Esperanto is an planned language, right? Then does it have any proverbs, idioms and so on? If yes, what is their origin, i.e. how do they look and what languages are they taken from? It would be helpful if you could give a few examples.

If Esperanto doesn't have any proverbs, hasn't there been an attempt to infuse any into the language? I would like to know!


Zamenhof himself created a book called la Proverbaro Esperanta which is a list of 2630 proverbs proposed by him. The book itself is widely known, but I get the impression that apart from a few particular ones, the proverbs themselves aren’t really used that often in practice. I have a feeling this is in part due to the book not having much explanation for the proverbs and it being difficult to find the one you want. There is a website that attempts to address this issue with some translations for the proverbs into various languages, but it is not complete.

I question whether using proverbs even makes a lot of sense in Esperanto seeing as it is intended for international communication. It is often better to speak more directly and clearly in that context. Even in English I find I would tend to avoid using too many idioms when I know I’m speaking to a non-native speaker. Otherwise you often just end up having to explain what you mean, which defeats the point.

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    Yes, I fully agree! English is particularly bad through a lot of sports-related idioms ("kick into touch", "hit for six") which are impossible to understand outside of the cultural context of peculiar English sporting activities... – Oliver Mason Jul 3 '17 at 16:31
  • Dankon, @Neil Roberts ! I agree with your point that proverbs are superfluous in Esperanto. – Myungjin Hyun Jul 4 '17 at 12:51
  • I disagree! The main point isn't always to communicate information, even though that is most often the case. Being creative and playing with the language is also important! Idioms are fun and I recommend exploring the ones in Esperanto too — even if they are not widely known. – Antonia Montaro Jul 5 '17 at 13:40

The Proverbaro Esperanta is of course the most obvious example of proverbs and saying used in Esperanto. Another good source is the Bible. Regardless of your religious views, it's true that many common expressions come directly from the Bible. If you want to know how to say them in Esperanto, you can check the translation.

Personally, I cite from the Proverbaro all the time. I find that the most interesting speakers and writers do so as well. The language is so much more rich when we can use expressions that correspond to "last but not least", "well begun is half done", or "all is well that ends well."

It's also interesting to learn which expressions are international and which are not.

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