Life in Turkey

21 Turkish proverbs for all walks of life!

Are you looking for Turkish proverbs?

Then I have the perfect list for you!

Here are 21 Turkish proverbs for all kinds of situations!

1. “Bir lisan, bir insan. Iki lisan, iki Insan. “

Basically: one language, one person. Two languages, two people.

English equivalent: “Language connects people!”

Meaning: Whoever speaks a language is a person. Anyone who speaks two languages ​​is considered two people. This means, you enable mutual understanding between peoples.

2. “Sakla samanı, gelir zamanı”

Basically: keep the hay. The time to use it will come.

English equivalent: “Nothing is so bad that it is not good for anything.”

Meaning: At some point you can use anything. Don’t throw anything away. Who knows what it will be good for? That would be a good answer to the question: “Why are you learning Turkish proverbs?”

3. “Umut fakirin ekmeğidir”

Basically: Hope is the bread of the poor!

English equivalent: “Hope is the last thing to die!”

Intentional meaning: Hope helps people to get ahead. It is the last thing that you will ever throw away. Just like a poor person holds on to his own piece of bread .

5. “Kalp kalbe karşı”

Basically: Heart to heart!

English equivalent: “Two stupid ones, a single thought.”

Meaning: The proverb is about mutual understanding and input. You thought of a friend and called him? And he was about to call you too? You can use this saying for that, too.

6. “Eski tas, eski hamam”

Basically: Old bowl, old hammam.

English equivalent: “Always the same!” Or: “Nothing ever changes!”

Meaning: The alarm clock rings every morning. And the electricity bill comes every few months. Things are always the same!

7. “Üzüm üzüme baka baka kararır”

Basically: the grape turns black when you look at the other grape.

English equivalent: “Stay away from bad influences!”

Intentional meaning: Do you move in bad company? Then be careful not to take on their bad qualities.

8. “Emek olmadan yemek olmaz”

Basically: Without diligence and work there will be nothing to eat.

English equivalent: “Without diligence, no price!”

Intentional meaning: You have to contribute something to achieve your goals. You will not make it without making some efforts.

9. “Balık ağa girdikten sonra aklı başına gelir.”

Basically: “A fish only comes to its senses when it is caught in the net.”

English equivalent: I can’t think of a suitable English saying right now. If you know of any, please add it in the comments section below.

Intentional meaning: You only understand a situation when it’s happening to you.

10. “İnsan yedisinde ne ise yetmişinde de odur”

Basically: at 70 you are the same as  you were at 7.

English equivalent: What Hans doesn’t learn; Hans never learns again! Or: “Some things will never change!”

Intentional meaning: People can get older and smarter; but their character stays the same. So basically, you can’t get rid of bad habits by aging.

A positive meaning would be: You don’t lose your positive qualities even in old age.

11. “Keskin sirke küpüne zarardır”

Basically: Sour vinegar damages its barrel!

English equivalent: Aggression harms you.

Intentional meaning: Aggressive behaviour can only harm you! This proverb is used to calm people down.

12. “Üzüme yetişemeyen tilki, üzüme ekşi dermiş.”

Basically: the fox who couldn’t get to the grapes claimed they were pissed on.

English equivalent: “You always speak bad about that what was denied you. “

Intentional meaning: You don’t know about something but talk badly about it? Maybe you like something and you can’t have it? Then don’t pretend that the grapes are sour.

13. “Damlaya damlaya göl olur”

Basically: Drop by drop! Soon, it will be a lake.

English equivalent: “Small cattle also make crap”, “Constant dripping wears away the stone.”

Intentional meaning: Small advances lead to success. But you need to have patience for this.

14. “Akrabanın akrabaya akrep etmez ettiğini”

In other words: the evil from a scorpion is nothing in comparison to what relatives can do to one another.

English equivalent: “People close to you can hurt you the most”.

Meaning: The Turkish proverb reflects a very pessimistic view of one’s relatives.

15. “Gerçek dost kötü günde belli olur.”

Basically: “Real friends prove themselves on bad days.”

English equivalent: “A friend in need is a friend indeed.”

Intentional meaning: You can only recognize good friends during hard times.

16. “Akıl yaşta değil baştadır.”

In a sense: Cleverness is not based on wisdom from old age, but on one’s ability to reason.

English equivalent: “Age does not protect you against folly!”

Intentional meaning: People don’t automatically get smarter with age.

17. “Gülme komşuna, gelir başına.”

Basically: Don’t laugh at your neighbours, you could be next.

English equivalent: “Anyone who digs a pit for someone else will fall into it.”

Intentional meaning: Do not make fun of other people. Otherwise, you will most likely be next.

18. “Çayı geçerken at değiştirilmez.”

Basically: While you are crossing a river, you do not change horses.

English equivalent: “You shouldn’t change horses in the river.”

Intentional meaning: When you are in transition, it is the wrong time for a change.

19. Parayı veren, düdüğü çalar.

Basically: Whoever gives the money determines which song the flute plays.

English equivalent: “Whoever pays for the music determines what is played.” Or: “Whoever has money creates!”

Meaning: Money is the source of power and influence. It enables other people to be influenced.

Several Turkish lira notes with the portrait of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk lie on a pile, all stacked up.


20. “Kendi düşen ağlamaz.”

Basically: “If you fall down through your own fault, you shouldn’t cry.”

English equivalent: “One who falls due to their own fault sues others in vain.”

Intentional meaning: Anyone who is harmed through their own fault should not expect to receive pity.

21. “Öğrenmenin yaşı yoktur.”

Basically: nobody is too old to learn.

English equivalent: “It’s never too late to learn!”

Intentional meaning: It is never too late to start something new.

That was my list of Turkish proverbs.

Some Turkish proverbs are often used in Turkey. Other Turkish proverbs are rare, and only appear in colloquial language.

Do you know any other Turkish proverbs?

Which ones do you like and use yourself?

Feel free to share them in the comment section below!