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20th Century English Proverbs

Dates given are generally for the first written appearance of the form of the proverb in English; the proverb may have been in spoken use, in England or orther countries, much earlier and in some cases referred to as "an old saying" prior to that time.

All's for the best in the best of all possible worlds.
-early 20th century-Voltaire

Always a bridesmaid, never a bride.
-early 20th

Any publicity is good publicity.
-early 20th - Behan

The best things in life are free.
-early 20th

Better a good cow than a cow of a good kind.
-early 20th

The bigger they are, the harder they fall.
-early 20th

The church is an anvil which has worn out many hammers.
-early 20th

Cold hands, warm heart.
-early 20th

Come live with me and you'll know me.
-early 20th

Curiosity killed the cat.
-early 20th

The customer is always right.
-early 20th

Every dog is allowed one bite.
-early 20th

Every elm has its man.
-early 20th

Every picture tells a story.
-early 20th

The female of the species is more deadly than the male.
-early 20th; Kipling

From shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations.
-early 20th; Carnegie

The gods send nuts to those who have no teeth.
-early 20th

The good is the enemy of the best.
-early 20th

The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.
-mid 20th

He who can does, he who cannot, teaches.
-early 20th; Shaw

He who laughs last, laughs longest.
-early 20th

If you can’t be good, be careful.
-early 20th; the Latin form Si non caste tamen caute is found from the mid 11th century

If you can’t ride two horses at once, you shouldn’t be in the circus.
-early 20th

If you don’t like the heat, get out of the kitchen.
-mid 20th

If you don’t speculate, you can’t accumulate.
-mid 20th

It takes two to tango.
-mid 20th

Life begins at forty.
-early 20th

Money has no smell.
-early 20th

Money isn’t everything.
-early 20th

Never give a sucker an even break.
-early 20th

Never send a boy to do a man’s job.
-early 20th

No names, no pack-drill.
-early 20th

Old sins cast long shadows.
-early 20th

Old soldiers never die.
-early 20th

One picture is worth ten thousand words.
-early 20th

The rich man has his ice in the summer and the poor man gets his in the winter.
-early 20th

A rising tide lifts all boats.
principally known in the United States; associated with the Kennedy family
-mid 20th century

See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.
conventionally represented by the monkeys (‘the three wise monnkeys’) covering their eyes, ears, and mouth respectively with their hands
-early 20th

Small is beautiful.
-late 20th

Softly, softly, catchee monkey.
-early 20th

The squeaking wheel gets the grease.
-mid 20th

The style is the man.
-early 20th

Success has many fathers, while failure is an orphan.
-mid 20th

Sussex won’t be druv.
-early 20th

There is always room at the top.
-early 20th

There is nothing so good for the inside of a man as the outside of a horse.
-early 20th

There’s many a good tune played on an old fiddle.
-early 20th

There’s nowt so queer as folk.
-early 20th

To know all is to forgive all.
-mid 20th

Travel broadens the mind.
-early 20th

A trouble shared is a trouble halved.
-early 20th

Two boys are half a boy, and three boys are no boy at all.
-early 20th

What goes up must come down.
-early 20th

What you lose on the swings you gain on the roundabouts.
-early 20th

What you’ve never had you never miss.
-early 20th

When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
-late 20th century, mainly North America

The going gets tough, the tough get going.
-mid 20th

Work expands so as to fill the time available.
-mid 20th

You are what you eat.
-mid 20th

You can’t put new wine in old bottles.
-early 20th

You can’t tell a book by its cover.
-early 20th

You can’t win them all
-mid 20th

You can take the boy out of the country but you can’t take the country out of the boy.
-mid 20th century, usually North American

You win a few, you lose a few.
-mid 20th

NOTE: Some of this information can be found in The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations

 




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