Peculiar Proverbs

Weird Words of Wisdom from Around the World

Stephen Arnott

St. Martin's Press

Peculiar Proverbs is a hilarious and enlightening collection of genuine proverbs from around the world that ignores the sayings we are all familiar with and focuses on the more obscure. Some are deft, witty, and colorful, others are just plain weird, but they are all fascinating.

The proverbs are grouped in topics ranging from work (or reasons not to), family life, love, food, age, religion, money, and many more. Humor and wisdom characterize these bizarre and quirky sayings, and they reveal much about their countries of origin, and plenty about human nature.

Peculiar Proverbs includes sayings you won’t find in any other collection, sometimes so surreal they defy you to decipher them, providing hours of entertainment. Remember: The man who tickles himself can laugh when he chooses.

*Dogs and rude people have no hands (Italy)

*God preserve us from pitchforks, for they make three holes (Switzerland)

*It is not necessary for priests to marry as long as peasants have wives (Germany)

*A mother-in-law, like the yucca tree, is useful underground (Cuba)

*Better the gurgling of a camel than the prayers of a fish (Egypt)

*Give a dog an appetizing name, and eat him (China)

*There are two good people: one of them is dead, and the other one was not born (Estonia)

*Mediocrity is climbing a molehill without sweating (Iceland)

*You cannot drink water, it is not vodka (Russia)

*A cow pat is wider when trodden on (Ireland)


Read an Excerpt

  A NICE TURN OF PHRASEA mixed bag of deft, colourful and evocative sayings on a variety of subjects.Never bolt your door with a boiled carrot.IRISH

The quiet duck puts his foot on the unobservant worm.CHINESE

Only a pumpkin is a head without cares.ITALIAN

Better be the beak of a chicken than the rump of an ox.CHINESE

Poets and pigs are only appreciated after their death.ITALIAN

Worlds are mere bubbles of water, but deeds are drops of gold.TIBETAN

It is better to suffer the satiated mosquito to stay than to admit the hungry


Praise for Peculiar Proverbs

“[T]he proverbs are . . . definitely intriguing. Some are unashamedly baffling, while others are side-splittingly hilarious. Many . . . contain a nugget of wisdom . . . depending how hard you look.”  —Middleton and North Manchester Guardian

“[This] beautifully produced little book is the perfect gift for that someone that everyone knows who literally has everything.” —East Antrim Advertiser

Reviews from Goodreads



  • Stephen Arnott

  • Stephen Arnott is the author of Now Wash Your Hands!, a cultural history of the toilet, Eating Your Auntie Is Wrong, a collection of the world’s strangest customs, as well as Sex: A User’s Guide and Man Walks into a Bar. Born in Jamaica, he lives in South London with his partner and daughter.



Available Formats and Book Details

Peculiar Proverbs

Weird Words of Wisdom from Around the World

Stephen Arnott

  • e-Book



St. Martin's Press