Reference > Quotations > W.C. Hazlitt, comp. > English Proverbs and Proverbial Phrases
W.C. Hazlitt, comp.  English Proverbs and Proverbial Phrases.  1907.
Wilful waste  to  You cast your net
Wilful waste brings woeful want.  10400
Will any hang a wooden kettle over the fire?  10401
Will buyeth, and money payeth. B. OF M. R.  10402
Will is the cause of woe.  10403
Will will have will, though will woe win. HE.  10404
Willi nilli. SPENSER.
  i.e., Will he, nill he. Nilly-willy is a phrase for a wavering person.
Willows are weak, yet they bind other wood. H.  10406
Will’s a good boy when Will’s at home. CL.  10407
Willy Bickerton’s blade.
  A cant term of somewhat dubious signification. “— if not, and that I proue too weake for him in sophistrie, I meane to borrowe Wili Bickertons blade, of as good a temper as Morglay….” A Notable Discovery of Cosenage, 1591, Preface.
Wiltshire moonrakers.
  The expression of ‘Hampshire and Wiltshire moonrakers’ had its origin in the Wiltshire peasants fishing up the contraband goods at night brought through the [New] Forest and hid in the various ponds.”—Wise’s New Forest, 1867, p. 170. Compare the History of Sign-Boards, 1867, p. 463.
Win at first, and lose at last.
  Title of a ballad printed about 1660. See my Bibl. Coll., 1882, p. 115.
Win gold and wear gold. C.  10411
Win whoso may, it is for all to sell.
  Chaucer’s Wif of Bathes Prologe.
Wind and weather, do thy worst.  10413
Wine and wenches empty men’s purses.  10414
Wine by the savour, bread by the colour. B. OF M. R.  10415
Wine-counsels seldom prosper. H.
  Sometimes we find this in rhyme:
        “The counsels that are given in wine,
Will do no good to thee or thine.”
Wine hath drowned more men than the sea.  10417
Wine is a turncoat: first a friend, then an enemy.  10418
Wine makes old wives wenches. CL.  10419
Wine neither keeps secrets nor fulfils promises.  10420
Wine that costs nothing is digested ere it be drunk.  10421
Wine washeth off the daub.  10422
Wine, wood, women, and water. Herefordshire.
  This county is said to be famous for its four W’s, viz., its wine (cider), its wood (its sylvan scenery), its women, and its water (the river Wye).
Winkabank and Temple-brough,
will buy all England through and through. Yorkshire.
  Winkabank is a wood upon a hill near Sheffield, where there are some remainders of on old camp. Temple-brough stands between the Rother and the Don, about a quarter of a mile from the place where these two rivers meet. It is a square plat of ground, encompassed by two trenches. Selden often inquired for the ruins of a temple of the god Thor, which he said was near Rotherham. This probably might be it, if we allow the name for any argument: besides, there is a pool not far from it called Jordon-dam, which name seems to be compounded of Jor, one of the names of the god Thor, and Don, the name of the river.—R.
Wink at small faults.
  One of the earliest originators, if not authors, of a proverb, was Cipius the Roman, who winked at a very great fault, in pretending to be asleep while his wife received her admirer. The saying ascribed to him was, “Non omnibus dormio,” by way, as it were, of self-vindication.
Winter and wedlock tame man and beast.  10426
Winter finds out what summer lays up.  10427
Winter is summer’s heir.
  Al invierno lluvioso, verano abundoso. Span.—R.
Winter never rots in the sky. D.  10429
Winter shall warp water.
        “Freeze, freeze, thou bitter sky;
Thou dost not bite so nigh
  As benefits forgot:
Though thou the waters warp,
Thy sting is not so sharp
  As friend remembered not.”
As You Like It.    
Winter thunder makes summer’s wonder. C.
  Willsford’s Nature’s Secrets, 1658, p. 113.
Winter-time for shoeing,
peascod-time for wooing. Devonshire.
  See my Faiths and Folklore, 1905, p. 485.
Winter weather and women’s thoughts often change.  10433
Winter’s thunder and summer’s flood
never boded Englishman good.
Wisdom in a poor man is a diamond set in lead.  10435
Wisdom is a good purchase, though we pay dear for it.  10436
Wisdom liketh not chance.
  Lottery of 1567 (Kempe’s Loseley MSS., 1836, p. 210).
Wisdom sometimes walks in clouted shoes.  10438
Wise behind the hand.
  The Comicall History of the Marriage twixt Fergusia and Heptarchus (circa 1670), p. 32.
Wise fear begets care.  10440
Wise men change their mind, fools never.  10441
Wise men have their mouth in their heart, fools their heart in their mouth.  10442
Wise men in the world are like timber trees in a hedge, here and there one.  10443
Wise men learn by other men’s mistakes, fools by their own.  10444
Wise words and great seldom agree.  10445
Wishers and woulders be no good householders. HE.
  Stanbridge in his Vulgaria, more than once printed by W. de Worde, includes in his examples:—
        “Wysshers and wolders be small housholders—”
  Countryman’s New Commonwealth, 1647.
        “The Hauke sayd, wysshers want wyll,
Whether they speake loud or styll.”
Parliament of Byrdes (circa 1550), in Hazlitt’s P. P., iii. 171.    
Wishes can never fill a sack.  10447
Wit and wisdom are good warison, quoth Hendyng.
  i.e., possession. P. of H. in Rel. Antiq., i. 109.
Wit bought is better than wit taught.
  Chamberlain’s Conceits, Clinches, &c., 1639 (ap. Old Engl. J. B., iii.)
Wit goes not all by the hair.
  Sir Thomas More, a play (circa 1590), ed. Dyce, 59.
Wit is folly unless a wise man hath the keeping of it.  10451
Wit is never good till it be bought. HE.
  Scogin’s Jests, ed. 1626.
Wit may be bought too dear.  10453
Wit, whither wilt thou?
  See Nares’ Glossary, ed. 1859, p. 966.
Wit without wisdom cuts other men’s meat and its own fingers.  10455
With a fool and a knave there’s no conclusion.  10456
With a grain of allowance.
  The Latin Cum grano salis is at least equally familiar.
With a little steel a little man’s armed. DS.  10458
With a mischief.
        “And also your comming I would disdayne,
And bid you walke with a wylde mischief.”
Wife Lapped in Morelles Skin (circa, 1570), in Hazlitt’s Pop. Poetry, iv. 187.
With a wanion.
  Towneley Mysteries, 109; Harman’s Caveat, 1567. “Was not this a good prelate? he should haue bene at home preachynge in hys Dioces in a wanion.”—Latimer’s Sermons, 1549, repr. Arber, p. 63.
With a wet finger, i.e., without any trouble. HE.*
  Bishop Pilkington’s Burning of Paules Church, 1561.
        “Lentulo.  No, sir? what will you lay, and I can finde
One with a wet finger that is starke blinde?”
Rare Triumphes of Love and Fortune, 1589, edit. 1851, p. 107.
  “Porter.  If I may trust a woman, sir, she will come.
  “Fustigo.  There’s for thy pain (gives money): God a mercy, if ever I stand in need of a Wench that will come with a wet finger, porter, thou shalt earn my money before any clarissimo in Milan.”—The Honest Whore, by Decker and Middleton, 1604 (Middleton’s Works, 1840, iii. 10). See also v. 1 (ibid. 97). It also occurs in Day’s Ile of Gvls, 1606, repr. 107, in Dekker’s Strange Horse Race, 1613, sign. D 3, and elsewhere. My American correspondent, however, says:—“I think Heywood errs in rendering this “without any trouble.” “The wet finger of intrigue” is an old phrase, apparently derived from a practice of writing on the table with a wine-wet finger.”
With all your joy join all your jeopardy. HE.*  10462
With as good a will as ever I came from school.  10463
With as good will as a bear goeth to the stake. HE.  10464
With bag and baggage.
  Decker’s Lanthorne and Candlelight, 1608, sign. I 4.
With butler’s grace.
  i.e., with very little grace at all. “The respect which the wantonest and vainest heads haue of them, is as of fiddlers, who are regarded but for a baudy song, at a merry meeting, and when they haue done, are commonly sent away with Butlers grace.”—Melton’s Sixe-Folde Politician, 1609, sign. D.
With cost one may make good pottage of a footstool.  10467
With empty hand men may no hawks lure. HE.
  Chaucer’s Wif of Bathes Prologe.
With foxes we must play the fox.  10469
With no fortune but a Midland water-mill.
  The New Westminster Wedding, 1693, p. 3. A coarse adage requiring no gloss.
With one child you may walk; with two you may ride;
when you have three, at home you must bide. Cornwall.
With respect to the gout, / the physician is but a lout.  10472
With time and patience the leaf of the mulberry-tree becomes satin. Walpoliana.  10473
Witham pike: / England hath none like.
  Witham seems to have been famed for its eels:—
        “Thence to Witham, having red there
That the fattest Eele was bred there,
Purposing some to intangle,
Forth I went and tooke mine angle,
Where an huge one having hooked,
By her headlong was I dooked.”
Barnabæ Itinerarium (1638), sign. Q 7.    
  Compare note to my edition on this passage.
Withhold not thine hand from shewing to the poor.  10475
Within a hog’s gape. E. Anglia.
  Very near or soon.
Within the danger of any one.
  Into any one’s hands or power. “I was as ware as I could bee, not to vtter anything for mine owne harme, for feare I should come in their daunger.”—Wilson’s Arte of Rhetorique, edit. 1584, sign. A v. So, in the Paston Letters, ed. Gairdner, iii. 179, speaking of a man who had left his home in debt, John Paston writes to his father, 9th March, 1477: “he departyd with ought lycence of hys mastyr, Sir Thomas Brewse, and is fere endangered to dyvers in thys contrey.” The phrase occurs again in a letter from Henry Windsor to John Paston, assigned to 1458.
Without all [awl] the cobbler’s nobody. CL.  10478
Without book.
  At random. So Gascoigne, in the Epistle to the Yong Gentlemen before his Posies, 1575, says: “There are also certaine others who thinke it sufficient if (parrot like) they can rehearse things without booke.” See also the Works, ii. 3.
Without hope the heart would break. C.  10480
Without pains, no gains.
  Or, No gains without pains; or, No sweet without some sweat. “Dii laboribus omnia vendunt. Carne sem osso, proveito sem trabalho. Port. Quien peces quiere, mejarse tiene. Span. No se toman truchas á bragas enxutas.”—R.
Wits are most wilful where women have wits,
which curtily [curtly] cometh upon them by fits.
  Rel. Ant., ii. 195.
Wives must be had, / be they good or bad.  10483
Woe the pie!
  A saying found in Damon and Pithias, 1571. Dodsley’s O. P., 1825, i. 193.
Woe to the house where there is no chiding. H.
  New Help to Discourse, 1721, p. 134.
Wolves College.
  i.e., The Rose Tavern. See Thoms’ Anecdotes and Traditions, p. 21.
Wolves in lambskins.
  Part of the title of a volume issued by Anthony Munday in 1605.
Wolves lose their teeth, but not their memory.
  This is curiously illustrated by the story in the Philosopher’s Banquet, 1614, which I printed in Faiths and Folklore, 1905—at least as regards the memory of wolves.
Women and dogs cause much strife.
  Schole-house of Women, 1541 (Hazlitt’s Pop. Poetry, iv. 131), where it is called “the proverb olde.”
Women and hens, through too much gadding, are lost.  10490
Women and wine, game and deceit,
make the wealth small and the wants great.
Women are born in Wiltshire,
brought up in Cumberland,
lead their lives in Bedfordshire,
bring their husbands to Buckingham,
and die in Shrewsbury.
  Wit Restor’d, 1658.
Women are saints in the church, angels in the street, devils in the kitchen, and apes in bed.
  Middleton’s Blurt, Master Constable, 1602 (Works, 1840, i. 280). This saying is rather elaborately illustrated in Jacques Olivier’s work called L’Alphabet de l’ Imperfection des Femmes, first published about 1617.
Women are ships, and must be manned.
  An Excellent Medley, a ballad printed about 1630 (Collier’s Broadside Black-letter Ballads, 1868, p. 122).
Women are the devil’s nets.
  Comedy, &c., showing the Beauty and Good Properties of Women, &c. (circa 1520), fol. 3 verso. This is printed in the first volume of Hazlitt’s Dodsley.
Women be forgetful, / children be unkind,
executors be covetous, / and take what they find:
if anybody asks where / the dead’s goods become?
they answer,
so God me help and holydoom, / he died a poor man.
  Reliquiæ Hearnianæ, p. 215. This is quoted from Stowe, who calls it an “old proverb.” See Southey’s Commonplace Book, 3rd Ser., p. 139.
Women commend a modest man, but like him not.  10497
Women conceal all that they know not.  10498
Women in mischief are wiser than men.
  When the clue to any trouble is wanting, the French say: “Cherchez la femme!”
Women laugh when they can, and weep when they will. H.
  See Hazlitt’s Dodsley, xiii. 141.
Women, money, and wine, / have their good and their pine. W.  10501
Women must have their wills while they live, because they make none when they die.
  This is one of the saws which legal changes have deprived of their truth and application.
Women think plaice a sweet fish.
  Apparently a jeu de mot on the similarity of sound and form between plaice and the Latin place.
Women, wind, and fortune, are ever changing.  10504
Women’s jars breed men’s wars.  10505
Women’s tongues, whene’er they talk:
    Tittle tattle! tittle tattle!
Like their pattens, when they walk:
    Pittle pattle! pittle pattle!
Won with an apple and lost with a nut.
  Day’s Blind-Beggar of Bednal Green, 1659, ed. Bullen, 66.
Won with the egg and lost with the shell. CL.
        “Wonne with an egge, and lost againe with shell.”
—Gascoigne’s Aduentures of Master F. I. (Poems, by Hazlitt, i. 483).
Won’t beguil’d the lady.  10508
Wood Fidley rain. Hampshire.
  Wise’s New Forest, 2nd ed., 1867, p. 79.
Wood half-burnt is easily kindled. H.  10510
Wood in wilderness and strength in a fool.  10511
Wooers and widows are never poor.
  Ralph Roister Doister (1566).
Worcester, poor, proud, and pretty.  10513
Words are but wind, but blows unkind.
Words have long tails, and have no tails.  10515
Words may pass, but blows fall heavy. Somersetshire.  10516
Worse afeard than hurt.
  Title, or subtitle rather, of a play produced in 1598.
Worth a Jew’s eye.
  Perhaps this means the ransom of a Jew’s eye in the old days of persecution, what a Hebrew would give to save his eye.
Worth a plum.
  It is said of a man who is accredited with large means that he is “worth a plum.” Tiene pluma. Span. The Spanish word pluma means wealth or a feather. Perhaps we get from the same language the phrase, “To feather one’s nest.”
Worth one’s weight in magpies. Cornwall.  10520
Wotton under Weaver, / where God came never. C.
  Leigh’s England Described, 1659, p. 179. “Wotton under Weaverhill (Staff.) is so much out of the sunshine that this rhime is common with the neighbours.”—England’s Gazetteer, 1751.
Would you be thanked for feeding your own swine?  10522
Would you cut down Falkland-wood with a penknife?  10523
Would you draw oil out of sand?  10524
Would you dye a raven black?  10525
Would you have potatoes grow by the pot-side?  10526
Would you know what money is, go borrow some. H.  10527
Would you thatch your house with pancakes?  10528
Wranglers are never in the wrong.  10529
  It is a local saying connected with this place, in Buckinghamshire near Staines, when all is well, “From Wraysbury—where do you think?” in reply to an inquiry; but when the place is in floods, the form is: “From Wraysbury—God help me!” This is common to other places.
Wrens may prey where eagles dare not perch.  10531
Wrinkled purses make wrinkled faces.  10532
Write down the advice of him who loves you, though you like it not at present.  10533
Write with the learned, but speak with the vulgar.  10534
Wroth as the wind.
  Langland’s Poem on the Deposition of Richard II., Camd. Soc., 20.
Yarmouth for the sinners: / Cromer for the saints: / Lowestoft …
  Four places are enumerated in a complete copy of this saying; but my informant had forgotten the rest. Not in Forby.
Ye be a baby of Beelzebub’s bower. HE.*  10537
Ye be as full of good manners as an egg is of oatmeal.
  Whitinton’s Vulgaria, 1520, cited in Bibliographer, Jan. 1882.
Ye came a clipping-time.  10539
Ye cut afore the point.  10540
Ye drive a snail to Rome.  10541
Ye lean to the wrong shore. HE.*  10542
Ye look liker a thief than a bishop.  10543
Ye may keep y’re dry rubs for your watery p’taturs. Irish.  10544
Ye ride a bootless errand.  10545
Years know more than books.  10546
Ye’d as lief go to mill as to mass. C.  10547
Yeker that can’t scheme must louster. S. Devon and Corn.
  Mr. Shelly observes: “He that cannot direct, must labour with his hands. Mr. Wedgwood thinks Yeker may be ‘thikky there;’ I know no other instance of the use of the word.” Probably Younker.
Yellow as a peigle. Kent.
  Skeat’s ed. of Pegge’s Kenticisms, 100. This is substantially identical in sense with, As black [or pale] as a paigle, supra.
Yellow bellies.
  An appellation given to persons born in the Fens.—R.
Yelping curs may anger mastiffs at last.  10551
Yeow mussent sing a’ Sunday, / becaze it is a sin:
but yeow may sing a’ Monday,
till Sunday cums agin. Suffolk.
Ye’re early with your orders, as the bride said at the church door. Irish.  10553
Ye’ve nails at wad scrat your granny out of her grave. Leeds.  10554
Yoke, Irwell, Medlock, and Fame,
when they meet with the Mersey do lose their name.
  Higson’s MSS. Coll., No. 91. These are the names of small streams, which flow into the larger one, and so lose their individuality.
York, you’re wanted.
  See N. and Q., 3rd S., x. 355.
  A term proverbially applied to a share in travelling expenses. “To do Yorkshire.”
You and I draw in the same yoke.  10558
You are a fine fellow to fetch the devil a priest.  10559
You are a man among the geese when the gander is away.  10560
You are a man of Duresley. Gloucestershire.
  This is taken for one that breaks his word and fails in performance of his promise; parallel to Fides Græca or Punica. Duresley is a market and clothing town in this county, the inhabitants whereof will endeavour to confute and disprove this proverb, to make it false now, whatsoever it was at the first original thereof.—R.
You are a pretty fellow to ride a goose a gallop through a dirty lane.  10562
You are a sweet nut if you were well cracked.  10563
You are all for the Hoistings.
  Or, hustings. “It is spoken of those, who, by pride or passion, are elated or mounted to a pitch above the due proportion of their birth, quality, or estate. It cometh from Hustings, the principal and highest court in London (as also in Winchester, Lincoln, York, &c.); so called from the [A.S. hus, a house, and thing, a plea or cause—the Court of Pleas.]”—R.
You are always best when asleep.  10565
You are an honest man, and I am your uncle; and that’s two lies.  10566
You are hanging ripe. W.  10567
You are in your roast-meat when others are in their sod.  10568
You are like a cuckoo: you have but one song.  10569
You are like a hog, never good while living.  10570
You are like fig-tree fuel: much smoke and little fire.  10571
You are like foul weather, you come unsent for, and troublesome when come.  10572
You are mope-eyed by living so long a maid.  10573
You are never well, full nor fasting.  10574
You are not one of our paste. WALKER (1672).  10575
You are on the high-road to Needham. Suffolk.
  Needham is a market town in this county; according to the wit of the vulgar, they are said to be in the high-way thither which do hasten to poverty.—R.
You are one of those lawyers that never heard of Littleton.  10577
You are saying the ape’s paternoster. D.
  A kind of proverbial taunt to one whose teeth are chattering with cold.—D.
You are so cunning, you know not what weather it is when it rains.  10579
You are very free of another man’s pottage.  10580
You are well seen in crane’s dirt: your father was a poulter.
  This appears to be cited as a proverbial phrase by Lyly in his Mother Bombie (Works, 1858, ii. 97): its import is obvious enough.
You ask an elm-tree for pears.  10582
You been like Smithwick, either clemed or bossten. Cheshire.
  See Wilbraham’s Cheshire Glossary, 1820, pp. 21–26.
You bestow water on a gate-post. CL.  10584
You bring a bit of wire and take away a bar.  10585
You bring owls to Athens. F.
  Noctuas Athenas.—Motto on the title of Drayton’s Owl, 1604.
You cackle often, but never lay an egg.  10587
You came for wool, but shall return shorn yourself.  10588
You can have no more of a cat than her skin.
  i.e., The skin is the only valuable part.
You cannot both eat your cake and have your cake. HE.
  Vorrebbe mangiar il formagio e le trovar in tasca. Ital.
You cannot flay a stone. H.  10591
You cannot hide an eel in a sack. H.  10592
You cannot know wine by the barrel. H.  10593
You cannot make a horn of a pig’s tail.
  Parallel hereto is that of Apostolius, [Greek]. An ass’s tail will not make a sieve.—R.
You cannot make a silk purse of a sow’s ear.
  De ruin paño nunca buen sayo. Span.—R.
You cannot make a windmill go with a pair of bellows. H.  10596
You cannot say B to a battledore.
  Humphrey King’s Pennyworth of Wit in Half a Pennyworth of Paper, 1613.
You cannot say Bo to a goose.
  Ludus Ludi Literarius, 1672. Pref.
You cannot see the wood for trees. HE.  10599
You cannot spell Yarmouth steeple right.
  Yarmouth spire being crooked or awry. This saying is likewise applied to Chesterfield spire in Derbyshire.—R.
You cannot tell: you are naught to keep sheep.
  “Clare.  Troth, sir … I cannot tell.
  “Sear.  And if you cannot tell, beauty, I take the adage for my reply: you are naught to keep sheep.”
—Wilkins, Miseries of Enforced Marriage, 1607 (Hazlitt’s Dodsley, ix. 477).
You can’t fare well, but you must cry roast-meat. C.
  Sasse bonne farine sans trompe ni buccine. Fr. Bolt thy fine meal, and eat good paste, without report or trumpet’s blast. [Greek]. They that are thirsty drink silently.
                    “Si corvus tacuisset, haberet
Plus dapis et rixæ multo minus invidiæque.” Horat.—R.
You can’t judge of the horse by the harness.  10603
You can’t see green cheese, but your teeth must water. R. 1670.  10604
You can’t sell the cow, and have her milk too.  10605
You can’t whistle and drink at the same time.  10606
You cast your net, but nothing was caught.  10607


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