and he will speak.
Cry and the whole world cries with you.
Cry not out before you are hurt.
Curious Varvara's nose was torn off.
Cut down the tree that you are able to.
Deprive a mirror of its silver and even the czar won't see his face.
Desert and reward seldom keep company.
Devils live in quiet pond.
Do not be born good or handsome, but be born lucky.
Do not make an elephant out of a fly.
Do not make me kiss, and you will not make me sin.
Don't put it in my ear, but in my hand.
Don't put new wine into old bottles.
Don't worry if you borrow, but worry if you lend.
Drink, but don't drown your senses.
Eat what is cooked; listen to what is said.
Eggs cannot teach a hen.
Eternal peace lasts only until the next war.
Even a blind pig finds an acorn every once in awhile.
Even a blind squirrel finds an acorn sometimes.
Even a coffin is made to measure.
Every day learns from the one that went before, but no day teaches the one that follows.
Every peasant is proud of the pond in his village because from it he measures the sea.
Every road has two directions.
Every sandpiper praises his own swamp.
Every seed knows its time.
Fear has big eyes.
Fear the Greeks bearing gifts.
Fear the goat from the front, the horse from the rear, and man from all sides.
For him who does not believe in signs, there is no way to live in the world.
For ill do well, Then fear not hell.
Give your children too much freedom and you lose your own.
Glory lies still; abuse is running.
Glowing coals sparkle oft.
God does not give to the cow that butts.
God wanted to chastise mankind, so he sent lawyers.
Golden hands, but a wicked mouth.
Gossip needs no carriage.
Happiness is not a horse; you cannot harness it.
Having a good wife and rich cabbage soup, seek not other things.
Having given your word, be strong; not having done it, try not to promise.
He can cheat a fish of its skin.
He need not search his pockets for words.
He that hath no heart, let him have heels.
He that is afraid of bad luck will never know good.
He who doesn't move from the stove, gets nothing done.
He who doesn't risk never gets to drink champagne.
He who has a book as his friend, knows no sorrow.
He who serves his country, enjoys a good life even at the North pole.
Hypocrites kick with their hind feet while licking with their tongues.
I need not fear my enemies because the most they can do is attack me. I need not fear my friends because the most they can do is betray me. But I have much to fear from people who are indifferent.
If everyone gives one thread, the poor man will have a shirt.
If the child does not cry, the mother knows not its wants.
If the devil catch a man idle he'll set him at work.
If the doctor cures, the sun sees it; but if he kills, the earth hides it.
If the people are breathing in unity, the wind blows.
If the pocket is empty, the judge is deaf.
If the thunder is not loud, the peasant forgets to cross himself.
If you are a host to your guest, be a host to his dog also.
If you chase two rabbits, you will not catch either one.
If you do not strike back at him who hits you, there is no way for him to find out whether you also have hands.
If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always gotten.
If you don't have time to do it right you must have time to do it over.
If you put your nose into water, you will also wet your cheeks.
If you were born lucky, even your rooster will lay eggs.
If you will not hear reason, she will surely rap your knuckles.
In a quarrel, leave room for reconciliation.
In the kingdom of hope there is no winter.
It is better to learn then to be rich.
It is easier to move your tongue than it is to move your hands.
It is easy to undress the naked.
It is good to sleep in a whole skin.
Keep your ears wider and your mouth narrower.
Keep your eye on the ball.
Labour doesn't use up your powers, doubt does.
Law is a flag and gold is the wind that makes it wave.
Laws are silent in time of war.
Let everyone pick his own nose.
Long whiskers cannot take the place of brains.
Looking at a tree see its fruit; looking at a man see his deeds.
Love and eggs are best when they are fresh.
Many who have gold in the house are looking for copper outside.
Mock not the fallen, for slippery is the road ahead of you.
Mocking is catching.
No matter how much you feed a wolf he will always return to the forest.
No one is dragged to heaven by the hair.
Not all who make love make marriages.
Not everyone who has a cowl on is a monk.
Not everything is a mermaid that dives into the water.
Old age is not a blessing.
Old age is not a joy, but death is not a gain.
Once burned by milk you will blow on cold water.
One does not go to Tula with one's own samovar.
One does not look for good when he is well.
One does not wash one's dirty linen in public.
One fisherman recognizes another from afar.
One son is no son, two sons is no son, but three sons is a son.
One worker, seven mouths to feed.
Only a fool will make the doctors his heir.
Peace lasts until the army comes, and the army lasts until peace comes.
Pray to God but continue to row to the shore.
Praying kneads no dough.
Remember, its better to be the victim, then it is to be the executioner. - Anton Tsjechov
Rooster today, feather duster tomorrow.
Sit a beggar at your table and he will soon put his feet on it.
Small children give you headache; big children heartache.
Small choice in rotten apples.
Small faults indulged in are little thieves that let in greater.
Smooth hands love the labour of others.
Some people are masters of money, and some its slaves.
Spending is quick, earning is slow.
Still water undermines the bank.
Success and rest don't sleep together.
Success consecrates the foulest crimes.
Success has many fathers, while failure is an orphan.
Take the bull by the horns.
Take the goods the gods provide.
Take thy thoughts to bed with thee, for the morning is wiser than the evening.
Take time to smell the roses.
Take time when time is, for time will away.
Tell God the truth, but give the judge money.
Tell lies, but become not tangled in lies.
Tell me who's your friend and I'll tell you who you are.
The calmer you go, the further along you will be.
The coat is quite new, only the holes are old.
The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.
The fall of a leaf is a whisper to the living.
The first [cup of vodka] goes as a stake, the second as a falcon, and the third as a little bird.
The fish always stinks from the head downwards.
The hammer shatters glass but forges steel.
The horse may run quickly, but it can't escape its own tail.
The horses of hope gallop, but the asses of experience go slowly.
The lucky man's enemy dies, and the unlucky man's friend.
The more coals we get from the mines, the sooner we beat the enemy.
The morning is wiser than the evening.
The morning sun never lasts a day.
The offender never forgives.
The old bear falls into the old trap.
The one who pulls a cart is urged on.
The payment adorns the debt.
The peasant will not cross himself before it begins to thunder.
The rich would have to eat money if the poor did not provide food.
The riches that are in the heart cannot be stolen.
The scythe ran into a stone.
The slower you go, the farther you will be.
The sluggard will not plough by reason of the cold; therefore shall he beg in harvest, and have nothing.
The tallest blade of grass is the first to be cut by the scythe.
The tallest tree is rooted in the ground.
The toe of the star-gazer is often stubbed.
The tongue always returns to the sore tooth.
The word is silver, the silence is gold.
There are no bad ships at all, there are bad captains.
There is plenty of sound in an empty barrel.
There may be deep bottoms in still waters.
There may be snow on the roof, but there's fire in the belly.
There will be trouble if the cobbler starts making pies.
There's no harm in wine; it's drunkenness that is at fault.
They bow to you when borrowing, you bow to them when collecting.
They gave the naked man a shirt and he said it was too thick.
To ask is no sin and to be refused is no calamity.
To run away is not glorious, but very healthy.
To work without thinking is like a wedding without music.
Trust in God but lock your doors.
Until you have smoked out the bees, you can't eat the honey.
Vodka is the aunt of wine.
Water does not run under a lying stone.
What the rake gathers, the fork scatters.
What the young one begs for, the grown-up throws away.
When money talks, the truth is silent.
When roubles falls from heaven there is no sack, when there is a sack roubles don't fall.
When we sing everybody hears us, when we sigh nobody hears us.
When you live next to the cemetery you cannot weep for everyone.
When you meet a man, you judge him by his clothes; when you leave, you judge him by his heart.
Where people are talking, machines aren't being used.
Where something is thin, that's where it tears.
Who wouldn't want to give his life for fatherland and honour?
Wild ducks and tomorrow both come without calling.
With lies you may go ahead in the world--but you can never go back.
With seven nurses the child loses it eye.
Without God, the road is wider.
Without a shepherd, sheep are not a flock.
Working sweat spices your food.
You cannot break through a wall with your forehead.
You cannot pull a fish out of the pond without work.
You cannot ride two horses with one ass.
You cannot write in the chimney with charcoal.
You do not need a whip to urge on an obedient horse.
You do not really understand something unless you can explain it to your grandmother.
You don't get something for nothing.
You look for the horse you ride on.
You need a sharp axe for a tough bough.
The life of a woman used to be as grey as a sunless day.
In a sea of liquor, even heroes drown.
It is easier to move your tongue than it is to move your hands.
He who rises early, lives twice.
Be an activist in the field, not on paper.
Only he who is weak has a need to show his power. - Ivan S. Toergenjev
He who becomes his own friend, makes a good choice. - Alexander Solzenitsyn
Every man is the son of a woman.
Women learn languages easily since their head is empty. - Anton Tjechov
The apple doesn't fall far from the apple-tree.
Your tongue can get you to Kiev.
A clever man will not go up a hill, a clever man will go around it.
History is the autobiography of a madman. - Alexander Herzen


If you know any more gems, please add them as comments below.

posted by Calum on 2011-02-07T16:00 under

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