Yoruba proverbs and their meanings

Yoruba proverbs and their meanings

African proverbs, especially Yoruba proverbs have always struck us with their deep meaning. Even though most of them came to existence long ago, they are still applicable in the modern world. After scouring the web for the best proverbs, we have created a list of 50 Yoruba proverbs and their meanings. The following proverbs are presented in their original form in Yoruba next to a Yoruba to English translation that explains the proverb’s meaning.

Yoruba proverbs

✬ Ẹnu-u rẹ̀ ní ńdá igba, tí ńdá ọ̀ọ́dúnrún / What comes out of an untrustworthy person’s mouth should never be trusted.

✬ Ìrínisí ni ìsọnilọ́jọ̀ / Good appearance makes for a good impression.

✬ Omi tó tán lẹ́hìn ẹja ló sọọ́ di èrò ìṣasùn / A person is helpless without good support.

✬ Ẹyẹlé ní òun ò lè bá olúwa òun jẹ, kí òun bá a mu, kí ó di ọjọ́ ikú-u rẹ̀ kí òun yẹrí / If you share the good, be ready to share the bad.

✬ Ẹni tí ó sá là ńlé / If you are not guilty, why do you flee?

✬ Ẹ̀ẹ̀mejì letí ọlọ́jà ńgbọ́rọ̀ / While judging between two opinions, be sure to listen carefully to both sides.

✬ Tí a bá wo dídùn ifọ̀n, àá họ ara dé egun / If a person gives in to guilty pleasure, they will lose themselves in it.

Yoruba facial painting

✬ Eni bama m'obo akoko se bi lagido / To catch a fish, you must think like a fish.

✬ Yàrá kékeré gba ogún ọ̀rẹ́ / A cottage is a castle for those in love.

✬ Ẹgbẹ̀tàlá: bí a ò bá là á, kì í yéni / Different explanations for the same thing cause confusion.

✬ “Ó mọ́ mi lọ́wọ́” ní ńdi olè / Don’t grow attached to things that aren’t yours.

✬ Òfìífìí là ńrí, a ò rí òkodoro; òkodoro ḿbọ̀, baba gba-n-gba / No matter what, the truth always comes out.

✬ Ohun tí a ò fẹ́ kéèyàn ó mọ̀ là ńṣe lábẹ́lẹ̀ / The person who has nothing to hide should not do anything in secret.

✬ Ojo díẹ̀, akin díẹ̀; ìyà ní ńkó jẹni / Be consistent, or suffer the consequences.

✬ Omi titun tí ru, eja titun tí wonu e / It is a new dawn, it is a new day.

✬ Jẹ́ kí nfi ìdí hẹẹ́, lálejò fi ńti onílé sóde / Give them an inch and they will take a mile.

Yoruba pattern

✬ Àmójúkúrò ni í mú ẹ̀mí ìfẹ́ gùn / Nobody’s perfect, learn to accept other people’s flaws.

✬ Aláìmoore ajá, ló ńgé olówó rẹ̀ jẹ / Never bite the hand that feeds you.

✬ Bó ti wù kí ojú kan tóbi tó, ojú méjì sàn ju ojú kan lọ / Two heads are always better than one.

✬ Òkóbó kì í bímọ sítòsí / A liar has the most extravagant excuses.

✬ Olóòótọ́ ìlú nìkà ìlú / Honesty won’t make you popular.

✬ Ẹni tí ò bá lè jìyà tó kún ahá, ò lè gbádùn ọrọ̀ tó kúnnú àmù / If you can’t live through small hardship, you won’t enjoy big happiness.

✬ Iná l'ọmọ aráyé lè pa kò s'ẹ́ni tó lè pa èéfín / You can put the fire out, but you won’t get rid of the smoke.

✬ Ká fi ogún ọdún lá oyin kò ní kí inú ẹni dùn / If you lick honey for many years, it will not make you any happier.

Yoruba fabric

READ ALSO: What is Hausa culture?

✬ Ká máa náwó kò ní kówó ó tán; ká ya'hun kò ní kówó ó pọ̀ si / Charity won’t make you poor, just as being stingy won’t make you rich.

✬ Ìlú tí a bá rè là ḿbá pé / Do not leave your people behind.

✬ A kì í rí ẹṣin ní ìso / Good things never come too easy.

✬ Àbẹ̀tẹ́lẹ̀ ní ńfọ́jú onídàájọ́ / A bribe can change one’s mind.

✬ Tí aṣeni bá ní ibi mẹ́fà, yóò fi ìkan tàbí méjì ṣe ara rẹ̀ / What goes around eventually comes around.

✬ Kí a tó dé ibi tí à ńlọ, a máa ńkọ́kọ́ dé ibi tí a kò fẹ́ / Before reaching your destination, you will have to pass some places where you’d rather not be.

✬ Tí agbada ò bá gbóná, àgbàdo ò lè ta / You need to work hard to get what you want.

Yoruba ritual face paint

✬ Afìkọ̀kọ̀jalè, bí ọba ayé ò rí ọ, tọ̀rún rí ọ / God sees all.

✬ Àgbẹ̀ gbóko róṣù / Persevere to succeed.

✬ A kì í fi ìkánjú lá ọbẹ̀ gbígbóná / Patience is important.

✬ A kì í rójú ẹni purọ́ mọ́ni / It is easy to talk behind someone’s back.

✬ Adìẹ́ ńjẹkà, ó ḿmumi, ó ńgbé òkúta pẹ́-pẹ̀-pẹ́ mì, ó ní òun ò léhín; ìdérègbè tó léhín ńgbé irin mì bí? / Be content with what you have and don’t waste your breath on complaining.

✬ Àdó gba ara ẹ̀ tẹ́lẹ̀, ká tó fi oògùn sí? / Do not expect help from someone who is helpless themselves.

✬ Orúkọ rere sàn ju wúrà àti fàdákà lọ / Having a good name is priceless.

✬ Ẹni tó ńsáré tó ńwo ẹ̀hìn, ó di dandan, kó fi ẹsẹ̀ kọ / If you keep looking back when you run, you will inevitably trip and fall.

Yoruba pattern

✬ Agara kì í dá oníṣẹ́ Ọlọ́run / Messenger of God is never tired.

✬ A kì í mọ iyì wúrà tí kò bá sọnù / We take for granted the things that come easy.

✬ Ojú tó rí ibi tí ò fọ́, ire ló ńdúró de / The best has yet to come.

✬ Gbogbo èèyàn oníwà tùtù kọ́ lonínúure / Appearances are often misleading.

✬ Alágbẹ̀dẹ tó nlu irin lójú kan, ó lóhun tó fẹ́ fàyọ ńbẹ̀ / Every person has a reason for doing what they do.

✬ Mọ̀jà mọ̀sá ni ti akínkanjú; akínkanjú tó bá mọ̀ọ́ jà tí ò mọ̀ọ́ sá, á b'ógun lọ / Know when to quit.

✬ Àgùntàn bọ̀lọ̀jọ̀ ò gbàgbé eléèrí bọ̀rọ̀ / Good deeds are never forgotten.

✬ Àgbẹ̀ ò dáṣọ lóṣù, àfọdún / Reward for hard work will come in time.

✬ Àgbọ́ká etí ọlọ́ràn á di / Some things should be ignored.

✬ Àìlèfọhùn ní ńṣáájú orí burúkú / Say what you have to say or suffer the consequences.

✬ Ìgbà kan ńlọ ìgbà kan ńbọ̀; ẹnìkan ò lo ilé ayé gbó / Things come and go, nothing will last forever.

art of ori

We hope that our list of Yoruba proverbs and their meanings have broadened your horizons, or at least, have given you an idea for a new tweet ;)

For more Yoruba proverbs, follow Yoruba Proverbs on Twitter (@yoruba_proverbs) or Facebook (/oweyoruba).

READ ALSO: Nigerian traditional art and culture

Source: Naij.com

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