25 great Ukrainian proverbs, sayings and idioms – and their meanings

Ukraine is a country with a rich culture and history. One aspect of Ukrainian culture that is evident in the language are the proverbs, sayings and idioms. These expressions add color and flavor to the language, and can often be difficult to translate into English.

Russian Proverbs
Russian Proverbs

In this blog post, we will explore 25 of the most popular Ukrainian proverbs, sayings and idioms – along with their meanings.

1. Про вовка промовка

Translation: “Talking about the wolf”

Meaning: This proverb is used when someone is talking about something they know nothing about.

Example: “Як хтось про вовка промовив, то сам його не бачив”. “As if somebody talked about the wolf, he himself has never seen it.”

Write more examples of Ukrainian proverbs, their translations, their meanings and examples of their use. Use the same format as the example above.

2. Не по тому стрибає конь, що його гнать

Translation: “It’s not the horse that he’s been galloping after that he’ll catch but the one he’s been running away from”

Meaning: This proverb is used to describe someone who is in a hurry to do something, but is not very successful.

Example: “Він стрибає конями, але не по тому, що хоче догнати, а по тому, що спрямований”. “He’s galloping on horses but not the ones he wants to catch, but the ones that are running away from him.”

3. Були б як то було

Translation: “If it were so”

Meaning: This proverb is used to express frustration or dissatisfaction with the current state of affairs.

Example: “Були б як то було, то нам не потрібні такі солдати”. “If it were so, we wouldn’t need such soldiers.”

4. Коли голова крива, то під язиком вода

Translation: “When the head is crooked, the water flows under the tongue”

Meaning: This proverb means that someone who is dishonest will always find a way to cheat others.

Example: “Коли голова крива, то під язиком вода”. “When the head is crooked, the water flows under the tongue.”

5. Від того, що помилка, смерть не далеко

Translation: “A mistake is not far from death”

Meaning: This proverb is used to warn someone that a mistake could have serious consequences.

Example: “Усі ми люди і помилки робимо. Тому від того, що помилка, смерть не далеко”. “We’re all humans and we make mistakes. So, a mistake is not far from death.”

6. Присвята юності

Translation: A dedication to youth

Meaning: This proverb is used to describe someone who is young and inexperienced.

Example: “Він юний і повний надій. Нема у нього жодних привідів сумніватися”. “He’s young and full of hope. He has no reason to doubt.”

7. О чем я молчу

Translation: About what I’m silent

Meaning: This proverb is used when someone doesn’t want to talk about something that is personal or embarrassing.

Example: “Як би я хотіла, щоб всі могли про це дзвонити, але умовами яви є о чем я молчу”. “I wish everyone could talk about it, but there are some things I’m silent about.”

8. Якась тайна

Translation: There is some secret

Meaning: This proverb means that something is not what it seems and that there is more to the story.

Example: “Якась тайна завжди є, і вона не зможе бути розкритою”. “There is always some secret, and it can’t be revealed.”

9. “Не стріляйте у ворон, щоб ворон не стріляв у вас.”

Translation: Don’t shoot at a crow, so the crow won’t shoot at you.

Meaning: This proverb is used to describe someone who is trying to avoid trouble.

Example: “Не стріляйте у ворон, щоб ворон не стріляв у вас”. “Don’t shoot at a crow, so the crow won’t shoot at you.”

10. “Вишивати гудками”

Translation: To sew with horns

Meaning: This proverb means that someone is trying to do something that is impossible.

Example: “Вишивати гудками – це мрія”. “To sew with horns is a dream.”

11. “Не все то золото, що блискає”

Translation: All that glitters is not gold.

Meaning: This proverb means that something may not be as good as it seems.

Example: “Не все то золото, що блискає”. “All that glitters is not gold.”

12. “Поки хвіст у вузькому дядька, нема грошей”

Translation: While the tail is in the narrow uncle, there is no money.

Meaning: This proverb means that someone is trying to save money.

Example: “Поки хвіст у вузькому дядька, нема грошей”. “While the tail is in the narrow uncle, there are no money.”

13. “Всяк своє”

Translation: Everyone has their own

Meaning: This proverb is used to describe how everyone is different and has different things that they like or don’t like.

Example: “Всяк своє – у кого хліб, у кого мак”. “Everyone has their own – some people like bread, some people like flour.”

Write more examples of Ukrainian proverbs, their translations, their meanings and examples of their use. Use the same format as the example above.

14. “Не все то, прийде, що придуть”

Translation: Not everything that comes is good.

Meaning: This proverb is used to describe how not everything in life is good.

Example: “Не все то, прийде, що придуть”. “Not everything that comes is good.”

Write more examples of Ukrainian proverbs, their translations, their meanings and examples of their use. Use the same format as the example above.

15. “Що було – то пройшло”

Translation: What was, has passed.

Meaning: This proverb means that something is in the past and can’t be changed.

Example: “Тимчасове розуміння – це свято”. “What was, has passed.”

16. “Чомусь так випало”

Translation: It just so happened

Meaning: This proverb is used to describe something that was not planned or expected.

Example: “Вчора я знав тему для докладу, і сьогодні я не знаю”. “It just so happened that I knew the topic for my presentation yesterday, but I don’t know it today.”

17. “Не варто гукати як велень”

Translation: Don’t bark like a dog.

Meaning: This proverb means that someone is making a lot of noise but not doing anything.

Example: “Не варто гукати як велень”. “Don’t bark like a dog.”

18. “Не завдавай їсти цукру вчорашнього дня”

Translation: Don’t ask for sugar yesterday.

Meaning: This proverb means that someone is asking for something that they don’t need.

Example: “Не завдавай їсти цукру вчорашнього дня”. “Don’t ask for sugar yesterday.”

19. “Не всякий траву пожує”

Translation: Not everyone can digest grass.

Meaning: This proverb means that not everyone can do something or that not everything is good for everyone.

Example: “Не всякий траву пожує”. “Not everyone can digest grass.”

20. “Рослини не порушаються”

Translation: Plants don’t move.

Meaning: This proverb means that something is not going to change.

Example: “Рослини не порушаються”. “Plants don’t move.”

21. “Хвороба – хвороба, але смерть – смерть”

Translation: Disease is disease, but death is death.

Meaning: This proverb means that something is bad but there are things that are worse.

Example: “Хвороба – хвороба, але смерть – смерть”. “Disease is disease, but death is death.”

22. “Не всякий конь мушкує”

Translation: Not every horse can dance.

Meaning: This proverb means that not everyone can do something or that not everything is good for everyone.

Example: “Не всякий конь мушкує”. “Not every horse can dance.”

23. “Все хороше – на пороздолі”

Translation: All is well in moderation.

Meaning: This proverb means that everything is good in moderation.

Example: “Все хороше – на пороздолі”. “All is well in moderation.”

24. “Мудрий скаже, як два тимчасових”

Translation: A wise man will say it the way it is.

Meaning: This proverb means that a wise man will tell you the truth.

Example: “Мудрий скаже, як два тимчасових”. “A wise man will say it the way it is.”

25. “Не шукай в чужому окультному”

Translation: Don’t look for a needle in someone else’s haystack.

Meaning: This proverb means that you shouldn’t look for something where it’s not going to be found.

Example: “Не шукай в чужому окультному”. “Don’t look for a needle in someone else’s haystack.”