Popular Proverbs in Igbo Language and Their Meanings
Every ethnic group in Nigeria cherishes proverbs because they are an effective means to transmit traditional knowledge and values, impart life lessons, and present complicated ideas in a clear and memorable manner. The Igbo people, a vibrant ethnic group in Nigeria, have a rich tradition of proverbs that convey deep meanings and cultural values.
Proverbs, known as “ilu” in the Igbo language, play a pivotal role in Igbo culture. They are used to teach, inspire, and communicate complex ideas in a concise manner. Igbo proverbs are often poetic, drawing on the natural world, everyday life, and the wisdom of the ancestors. A list of popular Igbo proverbs and their meanings will be provided in this article. Continue reading to the very end.
COMMON IGBO PROVERBS AND THEIR MEANINGS
Below are the most common proverbs in Igbo language and their meanings:
|Otu gị na-agbọ ya na-atọ ya
|The way you give is the way you find.
|Mgbe ya bụla jiri, onye ya n’enwe ya
|When it rains, you know the person with an umbrella.
|Otu n’ọtụ ya bụla ndị na-obi ya
|Those who share the same heart are one person.
|O gị n’eme ya na-agbọ ya n’ema ya
|The way you give is the way you receive.
|O gị n’ofu ya n’afu ya
|The way you forgive is the way you are forgiven.
|O gị n’ama ya, n’ama ya n’inye ya
|The way you treat others is the way they treat you.
|O kwuo ya n’ara ya
|A friend is as close as the skin.
|Ndị ọ bụla n’agbụ ya, ya n’agbụ ya n’ọrụ ya
|Those who live together will quarrel, but they will also make peace.
|Okpokiri na azụ ndị gị, aka na-akpukwala ndị a
|The early bird catches the worm.
|Otakwala nso na-asụ nwa ya, ọ bụrụ n’ile
|It is the child who knows the father that can tell where he lives.
|Odoo akọ na-agwata ndị nwere mmadụ
|The wind knows where men have died.
|Ukwala mgbakọ n’okwute nke ọhụrụ
|When the frog jumps on a rock, the rock doesn’t jump.
|Agbomma m tuputara ulo ya, ulo kpalara agbomma
|A lizard that blows on its house, its house also blows on it.
|Ụmụ nwanyị no n’ezi uka gboro, otu n’ezi uka gbuo
|A woman who has breasts cannot breastfeed a goat.
|Onye n’ọhụrụ n’anya ka anya ya n’agaghi amakọ ya
|One who has eyes in the back of the head does not lack behind.
|Onye na-agwụ mgbe ọ bụlụ ihe, na-agwụ. Onye n’enweghi mgbe ọ bụlụ ihe, n’elu
|He who sees when something is happening sees, he who hears when something happens is told.
|Otuto n’egbu n’ozuzu, a jọ gbogboro ya
|The old masquerade dances slowly.
|Mgbe ọ bụrụ anya, ka anya ya n’agaghi
|When you see a person’s eyes, you can tell what they are like.
|Ihe ntọta ji-ebe anya.”
|A bad thing is never hidden for long.
|Igba mgbe nyiri ka ibe ya.”
|You reap what you sow.
|Igba ndi na-aghị ama bu ndi na-anwụ ama
|Birds of a feather flock together.
|Ihe aja ka ịgba mmiri, o na-agbọ adighi ama.”
|A stone that enters the water does not break the surface.
|Nwanyi n’akwanu, onye ekwu aghana ya
|A woman’s beauty, her husband praises it.
|Igba nwa n’obi ka ihe e n’akọ.”
|A child in the house is worth more than what is outside.
|N’obodo gi ka ihe obi gi
|What is important in your village is what is important to you.
|Ihe chọrọ ka ifeanyi
|It is better to be poor than to be shameless.
|Mọ n’ata ka ya bụ n’enweghị
|Knowing something is better than doing nothing.
|Ije ndu na-asị ekele maka ọrọ.
|The road to life is praise.
|Uwa ka ọ bụrụ anaghi kwuru
|The world is a marketplace.
|O bụ onye nke ya nwụrụ ya
|The owner of the farm is the one who tills it.
|Anaghi ekwe nkiti n’ije ya
|Don’t cut a tree with the ax you borrowed.
|Ukwu ka iji ya n’ala n’ukwu, ọ bụ mbụ
|The tree that stands on the hilltop will catch the wind.
|O bu ndụ ka ndụ
|A friend is like a sibling.
|Ngwo nke a na-agba otu kwuru ya n’otu ya
|One who finds money does not lose it.
|Oge na-agụ, ụmụ n’ogboro ya
|When the sun rises, people go about their business.
|Otu gị mmanya ahu gị
|A family is like a forest.
|Otute gị n’anya na n’ụkwa n’anya
|The head of the family is in the heart, and the heart is in the head.
|Odika kwuru ya n’ama ka ya n’enwe
|A goat that does not enter the pen is like one that does not exist.
|O bi na nchekwa nchekwa
|Unity is strength.
|Onye amara na uka amara n’elu
|One who remembers the past will live in the future.
|O bi ji ọ kpọrọ, nchịrị ya n’ach
|The way you sow is the way you will reap.
|Ime ụwa n’ada n’aka ya
|Water that falls on the ground does not come back up.
|Ani n’obi, na-akwara n’etiti ya
|A tree is known by its fruit.
|O bu mmanya n’alọ ya
|A good word is a good medicine.
|O bu mmanya n’alọ ya is
|Words are mightier than the sword.
|Onye n’eme nri n’agha ya
|A person who has food does not run.
|Ọ bụ ndụ nke agha, otu n’ụwa ya
|Health is better than wealth.
|Ani n’elu otu akwụkwọ ya
|A tree that falls makes more noise than the one that stands.
|Chi n’ọ bụ ndụ n’anya ka ihe gbasara ndụ ya
|What you see with your eyes is better than what you hear.
|O bi nchekwa, nchekwa ya n’agha ya
|Anxiety causes loss of wealth.
|Ụmụ ndi n’agha ya n’enye ọ dịghị nkọ ya
|One’s wealth is in the number of his friends.
|Ana n’elu ihe n’alụ nna ya
|The eyes see what the mind wants.
|Ihe n’enweghị n’acha ya, n’aka o bi nweghị
|What you hear when you are not present is worse than what you see.
|Ihe n’enweghị n’agba ya
|What you hear will not follow you.
|Enyi ụtọ nchekwa ya n’ọ bụrụ ndụ
|Many people do not see with their eyes.
|Agha ka anya.
|Seeing is believing.
|Egbu agha maka ọ bụ nwoke
|He who fights and runs away, lives to fight another day.
|Ọ mma nke ọ bụla n’okike ya
|Goodness is in the heart.
|Eji acha maka ọ bụ akpukwo
|Slow and steady wins the race.
|Ndu maka ọ bụ otu
|Health is wealth.
|Ndụ ya n’ọgwụ onye ndụ ya
|Only a mad person can cure another mad person.
|Ihe ọ bụla n’ikpala ya, ka anya ya n’akpala ya
|What is done in the dark will come to light.
|O bụla mmanya nke ọ bụla mmanya
|What goes around comes around.
|Ka nnukwu mmụọ ya mma.”
|Even the smallest seed can grow into a beautiful tree.
|Ọkéke n’awa ihe o bụ nne ya
|A good friend is better than a brother.
|Ndị nke ọ bụ n’ogbo njọ ya
|Birds of a feather flock together.
|Mgbe ya ike ya, ka ya anya n’ọ n’ọgwụ ya
|When the time is right, the opportunity will present itself.
|Ife ogbu, ndị na-aghụ ndi ndụ ya
|Evil is powerless against those who unite.
|Ori na-akwụ mmanya gị
|Your character is your beauty.
|Ogbo nnukwu maka o bụ nnukwu ya
|The bigger the head, the bigger the load.
|Ụwa nwoke n’ụwa nwaanyị
|The man is known by the company he keeps.
|Ome n’udo n’anya ihe ya
|Anger blinds the eyes from seeing what is true.
|Ife n’ụwa bụ ego
|Life is like a market.
|Agba ya ya n’ala, ndị bụla ya n’ala ya
|Those who are silent are thought to agree.
|Ihe ọnụ na-atụ anya n’anya ya
|The thing you see is in the eye.
|O gba mma na aja, aja ya n’anya n’akwukwo ya
|The rat takes only the good, leaving the ugly.
|A chọrọ ya n’okike ya, a kwado ya n’okike ya
|What is eaten with the eyes is digested with the eyes.
|A chọrọ ya n’okike ya, a kwado ya n’okike ya.
|What is eaten with the eyes is digested with the eyes.
|Onye agha ya maka ife ya
|One who cannot see cannot be proud.
|Ezi na-agbanyere mmanya ya.
|The palm frond that stays straight will not cut itself.
|Mmili ya n’anya, ndị na-akwa ya
|Water is in the eyes, yet people are blind to it.
|Igba amara mma, ọ bụla n’ọ bụla ya
|A basket cannot appreciate its own beauty.
|Ndu ya n’ihu ya
|Life is in the breath.
|Ije ya n’oke ya, aha ya n’ala ya
|A road is in the sky, a river is on the ground.
|Ndu ya n’iwu ya
|Onye ife na n’enye ife ya
|One person’s medicine is another person’s poison.
|Otu n’ụwa ya bụ isi n’ala
|The head is above the ground, while the feet are on the ground.
|Mmanya ya n’onye ya n’efu ya
|Food is in the mouth of the person who eats it.
|Uwa nwanyi, nwanyi ya bụla ife ya
|The world of a woman is in her kitchen.
|Nwoke ya mbu oge ya n’izu ya
|A man’s fortune is in his hands.
|Ụmụ n’ụla n’ife ya
|People are measured by their words.
|Iwu ya bụla n’agbọghọ ya
|A deed is known by its result.
|Ezi ya na-etumma ya, na nchekwa ya n’ebe ya
|A race is won by perseverance, not by haste.
|Agba ya n’ala ya bụla n’ọ bụla onye ya
|The time is known by the people.
|Agha ya n’ọ bụla n’anya ya.”
|The mouth speaks what the eyes see.
|Ojukwu ya bu n’izu ya
|The day is known by its work.
|Ije ya bụla n’izu ya n’abụa ya
|A journey is known by its destination, not by its length.
|Anyị n’ọrụ ya, na nchekwa ya n’ọrụ ya
|Where you learn, you also unlearn.
|Ndụ ya bụla n’amaghị anya ya
|Life is like a mirror.
|Oji ya na-asọ ndị nnem ya.”
|Fire is known by its smoke.
Igbo proverbs are a treasure trove of wisdom, offering valuable life lessons and insights into Igbo culture. These proverbs have transcended generations, imparting timeless knowledge. As we explore these proverbs, we gain a deeper appreciation for the rich tapestry of Igbo heritage and the enduring wisdom it offers.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs)
1. Are these Igbo proverbs still relevant today?
Yes, these proverbs continue to hold relevance in contemporary society, as they convey universal values and wisdom.
2. How can I learn more about Igbo culture and language?
You can explore books, courses, and online resources that focus on Igbo culture and language.
3. Are there variations of these proverbs in different Igbo communities?
Yes, variations of these proverbs may exist in different Igbo communities, reflecting regional nuances.
4. Can non-Igbo speakers appreciate the beauty of these proverbs?
Absolutely! The wisdom and beauty of these proverbs can be appreciated by people from diverse cultural backgrounds.
5. Where can I find more Igbo proverbs to explore?
You can consult books on Igbo culture, interact with Igbo speakers, or explore online resources dedicated to Igbo proverbs.