How to Play the Game of Proverbs

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Proverbs is an easy game to play, and a wonderful 19th century treasure worth rescuing.

When you play Proverbs, you not only get the fun and challenge of the game, but it comes with all kinds of time-tested useful wisdom built right in!

The concept is very simple. One proverb is selected from a list, and the players must guess the proverb based on clues. The winner is the first to guess correctly.

Clues might be the first word, or the first-and-last-words.

Or the game might be played Taboo-style, where one player must describe the proverb without using any of the words in the proverb.

A Name-That-Tune style game would give all players a chance to guess the proverb as the words are slowly read off one at a time, either starting from the beginning or end of the proverb.

A Charades-style game would require one player to silently act out the proverb, with the other players competing to guess correctly.

Other variations are possible as well. All you need to play is a list of proverbs.

Generating a list of proverbs can be a fun game in itself - let all players contribute throughout the day as they recall proverbs they have heard.

19th century version, "The Good Old Game of Proverbs" was published by Parker Brothers in 1893.

Below is a list of 150+ well-known proverbs that can be the basis for your game.

  • All good things must come to an end

  • All pots have lids

  • All that glitters is not gold

  • All's well that ends well

  • Any port in a storm

  • Apple a day keeps the doctor away, an

  • Apple never falls far from the tree, the

  • April showers bring May flowers

  • Ask a silly question, get a silly answer

  • Bad things come in threes

  • Bad worker blames the tools, a

  • Barking dogs don't bite

  • Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

  • Best defense is a good offense, the

  • Best is the enemy of the good, the

  • Best-laid plans of mice and men oft go awry, the

  • Better the devil you know than the one you don't

  • Better safe than sorry

  • Bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, a

  • Bread never falls but on its buttered side

  • Chain is no stronger than its weakest link, a

  • Cheaters never prosper

  • Civility costs nothing

  • Clean conscience makes a good pillow, a

  • Cleanliness is next to godliness

  • Clever hawk hides its claws, a

  • Corporations have neither bodies to be punished nor souls to be damned

  • Cowards die a thousand deaths

  • Creaking door hangs the longest, a

  • Curiosity killed the cat

  • Dead men tell no tales

  • Desperate times call for desperate measures

  • Devil is in the details, the

  • Devil looks after his own, the

  • Different strokes for different folks

  • Discretion is the better part of valor

  • Divide and conquer

  • Don't beat a dead horse

  • Don't burn your bridges behind you

  • Don't cast pearls before swine

  • Don't close the barn door after the horse is stolen

  • Don't county your chickens before they are hatched

  • Don't cross the bridge until you come to it

  • Don't cut off your nose to spite your face

  • Don't judge a book by its cover

  • Don't look a gift horse in the mouth

  • Don't put all your eggs in one basket

  • Don't put the cart before the horse

  • Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater

  • Drowning man will clutch at a straw, a

  • Early bird catches the worm, the

  • Easy come, easy go

  • Exception proves the rule, the

  • Every man has his price

  • Facts are stubborn things

  • Faint heart never won fair lady

  • Familiarity breeds contempt

  • Fine words butter no parsnips

  • Fish and guests smell after three days

  • Fool and his money are soon parted, a

  • Fool me once, shame on  you; fool me twice, shame on me

  • Forewarned is forearmed

  • Full cup, steady hand

  • Give a man a fish, you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime

  • Good fences make good neighbors

  • Good things come in small packages

  • Great minds think alike

  • Half a loaf is better than none

  • Haste makes waste

  • He who hesitates is lost

  • He who laughs last laughs best

  • He who lives by the sword dies by the sword

  • The higher the monkey climbs, the more he shows his tail

  • Home is where the heart is

  • Honesty is the best policy

  • Hope springs eternal

  • Hunger is the best sauce

  • Idle hands are the devil's playground

  • If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail

  • If ifs and ands were pots and pans there'd be no work for tinkers' hands

  • If it ain't broke, don't fix it

  • If it's worth doing, it's worth doing well

  • If the shoe fits, wear it

  • If wishes were horses then beggars would ride

  • If you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen

  • Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery

  • It's always darkest before the dawn

  • It is easier to tear down than to build up

  • It is an ill wind that blows no good

  • It takes one to know one

  • It takes two to make a quarrel

  • Jack of all trades is master of none

  • Least said, soonest mended

  • Let sleeping dogs lie

  • Lie down with dogs, get up with fleas

  • Leopard cannot change its spots, the

  • Longest journey begins with a single step, the

  • Look before you leap

  • Love is blind

  • Measure twice, cut once

  • Misery loves company

  • Miss is as good as a mile, a

  • Money can't buy happiness

  • Money, like manure, does not good until it is spread

  • Never look a gift horse in the mouth

  • Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today

  • New brooms sweep clean

  • No man can serve two masters

  • No news is good news

  • Nothing ventured, nothing gained

  • Old habits die hard

  • Old poacher makes the best game keeper, an

  • Once bitten, twice shy

  • Ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, an

  • One rotten apple spoils the barrel

  • Out of sight, out of mind

  • Patience is a virtue

  • Pay peanuts, get monkeys

  • Pen is mightier than the sword, the

  • Penny saved is a penny earned, a

  • Penny wise and pound foolish

  • Picture is worth a thousand words, a

  • Pride goeth before a fall

  • Road to hell is paved with good intentions, the

  • Rolling stone gathers no moss, a

  • Rome was not built in a day

  • School of experience is a hard one, but a fool will learn in no other, the

  • She who pays the piper, calls the tune

  • Small pots are soon hot

  • Squeaky wheel gets the grease, the

  • Sticks and stones break bones, but names can never hurt

  • Still waters run deep

  • Stitch in time saves nine, a

  • Strike while the iron is hot

  • Success has a thousand fathers, while failure is an orphan

  • There is more than one way to skin a cat

  • There is no free lunch

  • There's many a slip between cup and lip

  • Those who dance must pay the fiddler

  • Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones

  • Tiny strokes fell great oaks

  • Too many cooks spoil the broth

  • Two heads are better than one

  • Two's company; three's a crowd

  • Turn about is fair play

  • Variety is the spice of life

  • View only changes for the lead dog, the

  • Virtue is its own reward

  • Waste not, want not

  • Watched pot never boils, a

  • Well begun is half done

  • What can't be cured must be endured

  • What goes around comes around

  • What goes up must come down

  • What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander

  • Wheels of justice grind slowly, but they grind exceedingly fine, the

  • When the cat's away the mice will play

  • Where there's a will, there's a way

  • Word to the wise is enough, a

  • You can't have your cake and eat it

  • You can't judge a book by its cover

  • You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear

  • You can't please everyone

  • You can't teach an old dog new tricks

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