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Let's Learn Turkish
Let's Learn Turkish - Haydi Türkçe Öğrenelim

TÜRKÇE ATASÖZÜ VE DEYİMLER Turkish Proverbs and Idiomatic Expressions

Turkish Proverbs and Idiomatic Expressions

The unpretentious and modest common sense of the Turkish people over many generations is distilled in many proverbs that are used today –some from thousands of years, centuries ago. When it matches the situation, a proverb or an idiomatic expression is uttered without any other commentary because it just says it all!
Here are some examples with their direct translation and underlying meanings.
1. Açma sırrını dostuna,o da söyler dostuna. - (Don't tell your secret to your friend, s/he will tell to his/her friend.)
2. Ağac yaş iken eğilir. - (The tree branch should be bent when it is young/green.) Used to support the need to train a person early in life.
3. Akıl yaşta değil bastadır. - (A man is as wise as his head, not his years.) Used to make a point that even an old person may not have all the wisdom.
4. Anasına bak, kızını al. - (Look at the mother before marrying the daughter.) Expresses the view that a young girl (or a bride) will eventually look and behave like her mother
5. Aşkın gözü karadır. - (Love is daring.) Can mean that a lover can do anything without calculating the consequences or that love has a blind eye.
6. Ateş düştüğü yeri yakar. - (An ember burns where it falls.) Used when expressing an appreciation of pain for the people who are close to the injured or hurt person.
7. Atın ölümü arpadan olsun. - (Let the horse die from too much barley.) Used to express the feeling that the benefits over weigh the risks.
8. Ayağını yorganına göre uzat. -(Stretch your feet according to your blanket.) Used to make a point that one should spend according to his means.
9. Bal tutan parmağını yalar. - (One who handles honey, licks his fingers.) Somebody in charge of handling money or resources, get to keep or enjoy some benefits for himself.
10. Bedava sirke baldan tatlıdır. -(Free vinegar is sweeter than honey.) Used to make a point when someone goes after something just because it is free or very cheap even though they would not normally even want it.
11. Bekara karı boşamak kolay gelir. -(To a bachelor, divorcing a wife comes easy.) Used to point out that when one does not carry a responsibility, it is easy for them to give advice.
12. Bekarlık sultanlıktır. - (A bachelor feels like a sultan.) Used by bachelors when asked to explain why they are still single.
13. Beterin beteri vardır. -(Every “bad” has its “worse.”.) Used to make a point that things can always go even worse and one should make the best of current situation.
14. Bıçak yarası geçer, dil yarası geçmez . -(A knife-wound heals, but a tongue wound festers.) Used to make a point that one should be careful before using hurtful language.
15. Bir elin nesi var, iki elin sesi var. - (It takes two hands to make a sound.) Similar to "it takes two to tango".
16. Bir kahvenin kırk yıl hatırı vardır. -(A cup of Turkish coffee commits one to forty years of friendship.) Used to remind that friendships should not be taken lightly and that one should have a long term commitment…and that sharing Turkish coffee is very valuable
17. Bir müsibet, yüz tembihten iyidir. -(A tribulation is better than a hundred warnings.) Used to make a point that one learns better from their mistakes or misfortunes rather than the advice of others.
18. Boş laf karın doyurmaz. -(Empty words will not fill an empty stomach.) Used to make a point that one is using empty promises without any real action.
19. Başıboş kalan kız ya davulcuya kaçar, ya zurnacıya! – (If a daughter is left alone/unprotected, she will elope/run away with either a drum player or a pipe player!
20. Bu ne perhiz, bu ne lahana turşusu?. -(What is this diet, what is this pickled cabbage?) Used to point out inconsistencies in one's behaviour or words.
21. Ceviz kabuğunda fırtına. - (Storm in a walnut shell.) Similar to tempest in a tea cup.
22. Çocuğunu dövmeyen, dizini dover. - (One who does not slap his children, will slap his knees.) Parents that do not discipline their children early on, will beat themselves later on when they learn the bad things their grown children have done.
23. Çok yaşayan değil,çok gezen bilir. - (It isn't who lived much knows, t is who travelled much.)
24. Damlaya damlaya göl olur. - (Drop by drop, it will make a pond.) Small savings will lead to substantial wealth. Used to encourage people to save.
25. Denize düşen yılana sarılır. -(The one that falls in to the sea grabs even a snake.) Used to point out that one may have to chose an unpleasant alternative in a dire situation. If you are in a bad situation, you will accept any help.Similar to beggars can't be choosers.
26. Doğru söyleyeni dokuz köyden kovarlar . - (They will expel the truth-teller from nine villages. (why nine?)(Because "nine"[dokuz] in Turkish rhymes with "truth"[doğru]:) Don't be an ever truth-teller; know where to shut up.
27. Dereyi görmeden paçaları sıvama. -(Do not roll up your trousers before reaching the stream.) Used to make a point that one should not be overly eager and optimistic about an outcome.
28. Deveye hendek atlatmaktan daha zor. -(It is more difficult than teaching a camel to jump (than to reason with fool).) Used to express frustration in discussion.
29. Doğmamış çocuğa don biçilmez. -(One does not cut cloth for a yet unborn child.) Used to remind that one should not go far ahead of events or make too many assumptions.
30. Dost acı söyler. -(The real friend tells the bitter truth.) Used to soften the blow when a friend needs to give bitter advise.
31. El elden üstündür. -(One hand may be superior to another.) Used to remind that one should not assume no one else can do better.
32. Gel demesi kolay, git demesi zordur. -(It is easy to say “Come,” difficult to say “Go.”.) Used to caution that it is easy to invite someone, but difficult to ask them to leave.
33. Görünen köy kılavuz istemez. -(A village that you can see in a distance do not require a guide.) Used to point out that the events are heading to an obvious conclusion and hence further discussion is not warranted.
34. Göz görmeyince gönül katlanır. - (Heart endures when eye does not see.) One can endure being far way from loved ones by not seeing them.
35. Gözden ırak, gönülden de ırak olur. - (If one is far away, one also gets far away from the heart.) Expresses the feeling that by being far away, one risks losing the love and affection of a person.
36. Görünen köy kılavuz istemez. - (To go to a village which you can see, you don't need a guide.) If you see, you don't need any explanations.
37. Gülü seven dikenine katlanır. - (One who loves roses, will endure the thorns.)
38. Güneşte yanmayan, gölgenin kıymetini bilmez. – (If you've never been burned under the sun,you'll never know shadow's value.)
39. Güzellik gecer, akıl kalır. -(Beauty passes, wisdom remains.) Used to make a point that wisdom matters more than physical beauty.
40. Hamama giren terler. -(The one who enters a Turkish bath sweats.) Used to point out that one's actions detemine the consequences and therefore one should not complain about them later.
41. Havlayan köpek ısırmaz. - (The dog that barks does not bite.) When a person talks too much, it usually does not lead to action.
42. Her koyun kendi bacağından asılır. -(Every sheep is hung by his own leg.) Used to make a point that every one is responsible from his own actions.
43. Her yiğitin bir yoğurt yiyişi vardır. -(Every man has his own style of eating yogurt.) Used to remind that others may have a different way of doing things and hence asking for tolerance.
44. İncir çekirdeğini doldurmaz. - (It won't fill a fig seed.) Used to express the insignificance of someone's point in an argument.
45. İnsan yedisinde ne ise yetmişinde de odur. - (What a man is at seven is also what he is at seventy.) Used when expressing dissatisfaction in unchanged human behavior or the fact that one never learns from one's mistakes.
46. İsteyenin bir yüzü kara, vermeyenin iki yüzü. - (The one who asks has one side of his face dark; the one who refuses to give has both sides.) Used to put the shame or burden on the side that can give but refuses to do so.
47. İt ürür, kervan yürür. -(Dogs bark, but the caravan goes on.) Used to put down someone's efforts or words and meaning that it won't have any effect on the outcome. It is a rude but an effective expression.
48. Kel basa şimşir tarak. - (A boxwood comb for a bald head.) Used to make a point when a person indulges beyond his financial means.
49. Keskin sirke küpüne zarar verir. - (Sharp vinegar only damages its container.) Used to calm down or moderate a person.
50. Kızım sana söylerim, gelinim sen anla. -(I tell it to my daughter, for my daughter-in-law to understand.) Used to point out that sometimes a message is intended for someone other than the actual recipient
51. Köpegin duası kabul olsa idi, gökten kemik yağardı. -(If a dog’s prayers were answered, bones would rain from the sky.) Used as response against somebody with a hurtful or evil wish. It is rude and used only in a verbal fight.
52. Kötü komşu insanı kap kacak sahibi yapar. -(Bad neighbour forces one to have his own pots and pans.) Used to remind one that not depending on others, makes one self reliant.
53. Kumaşını verince, astarını ister. -(If you give him cloth, he’ll ask for the lining.) Used to make a point one is being greedy.
54. Kızını dövmeyen dizini döver. - (Spare the rod and spoil the child.) Used to remind one that beating is a dependable way of disciplining youth and bringing up conforming individuals.
55. Kuzguna yavrusu şahin görünür. - (To the raven's eye, its offspring look like falcons.) Used to express the feeling that any baby looks beautiful to its mother.
56. Meyve veren ağaç taşlanır. -(The tree bearing fruit, gets stoned.) Used to point out that only a productive person trying to do new things gets to be criticized.
57. Meyve, ağacının dibine düşer -(Fruit of a tree falls near its roots.) Used to point out that children usually turn out like their parents. [Aslo “Armut dibine düşer” –A pear will not fall far from the tree.]
58. Ne ekersen, onu biçersin. - (You harvest what you sow.) Used to remind a person that one's own past actions are responsible for the present situation.
59. Öfke ile kalkan zararla oturur. - (He who starts up in anger, sits down with a loss.) Used when one is trying to calm an angry person.
60. Öküz altında buzağı aranmaz. - (Do not search for a calf under a bull.) When someone shows unnecessary amount of suspicion for an action.
61. Pire icin yorgan yakmak. - (Burning a bedcover for a flea.) Used when an action taken does not match the unimportance of the situation.
62. Rüzgar eken fırtına biçer. - (One who sows wind will reap hurricane.) Used to caution people to moderate their actions.
63. Sakınılan göze çöp batar. - (An over-protected eye gets the speck.) Being overly careful or overprotective invites misfortunes.
64. Saman altından su yürütür. - (Lets water run unnoticed under straw.) Used to define a sly person or behavior.
65. Sinek küçüktür, ama mide bulandırır. - (The fly is small, but it can upset your stomach.) Used when an event that seems insignificant to others, still bothers a person.
66. Sormak ayıp değil, bilmemek ayıp. - (It is not disgraceful to ask, it is disgraceful no to know.) Used to encourage people to be inquisitive.
67. Sürüden ayrılan koyunu kurt kapar. - (The sheep separated from the flock gets eaten by the wolf.) Used to encourage a person to stay within the group (when for example, it plans a move).
68. Sütten ağzı yanan, yoğurdu üfleyerek yer. - (The one who burns his mouth for drinking milk too hot, eats even yogurt carefully.) Used to make the point that life's bad experiences teach people to be cautious.
69. Taşıma suyla değirmen dönmez. - (You can't run a water mill by carrying water.) It is futile to start a business if you don't have a sustainable source or you can't sustain a life style with borrowed money.
70. Tatlı söz yılanı deliğinden çıkarır. -(Kind words will get a snake out of its hole.) Used to express the effectiveness of kind words as opposed to confrontation.
71. Ümit fakirin ekmeğidir. -(Hope is the bread of the poor.) Used to point out that hope helps sustain the poor or needy.
72. Vakitsiz öten horozun başını keserler. - (The cock that crows too early gets his head cut off.) There is a proper time for everything.
73. Yalancının mumu yatsıya kadar yanar. - (Liar's candle will last till evening.) Lies will work only for a limited time.
74. Yenilen pehlivan güreşe doymaz. - (A defeated wrestler never tires of wrestling again.) . A defeated person always asks for second chances.
75. Zararın neresinden dönülse kârdır. -(Reversing losses at whatever point is a profit.) Used to point out that best action is to reverse course if one is going down the wrong path –as soon as possible.
76. Zenginin malı, fakirin çenesini yorar. -(The rich man’s wealth tires the poor man's jaw.) Used to make a point that poor talks too much about what the wealthy have.
77. Bana arkadaşını söyle, sana kim olduğunu söyleyeyim –(Tell me your friend and I 'll tell you who you are)
78. Gülme komşuna, gelir başına. –(Don’t laugh at your neighbor; the same could happen to you)


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