Culture
Life made easy with these 24 Maltese proverbs
These Maltese proverbs provide a complete instruction manual for life - you're welcome!

Melanie Drury

Francis Xavier Camilleri

viewingmalta.com / Francis Xavier Camilleri

Proverbs have a way of putting life's wisdom in simple terms. These Maltese proverbs offer good advice on several aspects of living life. Know these principles derived from Maltese wisdom and be happy!

1. "Kulħadd tad-demm u l-laħam"

We are all made of flesh and blood

The first in the list is a reminder that all humans are made of the same substance - we all think and feel, we all have the same desires and we all suffer the same. Therefore, be compassionate and treat everyone equally.

2. "Illum jien u għada int"

Today it's me, tomorrow it's you

This proverb highlights the fact that life is full of chances and things could happen to anyone. Nobody can assume something will not happen to them or understand how it feels until it happens to them. 

3. "M'hemmx warda bla xewk"

There is no rose without thorns

This proverb points to how 'life is not a bed of roses'. All beautifully tempting things are inevitably accompanied by an experience that could be considered unpleasant.

4. "Tmiem tajjeb isewwi kollox"

All's well that ends well

This proverb offers encouragement. When fulfilment or an agreement is reached, all hardships endured in the process become worthwhile. 

5. "Żgur il-mewt"

Death is the only thing that's certain

Yet this one gives a warning. Life is full of chances and you can never be sure of anything... except death. Tread with caution.

6. "Tixtrix ħut fil-baħar"

Don't buy fish in the sea

Do not take uncalculated risks, says this proverb. It warns against the potential risks, especially financial, that come with speculation.

7. "Tagħmilx iz-zalza qabel taqbad il-ħut"

Do not prepare the sauce before catching the fish

And this one adds to wait to have something tangible in hand before carrying out desired plans.

8. "Min jistenna jithenna"

He who waits patiently is rewarded

The virtues of patience are highlighted in this proverb. It offers encouragement about the rewards of waiting for the fruits that come naturally.

9. "Bil-qatra l-qatra timtela l-ġarra"

Drop by drop, the pot fills up

Similar to "count the pennies and the pounds take care of themselves", this proverb points at how the little things add up. 

10. "Bil-flus tagħmel triq fil-bahar"

With money, you can pass a road through the sea

This proverb recognises the huge potential offered by financial abundance. It implies that money makes the impossible possible.

11. "Bil-flus ħadd ma jixtri il-ġenna"

You can't buy heaven with money

However, this proverb warns that money cannot buy you happiness. While much can be achieved with money, heaven cannot be purchased.

12. "Ħadd ma jieħu xejn miegħu"

No one takes anything with him

So do not be attached to money, because no material things will accompany you beyond your grave.

13. "Il-flus għandhom il-ġwienaħ"

Money has wings

Yet, this one warns, be careful not to open your hands too much and spend unnecessarily as money goes much more easily than it comes.

14. "Il-bogħod mill-għajn, il-bogħod mil-qalb"

Out of sight, out of mind (heart)

Desire tends to fade when the object of desire is out of sight, says this proverb. This can refer to any object or a person.

15. "Fejn tħobb il-qalb jimxu r-riġlejn"

The legs go where the heart is

This one, however, acknowledges that the heart's inspiration is what guides our doing. Without love or passion, we have no motivation.

16. "Il-qattus u l-far qatt ma ħasbu għalenija"

The cat and the rat never thought alike

This proverb acknowledges that different people will have different ideas and opinions and while they may disagree, they are all to be respected.

17. "L-ilsien bla għadam imma jxoqq l-għadam"

The tongue has no bones but shakes you to the bone

This proverb cautions against expressing disagreements violently. Words once spoken cannot be unspoken, and they have the power to break a person's spirit.

18. "Aħjar weġgħa minn demgħa"

Better an ache than a tear

This proverb acknowledges the deeper suffering of emotional pain when compared to physical injury. It is an expression of empathy.

19. "Tinfaxxax rasek qabel taqsamha"

Do not bandage your head before you break it

Much of the suffering we feel is the worry we put ourselves through unnecessarily, and this proverb warns against believing your own stories about what happened or what will happen.

20. "Il-mistoqsija oħt il-għerf"

The question is the sister of wisdom

The only way to know is to ask a question, says this one. Whether it is something you don't understand in someone's behaviour or the mysteries of the universe, this proverb encourages genuine curiosity.

21. "Il-giddieb omru qasir"

The liar has a short lifespan

Speak the truth with kindness and avoid gossip and lies because "Il-verita' dejjem toħroġ f'wicc l-ilma" - the truth always comes to the surface.

22. "Gawdi għax mid-dinja m’għandna xejn"

Enjoy it because we have nothing from this world

This proverb encourages people to lighten up and have fun because, in the bigger picture, we are insignificant.

23. "Li kien kien, li kieku kieku"

What was is no more, what if is just if

This proverb encourages to stop worrying about what happened and what could have happened, accept everything as it is and move on. Another proverb to this effect is "Kieku u kien qatt ma qagħdu flimkien" - what was and what if never go together. Another version yet is "Li hemm hemm u li gej gej" - what was was and what will be will be.

24. "Kliem ix-xiħ zomm fih"

Trust the words of the old man

Those who have come before and have been through a lot in life have much to teach from their experience to those who follow. This proverb advises listening to such wisdom.

Isn't that what proverbs are all about? 

3rd December 2023


Melanie Drury
Written by
Melanie Drury
Melanie was born and raised in Malta and has spent a large chunk of her life travelling solo around the world. Back on the island with a new outlook, she realised just how much wealth her little island home possesses.

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