Vietnamese Proverbs and Vietnamese Sayings

Here are over 150 Vietnamese proverbs, Vietnamese sayings and Vietnamese expressions. Please enjoy and if you have a favorite Vietnamese saying or proverb you would like to add to this list please do so at the bottom of the page. Happy reading

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Vietnamese Proverbs, Sayings and Expressions


A bad compromise is better than a good lawsuit.


Because the caterpillar exists, there exists also a bird to eat it.

Though he eats alone, he calls the whole village to help launch his boat.

When eating choose the place, when playing choose your friends

A clean hand wants no washing.

A friend when in need is a faithful friend.

A frog living at the bottom of the well thinks that the sky is as small as a cooking pot lid.

A good beginning is half the battle.


One worm may damage the whole cooking soup

Try to seize the bowl of rice but forget the whole table of food

The husband eats hamburger; the wife eats spring roll

A good name is better than good habits.


Man is the flower of the earth.

Many a good father has but a bad son.

Many hands make light work.

After the storm the sun comes out.

All cats are gray in the dark.

Better a lean peace than a fat victory.

Between two stools, you fall to the ground.

Brothers and sisters are as close as hands and feet.

Catch the bear before you sell his skin.

Comfort is better than pride.

Do not halloo till you are out of the wood.

Don’t set the attic on fire just because you didn’t catch any mice.

Don’t trouble until trouble troubles you.


Eating slowly is good for the stomach; plowing deeply is good for the fields.

Elephants are killed for their ivory, birds for their feathers.

Enter alcohol, exit words.

Even if a mountain is high, there is always a way to reach the top — and although the way might be full of danger, there is always a way for someone to get through it.

Every dog is a lion at home.


Diamond cuts diamond.

When the cat is away, the mice will play

Men are blind in their own case

Long absent, soon forgotten

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Everybody’s business is nobody’s business.

Familiarity breeds contempt.

Fine feathers make fine birds.


A day in prison is longer than a thousand years at large.

A day of traveling will bring a basketful of learning.

The educated man precedes the farmer. But when the rice begins to run short, it’s the farmer who comes first.

Eat to see the bowl, go to see the way.

Many dishes make many diseases.

Chewing, one eats. Reflecting, one speaks.

A fair face may hide a foul heart.

A fool may sometimes give a wise man counsel.

A friend in need is a friend indeed.

Fine words butter no parsnips.

A mouse in time may bite in two a cable.

Adversity brings wisdom.


Giving just a crumb to the hungry is worth more than giving lunch to the satisfied.

Happy hours are very short.

Haste makes waste.


He laughs best who laughs last.

Hunger finds no fault with cookery.

Hungry bellies have no ears.

If you go out a lot at night, you will probably meet ghosts.

If you hold high office, the whole village will share your fame.

To carry coals to Newcastle.

To fish in troubled waters.

Venture all; see what fate brings.


Victory makes you into an emperor, defeat into a rebel.

If you want to eat pickled herring, think about the thirst you will have.

If you want to gather a lot of knowledge, act as if you are ignorant.

Fire is a good servant but a bad master.

Fortune favors the brave.

Give him an inch and he will take a yard.

It’s best to wash one’s soiled linen at home.

It’s better to have lots of children than to have lots of material goods.


It’s better to sleep on the floor in an incense shop than in a bed in a fish shop.

Jack of all trades is master of none.

Lies have short legs.

Life is a temporary stop, death is the journey home.



An egg today is better than a chicken tomorrow.

An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.

As the call, so the echo.

Beauty is but skin-deep.

Beggars can’t be choosers

Like cures like.

Likes draws to like.

Go out for a day, get a full basket of knowledge.

Make the amount of sauce you use correspond to the amount of rice you have.

If you want to travel fast use the old roads.

It is no disgrace to move out of the way of the elephant


Men made money; money never made men.

Better a wise man’s servant than an idiot’s master.

Better to die than to live on with a bad reputation.

Money can even corrupt the virtuous.

Money makes the mare go.

Necessity knows no laws.

Never forget benefits done you, regardless how small.


No matter how sharp it is, a knife will never cut it’s own handle.

No rain without clouds.

He that has a tongue in his head may find his way anywhere.

He wanted to cure a healthy pig and ended up with a sick one.

Hunger brings the wolf to the fold.

No sweet without sweat.

Old foxes want no tutor.

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One good turn deserves another.

Receive a plum, return a peach.

Scratch my back; I’ll scratch yours.

When eating the fruit, think of the person who planted the tree.

When husband and wife live in harmony, they can dry up the ocean without a bucket.

When the cat’s away the mouse sits on its throne.

So many men, so many minds.

Strong wood is worth more than painted wood.

Sun is for cucumbers, rain for rice.

Tell me where it itches if you want me to scratch you.

The army is the poison and the people are the water in which the poison is mixed.

The bird that escapes from its cage never wants to come back.

One often gets what one disdains.


One scabby sheep is enough to spoil the whole flock.

People live with their own idiosyncrasies and die of their own illnesses.

People say that time goes by; time says that the people go by.

The boat follows the helm, the woman follows her husband.

The buffalo that arrive late will have to drink muddy water and eat dried grass.

The leopard cannot change its spots.

Nice words are free, so choose ones that please another’s ears.


No man is a hero to his valet.


The mouth prays to Buddha, but the heart is full of evil.

The rich become deaf and the mighty blind.

The rich worry over their money, the poor over their bread.

There is no ivory in the mouth of a dog.

There is one fish in the pond, and ten anglers on the bank.

Think today and speak tomorrow.


Tit for tat.

What is good for the buffalo is good for the cow.

The buffalo that arrives late will have to drink muddy water and eat dry grass.

The chained buffalo doesn’t enjoy grazing.

When the father has eaten too much salt in his lifetime, then his son thereafter will have a great thirst.

When the pain has passed one forgets the medicine.

When the tree falls, any child can climb it.

Where life is exhausted, death comes.

Who breaks, pays.

Who keeps company with the wolf will learn to howl.

Women are like raindrops: some fall on palaces, others on rice fields.

You cannot breathe through another man’s nose.

Young bamboo trees are easy to bend.


Judge a man by his work

Eating as in the North; clothing as in the South

Eat as small as a cat

Good wine must drink together with good friend

Pay first and then get what you have paid for

Eaten bread is soon forgotten.

Don’t spurn cold rice; hunger helps you eat even food that has gone bad

The crane was killed by the fishhook.

The dog will always attack the one with torn trousers.

The fat buffalo will attract the lean buffalo.

The higher you climb, the heavier you fall.

The human tongue is more poisonous than a bee’s sting.


All chili is hot; all women are jealous

Eats as strongly as elephant

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