Chinese Proverbs

“If you wish your merit to be known, acknowledge that of other people.”

“Teachers open the door. You enter by yourself.”

“Raise your sail one foot and you get ten feet of wind.”

“A rat who gnaws at a cat’s tail invites destruction.”

“Be not afraid of growing slowly, be afraid only of standing still.”


“To know the road ahead, ask those coming back.”

“The palest ink is better than the best memory.”

“When you drink the water, remember the spring.”

“Do not employ handsome servants.”

“A diamond with a flaw is worth more than a pebble without imperfections.”


“Do good, reap good; do evil, reap evil.”

“Dig the well before you are thirsty.”

“When you have only two pennies left in the world, buy a loaf of bread with one, and a lily with the other.”

“Each generation will reap what the former generation has sown.”

“Do not fear going forward slowly; fear only to stand still.”


“If you always give you will always have.”

“A filthy mouth will not utter decent language.”

“If you hurry through long days, you will hurry through short years.”

“Don’t open a shop unless you like to smile.”

“A bit of fragrance clings to the hand that gives flowers.”


“A nation’s treasure is in its scholars.”

“A fool judges people by the presents they give him.”

“If heaven made him, earth can find some use for him.”

“A gem is not polished without rubbing, nor a man perfected without trials.”

“A book is like a garden carried in the pocket.”


“Do not remove a fly from your friend’s forehead with a hatchet.”

“He who strikes the first blow admits he’s lost the argument.”

“Deep doubts, deep wisdom; small doubts, little wisdom.”

“To build it took one hundred years; to destroy it one day.”

“The judge with seven reasons states only one in court.”


“If you don’t want anyone to know, don’t do it.”

“A book tightly shut is but a block of paper.”

“Before telling secrets on the road, look in the bushes.”

“If the first words fail, ten thousand will then not avail.”

“He who is drowned is not troubled by the rain.”


“If you want dinner, don’t insult the cook.”

“If you wish to succeed, consult three old people.”

“He who asks is a fool for five minutes, but he who does not ask remains a fool forever.”

“Keep your broken arm inside your sleeve.”

“Touch black paint, have black fingers.”


“Divide an orange, it tastes just as good.”

“Not until just before dawn do people sleep best; not until people get old do they become wise.”

“Neither fortunes nor flowers last forever.”

“A bad word whispered will echo a hundred miles.”

“Beat your drum inside the house to spare the neighbors.”


“A book holds a house of gold.”

“Better lean and good than fat and evil.”

“If you bow at all, bow low.”

“Climb the mountains to see lowlands.”

“He whose virtues exceed his talents is the superior man.”


“The swiftest horse can’t overtake a word once spoken.”

“It is easier to rule a nation than a child.”

“A careful foot can step anywhere.”

“Don’t waste your hour, the sun sets soon.”

“When the waters drop, the rocks appear.”

“Teachers open the doors but you must enter by yourself.”

“If you hurry through long days, you will hurry through short years.”

“If you always give you will always have.”

“The wise listens to her mind, the foolish to the mob.”

“Ripe fruit falls by itself, but it does not fall into your mouth.”

“He who knows others is wise; he who knows himself is enlightened.”

“No guests at home, no hosts abroad.”

“The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it.”

“Honest scales and full measure hurt no one.”

“A whitewashed crow soon shows black again.”

“Many a good face is under a ragged hat.”

“An inch of time is an inch of gold but you can’t buy that inch of time with an inch of gold.”

“In bed be wife and husband, in the hall each other’s honored guest.”

“To be heard afar, bang your gong on a hilltop.”

“To stop drinking, study a drunkard while you are sober.”

“A king’s riches cannot buy an extra year.”

“Three feet of ice is not formed in a single day.”

“Blame yourself as you blame others; forgive yourself as you forgive others.”

“Without sorrows no one becomes a saint.”

“To open a shop is easy, to keep it open is an art.”

“If Heaven made him, earth can find some use for him.”

“We can study until old age and still not finish.”