Proverb in Thai is called สุภาษิต /sù-paa-sìt/.
Proverbs are the traditional (historic) sayings of a country. They are short, clever sentences that usually offer life advice. Native Thai speakers often use them in conversation without even realizing it.
Proverbs can teach you more about a country’s culture than any textbook. They show what is important to the group of people, what is considered good behavior and what is bad behavior. Proverbs can also tell you the history of a place. For example, proverbs from farming towns will use a lot of farming language, and fishing villages will talk about the sea.
If you search on Google “Thai proverbs” you will find lists of 150 proverbs that is way too much, and I looked at those phrases, half of them I didn’t know what they were. I never used most of them in my life. You don’t want to waste your time.
Today we want to help you learn 10 common Thai proverbs that native speaker actually use in everyday life. Sometimes Thai language learners find it difficult to learn proverbs because proverbs can be long sentences but good news is these proverbs I selected for you are just a few words , clearly explained just for you!
Thai Proverb: แมวไม่อยู่หนูร่าเริง /maew mâi yùu nŭu râa-rerng/
English Proverb: When cats away the mice will play.
Meaning: when the person who is in charge of a place is not there, and the people there behave badly
Thai Proverb: ยิงปืนนัดเดียวได้นกสองตัว /ying bpuen nát diao, dâai nók săwng dtua/
English Proverb: Kill two birds with one stone
Meaning: To succeed in achieving two things in a single action
ยิง /ying/ = to shoot
ปืน /bpuen/ = gun
ได้ /dâai/ = to get, receive
นก /nók/ = bird
Thai Proverb: จับปลาสองมือ /jàb bplaa săwng mue/
English Proverb: Have your cake and eat it (too)
Meaning: To have or do two good things at the same time that are impossible to have or do at the same time.
Thai Proverb: หนีเสือปะจระเข้ /nĭi sŭea bpà jaw-rá-kây/
English Proverb: Between the devil and the deep blue sea.
Meaning: To have two choices that are both equally unpleasant or not convenient
หนี /nĭi/ = escape, run away
เสือ / sŭea/ = tiger
ปะ /bpà/ = meet unexpectedly
จระเข้ / jaw-rá-kây/ = crocodile
Thai Proverb: อย่าตัดสินคนจากภายนอก /yàa dtàt- sĭn kon jàak paai-nâwk/
English Proverb: You can’t judge a book by its cover.
Meaning: You cannot know what something or someone is like by looking only at that person or thing’s appearance.
อย่า /yàa/ = Don’t
ตัดสิน / dtàt- sĭn/ = to judge
คน /kon/ = people
จาก /jàak/ = from
ภายนอก /paai-nâwk/ = exterior ; external
Thai Proverb: ได้อย่างเสียอย่าง /dâai yàang sĭa yàang/
English Proverb:You can’t have your cake and eat it too.
Meaning: Something that is bittersweet. Getting a good half and a bad half to something.
If you eat your cake, you won’t have it anymore, will you? So you can’t do both. This proverb is about having two opposite desires, and how it’s impossible to get both because the options conflict with each other, so they can only pick one.
ได้ /dâai/ = to receive , to get
เสีย /sĭa/ = to lose
อย่าง /yàang/ = classifier for things
Thai Proverb: กันไว้ดีกว่าแก้ / gan wái dii gwàa gâe/
English Proverb:Prevention is better than cure.
Meaning: It is better to stop something bad from happening than it is to deal with it after it has happened.
กัน /gan/ = to prevent
ดีกว่า /dii gwàa/ = better
แก้ /gâe/ = repair, fix, solve
Thai Proverb: ตบมือข้างเดียวไม่ดัง /dtòb mue kâang diao mâi dang/
English Proverb: It takes two to make a quarrel or it takes two to tango.
Meaning: Said when you want to emphasise that both people involved in a difficult situation must accept the blame, or that an activity needs two people who are willing to take part for it to happen. Just as one person can’t tango (a Spanish dance with two people) alone, two people are responsible for some situations, so you can’t just blame one person.
ตบมือ / dtòb mue/ = clap hands
ข้าง /kâang/ = side
เดียว /diao/ = one
ดัง /dang/ = loud
Thai Proverb: หัวเราะทีหลังดังกว่า / hŭa-ró tii-lăang dang gwàa/
English Proverb: He who laughs best laughs last.
Meaning: Said to emphasize that the person who has control of a situation in the end is most successful, even if other people had seemed originally to have an advantage
หัวเราะ / hŭa-ró/ = to laugh
ทีหลัง / tii-lăang/ = later, after
ดัง /dang/ = loud
กว่า /gwàa/ = more
Thai Proverb: รำไม่ดีโทษปี่โทษกลอง /ram mâi dii toot bpìi toot glawng/
English Proverb: A bad work man always blames his tool.
Meaning: Said when someone has blamed a mistake or failure on the things that they use to work.
รำ /ram/ = to do Thai-style dance
โทษ /toot/ = blame
ปี่ /bpìi/ = Thai flute
กลอง /glawng/ = drum