Croatian proverbs

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Life is as tedious as a twice-told tale.
William Shakespeare
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A selection of Croatian proverbs. Many are considered to be traditional so source cannot be determined.


A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

B

  • Bez muke nema nauke.
    • Translation: Without suffering, there is no learning.
    • English equivalent: No pain, no gain.
  • Bog je prvo sebi bradu stvorio.
    • Translation: God first created a beard for himself.
  • Bolje ikad nego nikad.
    • Translation: Better ever than never.
    • English equivalent: Better late than never.
  • Bolje spriječiti nego liječiti.
    • Translation: Better to prevent than to have to cure.
    • English equivalent: Prevention is better than cure.
  • Bolje vrabac u ruci, nego golub na grani.
    • Translation: A sparrow in your hand is better than a pigeon on the branch.
    • English equivalent: A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

C

  • Čovjek je čovjeku vuk.
    • English equivalent: Man is man's wolf.
    • Latin equivalent: Homo homini lupus est.
  • Čovjek snuje, Bog određuje.
    • Translation: Men wishes(dreams), but god decides.
    • English equivalent: Man proposes, but God disposes.

G

  • Glava u oblacima.
    • Translation: (To have the) head in clouds.
  • Gdje ima dima ima i vatre.
    • Translation: Where there is smoke, there is fire too.
    • English equivalent: Where there's smoke, there's fire.

I

  • Il' kuj, il ne mrči gaćâ!
    • English equivalent: Shit or get off the pot.
  • Imati veće oči od želuca.
    • Translation: To have bigger eyes than the stomach.
    • English equivalent: Your eyes are bigger than your stomach.
  • Ispalo vragu iz torbe.
    • Translation: (Something that has) fallen out of a devil's pouch.
    • English equivalent: untamed.
  • Iver ne pada daleko od klade.
    • Translation: A splinter doesn't land far from the trunk.
    • English equivalent: The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

J

  • Jabuka ne pada daleko od stabla.
    • Translation: The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
  • Jedna lasta ne čini proljeće.
    • Translation: One swallow does not make a spring.
    • English equivalent: One swallow does not make a spring.
    • Source of original proverb: Aristotle
  • Jutro je pametnije od večeri.
    • Translation: Morning is smarter than evening.

K

  • Kad mačke nema, miševi kolo vode.
    • Translation: When cat is absent, mice dance.
    • English equivalent: When the cat's away the mice will play.
  • Kad na vrbi rodi grožđe.
    • Translation: When willows bear grapes.
    • English equivalent: When pigs fly.
  • Kako došlo, tako prošlo.
    • Translation: The way it came is the way it will go.
    • English equivalent: Easy come, easy go.
  • Kao mačka oko vruće kaše.
    • Translation: Like the cat around the hot meal.
    • English equivalent: Beating around bush.
  • Kruh bez motike.
    • Translation: Bread without shovel.
  • Krv nije voda.
    • Translation: Blood is not water.
    • English equivalent: Blood is thicker than water.

M

  • Mi o vuku, a vuk na vrata.
    • Translation: (speaking) of the wolf as the wolf (comes) to the door.
    • English equivalent: Speak of the devil.
    • Latin equivalent: Lupus in fabula.

N

  • Na muci se poznaju junaci.
    • Translation: In trouble you know a hero.
  • Naći iglu u plastu sijena.
    • English equivalent: Finding a needle in a haystack.
  • Navika je dobar sluga, ali loš gospodar.
    • Translation: Habit is a good servant, but a poor master.
  • Ne gledaj poklonjenom konju u zube.
    • Translation: Don't look a gift horse in the teeth.
    • English equivalent: Don't look a gift horse in the mouth.
  • Ne laje pas zbog sela.
    • Translation: The dog doesn’t bark because of the village.
  • Ne maljaj vraga na zid.
    • Translation: To not paint the devil on the wall.
  • Ne možeš imati i ovce i novce.
    • Translation: You can’t have both money and sheeps.
    • English equivalent: You can’t have a cake and eat it, too.
  • Ne kupuj mačka u vreći.
    • Translation: Don't buy a cat in a bag.
    • English equivalent: Don't buy a pig in a poke.
  • Ne stavljaj sva jaja u jednu košaru.
    • Translation: Don't put all you're eggs in one basket.
  • Ne trči pred rudo.
    • Translation: Don't run in front of a carriage.
    • English equivalent: Don't jump the gun.
  • Nesreća nikad ne dolazi sama.
    • Translation: A disaster never comes alone.
    • English equivalent: When it rains, it pours.
    • English equivalent: Bad luck comes in threes.
    • German equivalent: Bad luck rarely comes alone. (Ein Unglück kommt selten allein.)
  • Nije zlato sve što sja.
    • Translation: Gold is not everything that shines.
    • English equivalent: All that glistens is not gold.
  • Novac se na novac lijepi.
    • Translation: Money sticks to another money.
    • English equivalent: Money hangs around money.

O

  • Od Kulina bana i dobrijeh dana.
    • Translation: Since Koohleen the prince and the good times.
  • O mrtvima sve najbolje.
    • Translation: Speak only the best of the dead.
    • English equivalent: Don't speak ill of the dead.
    • Latin equivalent: De mortuis nil nisi bonum.
  • Odijelo ne čini čovjeka.
    • Translation: A suit doesn't make a man.
    • English equivalent: You can't tell a book by its cover.
    • French equivalent: L'habit ne fait pas le moine.
  • Odnijeti gaće na štapu.
    • Translation: To end up with underpants on a stick. (i.e. be really poor)
  • Ovca bleji, zalogaj gubi!
    • Translation: The sheep that bleats - loses it's share in food.

P

  • Papir trpi sve.
    • Translation: Paper can withstand anything.
  • Pas koji laje, ne grize.
    • Translation: A dog that barks does not bite.
    • English equivalent: His bark is worse than his bite.
    • Latin equivalent: Canis timidus vehementius latrat quam mordet. (Curtius)
  • Po jutru se dan poznaje.
    • Translation: The morning shows how the day will be.
  • Počisti prvo pred svojim vratima.
    • Translation: First sweep the ground in front of your own door.
  • Pomozi si sam pa će ti i Bog pomoći.
    • Translation: First help yourself and then God will help you.
    • English equivalent: God helps those who help themselves.
  • Pomozi sirotu na svoju sramotu.
    • Translation: Help the poor one for your own shame.
  • Pored takvih prijatelja što će mi neprijatelji.
    • Translation: With such friends, one doesn't need enemies anymore.
    • English equivalent: With friends like those, who needs enemies?
  • Poslije kiše dolazi sunce.
    • Translation: After rain comes sun.
  • Prodati rog pod svijeću.
    • Translation: To sell a horn as if it was a candle.
  • Prvo skoči pa reci: "hop"!
    • Translation: First leap, then say: "jump"!
    • English equivalent: Look before you leap.
      • First do your task, then talk about it
  • Puno baba, kilavo dijete.
    • Translation: Many midwives, child will be lazy.
    • English equivalent: Too many cooks spoil the broth.

R

  • Raditi račun bez krčmara.
    • Translation: To make the bill without the bartender.
  • Rugala se sova sjenici.
    • Translation: The owl mocked the tit.
    • English equivalent: The pot calls the kettle black.
  • Ruka ruku mije.
    • Translation: One hand washes the other.
    • English equivalent: You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours.
    • Latin equivalent: Manus manum lavat.

S

  • Sit gladnom ne vjeruje.
    • Translation: The well fed one does not believe the hungry one.
  • Svakog gosta tri dana dosta.
    • Translation: Three days of any guest is plenty.
    • English equivalent: Fish and visitors stink after three days.
  • Sve je dobro što se dobro svrši.
    • English equivalent and translation: All's well that ends well.
  • Sve što je dobro kratko traje.
    • Translation: All that's well lasts short.
    • English equivalent: All good things come to an end.
  • Svi putevi vode u Rim.
    • English equivalent and translation: All roads lead to Rome.
  • Strpljen – spašen.
    • Translation: Patient – saved.
    • English equivalent: All things come to he who waits.
  • Što bi gore sad je dolje, a što bi dolje sad je gore.
    • Translation: What once was up now is down and what once was down now is up
    • English equivalent: What goes around comes around.
  • Što možeš danas, ne ostavljaj za sutra.
    • Translation: Do not leave for tomorrow, things you can do today.
    • English equivalent: Better now than later.

T

  • Teško žabu u vodu natjerati.
    • Translation: It is difficult to chase a frog into the water. (sarcasticaly)
  • Tiha voda brege dere.
    • Translation: Still water wears down mountains.
    • English equivalent: Still waters run deep.
  • Tko kupuje što mu ne treba, prodavat će što mu treba.
    • Translation: He who buys what he does not need will (eventually have to) sell what he needs.
  • Tko pita, ne skita.
    • Translation: He who asks, need not wander.
  • Tko pod drugim jamu kopa, sam u nju pada.
    • Translation: He who digs a hole under someone else will fall into it himself.
  • Tko rano rani, dvije sreće grabi.
    • Translation: He who wakes up early, catches two fortunes.
    • English equivalent: The early bird catches the worm.
  • Tko s malom djecom liježe, popišan se budi.
    • Translation: If one goes to bed with small kids, wakes up wet.
  • Tko se zadnji smije, najslađe se smije.
    • Translation: He who laughs last has the sweetest laugh.
    • English equivalent: He who laughs last laughs best.
  • Tko umije, njemu dvije.
    • Translation: He who can, gets two.
  • Tri loša ubiše Miloša.
    • Translation: Three bad ones killed Milosh.

U

  • U laži su kratke noge.
    • Translation: In lies one has short legs.
    • English equivalent: A lie has no legs.
  • Umrijeti kumulativni zbir aligator.
    • Translation: The donkey that returns home is never welcome.
  • Uzdaj se u se i u svoje kljuse.
    • Translation: Trust yourself and your horse.

V

  • Vrijeme je novac.
    • English equivalent and translation: Time is money.
  • Vuk dlaku mijenja, ali ćud nikada.
    • Translation: The wolf changes his hair, but never his temperament.
    • English equivalent: A fox may change its skin, but never its character.
    • Latin equivalent: Vulpes pilum mutat, non mores.

Z

  • Željezo se kuje dok je vruće.
    • English equivalent and translation: Forge while the iron is hot.
  • Žuri polako.
    • Translation: Hasten slowly.
    • English equivalent: Slowly but carefully.
    • Latin equivalent: Festina lente.

See also