Turkish Idioms

Every language has its own proverbs that express a general truth. They are wise words derived from the experiences of our ancestors. Proverbs give advice or underline certain moral values. They are a reflection of the culture. However, it is possible to find similar proverbs in different languages; they may have different literal meanings but similar sense.

In Turkey, we use a lot of proverbs; and it is advisable for Turkish learners to have some knowledge of them so that they can understand the Turkish culture better. Some examples are provided below with their literal translation and English equivalent:

  • Aynası iştir kişinin lafa bakılmaz.
    Work is the mirror of a person, don’t look at mere words. (Actions speak louder than words)
  • Nasıl başlarsa, öyle gider.
    Everything continues to proceed the way it’s started. (As the twig is bent, so grows the tree)
  • Her işte bir hayır vardır.
    Every difficult situation has a positive side. (Every cloud has a silver lining)
  • Havlayan köpek ısırmaz.
    Barking dog never bites.
  • Günes girmeyen eve doktor girer.
    A sun a day keeps the doctor away. (An apple a day keeps the doctor away)
  • Ne ekersen onu biçersin.
    As you sow, so you shall reap.
  • Körle yatan şaşı kalkar.
    Who lies with the blind gets up cross-eyed. (The rotten apple injures its neighbors)
  • Sütten ağzı yanan yoğurdu üfleyerek yer.
    One who has once burnt his tongue while drinking milk will blow to yoghurt before eating it. (Once burnt twice shy)
  • Sabreden derviş muradına ermiş.
    A dervish who waited patiently attained his goal. (Everything comes to him who waits)
  • Ya bu deveyi güdersin, ya bu diyardan gidersin.
    Either drive this camel or leave the country. (When in Rome, do as the Romans do)
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