37 Famous Irish and Scottish Gaelic Sayings


Many of the Gaelic sayings and proverbs are filled with traditional wisdom. Whether you are sharing these phrases with others or want to embrace the culture, here is a look at some of the most famous Irish and Scottish Gaelic sayings to practice.

An lao ite i mbolg na mbó aige.
He has eaten the calf in the stomach’s cow (He has gone into debt on the assumption that future profits will clear the debt)

An rud nach fiú é a lorg, ní fiú í a fháil.
What is not worth seeking, is not worth finding.

An rud ná cloiseann an chluas ní chuireann sé buairt ar an gcroí.
What the ear does not hear will not worry the heart.

An té a bhíonn siúlach, bíonn sé scéalach agus an té a bhíonn scéalach bíonn sé bréagach.
He who travels is talkative (full of stories), and he who is talkative has a tendency to lie.

An té a bhíonn thuas óltar deoch air, an té a bhíonn thíos buailtear cos air.
He who is successful is celebrated with drink, he who is down is kicked.

An té is ciúine is é is buaine.
He who is silent is the stronger.

An té is mó airgid is é is mó dúil ann
He who has the most money has the most regard (at least while he has it.)

Bíonn blas ar an mbeagán.
A little can be tasty. (No need to over do it)

Bíonn ceann caol ar an óige.
Youth has a thin head .(You can’t put an old head on young shoulders.)

Coimhéad fearg fhear na foighde.
Beware of the anger of a patient man.

Dá ghile an t-éadach, is fusa é a shalachadh.
The whiter the cloth the easier soiled.

I dtosach na h-aicíde is fusa í a leigheas
It is easier to cure a disease if caught early (A stitch in time saves nine.)

Is é buille an phinn an buille is fealltaí.
The pen’s blow is the most treacherous. (The pen is mightier than the sword.)

Is fearr a bheith beagán sprionlaithe ná mórán caillte.
It is better to be a little miserly than to lose a lot.

Is fearr an tsláinte ná na táinte.
Health is better than weallth.

Is fearr cara sa chúirt ná punt sa sparán.
A friend in court is better than a pound in the purse.

Is fearr raidhse ná ganntanas.
Plenty is better than scarcity.

Is fearr réal inniu ná scilling amárach.
Sixpence today is better than a shilling tomorrow (A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.)

Is fearr rith maith ná drochsheasamh
A good run is better than a bad stand. (He who runs away lives to fight another day.)

Is fearr suaimhneas ar sop ná céad bó ar chnoc.
Peace is better than a hundred cows on a hill. (The poor man can sleep soundly because he has nothing to lose.)

Is iad na muca ciúine a itheann an mhin.
It’s the quiet pig that eats the meal(grain).

Is minic a bhain dealg beag braon.
It is often a small thorn drew blood.

Is minic cuma aingeal ar an Diabhal féin.
There’s often the look of an angel on the devil himself.

Is namhaid í an cheird gan í a fhoghlaim.
A craft is an enemy if not learned. (You need to know what you are doing.)

Is treise gliocas ná neart.
Cunning is more powerful than strength.

Féasta anocht agus gorta amárach.
A feast tonight and a famine tomorrow.

Giorraíonn beirt bóthar.
Two people shorten the road (Having a travelling companion makes the trip more enjoyable.)

Má tú ag lorg cara gan locht, béidh tú gan cara go deo.
If you are looking for a friend without fault, you will be without a friend forever.

Mol an óige agus tiocfaidh sí
Praise youthfulness and it will respond to you.

Ná bí beag ná mór leis an chléir.
Be neither unfriendly nor friendly with clergy.

Ná glac duine choíche ar a thuaraisc fhéin.
Never accept anyone’s own opinion of themselves.

Ná leathnaigh do bhrat muna féidir leat á chosaint.
Don’t unfurl your flag if you are unable to defend it.

Ní huasal ná íseal, ach thuas seal is thíos seal
Neither noble nor lowly, but up for a while and down for a while (It doesn’t matter who you are, you will have your ups and downs.)

Níl saoi gan locht.
There’s not a wise man without fault.(We have all got our weaknesses)

Nuair is gann é an bia is ea is fial é a roinnt.
When food is scarce it is generous to share it.

Thuillfeadh éinne airgead, ach is fear gasta a choiméadfadh é.
Anyone would earn money, but it is a clever man who would hold on to it.

Trí ní is deacair a thuiscint; intleacht na mban, obair na mbeach, teacht agus imeacht na taoide.
Three things that are difficult to understand; the mind of a woman, the work of bees and the coming and going of the tide.

Here is a video with the seven key Gaelic phrases you will want to learn if you travel to Ireland. After you master pronunciation, knowing these words will come in handy.

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