Kannada proverbs

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A

  • ಅಡ್ಡ ಗೋಡೆಯ ಮೇಲೆ ದೀಪ ಇಟ್ಟ ಹಾಗೆ (aDDa gODeya mEle dIpa iTTa hAge) (Kannada)
    • (It is like placing a lamp atop a partitioning wall)
    • This is said of people who refuse to take sides and try to be in the middle.
  • 'ಅದಲ್ಲ ದಾಸಪ್ಪಾ..' ಅ೦ದ್ರೆ ಗುಡಿ ಮು೦ದೆ ಟಿ೦ಗ ಅ೦ದಿದ್ ನ೦ತೆ ('adalla daasappaa..' andre guDi munde Ting andidnante) (Kannada)
    • ('Hey beggar, thats not..', but he went ahead and asked for alms in front of temple)
  • ಅಡಿಕೆಗೆ ಹೋದ ಮಾನ ಆನೆ ಕೊಟ್ರೂ ಬರೋಲ್ಲ (aDikege hOda mAna Ane koTru barolla) (Kannada)
    • (The reputation lost for a betel nut cannot be regained by donating an elephant)
  • ಅಜ್ಜಿಗೆ ಅರಿವೆ ಚಿ೦ತೆ, ಮಗಳಿಗೆ maduve ಚಿ೦ತೆ (ajjige arive chinte, magaLige Maduve chinte) (Kannada)
    • (Grandma is worried about a piece of cloth to wear; the daughter is worried about marriage.)
    • This is said of irresponsible youngsters who expect a lot from parents who struggle to make ends meet.
  • ಅಕ್ಕಿ ಮೇಲೆ ಆಸೆ, ನೆ೦ಟರ ಮೇಲೆ ಪ್ರೀತಿ (akki mEle Ase, nenTara mEle prIti) (Kannada)
    • (There is love for rice and love for relatives too.)
    • The implication is that you cannot have a cake and eat it too.
  • ಅ೦ಬಲಿ ಕುಡಿಯುವವನಿಗೆ ಮೀಸೆ ತಿಕ್ಕುವವನೊಬ್ಬ (ambali kuDiyuvavanige mIse tikkuvanobba) (Kannada)
    • (For one who drinks swill there is one to trim his moustache)
    • This is said of people who live beyond their means.
  • ಅ೦ತೂ ಇ೦ತು ಕು೦ತಿ ಮಕ್ಕಳಿಗೆ ಎ೦ಟು ರಾಜ್ಯವಿಲ್ಲ (antu intu kunti makkaLige entU rajyavilla) (Kannada)
    • (After this, that and the other, the sons of Kunti did not rule).
    • This proverb is reserved for unlucky ones who never make it however they struggle.
    • The Pandavas, sons of Kunti, spent their childhood and youth in exile. After they finally won the great battle of Mahabharata there was nothing to rule but a ghost kingdom.
  • ಅತ್ತೆಗೊ೦ದು ಕಾಲ; ಸೊಸೆಗೊ೦ದು ಕಾಲ (attegondu kAla; sosegondu kAla) (Kannada)
    • (There is a time for mother-in-law and a time for daughter-in-law)
    • This proverb is similar to "Every dog has his day." However the image of the mother-in-law who ruled the roost in joint families with a vengeance to make up for the indignities suffered during her daughter-in-law days is evident here.
  • ಆಸೆಯೀ ದುಃಖಕೆ್ಕ ಮೂಲ(AAseye DHukaKe Mula) (Kannada)
    • The source of Sorrow is Greed

B

  • ಬೆಕ್ಕು ಕಣ್ಣು ಮುಚ್ಚಿಕೊನ್ಧು ಹಾಲು ಕುಧಿಡನ್ಟೆ (bekku kaNNu muchchikonDu hAlu kuDidante) (Kannada)
    • (It is like a cat drinking milk with eyes closed).
    • Meaning that others can see though a misdeed despite pretensions.
  • ಬೇಲಿನೆ ಎಡ್ಡು ಹೊಲ ಮೇಡ್ರೆ ಹೇಗೆ? (bEline eddu hola mEdre hEge?) (Kannada)
    • (The fence itself grazed through the field).
    • A fence is meant to stop cattle from grazing. What if the fence itself is a culprit? This proverb comes from a skepticism of those who break laws they are supposed to uphold.
  • ಭನ್ಗಿ ಡೇವರಿಗೆ ಹೆನ್ಧಗುಧುಕ ಪೂಜರಿ (bhangi dEvarige henDaguDuka pUjari) (Kannada)
    • (For the God who is on dope you need a priest who is a drunk).
    • The underlings are usually quite a match for the rogues in power whom they serve.

C

  • ಚೇಳಿಗೆ ಪಾರುಪಥ್ಯ ಕೊಟ್ಟ ಹಾಗೆ (chELige pArupathya koTTa hAge) (Kannada)
    • (It is like giving authority to a scorpion).
    • If the mean people get into positions of authority they cause a great damage like a scorpion, which needs no reason to sting, would work overtime if asked to do so.
  • ಚಿಂತೆ ಇಲ್ಲದವನಿಗೆ ಸಂತೆಯಲ್ಲೂ ನಿದ್ದೆ (chinte illadavanige santeyallU nidde) (Kannada)
    • (One without worries can doze off in a market place).

D

  • ದೇವರು ವರ ಕೊಟ್ಟರು ಪೂಜಾರಿ ವರ ಕೊಡ (dEvaru vara koTTaru pUjAri vara koDa) (Kannada)
    • (The God may grant the boon but the priest will not).
    • Once again this is a dig at the underlings who are worse than the bureaucrats they serve.


  • ಧರ್ಮಕ್ಕೆ ದತ್ತಿ ಕೊಟ್ಟರೆ ಹಿತ್ತಲಿಗೆ ಹೋಗಿ ಮೊಳ ಹಾಕಿದರು (dharmakke daTTi koTTare hittalige hOgi moLa hAkidaru) (Kannada)
    • (When a cloth is given for charity it was measured in the backyard)
    • Similar to looking a gift horse in the mouth.

E

  • ಎತ್ತು ಏರಿಗೆಳಿತು, ಕೊಣ ನೀರಿಗೆಳಿತು. (ettu ErigeLeyitu, kONa nIrigeLeyitu). (Kannada)
    • (The ox pulled to the shore, the buffalo pulled to the water).
    • This is a scene of a cart pulled by an ox and a buffalo which do not co-ordinate well and do what they please leading to a disaster. Mismatched company of people could lead to a similar situation.
  • ettu Iyitu andare koTTigege kaTTu andarante (Kannada)
    • (“The ox has delivered”, “Tie up the calf in the pen.”)
    • Those who agree to everything without using their brains are made fun of in this way.

G

  • ಗನ್ಡ ಹೆನ್ಡಿರ ಜಗಳ ಉನ್ಡು ಮಲಗೊ ಥನಕ (ganDa henDira jagaLa unDu malago thanaka) (Kannada)
    • The quarrel between a husband and wife is till they eat and go to bed.
    • i.e. disagreements between people in love is forgotten easily.
  • ಗಣೇಶನನ್ನು ಮಾಡಲು ಹೋಗಿ ಅವರ ಅಪ್ಪನ್ನ ಮಾಡಿದನ್ತೆ . (gaNEshanannu mADalu hOgi avara appanna mADidante) (Kannada)
    • (It is like trying to make an idol of Ganesh and ending up with his father).
    • A warning for the bunglers who create more trouble than fixing them.
  • ಗೆದ್ದೆತ್ತಿನ ಬಾಲ ಹಿಡಿದ ಹಾಗೆ . (geddettina bAla hiDida hAge) (Kannada)
    • (It is like holding the tail of the winning ox).
    • i.e. Success has many fathers but failure is an orphan.
  • ಗಿಡವಾಗಿ ಬಗ್ಗದ್ದು ಮರವಾಗಿ ಬಗ್ಗೀಥೆ?. (giDavAgi baggaddu maravAgi baggIthe?) (Kannada)
    • (If it does not bend as a sapling, will it when it is a tree?)
    • Those who have trouble following rules as young will get worse when they get older.
  • ಗುಬ್ಬಿ ಮೇಲೆ ಬ್ರಮ್ಹಾಸ್ತ್ರವೇ?. (gubbi mEle bramhAstravE?) (Kannada)
    • (A Brahmastra on a sparrow?)
    • This is said of actions beyond proportion taken on helpless people.

H

  • ಹಲ್ಲಿದ್ದಾಗ ಕಡ್ಲೆ ಇಲ್ಲ; ಕಡ್ಲೆ ಇದ್ದಾಗ ಹಲ್ಲಿಲ್ಲ . (halliddAga kaDle illa; kaDle iddAga hallilla) (Kannada)
    • (There are no nuts when one has teeth and there are no teeth when there are nuts).
    • Munching nuts is a sign of prosperity. It is frustrating that one is poor when the youth to enjoy the riches is abundant whereas when one finally gets rich the faculties to enjoy are gone.
  • ಹೋದ್ಯ್ ಗವಾಕ್ಶಿ ಅಂದರೆ ಬಂದೆ ಪಿಶಾಚಿ ಅಂತಂತೆ (Hodhya gavaakshi amdhare bamdhe pishaachi) (Kannada)
    • Just when you thought a burning issue was resolved, you see the very issue appearing in another form.
  • ಹಾಳೂರಿಗೆ ಉಳಿದವನೇ ಘೌಡ . (hALUrige uLidavanE GouDa) (Kannada)
    • (One remaining in a ruined village is its chairman).
    • A dig at people in power at weak institutions.
  • ಹನಿಗೂಡಿದರೆ ಹಳ್ಳ; ತೆನೆಗೂಡಿದರೆ ಬಥ . (hanigUDidare haLLa; tenegUDidare batha) (Kannada)
    • (Drops join to make a stream; ears combine to make a crop).
    • i.e. Little drops of water make a mighty ocean.
  • ಹಾಡಿದ್ದೆ ಹಾಡೋ ಕಿಸುಬಾಯಿ ದಾಸಾ . (hADidde hADO kisubAyi dAsA) (Kannada)
    • (Sing the same song again, grin-mouthed beggar).
    • A rude putdown of those who keep repeating the same argument.
  • ಹಾಸಿಗೆ ಇದ್ದಶ್ಟು ಕಾಲು ಚಾಚು . (hAsige iddashTu kAlu chAchu) (Kannada)
    • (Stretch your legs as far as the bed is)
    • This is a warning to live within one’s means.
  • ಹೆತ್ತೊರಿಗೆ ಹೆಗ್ಣ ಮುದ್ದು, ಕೂಡಿದೊರಿಗೆ ಕೋದಗ ಮುದ್ದು . (hettorige hegNa muddu, kUDidorige kOdaga muddu) (Kannada)
    • (A bandicoot is lovely to his parents; a mule is pretty to its mate).
    • This is a wacky statement of the somber truth: Love is blind.
  • ಹಿರಿಯಣ್ಣನ ಚಾಳಿ ಮನೆ ಮನ್ದಿಇಗೆಲ್ಲಾ . (hiriyaNNana chALi mane mandiigellA) (Kannada)
    • (The elder brother’s habits are for all in the family).
    • The underlings follow the leader, especially his bad traits.
  • ಹಿಥಲ ಗಿಡ ಮದ್ದಲ್ಲ . (hithala giDa maddalla) (Kannada)
    • (The plant in the backyard is not a medicinal herb).
    • Familiarity breeds contempt.
  • ಹೊಳೆ ನೀರಿಗೆ ದೊಣೆನಾಯ್ಕನ ಅಪ್ಪಣೆ ಏಕೆ?. (hoLe nIrige doNenAykana appaNe Eke?) (Kannada)
    • (Who needs the approval of a city official for the water from a stream?)
    • This is a rudimentary opposition to taxation and control of things taken for granted in a village life.
  • ಹೊಸತರಲ್ಲಿ ಅಗಸ ಗೋಣಿ ಎತ್ತಿ ಎತ್ತಿ ಒಗೆದ. (hosataralli agasa gONi etti etti ogeda.) (Kannada)
    • (When he was new, the washerman beat the jute bag repeatedly).
    • People who are new on the job work eagerly and enthusiastically until they find their way and slack off.Clothes were washed in villages by Dhobis who took them to a lake, soaked them and bet the hell out of them on a rock to rid of the dirt. The amount of beating was inversely proportional to the value of the cloth. A jute bag hardly deserved attention except by one who was new to the job.
  • ಹೊಸ ವೈದ್ಯನಿಗಿನ್ಥ ಹಳೆ ರೋಗಿನೆ ಮೇಲು . (hosa vaidyanigintha haLe rOgine mElu) (Kannada)
    • (An old patient is better than a new doctor).
    • This stems from a suspicion of inexperienced and untested people with education vis a vis wise, familiar and old fellows of dubious qualifications.
  • ಹೊಟ್ಟೆಗೆ ಹಿಟ್ಟಿಲ್ಲದಿದ್ದರೂ ಜುಟ್ಟಿಗೆ ಮಲ್ಲಿಗೆ ಹೂವು . (hoTTege hiTTilladiddarU juTTige mallige hUvu) (Kannada)
    • (There is no food to eat but there is jasmine in the crown).
    • Wearing jasmine in the hair is considered elegant for women, especially on their way to a temple or a wedding party. Dressing beyond one’s means is frowned upon as a sign of false pride.
  • ಹುಟ್ಟಿಸಿದ ದೇವರು ಹುಲ್ಲು ಮೇಯಿಸುತ್ತನೆಯೆ? (huTTisida dEvaru hullu mEyisuttaneye?) (Kannada)
    • (Will the God who brought us to the world make us graze on grass).
    • This proverb mouths faith and optimism in the face of adversity.
  • ಹುಚ್ಹು ಮುನ್ಡೆ ಮದುವೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಉನ್ಡವನೇ ಜಾಣ (huchhu munDe maduveyalli unDavanE jaaNa) (Kannada)
    • (In the wedding of the mad widow one who has a meal is the clever one).
    • This earthy saying implies that one who manages to get by in a wild and chaotic situation deserves compliments.
    • A widow's wedding, that too if she is insane, is highly improbable. Only a smart person can manage to find such a wedding and even enjoy a meal there.
  • ಹೂವಿನ ಜೊತೆ ನಾರು ಸ್ವರ್ಗ ಸೇರಿಥು. (hUvina jote nAru svarga sErithu.) (Kannada)
    • (The string used to tie the flowers also reached heaven).
    • Those who are in the company of the noble will reap the benefits by association.

I

  • ಇದ್ದದ್ದು ಇದ್ದ ಹಾಗೆ ಹೇಳಿದ್ರೆ, ಸಿದ್ದಪ್ಪನಿಗೆ ಸಿಡಿಲು ಹೊಡೆಯಿತು. (iddaddu idda hAge hELidre, siddappanige siDilu hoDeyitu.) (Kannada)
    • (When facts are said as they are it was like the striking of lightning for Siddappa).
    • This is a dig on those who cannot take criticism and throw tantrums.

K

  • ಖುನ್ದಿ ಮ್ಯಲ್ ಬಡ್ಡದ್ರೆ ಬಯಘಿನ್ ಹಳ್ಳ್ ಬಿತ್'ತು. (Kundi myal baDDadre bayaGin haLL bit'tu.) (Kannada)
    • (When one was hit on the bum, his teeth fell out).
    • This is a dig on those who knowingly try to relate unrelated things for their own gains.
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