Can You Finish These Common Proverbs?


By: Tasha Moore

6 Min Quiz

Image: lechatnoir / E+ / Getty Images

About This Quiz

These everyday proverbs need finishing. Are you up to the task? How knowledgeable are you about life instructions that everyone should know? And these are not just famous quotes from the Old Testament book that flaunts the same name. Some of these proverbs go back even further than the time the good book was written. It's a testament to the power of the spoken word and the so-true adage that "There's nothing new under the sun." 

Humans have evolved over the centuries, but not so much. Our emotions and the ways we express them have not changed; we laugh, cry and smile the same way as our ancient ancestors once did. Humans harbor the same resentments and react similarly to stimuli as we've always done. This is why common proverbs withstand the test of time. What's true today will be true tomorrow. The authoritative tone of these old adages is befitting. It makes you wonder if the authors knew how timeless these truisms were when they first conceived them.

Complete the common proverbs in this quiz and determine your level of familiarity with run-of-the-mill moral matters. Scroll on and prosper!

"A bird in the hand is worth two in a ________."

This is an ancient proverb that warns against releasing a sure thing of small value for an unsure thing of perceived greater value. The saying discourages risk-tasking and promotes treasuring current possessions.


"When in Rome, do as the Romans ________."

It is expected that one follow the customs of the land in which they find themselves. This proverb is particularly relevant to travelers who visit other regions of the world.


"There's more than one way to ________."

If your first plan does not succeed, there is always more than one way to achieve your goal. Other versions of this saying have skinned and choked a cat, or used a dog instead of a cat.


"A golden key can open any ________."

The "golden key" in this phrase is money. With enough money, you can do just about anything. In his sixteenth-century play, "Euphues and His England" English dramatist John Lyly coined the expression in so many words: "And who is so ignorant that knoweth not, gold be a key for euery locke, chieflye with his Ladye."


"Never look a gift horse ________."

In olden times, receiving a horse as a gift was a major occurrence, since horses were used as sources of transportation and as tools for tilling crops. The proverb means don't inspect the charity you receive, just be grateful no matter what it is.


"A leopard cannot change its ________."

The proverb is also presented as "A leopard never changes its spots." This phrase speaks of the fact that innate qualities do not change. Even with the best effort, an individual is highly unlikely to change their character. The proverb also warns of those who pretend to change.


"There's an exception to every ________."

This proverb is similar in meaning to the phrase, "Rules were made to be broken." Usually the ones who set rules in place are those who do not hesitate breaking them. Rules are not as "etched in stone" or straightforward as they may appear.


"Why keep a dog and bark ________?"

Someone may ask this of a micromanaging person. Why do something when you are already paying someone else to do it?


"A little knowledge is a ________."

The key word in this phrase is "little." Having a small understanding of something may cause an individual to overestimate their abilities, which can cause tremendous injury or harm to themselves and others.


"The early bird catches the ________."

Those who take extraordinary measures to accomplish tasks are usually successful. The phrase was printed in biologist John Ray's 1678 book "A Collection of English Proverbs" as, "The early bird catcheth the worm."


"Money is the root of ________."

The long-form of the proverb is, "The love of money is the root of all evil." This saying highlights the wickedness that surely erupts as a result of greed. The popular phrase is a misquote of the original, which is found in the sixth chapter of the New Testament book of first Timothy at the tenth verse in the King James Bible: "For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows."


"The customer is always ________."

"The customer is always right" is a phrase that emphasizes that customers in a retail scenario often make unreasonable requests concerning goods and services. Merchants employ the adage and accommodate a customer's requests in the name of good customer service.


"A chain is only as strong as its ________."

This phrase considers the integrity of a group in relation to the soundness of its constituents. A union of individuals is only as strong as the weakest individual.


"Don't let the cat out of the ________."

This common proverb is also said, "Let the cat out of the bag" or "Let the cat out of the box," and it pertains to telling secrets or disclosing tricks. The "cat" is often synonymous with a hidden punchline or plot spoiler in theater performances.


"Many a true word is spoken in ________."

Humor is a tool that is often used to code difficult messages or unfortunate news. At the same time, truth and real-life scenarios are often the hallmarks of the most humorous jokes.


"A dog is a man's ________."

Dog's provide humans valuable services, such as companionship, guidance and protection. "Man" in this phrase refers to both male and female human beings, or humanity in general. Western culture highly esteems these animals, so it is no wonder there is a proverb about them.


"A fool and his money shall soon part ________."

"A fool and his money are soon parted" is another version of this common phrase. The meaning of this saying is borrowed from the twentieth verse of the twenty-first chapter of the Old Testament book of Proverbs in the King James Bible: "There is treasure to be desired and oil in the dwelling of the wise; but a foolish man spendeth it up."


"Look before you ________."

It's simple instruction that many often overlook. Consider the consequences of actions before taking on those actions. There may be unforeseen circumstances that can potentially spoil plans or cause harm.


"You are what you ________."

Would you rather look like a ripe, juicy blueberry or a crunchy neon-orange-colored Cheeto? This common phrase implies that what you eat not only determines what you look like on the outside, but it's a good indicator of overall health.


"A friend in need is a ________."

The phonetic phrase can be written as "A friend in need is a friend in deed" or "A friend in need is a friend indeed." The first phrase may imply that only a dutiful friend is a person worthy of receiving your help in a time of need. The latter phrase is most commonly used to mean that only in times of need do people show themselves to be friendliest.


"Jack of all trades, but master of ________."

The longer version of this common phrase is, "Jack of all trades, master of none, but oftentimes better than master of one." Those who have many talents usually do not refine one particular talent; however, multi-talented individuals are most resourceful.


"A good man is hard to ________."

Said another way, "Good men are a scarcity." The phrase expresses a more modern worry that there is a scarcity of male partners. The proverb does not intimate the measure of a "good man."


"Two heads are better than ________."

A more modern take on this common phrase is "Teamwork makes the dream work." Two people might sort through a problem better and faster than just one individual.


"A house divided against itself cannot ________."

The original phrase comes out of the New Testament book of Mark in the King James Bible, at the third chapter and twenty-fifth verse, which reads, "And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand." In the verse, Jesus is referring to the inevitable destruction that results when there is inner turmoil within a kingdom, or among any group of people, in a more practical sense.


"It's better to have loved and lost than never to have loved ________."

The phrase is from Lord Tennyson's 1850 poem titled "In Memoriam," which reads, "I hold it true, whate'er befall; I feel it, when I sorrow most; 'Tis better to have loved and lost, Than never to have loved at all." The phrase's modern literal meaning refers to romantic love.


"A little of what you fancy does ________."

English singer Mary Lloyd made this euphemistic phrase popular in her 1914 song of the same title. The phrase and Lloyd's song suggest that engaging in sex is good for you.


"When it rains it ________."

The phrase is also stated, "It never rains but it pours." "Rain" is symbolic of life's problems, and recalls another phrase, "Problems beget more problems.


"Imitation is the best form of ________."

A more expressive version of the phrase is "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery." Individuals who criticize what they themselves imitate prove that their criticism is cover for their deep-rooted admiration of what they imitate.


A penny saved is a penny ________.

This phrase encourages individuals to never dismiss the value of even a penny and the investment that potentially accrues from saving. The phrase assumes that an individual already has the penny in order to save it, which establishes a comparison between what an individual has and what can be gained elsewhere.


"Truth is stranger than ________."

Lord Byron contributed this phrase in his 1824 poem "Don Juan," which states: "Tis strange, - but true; for truth is always strange;%0DStranger than fiction: if it could be told, How much would novels gain by the exchange!"


"A picture is worth a ________."

This common phrase speaks to the meaningfulness of an effective image. A picture can express the ineffable that can't be captured by words.


"Tomorrow is another ________."

"Tomorrow is another day" is a reassuring phrase that suggests leaving disappointments and problems in the past. A new day is the promise of solutions, new perspectives and new possibilities.


"A place for everything and everything in its ________."

Tidiness it the basic theme of this common proverb. The phrase also encourages prioritizing thoughts and tasks, and its meaning is similar to another common phrase, "There's a time and a place for everything."


"To travel is better than ________."

"To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive" is a slight variation of this common phrase. It is hoped that the experience one gains while arriving at a conclusion is more beneficial than the conclusion itself. The phrase, "The journey is the reward" affirms this idea more succinctly.


"A stitch in time saves ________."

The word "stitch" in the phrase symbolizes a remedy to a problem. Immediately addressing a problem prevents more work or more problems later on.


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