rediff.com
Skip to content


Hindi Proverbs and their English Equivalents

This effort is a result of a discussion, my family had on the breakfast
table. My daughter kept swinging her leg, which kept banging into mine
and then I turned around and said .. “Sau sonaar ki, ek lohaar ki.

This started off a discussion of what it meant and whether there was an
equivalent of this, in English. Which led me into a hunt for more
English equivalents of Hindi Proverbs. I’ve taken the liberty of
spelling out all Hindi words in English. I hope you get it right the
first time .. or at least, the second!

Disclaimer: I’m no expert on either Hindi or English, so if you notice errors, please go right ahead and point them out!

I searched the Internet to find lists of Hindi proverbs and English
proverbs and then sat down and tried to correlate them. The following
list is what I came up with. As I said, I’m no expert – but I’m happy
with the effort. Hope you enjoy reading this.

  • Khatte angoor – Sour grapes (also, literally)
  • Bandar kya jaane adrak ka swad – Casting pearls before swine 
  • Dal mein kaala - More to it than meets the eye 
  • Naach na jaane, aagan tedha – A poor worker blames his tools
  • Jale par namak chidakna – Rubbing salt on one’s wound (almost, literal)  
  • Door ke dhol suhavane lagte hain – The grass seems greener on the other side  
  • Aage kuan peeche khaee – Between the devil and the deep sea  
  • Garajne wale badal baraste nahin hain – Barking dogs seldom bite  
  • Jitnee lambi chadar ho utna hee pair failana chahiye – Cut your dress according to your cloth  
  • Ab pachatae kya jab chidiya chug gayi khet – No use crying over spilt milk  
  • Anth bhala to sab bhala – All’s well that ends well (almost, literal)  
  • Taali ek haath se nahin bajti – It takes two to quarrel  
  • Jahan chaah wahaan raha – Where there’s a will, there’s a way (almost, literal)  
  • Doodh ka jala chaas bhi phook-phook kar peeta hai – Once bitten twice shy  
  • Jaisa desh, vaisa bhes – In Rome do as the Romans do  
  • Ek myaan mein do talawaren nahi samaati – No man can serve two masters  
  • Khotta chana baje ghana – Empty vessels make more noise 

By the way, I never did find the equivalent of “Sau sonaar ki, ek lohaar ki“!!

Feedback? …Bouquets? Brickbats? Well, bring ‘em on :)

Follow me on Twitter: sandeepohri

Posted in Daily Life, Miscellany, Personal.

Tagged with , .


5 Responses

Stay in touch with the conversation, subscribe to the RSS feed for comments on this post.

  1. Diva Divine says

    Hi Sandeep. You have translated some of these phrases / idioms accurately. Some of them are almost exact matches because they have been translated when the stories related to them were translated (angoor khatte … ). Here is my version of this interesting exercise you have started:

    * Khatte angoor – (Translated with the story)

    * Bandar kya jaane adrak ka swad – Casting pearls before swine
    This i think, is a close match, but the meaning differs slightly in the sense that ‘don’t cast pearls before swine’ is used as a caution against wasting precious resources where they are not valued. (I think.)

    * Dal mein kaala – More to it than meets the eye
    I think a more exact match would be ‘There’s something fishy’.

    * Anth bhala to sab bhala – All’s well that ends well (almost, literal)
    Also translated with the story

    * Taali ek haath se nahin bajti – It takes two to quarrel
    I think the phrase is ‘it takes two to tango’.

    * Jahan chaah wahaan raha – Where there’s a will, there’s a way (almost, literal)
    The hindi phrase is translated from English

    * Ek myaan mein do talawaren nahi samaati – No man can serve two masters
    Also, ‘don’t try to ride two boats at once’

    * Khotta chana baje ghana – Empty vessels make more noise
    The English phrase is translated from the Hindi one

  2. sanjay oswal says

    A SIncere effort. Karat karat abhyas ke jadmati hote sujan….Practice makes a man perfect

  3. HariOm Chawla says

    Thanks for sharing …….Sou sunaar ki, ek lohar ki can be translated as every dog has its day.

  4. sarita singh says

    nice work :)….

  5. Laxmi says

    hmm … this post is quite interesting…..will try to find the same

You must be logged in to post a comment.



Copyright © 2014 Rediff.com India Limited. All rights Reserved.  
Terms of Use  |   Disclaimer  |   Feedback  |   Advertise with us