Scottish Sayings and Scottish Proverbs

Welcome to the Scottish sayings page of the sayings plus website. On this page you will find a huge list of Scottish proverbs, Scottish phrases, and Scottish expressions. If you have a favorite that is not on the list, there is a place at the bottom of the page for you to share your Scottish proverbs and sayings. Enjoy!

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Scottish Sayings, Proverbs, Phrases, and Expressions

What’s before you will not go by you.

We’ll never know the worth of water till the well goes dry.



All cars need a driver

When you fail at something at least you’re trying.

Willful waste makes woeful want.

What baites one, banes another.

What may be done at any time will be done at no time.



Saving a small amount soon builds up to a large amount.

We’re all God’s children, nobody is better than anybody else – we’re all equal.

Don’t try to teach someone something they already know.

Don’t marry for money – you can borrow it cheaper.

Perfect love cannot be without equality.

Money is flat and meant to be piled up.


He that winna be ruled by the rudder maun be ruled by the rock.



Prayer and practice is good rhyme.


Twelve highlanders and a bagpipe make a rebellion.


It’s sin and not poverty that makes men miserable.


Where vice is vengeance follows.


Plenty makes dainty!


While a person gets they can never lose


Forsake not God till you find a better master.


Be happy while you’re living, for you’re a long time dead.


A thread will tie an honest man better than a chain a rogue.


One may survive distress, but not disgrace.


Were it not for hope the heart would break.



May God bless you to live as long as you want to; and want to as long as you live!


The best-laid schemes of mice and men often go astray.


He’s the slave of all slaves who serve’s none but himself.


The willing horse is always worked to death.


They that love must speak least.


They’re not all saints that get the name of it.


Empty barrels make the most noise.


scottish proverbs

A wild goose never laid tame eggs.

Those that board with cats may count on scratches.

He that talks to himself speaks to a fool.



Better be a coward than a corpse.

One may ride a free horse to death.

Open confession is good for the soul.

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Red sky at night, Shepherds Delight; Red sky in the morning, Shepherds Warning.

The first dish pleaseth all.

They are good that are away.

To marry is to halve your rights and double your duties.

Confessed faults are half-mended.

Open confession is good for the soul.

If the doctor cures, the sun sees it; if he kills, the earth hides it.

False friends are worst than bitter enemies.

Calling names brakes no bones.

Though the cow may die, the grass will still grow.

Give a beggar a bed and he’ll pay you with a louse.



There’s always life in a living man.

scottish proverbsHe goes long barefoot that waits for dead men’s shoes.

There’s aye sorrow at somebody’s door.

The tree doesn’t always fall at the first stroke.

The worst may be handled when it is known.

He never lies but when the holly is green.

The worth of a thing is best known by the want of it.

He that counts all costs will never put plough in the earth.



If the Lord slight the lady so will the kitchen boys.

Any port in a storm.

Danger and delight grow on one stalk.

Wink at small faults, for you have great ones yourself.

Better bend than break

Liars should have good memories.

Fancy was a bonnie dog but fortune took the tail from it.

They’re always good that’s lives far away.

Learn young, learn fair; learn old, learn more.

Many haws, many snows.

He that’s born to be hanged will never be drowned.

Fair exchange is no robbery.



Where the craw flies her tail follows.

He that has a big nose thinks everyone speaks of it.

scottish expressions

You cannot gather berries off a just any bush.

A bad wound may heal but a bad name will kill.

It is ill fishing if the hook is bare.

It’s an ill wind that blows naebody any good.

Never go to the devil and a dish-clout in your hand.

One good turn deserves another.

Wide ears and short tongues are best.

Better a good name than a fine face.

A friend to all is a friend to none.

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Fair words won’t make the pot boil.

Cutting out well is better than sewing up well.

Early to bed early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.

Every fisher loves best the trout that is of his own tickling.

Finders keepers, losers weepers.

Fools look to tomorrow; wise men use tonight.

Fur coat and nae knickers


scottish expressionsHe that has one sheep in the flock will like all the rest the better for it.

He that loves law will get his fill of it.

Anger is more hurtful than the wrong that caused it.

A beggar’s wallet is a mile to the bottom.

Because it generally contrives to contain all he gets.

A black hen can lay a white egg.



A full man and a hungry horse aye make haste home.

A great boaster is rarely a great performer.

A house built and a garden to grow never brought what they cost.

Two hungry meals make the third a glutton.

There never came ill after good advertisement.

The poor man’s eye put to the worst.

Sharp stomachs make short graces.

Out of debt out of danger.

Better keep the devil at the door than turn him out of the house.


Bring a cow into the hall and she’ll run the byre.


Law makers shouldn’t be law breakers


Do not tell jokes at the expense of a friend, as their friendship is worth more than a laugh


Some people assist others and neglect their own affairs.


Better be ill spoken of by one before all than by all before one.


Don’t count your chickens until they hatch


scottish phrases

Do not get married until you have a house to go to.

All the wit in the world is not in one

Don’t try to teach someone something they already know.

He who stays silent keeps out of trouble

Many that are hurt least cry loudest.

Better be envied than pitied.

A child may have too much of his mother’s tit.

A day to come seems longer than a year that’s gone.



A dry Lent, a fertile year. A penny saved is a penny gained.

A thistle is a fat salad for an ass’s mouth.

One for sorrow, two for joy,
Three for a girl, four for a boy.
Five for silver, six for gold,
And seven for a secret that must never be told.

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