120 Yoruba Proverbs and Their Meanings

Yoruba proverbs are short sayings with hidden meanings that intend to convey the truth or project advice based on wisdom or experience that has been passed down to generations in the tribe.

For as long as the Yoruba language has existed, the Yoruba people have equally held tightly to conveying deep massages through proverbs. The witty saying was earlier associated with the wisdom of elders based on the experience they may have gathered in time. In recent times, however, proverbs have also been adopted by the younger generation and have been intricately interwoven into the language and culture of the people.

Yoruba proverbs are said to be associated with 3 marks, including shortness, sense (lesson), and saltiness (use of figures of speech). The style and structure of the wise saying have been compared to poems and conveyed through comparison using simile and metaphor among other figurative methods. Yoruba proverbs come in form of education about life, wealth, love, patience, and other day-to-day activities. On the surface, they cannot be understood. Hence, they always carry the translation (denotation), and underlying meaning (connotation).

Yoruba Proverbs About Life

1. A kì í s’òótọ́ inú, kí ọ̀rọ̀ ẹni má d’ayọ̀, b’áyé ẹni bá dojúrú ìwà èèyàn ló yẹ ká wò

  • Translation: Honesty in life breeds a good end but if there’s a bad end, one’s character should be checked
  • Meaning: Quite often, our character, good or bad, determines our experience
  • Commonly Used: to buttress, especially to those who exhibit bad character that what goes around always finds a way of coming back around

2. A kò lè tìtorí pé omi pá ẹnìkan lórí, kí a má mu omi mọ́

  • Translation: We cannot cease drinking water because it choked someone
  • Meaning: Do not quickly generalize things in life
  • Commonly Used: When someone does not critically look into something but wants to make a conclusion based on other people’s experience

3. Àtẹ́lẹwọ́ ẹni kì í tan ni’jẹ

  • Translation: Your palm (the result of your effort) cannot deceive you
  • Meaning: To avert disappointments, depend less on anyone; take responsibility for your life
  • Commonly Used: To bring to the consciousness of a person to not put trust on others but one’s self and in other cases, God

4. Bí a ò kú, ìṣe ò tán

  • Translation: Since there is still life, there is no limitation to how much one can achieve
  • Meaning: There is always a room for new things as long as one is alive and does not give up
  • Commonly Used: To encourage anyone to keep hope alive and to remind them that it is never too late to try new things

5. Bí ẹ̀mí bá gùn, báà kú, ire gbogbo ni í ṣé ojú ẹni

  • Translation: As long as there’s life, we have not tasted some good things
  • Meaning: Life is precious and we can still achieve more
  • Commonly Used: Mostly used for people that seem to be giving up. It is a reminder that it is not too late to try and succeed in many things

6. Ẹní bá da omi síwájú, á tẹ ilẹ̀ tútù

  • Translation: If one pours water on it, it treads on the soft ground
  • Meaning: One reaps what he sows in life
  • Commonly Used: to encourage people to work hard or to warn those who are walking the wrong path that karma exists

7. Ẹni òjò pa, tí àrá kò pa, kó má a dúpẹ́

  • Translation: got beaten by rain but wasn’t struck by lightning should be thankful
  • Meaning: be grateful for things could be worse
  • Commonly Used: when someone may have faced a bad situation or encouraging someone to look at the bright side of life

8. Ẹni tí kò tíì kúrò láyé, kò lè mọ irú ẹni tí òun yó dà

  • Translation: A person who still has life is not aware of what he will become
  • Meaning: Be hopeful because there’s nothing that is impossible as far as you’re alive
  • Commonly Used: To serve as advice to people whose lives may not be turning out as expected

9. Ẹni tó ní láti ìgbà tóun ti dáyé ìyà ò jẹ òun rí, ohun tí ìyà ńjẹ lẹ́nu ni ò tíì kúnná

  • Translation: The person that claims to not have experienced any challenge may be right only because the challenge may not be through with what it is chewing
  • Meaning: Challenges are a part of life and if you have any, accept and work on them
  • Commonly Used: As an encouragement to someone who may be going through a tough time

10. Ẹyẹ tó fi ara rẹ̀ wé igún, ẹ̀yìn ààrò ló máa sùn

  • Translation: A bird that compares itself to vultures will end up (getting roasted) at the fireplace
  • Meaning: In life, try not to compare yourself to others
  • Commonly Used: to educate people on the need for contentment

11. Ìgbín ò lè sáré bí Ajá; ìyẹn ò ní kó máà de ibi tó ńlọ

  • Translation: Snails and dogs may have different paces at running but even though the snail is slower, it will also be able to get to its destination
  • Meaning: Everyone is unique and can live life regardless
  • Commonly Used: To speak to people who may be giving up or envy the things that other people have

12. Kosi eni to ma gun ęşin ti o ní ju ìpàkó, Bí kò fę ju ìpàkó, ęşin tí ó ngùn á ję kojū

  • Translation: No one who rides a horse would not move his head
  • Meaning: The status of one’s life influences how he treats people around him
  • Commonly Used: as one of the Yoruba proverbs that focuses on people and their treatment of others. It is also English’s equivalent of “to test a man, give him money and power”

13. Nínú òfíì, nínú ọ̀láà ni ọmọ páńdọ̀rọ̀ ńdàgbà

  • Translation: It is in the midst of their being blown here and there that the pendulous fruits of the sausage tree mature
  • Meaning: It is quitting that denies you success
  • Commonly Used: To encourage those on the verge of giving up that quitting only makes losing certain but putting more effort can guarantee success

14. Ori Igi To Wọ, Laa Wa, Taa Ri Eyi To Tọ 

  • Translation: It is when one is on a crooked tree that he/she would find the good one
  • Meaning: Try to do your best wherever you find yourself regardless of environment or situation; Germinate wherever you are planted
  • Commonly Used: To advise a person to not limit his potential

15. Òwú tí ìyá bá gbọ̀n ni ọmọ yóò ran

  • Translation: The harvested cotton the mother fluffs is the one her daughter spins
  • Meaning: Let’s be careful of what we do because people who look up to us always continue from where we stop
  • Commonly Used: as a piece of advice mostly given to people who may seem nonchalant about their actions or act in a way that the society does not approve of. The advice buttresses how others learn from others’ actions

16. Tí ọmọdé bá ńjẹ èèwọ̀ tí ẹnìkan ò bi í, bó pẹ́ bó yá, ohun tí ńbi’ni ò ní ṣàì bi’ni

  • Translation: a child who finds himself doing the wrong things without being cautioned will one day not be able to listen to the same children
  • Meaning: Be mindful of what you do
  • Commonly Used: As a warning given to someone that involves himself in things that the society frowns at or to a parent who does not seem to correct his/her child

17. Tó bá kù díẹ̀ kí ọmọ olóore jìn sí kòtò, mànàmáná á ṣiṣẹ́ ìmọ́lẹ̀ fún un

  • Translation: Even if a good person falls into a ditch while it’s dark, the lightning would be shone to light his path
  • Meaning: In life, kindness never seizes to pay
  • Commonly Used: To educate a person whose act of kindness may have been taken for granted or to encourage anyone on the need to be kind

Famous Yoruba Proverbs

18. Adìẹ Máa Rí làágùn Ìyẹ́ Kò Jẹ́ Ká Mọ̀

  • Translation: It is because of the feathers of chickens that we don’t see when they sweat
  • Meaning: What is seen on the surface is not the entire truth or story
  • Commonly Used: When one wants to emphasize that things are always deeper than they seem

 19. Àì rìn jìnnà, làì rí abuké ọ̀kẹ́rẹ́; afọ́jú ẹyẹ ńbẹ lóko kárinkése

  • Translation: Not traveling far enough is why one may not have seen a squirrel with a hump; there is a blind bird in the field
  • Meaning: The absence of exposure leads to small-mindedness, but exposure opens the mind
  • Commonly Used: To encourage people to be open to new things

20. Ajá tó máa sọnù kì í gbọ́ fèrè ọlọ́dẹ

  • Translation: A stray dog does not hear the whisper of a hunter or anyone willing to find it because it is destined to get lost
  • Meaning: People who intend in their hearts to take a decision may close their ears for listening to wise advice; Let your mind be opened
  • Commonly Used: To speak, especially to those who may not seem willing to receive the advice of others no matter how good the advice may seem or the wisdom of the adviser

21. A kì í ní k’ọ́mọ ẹni má d’ẹ́tẹ̀, tó bá ti lè dá’gbó gbé

  • Translation: You cannot stop a child from being stricken with leprosy if he can live in the forest alone
  • Meaning: People get to be responsible for the actions
  • Commonly Used: When a person fails to exhibit good character or when karma has turned on someone

22. A kì í wo ago aláago ṣiṣẹ́

  • literal meaning: Do not work on another person’s time
  • meaning: Don’t compare your life with another person’s; be focused and stay in your lane
  • Commonly Used: When a person seems to not be contented with what he has but fixes his attention on the things of others

23. A kì í ṣe fáàrí ẹ̀ṣẹ́ dídì, si ọmọ adẹ́tẹ̀

  • Translation: Don’t brag about fists in the presence of a leper
  • Meaning: Consider others and show empathy
  • Commonly Used: When one is boastful or acts in a way that does not seem like he/she considers others

24. À ń pe gbẹ́nàgbẹ́nà ẹyẹ àkókó ń yọjú

  • Translation: A sculptor is called upon but a woodpecker shows up instead
  • Meaning: Never think too highly of yourself
  • Commonly Used: When trying to speak to people who exhibit pride with the aim of wanting them to embrace some form of humility

25. Bí a bá ro dídùn ifọ̀n á ó ọ’ra déegun

  • Translation: Someone may keep scratching his/her body to the bone if they focus on the pleasure from scratching
  • Meaning: Everything in life has boundaries and one has to take note of them in order to avoid disaster
  • Commonly Used: when indulging in someone to forgive

26. Bó lé lógún ọdún táa ti fi adẹ́mun jọba, kò ní yé é ọrùn ọ̀pẹ ẹ́ wò

  • Translation: The palm wine tapper won’t stop fixing his eyes on the palm wine tree even 20 years after he was crowned king
  • Meaning: It is hard for old habits to die

27. Díẹ̀ díẹ̀ nimú ẹlẹ́dẹ̀ẹ́ fi ń wọgbà

  • Translation: It is gradual that a pig’s nose enters the yard
  • Meaning: Take care of little problems before they escalate and become too big to be controlled
  • Commonly Used: as advice to people to deal with problems regardless of how minor they may seem

28. Ibi kan ṣoṣo kọ́ la ti ńrí ọ̀run

  • Translation: The sky is not the only place where we can see heaven
  • Meaning: There are different ways to do things in life in order to achieve your goals. Don’t hold on to only one way of doing things
  • Commonly Used: When encouraging someone to try different things even after failing at one

29. Iku ki i ba ni sore ko ma pa ni

  • Translation: Death cannot be so friendly with anyone and not take him/her
  • Meaning: There are experiences that people go through that are inevitable, hence, people should accept what they cannot change
  • Commonly Used: To encourage people who may be going through difficult times

30. Ilá kì í ga ju onírè lọ; èyí tó bá ga ju onírè lọ, a sì tẹ́ẹ ká

  • Translation: An okra plant should not outgrow the farmer; whichever does will be bent low to be plucked
  • Meaning: Pride goes before a fall
  • Commonly Used: to advise someone to be humble

31. Ile oba T’o Jo, Ewa Lo Busi

  • Translation: When a king’s palace burns down, a rebuilt one turns out to be more attractive
  • Meaning: Some things that happen in life help you to achieve even better things
  • Commonly Used: To encourage a person going through difficult times that with perseverance, he can come out of it and be even better

32. Ọmọ Tó Káwọ̀ Sókè Ló Fẹ́ gbé òun

  • Translation: It is only a child who raises his hinds that will be picked up
  • Meaning: You only get help when you ask
  • Commonly Used: To warn people about the dangers of pride and how humility can help them get what they want

 33. Ọmọdé Bú ìrókò óbojú Wẹ̀yìn, òjọ́ Kọ́ Lolúwéré ni pani

  • Translation: A child abuses Iroko and looks back thinking Olowere (evil spirit) doesn’t kill immediately
  • Meaning: The repercussion of one’s actions may not come immediately but they will surely come
  • Commonly Used: to serve as a warning to those who misbehave that the result of their deeds may manifest later in life

34. T’ẹní bẹ́gi lójù, igi á rúwé

  • Translation: The shame will always go to the person who cuts the tress and not the tress that will blossom with leaves again
  • Meaning: Ignore wicked folks and their distractions: be steadfast; be open-minded and keep moving forward
  • Commonly Used: to affirm that regardless of how the wicked may try to put you down or the obstacles you may face, you can still rise if you push hard enough

35. Tí a bá fi ọwọ́ ọ̀tún b’ọ́mọ wí, àáfi òsì fàá mọ́’ra

  • Translation: When we punish a child with the right hand, we draw him close again with the left.
  • Meaning: Spare the rod and spoil the child
  • Commonly Used: When a child seems spoilt, when a parent does not want to punish a child for his/her wrongdoings or when there’s an emphasis on the need for punishing a child if a parent truly loves him/her

Yoruba Proverbs about Patience

Yoruba Proverbs

Patience, known as Suuru in the Yoruba language is one of the most valued traits in Yoruba culture. It is as such that Yoruba proverbs about patience are used to bring to the consciousness of people the need to wait for an appropriate time. While each of the proverbs may have different translations and meanings, they are “commonly used” to encourage or warn people.

36. Ààrò kì í gbóná títí kó máà tutù

  • Translation: Regardless of how the oven is hot, it will subsequently get cold
  • Meaning: If anything has a beginning, it will one day definitely have an end; change is constant; Nothing lasts forever; Let your hope not fade

37. Adániwáyè ò gbàgbé ẹnìkan; àìmàsìkò ló ńdààmú ẹ̀dá

  • Translation: God has not forgotten anyone; We’re anxious because we’re not aware of the ignorance of divine timing
  • Meaning: Keep hope alive; don’t give up

38. Àìfarabalẹ̀ ojú ni kì í fi rí imú bọ̀rọ̀; bí ojú bá fara balẹ̀, á rí imú

  • Translation: If the eye is calm, it will see the nose but it is always in a hurry
  • Meaning: Patience and calmness are key to handling tough things

39. A kì í fi ọjọ́ kan, bọ́ ọmọ tó rù

  • Translation: A lean child cannot be fattened in just one day
  • Meaning: Be patient; good things take time; don’t force issues before their time

40. Apẹ́kótójẹun kò ní jẹ̀’bàjẹ́

  • Translation: Whoever stays long to eat may not eat a lousy meal
  • Meaning: Be patient and hopeful; delay is not denial; things may be slow but the end may be great

41. A tọrọ ohun gbogbo lọ́wọ́ ọlọ́run kì í kánjú

  • Translation: The seeker of all things from God does not yield to impatience
  • Meaning: The person who asks must be patient for an answer

42. Bí a kò bá dẹ́kun ìgbìyànjú, bó pẹ́ bó yá akitiyan á dópin lọ́jọ́ kan 

  • Translation: If we won’t relent, our hustling will one day come to an end
  • Meaning: Be steadfast, be persistent; If we won’t quit, we will win

43. Bí a bá pẹ́ ní ààtàn a máa rí abuké eṣinṣin

  • Translation: If we can tarry long at the refuse dump, we will get to see a humpy housefly
  • Meaning: Be patient: with time and patience, virtually nothing is impossible; whatever seems unresolvable may well need a bit more time

44. Bí agbada ò bá gbóná, àgbàdo ò leè ta

  • Translation: No corp can pop unless the frying pan is heated
  • Meaning: Be patient because good things don’t always come easy in life

45. Bí èyàn bá dúró sínú oòrùn títí, bó pẹ́ bó yá, ibòji, á báa níbẹ̀

  • translation: If one hangs about in the sun for long, the shade will subsequently arrive (the sun will set)
  • Meaning: Be hopeful and patient because no matter how difficult times are, noting lasts forever

46. Bí ìgbà ba kọ́’ni lẹ́sẹ̀ téèyan ṣubú, tí ìgbà míràn bá dé, èèyà á dìde

  • Translation: A season may cause someone to fall and another may cause his rise
  • Meaning: Nothing lasts forever; be patient and hopeful

47. Bó pẹ́ bó yá, akọ̀pẹ yóò wálẹ̀

  • Translation: Regardless of how long it takes the palm wine tapper, he’ll return in the end
  • Meaning: Be patient because things may take time but they never last forever

48. Ẹni bá rọra pa èèrà, à rí ìfun inú rẹ̀

  • Translation: Whoever would patiently disjoint an ant would see its intestines
  • Meaning: Only a patient person can achieve some hard tasks; patience is important

49. Ẹní bá fi iṣu tí kò jinná gún’yán, o di dandan kó jẹ iyán tó lẹ́mọ

  • Translation: If one makes a pounded yam with a half-done yam, he/she will eat lumps
  • Meaning: Don’t force things before their time; be patient because things take time

50. Ìhòhò dodo làgbàdo ńwọ ilẹ̀; tó bá jáde tán, ló ńdi onígba aṣọ 

  • Translation: The maize seed enters the ground unclothed but when it comes out, it comes out with multiple covering
  • Meaning: With hope, you are yet to see your best

51. Ìjì layé; tó bá fì síwájú, á tún fì sẹ́hìn ni

  • Translation: Life is a storm; if it blows forward, it will blow backward, as well
  • Meaning: A season goes, another comes; no condition is permanent; nothing lasts forever; keep hope alive

52. Òkun kì í hó ruru, kí á wà á ruru

  • Translation: Never paddle wildly in a stormy sea
  • Meaning: Be patient; complex issues should be carefully and patiently handled

53. Ọlọ́run tó dá ẹnu, ti dá ohun tí kálukú máa fi sí i 

  • Translation: God who created the mouth has equally made provision the things that we’ll put into it
  • Meaning: Be patient and hopeful

54. Ọlọ́run tó ńse ọbẹ̀, kò kúrò ní ìdí ààrò

  • Translation: God who is cooking the soup, has not left the kitchen
  • Meaning: Be patient and do not lose hope. There is nothing that is too big for God

55. Ọ̀nà tí èèyàn tọ̀ tó ṣubú, bí èèyàn bá ní sùúrù, èyàn lè tọ̀ọ́ là

  • Translation: A path that one treads and fails, with patience, one may well tread it to success
  • Meaning: It takes patience and persistence to win

56. Onísúùrù ló lè Fún Wàra Kìnìún

  • Translation: Only the patient can milk a lion
  • Meaning: Anyone who has patience can do the impossible

Yoruba Proverbs about Love

Yoruba Proverbs about love

57. Àríyànjiyàn níí ba ọ̀rẹ́ jẹ́

  • Translation: What unbridled disagreements can? do destroy friendship, love life, or relationships
  • Meaning: Communicating one’s grudges preserves relationships
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58. Bí ọmọdé òbá Gbàgbé ọ̀rọ̀ àná kò lè rí ènìyàn bá ṣeré

  • Translation: If a child does not forget the quarrels of the past, he will not have a playmate
  • Meaning: Forgiveness is key to mending broken relationships or love
  • Commonly Used: when admonishing one to look beyond a mistake and forgive to have a better love life or relationship with friends or family

59. Ẹni a fẹ́ la mọ̀, a kò mọ ẹni tó fẹ́’ni

  • Translation: Even though you may know who you love, you cannot be certain of the person that really loves you
  • Meaning: Appearance can be deceptive
  • Commonly Used: to warn one on the need to focus beyond beauty in love or other things of life

60. ìwá j’ọ̀wà nàà jẹ́ ọ̀rẹ́

  • Translation: Similar traits, personalities, and characteristics make a solid friendship or relationship
  • Meaning: Compatibility aids easy friendship/relationship
  • Commonly Used: advice to search carefully who to be in a relationship with

61. Nigba ti eniyan ba ni ifẹ, okuta kan di Medo

  • Translation: When one is in love, a cliff becomes a meadow
  • Meaning: Love can make people not see things realistically; Love is blind
  • Commonly Used: To advise people to be conscious of the things they do even in love

62. Yàrá kékeré gba ogún ọ̀rẹ́, tí ìfẹ bá wà láàárín wọn

  • Translation: A little room is sizable enough for twenty friends if there is love in their midst
  • Meaning: Little is much in love, and with love, a lot of things can be done

Yoruba Proverbs about Wealth

Yoruba proverbs about wealth

63. A kì í fi owó du oyè-e alágbára

  • Translation: One does not rely on money to contest a chieftaincy reserved for the strong
  • Meaning: Money won’t buy everything
  • Commonly used: to maintain that there is more to life than money

64. Aini owo ni aini awọn ọrẹ; ti o ba ni owo ni ọwọ rẹ, gbogbo aja ati ewurẹ yoo sọ pe wọn jẹ ibatan si ọ

  • Translation: Lack of money is lack of friends; if you have money at your disposal, every dog and goat will claim to be related to you
  • Meaning: When you’re wealthy, a lot of people will be loyal to you but not when you have nothing
  • Commonly Used: To advise someone on the need to be wealthy or to serve as a warning to a wealthy person that not all loyalty is true

65. A-sáré-lówó níbẹ lọ́nà ogun; A-pṣọ̀ṣẹ̀ṣẹ̀ níbẹ lọ́nà; Bó pẹ́ títí ng ó là níbẹ lábà, ó ríjẹ ẹ̀sun iṣu

  • Translation: The person that is in a hurry to get wealthy is on his way to battle; he who has in abundance is off on his travels. Sooner or later I will be rich has returned to his hut eating roasted yams
  • Meaning: It is only people who make an effort and not people who sit and wait for it
  • Commonly Used: When one seems to be on a highway to get wealth or to a person who does not make a deliberate effort toward growth

66. Ara kì í rọni ká ẹ́gi ta

  • Translation: If one has the money or other resources to live a life of ease, he/she will not gather firewood for sale
  • Meaning: A person that has found success does not have to continuously search or poke around

67. Bíbíire kò ṣeé fi owó rà

  • Translation: Money/wealth cannot buy a good pedigree
  • Meaning: There are things that wealth cannot offer; money is not everything
  • Commonly Used: When trying to admonish someone to be humble

68. Ẹnu kìnìún lowó wà

  • Translation: Money (wealth) resides right in the lion’s mouth
  • Meaning: Willingness to take risks is crucial to success
  • Commonly Used: To encourage people to take make sacrifices in order to achieve good things in life

69. Ilera loogun oro

  • Translation: Health is wealth
  • Meaning: The person that takes care of himself will be strong enough to do activities that are beneficial
  • Commonly Used: to buttress a person to rest amidst work for if his health fails, he may not live to enjoy the wealth that comes from the labor

70. Ká máa ná’wó kò ní kí ówó ó tán; ká ya ahun kò ní kí owó ó pọ̀ sí i

  • Translation: Giving does not make anyone poor and its opposite does not also make anyone rich
  • Meaning: Be generous because does who do it never lack what to give
  • Commonly Used: To encourage people to give to others

Strong Yoruba Proverbs

71. Àgbà kò sí ní ìlú, ìlú bàjé. Baálé ilé kú, ilé di ahorò

  • Translation: In the absence of an elder in the town, the town becomes disorganized
  • Meaning: Good manners are learned at the home
  • Commonly Used: to state the importance of elders in building a great society and the disadvantages that may meet a society without good leaders

72. A-bayé-jẹ́ kò ṣéé fìdí ọ̀ràn hàn

  • Translation: Important information should not be shared with disloyal people
  • Meaning: Do not tell your secrets to deceptive people
  • Commonly used: When stressing the need to be cautious of who to trust

73. A kì í wà nínú ìṣẹ́ ká perin tọrẹ

  • Translation: One does not wallow in poverty and yet kill an elephant for public distribution
  • Meaning: Always live according to your circumstances
  • Commonly Used: as one of Yoruba proverbs that brings one’s consciousness to not try to project himself beyond his ability (humility without showoff)

74. Akíì tó nií bá rìn kí á má tòó bá ni Sọ̀rọ̀

  • Translation: True friends/associates must tell each other the truth
  • Meaning: True friends tolerate honesty
  • Commonly Used: to people who do not intend to accept reality through others

75. À ńsọ̀rọ̀ elégédé, obìnrín ḿbèrè ohun tí à ńsọ, a ní ọ̀rọ̀ ọkùnrin ni; bí a bá kó elégédé jọ, ta ni yó sè é?

  • Translation: A woman asked what we were discussing while we were talking about pumpkin and we told her it was men’s talk. However, after we have successfully gathered the pumpkin, who will cook it?
  • Meaning: A woman should not be excluded from a matter that may include her afterward
  • Commonly Used: when buttressing the need to include women in things that matter in the society

76. Asáré-tete kò ni koj̣̀ á ilé. Arìn-gbèṛ̀ è ̣̀kò ní sùn sóṇ̀ à

  • Translation: A fast-moving pedestal would not go beyond its destination as a slow-moving one will not sleep on the way
  • Meaning: There is time for everything
  • Commonly Use: As one of the Yoruba proverbs to encourage patience

77. Àti òkèerè ni olójú jinjin ti í mú eḳ̀ ún sun

  • Translation: From afar, the eyes of the beholder are burning
  • Meaning: To be forewarned is to be forearmed
  • Commonly Used: To warn that a prior knowledge saves

78. Bí a gúnyán si inú ewé, bí a sẹ̀ bè ̣̀sínú èpò èp̣̀ à, ẹni máa yó, a yó

  • Translation: If yam is pounded in a leaf and soup is made in a groundnut peeling, anyone who will be satisfied will be
  • Meaning: People who will survive a difficult situation will survive it
  • Commonly Used: to serve as an encouragement that there are people who may turn out successful regardless of the storms

79. Bí oḳ̀ ọ̀̀bá ròkun

  • Translation: A ship will definitely end in a harbor no matter how far it travels
  • Meaning: There is always a limit and accountability to what people do
  • Commonly Used: is used as a warning for the greedy and selfish individuals who care less about limitations

80. Ẹni tí a rò wí pé kò lè pàgó, ̣̀ ó sẹ̀ bi eré bí eré, ó kóḷ̀ é aláruru

  • Translation: A person who people thought could not have a tent later built a palace
  • Meaning: Do not look down on anyone
  • Commonly Used: It is used to counsel or warn those who mock or underrates others

81. Ẹni tó tafà sókè tó yídó borí, bí oḅ̀ a ayé kò ri í, tòṛ̀ un n wò o

  • Translation: One who hides under a mortar to shoot an arrow should know that even when no one sees him, his deed is openly revealed to the gods
  • Meaning: The proverb is used when it is erroneously assumed that the evil that has been perpetrated is hidden and not known to any living being whereas nothing is hidden to God almighty

82. Enu Ẹnú dùn-ún-ròfó, ̣̀ agada oẉ̀ ọ́̀sẹ́̀ e bé ̣̀geḍ̀ ú

  • Translation: The mouth is sweet to preparing the vegetable soup
  • Meaning: It is easier said than done
  • Commonly Used: To berate empty boasting of someone

83. Eyin lòrò; Bó bá ti balè, ̣̀ fífo ̣̀níí fo ̀

  • Translation: speech is like an egg; when it drops on the floor it shatters
  • Meaning: Guard your words because they can make or mar you
  • Commonly Used: When someone may be talking more than he should

84. Gbólóhùn kan lè ba ọ̀rọ̀ jẹ́; gbólóhùn kan náà lè tún ọ̀rọ̀ ṣe

  • Translation: One sentence can mess up a discussion and one sentence can make it better
  • Meaning: Words are powerful: they can build up and can pull down; use them wisely

85. Igi gangangran má gún mi lójú, àti òkèèrè ni a ti í yè ̣̀é

  • Translation: I am not stricken with locusts, I live far away
  • Meaning: Prevention is better than cure

86. Ìwà kì í fi oníwà sílẹ̀

  • Translation: We are inseparable from our character
  • Meaning: No one can pretend to be who he or she is not for very long; be patient, ultimately, the real character will show through

87. Kìrà-kìtà kò móḷ̀ à wá, ká sị̀sẹ́̀ ̣̀bí eṛ̀ ú kò dá nnkan kan fún ni

  • Translation: Difficult tasks and efforts are not the same as success
  • Meaning: Success is not determined by how desperate we are
  • Commonly Used: To caution someone who seems desperate in achieving a goal in life

88. Kòkòrò tí n jè ̣̀ewe, ara ewé ló wà

  • Translation: The insects that eat up vegetables are always located within its premises
  • Meaning: The enemy is mostly within

89. Kòkòrò tó ńjẹfọ́ ara ẹfọ́ ló wá; iná tó ńjẹni ńbẹ lábẹ́ aṣọ

  • Translation: The insect that is eating the vegetable is right on it; the louse living off anyone is under his or her garment
  • Meaning: Be perceptive, be vigilant; often the solution to an issue is closer than imagined

90. Ọ̀̀nà ló jìn, ẹrú náà ní baba

  • Translation: However far away, a slave has his own paternity
  • Meaning: The disadvantaged are also humans
  • Commonly Used: as a caution for oppressors who continually manipulate the physical, weaknesses of the oppressed in various ways

91. Òrìsạ̀̀ bí ìyá kò sí, ta ló jé ̣̀sẹ̀ oṃ̀ ọ̀oḷ̀ óṃ̀ ọ̀lóore

  • Translation: Motherhood is a better diety; she is abundant in favoring her child instead of choosing anyone above him/her
  • Meaning: Mothers can take the place of gods for their roles in nurturing their children
  • Commonly Used: as one of Yoruba proverbs to honor mothers

92. Òrìsạ̀̀ jé ̣̀n pé méjì obìnrin, kò dénú

  • Translation: It is only lip service to pray that the god will enlarge my family and let my husband marry other women
  • Meaning: some things are mere words of mouth; talk is cheap
  • Commonly Used: to despise a person who claims to pray for the success of others while behind he is also vying for the same position

93. Òrìsạ̀̀ bí ìfun kò sí, ojoojúmọ́̀ló n gbeḅ̀ o

  • Translation: There is no demanding deity like the stomach because it moves daily
  • Meaning: Making demands without results to back it up brings contempt and often it is discouraging
  • Commonly Used: To caution people against deeds that do not yield

94. Ọmọ atiro tó ra bàtà fún bàbá ẹ̀, ọ̀rọ̀ ló fẹ́ gbọ́

  • Translation: The cripple’s child bought a shoe for his father and asks for a lecture
  • Meaning: Be mindful of your actions
  • Commonly Used: to bring to the consciousness of people the need to think deeply before taking an action

95. Sọ̀rọ̀ kí ọlọ́rọ̀ gbọ́, àbùkù ní ńfi kanni

  • Translation: It is disgraceful to run rumors into the ears of the person that the rumor is about
  • Meaning: One should keep away from rumor-mongering
  • Commonly Used: To warn people to stay away from gossip or spreading talks that may not be true

96. Tẹ̀tẹ́ ní ńṣíwájú eré sísa

  • Translation: A child has to learn to walk before knowing how to run
  • Meaning: Be aware that things have an order
  • Commonly Used: To advise on the need to take a step at a time

97. Wolé-wolé kì í wolé agbọ́n láì tẹ́

  • Translation: There won’t be grief or a sanitary inspector who inspects that house of a wasp
  • Meaning: Be mindful in performing your duties
  • Commonly used: as a warning to take action with caution

Yoruba Proverbs About Wisdom and Success

98. A rí i lójú, a mọ̀ ọ́ lẹ́nu; òṣòwò oṣẹ kì í pọ́n-wọ́-lá

  • Translation: One can tell by looking, and one can tell by taste; a soap seller does not lick her fingers
  • Meaning: Good judgment requires wisdom

99. A ta bàbà, a fowó-o bàbà ra baba

  • Translation: Guinea-corn is exchanged with a token of copper to save the ancestors
  • Meaning: It is your work that provides for you
  • Commonly Used: To caution people who may want to have but may not necessarily want to work

100. Àbá alágẹmọ lòrìṣà ńgbà

  • Translation: whatever the chameleon suggests, the gods listen
  • Meaning: always seek and pay attention to the advice of your confidant
  • Commonly Used: one of the Yoruba proverbs that admonish one to not lean only on his own understanding

101. Àbá kì í di òtítọ́; ojo ni kì í jẹ́ ká dá a

  • Translation: yielding good fruits involves planning; the unwise do not plan
  • Meaning: In order to succeed, planning and patience must be practiced
  • Commonly used: to serve as an advisor to people who consciously want to grow

102. Àbá ní ńdi òtítọ́; ojo ni kì í jẹ́ ká da

  • Translation: Good results can be achieved from effort; only the fearful do not make attempts
  • Meaning: You must deliberately put in the effort to attain success
  • Commonly Used: to serve as a reminder that effort breeds success

103. Abẹ́rẹ́ ò ṣéé gúnyán

  • Translation: pounded yam cannot be made with a needle
  • Meaning: there are different approaches to different situations
  • Commonly Used: as a reminder that if a pattern does not work, there is always another to try

104. Baálẹ̀ àgbẹ̀-ẹ́ ní òun ò ní nǹkan-án tà lọ́run, kí owó ọkà òún ṣáà ti pé

  • Translation: According to the chief of farmers, he pays more attention to having a fair payment for his corn rather than going to heaven to sell
  • Meaning: One will not die to get something if he does not ask for too much from the onset
  • Commonly Used: to make a point on the need for contentment

105. Bí a bá bá aṣiwèrè gbé, a ó gba odì ọlọgbọ́n; bí a bá bá ewé iyá ṣọ̀tẹ̀, a ó ṣẹ ẹlẹ́kọIf one

  • Translation: Being in the life of a maniac may breed enmity for the wise; if one ignores iyá leaves, one offends the corn-gruel seller
  • Meaning: Bad company sends good people away; If a person ignores a person, he also ignores his friends
  • Commonly Used: when stating the need to be conscious of the people one keeps around him

104. Èló là ńra adìẹ òkókó, tí à ńgba ọmọ-ọ rẹ̀ sìn?

  • Translation: How much is a hen that a person would contract to raise chicks for the owner?
  • Meaning: Some things are not worth the stress
  • Commonly Used: Causion people who want to take a journey that may not yield

107. Ẹgbẹ́ ẹni kì í wọ́n láyé ká wá a lọ sọ́run

  • Translation: A person does not go to heaven to find company after failing to secure one in the world
  • Meaning: Learn how to do without the things you cannot find
  • Commonly Used: in terms of trying to tell someone to learn how to be contented

108. Ẹni tí yó fò yó bẹ̀rẹ̀

  • Translation: One must crouch before being able to jump
  • Meaning: You must prepare before embarking on projects
  • Commonly Used: When cautioning someone to not take steps with preparing himself

109. Ibi tí a bá ńgbé la ti ńgbàwìn; à-rà-àì-san ni ò sunwọ̀n

  • Translation: One’s home is a legitimate place to buy things on credit; what is bad is avoiding payment
  • Meaning: It is okay to seek the help of people close to you but absolutely wrong to not return the favor
  • Commonly Used: As a warning to people who would rather take from others but never reciprocate

110. Já ilé ẹ̀ kí mbá ẹ kọ́ ọ; ìtẹ́ èèkàn kan ní ńfúnni

  • Translation: One may only get a bundle of thatching grass from someone who encourages him to remove his roof just so he would help him roof it back
  • Meaning: It is the risk of the person who relies on other people’s words
  • Commonly Used: To warn someone to not always take people for what they say but look closely at their actions as well

111. Lójú òpè, bí-i kọ́lọgbọ́n dàbí ọ̀lẹ

  • Translation: For the foolish, he would rather have a wise person shiftless
  • Meaning: A person who has no worth mostly wishes that another is as good as him

112. Ní ìlú tí a ò ti fẹ́ ẹyẹlé, tí a ò fẹ́ adìẹ, irú ẹyẹ wo ní yóò jí wọn lójù orun?

  • Translation: What kind of bird will wake a community that does not tolerate pigeons or chickens?
  • Meaning: People who can’t be pleased with anything will also have to do without everything

113. Nígbàtí ọwọ́ ò tí ì gbọ́n lojú ńṣepin

  • Translation: The eyes can only ooze matter when there is a failure from the eyes to learn wisdom
  • Meaning: A wise person finds a way to manage and conceal his shortcomings

114. O fẹ́ joyè o ní o-ò ní-í jà

  • Translation: You claim to not want to be in a fight but you’re vying for a chieftaincy title
  • Meaning: You lie to yourself if you think you can achieve anything without being prepared for the struggles that accompany it
  • Commonly Used: serve as a warning and reminder for people to have to get ready to take the bull by the horn to achieve success

115. O ló-o fẹ́ jọba o ní o-ò nìí ṣÒgbóni, o-ò níí pẹ́ lóyè

  • Translation: One wants to become a king but does not intend to join the Ògbóni society; you will not last long on the throne
  • Meaning: Anybody that intends to prosper should follow the conditions
  • Commonly Used: To serve as a reminder that everything has consequences and every success must come with its sacrifices

116. Ohun tí a ni la fi ńkẹ́ ọmọ ẹni

  • Translation: It is from what you have that you can use to spoil a child
  • Meaning: There is no point in trying to present a good image of yourself by going out of your means
  • Commonly Used: To advise a person to not do things beyond his means just to make an impression

117. Ohun tí kò jẹ́ káṣọ pé méjì ni ò jẹ́ kó dú

  • Translation: That which keeps a man from having numerous clothing is the same that  keeps it from dirt
  • Meaning: Lack teaches one to be economical and misfortune teaches one fortitude
  • Commonly Used: When teaching one to make do with what he has

118. Ọgbọ́n kì í tán

  • Translation: Wisdom never finishes
  • Meaning: There will always be a place and some use for wisdom

119. Ọgbọ́n ọlọgbọ́n ò jẹ́ ká pe àgbà ní wèrè

  • Translation: The wisdom of others has saved an elder from getting the name of a lunatic
  • Meaning: Learning from others saves a whole lot of embarrassment
  • Commonly Used: To encourage one from learning from other people’s experiences

120. Tinú ọ̀lẹ lọ̀lẹ ńjẹ; aṣiwèrè èèyàn ni ò mọ èrú tí yó gbà

  • Translation: The lazy consumes the products of his native wisdom; It is a fool who does not have a clue about dishonest ways will be fruitful
  • Meaning: It is good that if a person lacks industry, he should better be resourceful
Nenpan Ngwan
Nenpan is a linguist, reader and writer who can spend hours thinking of the right words. She believes that with each thought comes words, and with each good word comes a great writing that can change how we see things.

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