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Sicilian Proverbs - English Translations and Meanings Sicilian Proverbs - English Translations and Meanings
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Taken from popular (folk) culture, some of these proverbs originated in the Middle Ages and seem to reflect the realities of another era but are as appropriate today as they were centuries ago. Some proverbs take a longer time to be understood. When translating the proverbs they may lose the rhymes they have in Sicilian but they have the same meaning in any language.

Throughout history Sicily has gone through extraordinary change. From the beginning of time at least 800BC Sicily formed out of Greek culture and lingered well into 200BC until the Roman emprire conquered the then Greek culture.

I don't want to bore the reader with names of conquerers and rulers of Sicily in the BC era because the role of my insight is based on the psychological evolution of todays Siclian.

Obviously war, corruption and dictatorship has always been the main common denominator that brought Sicilian tradition to what it is today.

In his early twenties my Father imigrated to North America in early 1950. He lived povery and war and helped raise 12 brothers and sisters in Sicily. I call him the last of the great Siclians. I looked up to him much like todays generation looks up to super heros. My Dad was my Superman. He had minimal education growing up but lived by the following rule: Respect, honesty, integrity, hard work.and discretion. In the 50 years he worked and raised our family in North America he gained respect from everyone he encountered in his business and social activities. All these myths about Sicilians and their gangsterism is purely false. The Sicilians I grew up with were all honest and hard workers.

Proverbs were created through the trials and tribulations of Sicilians through centuries of war and hardships. Please send us any informtion regarding Sicilian Proverbs by contacting us here.

Nun si po' aviri la carni senz' ossu.

• Translation: You can't have meat without the bone.
• Meaning: You can't have the good things in life without some of the bad.

Nenti mi ratta a manu comu i me unga.

• Translation: Nothing scratches my hand like my own nails.
• Meaning: No one knows my business better than I do.

I palori nimici fannu ridiri, chiddi di l'amici fanni chianciri.

• Translation: The words of enemies make you laugh, but those of friends make you cry.
• Meaning: Ignore what your enemies say, buy pay attention to the words of friends.

Nun essiri duci sinno ti mancianu, nun essiri amaru sinno ti futanu

• Translation: Do not be sweet lest you be eaten, do not be sour, lest you be shunned
• Meaning: Strike the proper balance between assertiveness and accommodation.

Camina chi pantofuli finu a quannu non hai i scarpi.

• Translation: Walk with your slippers until you find your shoes.
• Meaning: Do your best in bad times until the situation improves.

Chiddu arrusti u so pesci nte ciammi di l'incediu.

• Translation: This guy roasts his fish in the flames of a fire.
• Meaning: Don't take advantage of the misfortunes of others.

Cu gaddu e senza gaddu, diu fa journa.

• Translation: With and (or) without the rooster, God makes the day.
• Meaning: Time marches on; this too shall pass

Nenti mi ratta a manu comu i me unga.

• Translation: Nothing scratches my hand like my own nails.
• Meaning: No one knows my business better than I do.

I palori nimici fannu ridiri, chiddi di l'amici fanni chianciri.

• Translation: The words of enemies make you laugh, but those of friends make you cry.
• Meaning: Ignore what your enemies say, buy pay attention to the words of friends.

Camina chi pantofuli finu a quannu non hai i scarpi.

• Translation: Walk with your slippers until you find your shoes.
• Meaning: Do your best in bad times until the situation improves.

Nun c'era beddu lu putrusinu, c'ii lu'attu e ci piscio'.

• Translation: It was not such beautiful parsley, and then the cat went and peed on it.
• Meaning: Things have gone from bad to worse, but don't over-mourn the loss of something bad.

Cu scava na fossa ppi so frati, ci cadi dintra iddu.

• Translation: He who digs a grave for his brother falls in it himself.
• Meaning: He who lives by the sword, dies by the sword.

Cu e fissa sta a so casa.

• Translation: The simpleton should just stay home.
• Meaning: Using your head pays off.

S'un tingi, mascaria.

• Translation: If it doesn't stain, it soils.
• Meaning: It may have missed the bull's eye, but not the target.

Pezzu di carni cu l'occhi.

• Translation: A piece of meat with eyes.
• Meaning: A clueless person

Vidi ch'un s'affaccia quacchi fungia.

• Translation: Keep watch for the appearing mushroom.
• Meaning: Beware the unforeseen obstacle.

A petra ufferta di n'amicu e comu un pumu.

• Translation: A rock offred by a friend is like an apple.
• Meaning: You can accept anything from a friend.

A ghiri e veniri si fa lu maccarruni

• Translation: Go ahead, the maccaroni is made
• Meaning: If at first you don't succeed try and try again

Essiri sempri lu santu fora la chiesa

• Translation: To be always like the statue of the saint outside from the church
• Meaning: He who is in contrast with the choices of others

A cani tintu catina curta

• Translation: To bad dogs, a short chain is placed
• Meaning: People who are not very reliable do not get much freedom

Pesci fet d'a testa.

• Translation: The fish stinks from the head.
• Meaning: Corruption starts at the top.

Tinemu d'occhiu u scurpiuni e u sirpenti, ma nunni vardamu du millipedi.

• Translation: We keep an eye on the scorpion and the serpent, but we do not see the millipede.
• Meaning: Watch out for hidden dangers.

Sicilian Proverbs Translated in English

Sicilian Proverbs Love, beauty and money are three things that can't be hidden.

Sicilian Proverbs A fortress is made of more than one stone.

Sicilian Proverbs A overly ripe melon is often rotten inside.

Sicilian Proverbs Knowledge can be a most beautiful embellishment.

Sicilian Proverbs The devil eats macaroni with the monk and drinks wine the politician.

Sicilian Proverbs A polluted man is either the Pope or a King.

Sicilian Proverbs Who preaches to the deaf wastes the sermon.

Sicilian Proverbs The liar cries best of all.

Sicilian Proverbs If you sleep with dogs, you will wake up with fleas.

Sicilian Proverbs Time avenges every wrong.

Sicilian Proverbs Pluck the grapes while still on the vine.

Sicilian Proverbs The Church never gives anything away.

Sicilian Proverbs Who makes excuses without being accused, shows his guilt.

Sicilian Proverbs Her beauty is the only dowry a beautiful girl needs.

Sicilian Proverbs If you want to be loved by all, first love God, then your mother and father.

Sicilian Proverbs Don't make friends with priests and politician.

Sicilian Proverbs If your neighbor's house is afire, fetch water to save your own.

Sicilian Proverbs A woman is like a cat: the more you stroke her the happier she feels.

Sicilian Proverbs Who takes cover under the branch, collects what rains and collects what falls.

Sicilian Proverbs When you lose friends, you go down many steps.

Sicilian Proverbs You can tell a man by his talk, and bells by their ringing.

Sicilian Proverbs The devil laughs when the poor donates to get into heaven.

Sicilian Proverbs A woman in her forties makes a succulent dish.

Sicilian Proverbs Invite the plague ship into the harbor then burn it.

Sicilian Proverbs Beneath the corpse of a wealthy man you will still find maggots.

Sicilian Proverbs The door is always open to the bearer of gifts.

Sicilian Proverbs Love without pain is only infatuation.

Sicilian Proverbs Health flows from the happiness of the heart.

Sicilian Proverbs Today in person, tomorrow in a grave.

Sicilian Proverbs Better to die and have something to leave than to live wanting.

Sicilian Proverbs During the plague doctors grow rich.

Sicilian Proverbs Don't confide to your friend your deepest secrets; remember that one day you may have him for an enemy.

Sicilian Proverbs Make your promises and confessions while you're drinking wine and eating mozzarella.

Sicilian Proverbs Gold attracts the Church.

Sicilian Proverbs Knowledge is no match for luck.

Sicilian Proverbs Don't buy houses near convents nor dwellings near abbeys.

Sicilian Proverbs Safeguard the flock that is grazing on the mountain from the unmarried shepherd.

Sicilian Proverbs Night time sleep counsels man.

Sicilian Proverbs Putting hope in a priest, is like trying to catch the wind in a net.

Sicilian Proverbs Priests dressed in black bring bad tidings, in white they take you to the cemetery.

Sicilian Proverbs One ripe grape doesn't make the harvest.

Sicilian Proverbs A deeply wounded heart never heals.

Sicilian Proverbs One sins and is crowned, another sins and is crucified.

Sicilian Proverbs Throw three silver coins into the sea beneath a August moon and you will be granted one wish.

Sicilian Proverbs Don't press olives that you are not yours.

Sicilian Proverbs Don't go to the doctor for every malady, nor to the lawyer for every disagreement, nor to the fountain for every thirst.

Sicilian Proverbs Latin hides the stupidity of the priest.

Sicilian Proverbs The honest man has two eyes, the liar, one hundred.

Sicilian Proverbs He who loves suffers. Sicilian Proverbs Better to marry an old but wise man than a young but foolish man.

Sicilian Proverbs August rain brings oil, honey and lust.

Sicilian Proverbs The war is lost for too much advice.

Sicilian Proverbs Gold begets gold, and lice beget lice.

Sicilian Proverbs Ill acquired gains don't last long.

Sicilian Proverbs The mother of a fool is always pregnant with another one. Sicilian Proverbs Death rights everything.

Sicilian Proverbs The barking of dogs does not reach heaven.

Sicilian Proverbs Only your real friends will tell you when you have a chive on your front tooth.

Sicilian Proverbs Buy good quality and sell at the market price.

Sicilian Proverbs The husband who does not compliment his wife is like a scorpion with a bitter bite.

Sicilian Proverbs Olive trees don't produce pomegranates.

Sicilian Proverbs The June bee portends lots of honey.

Sicilian Proverbs Water does mischief but wine comforts.

Sicilian Proverbs A maggot dipped in honey is still a maggot.

Sicilian Proverbs If you plant tomatoes but do not pluck the weeds, you won't even harvest enough to re-seed.

Sicilian Proverbs Eat yesterday's bread and last year's wine.

Sicilian Proverbs Morning makes the day.

Sicilian Proverbs The pardon arrives after the man was hung.

Sicilian Proverbs Water and sun make work, water and wind make grain.

Sicilian Proverbs Women have got long hair and stunted common sense.

Sicilian Proverbs A jealous man is born cuckolded.

Sicilian Proverbs Only your real friends will tell you when your face is dirty.

Sicilian Proverbs Flies can't fly into a closed mouth

Sicilian Proverbs Your most faithful friends are your own hands

Sicilian Proverbs When you are right no one remembers; when you are wrong no one forgets.

Sicilian Proverbs Public money is like holy water; everyone helps himself to it.

Sicilian Proverbs The one who pleased everybody died before they were born.

Sicilian Proverbs Young people talk of what they are doing; old people of what they have done; and fools of what they have a mind to do.

Sicilian Proverbs When we can't find peace in ourselves it is vain to look for it elsewhere.

Sicilian Proverbs If you wish for peace be ready for war.

Sicilian Proverbs Better to ask a question than to remain ignorant

Sicilian Proverbs If you live in the river you should make friends with the crocodile.

Sicilian Proverbs A smooth sea never made a skillful mariner


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