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The Top 30 Thai Proverbs and Sayings

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Thai people have been using metaphors in day-to-day life for a very long time, so it’s not surprising that proverbs are so prominent in the Thai language today. As a learner of the language, you can greatly benefit from studying Thai proverbs. Doing so will not only help you sound more like a native speaker, but it will also give you more insight into Thai culture and the way Thai people think. 

In this lesson, we’ll go over the characteristics of Thai proverbs and present you with a list of the top thirty Thai proverbs and sayings you should learn. Each proverb on our list is accompanied by a detailed explanation and an example of how to use it properly. 

Enjoy!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Thai Table of Contents
  1. An Introduction to Thai Proverbs
  2. Good Doctrines
  3. Things You Should Do
  4. Things You Shouldn’t Do
  5. Conclusion

1. An Introduction to Thai Proverbs 

To begin, let’s break down the Thai word for “proverb”: สุภาษิต (sù-phaa-sìt).

  • สุ () – good
  • ภาษิต (phaa-sìt) – educational phrases that have been passed down from generation to generation

So literally, สุภาษิต (sù-phaa-sìt) refers to a good phrase that has been used to teach people for a long time.

A สุภาษิต (sù-phaa-sìt) is a metaphor that’s used to teach people so that they learn and become better. It’s often written in rhyme, making it easy to remember. 

In Thai, idioms and proverbs are very similar. Because they’re both metaphors, Thai people have a hard time differentiating between the two and often group them together as สำนวนสุภาษิตไทย (sǎm-nuuan-sù-phaa-sìt-thai). One trick you can use is to ask, “Can you use this phrase to teach people or not?” If you can, then it’s a สุภาษิต (sù-phaa-sìt), or Thai proverb. If you can’t, then it’s just a Thai idiom, or สำนวนไทย (sǎm-nuuan-thai).

In the following section, you’ll learn a variety of Thai proverbs and sayings. We’ve included the literal translation of each proverb, as well as a close English proverb and an explanation of how to use it. These proverbs are divided into three categories: 

  • Good Doctrines
  • Things You Should Do
  • Things You Shouldn’t Do 

Let’s get to it! 

2. Good Doctrines

Here are several Thai proverbs about life and how to live well. 

1 – คุณค่าของคนอยู่ที่ผลงาน

  • Pronunciation: khun-khâa-khǎawng-khon-yùu-thîi-phǒn-ngaan
  • Literal translation: The value of a man comes from his works.
  • Close English proverb: A man of word, not a man of deed, is like a garden full of weeds.

Explanation:
We determine the value of a person’s life based on their actions and the results of those actions. This expression is used to teach people to work diligently and not just lay around all the time. When you work, you get something from it; if you don’t work, it lessens the value of your life.

Example:
คุณค่าของคนอยู่ที่ผลงาน ถ้าไม่ตั้งใจทำงาน เอาแต่เที่ยวเล่น เธอก็จะกลายเป็นคนไม่มีค่า
khun-khâa-khǎawng-khon-yùu-thîi-phǒn-ngaan thâa-mâi-dtâng-jai-tham-ngaan ao-dtàae-thîiao-lên thooe-gâaw-jà-glaai-bpen-khon-mâi-mii-khâa
The value of a man comes from his/her actions. If you don’t pay attention to work, only to partying and drinking, you become worthless.

2 – สำเนียงส่อภาษา กริยาส่อสกุล

  • Pronunciation: sǎm-niiang-sàaw-phaa-sǎa-gì-rí-yaa-sàaw-sà-gun
  • Literal translation: The accent implies your language and the manner implies your clan.
  • Close English proverb: Good manners are part and parcel of a good education.

Explanation:
This Thai proverb means that the way you speak and act reflects how you were raised. It shows whether your parents took care of you and taught you properly. This proverb also reflects the importance of the family unit in Thai society.

Example:
ลูกควรจะพูดจาให้สุภาพตลอดเวลา เพราะ สำเนียงส่อภาษา กริยาส่อสกุล ถ้าพูดจาหยาบคาย คนอื่นจะหาว่า พ่อแม่ไม่สั่งสอนได้
lûuk-khuuan-jà-phûut-jaa-hâi-sù-phâap-dtà-làawt-wee-laa phráw sǎm-niiang-sàaw-phaa-sǎa-gì-rí- yaa-sàaw-sà-gun thâa-phûut-ja-yàap-khaai khon-ùuen-jà-hǎa-wâa-phâaw-mâae-mâi-sàng-šaawn dâai
[speaking to your child] You should speak politely all the time because the way you speak and act reflects how you are being raised. If you speak rudely, others will say that you are not being raised well by your parents.

3 – ไม่มีอะไรสายเกินแก้

  • Pronunciation: mai-mii-à-rai-sǎai-gooen-gâae
  • Literal translation: Nothing is too late to mend.
  • Close English proverb: It is never too late to mend.

Explanation: 
Everybody makes mistakes. This Thai proverb aims to encourage people to fix their mistakes.

Example:
ถึงเธอจะเคยทำตัวไม่ดี แต่เธอก็สามารถปรับปรุงตัวได้ ไม่มีอะไรสายเกินแก้
thǔeng-thooe-jà-khooei-tham-dtuua-mâi-dii dtàae-thooe-gâaw-sǎa-mâat-bpràp-bprung-dtuua-dâai mâi- mii-à-rai-sǎai-gooen-gâae
Despite being bad before, you can improve. Nothing is too late to mend.

4 – ความพยายามอยู่ที่ไหน ความสำเร็จอยู่ที่นั้น

  • Pronunciation: khwaam-phá-yaa-yaam-yùu-thîi-nǎi khwaam-sǎm-rèt-yùu-thîi-nân
  • Literal translation: Where there is an effort, there is a success.
  • Close English proverb: Where there is a will, there is a way.

Explanation:
This Thai proverb means that if you try hard, you’ll be successful. It aims to teach people not to give up easily as everything in life has its challenges.

Example:  
ถึงมันจะยาก แต่ฉันจะทำให้ได้ ความพยายามอยู่ที่ไหน ความสำเร็จอยู่ที่นั่น
thǔeng-man-jà-yâak dtàae-chǎn-jà-tham-hâi-dâai khwaam-phá-yaa-yaam-yùu-thîi-nǎi khwaam-sǎm- rèt-yùu-thîi-nân
Despite it being hard, I will do it. If I try hard, I will be able to do it.

5 – ทำดีได้ดี ทำชั่วได้ชั่ว

  • Pronunciation: tham-dii-dâai-dii tham-chûua-dâai-chûua
  • Literal translation: If you do good, good things come to you. If you do bad, bad things come to you.
  • Close English proverb: What goes around comes around.

Explanation:  
This saying, influenced by Buddhist doctrine, encourages people to always do good things.

Example:  
ถึงแม้จะไม่มีใครเห็น เธอก็ไม่ควรทำสิ่งที่ผิด เพราะ ทำดีได้ดี ทำชั่วได้ชั่ว
thǔeng-máae-jà-mâi-mii-khrai-hěn thooe-gâaw-mâi-khuuan-tham-sìng-thîi-phìt phráw tham-dii-dâai-dii tham-chûua-dâai-chûua
Even though no one will see, you shouldn’t do the wrong thing because if you do good, good things come to you and vice-versa.

6 – คบคนพาล พาลไปหาผิด คบบัณฑิต บัณฑิตพาไปหาผล

  • Pronunciation: khóp-khon-phaan phaan-bpai-hǎa-phìt khóp-ban-dìt ban-dìt-phaa-bpai-haa-phǒn
  • Literal translation: If you have bad friends, they lead you to bad. If you have graduated friends, they lead you to good.
  • Close English proverb: Tell me who your friends are, and I will tell you who you are.

Explanation:  
This Thai proverb means that bad friends will influence you to do bad things, while good friends will influence you to do good things. It aims to teach people that friends or other people you spend time with influence you. If you want to be good and successful, spend time with good people.

Example:  
เวลาคบเพื่อน ให้เลือกคบเพื่อนที่ตั้งใจเรียนนะคะ คบคนพาล พาลไปหาผิด คบบัณฑิต บัณฑิตพาไปหาผล
wee-laa-khóp-phûuean hâi-lûueak-khóp-phûuean-thîi-dtâng-jai-riian-ná-khá khóp-khon-phaan phaan- bpai-hǎa-phìt khóp-ban-dìt ban-dìt-phaa-bpai-hǎa-phǒn
When making friends, choose people who pay attention in class. If you have good friends, they influence you to do good things and vice-versa.

3. Things You Should Do

Now that we’ve gone over a few general sayings about how to live life well, let’s look at some common Thai proverbs that talk about what you should do to be successful. 

7 – นกน้อยทำรังแต่พอตัว

  • Pronunciation: nók-náauy-tham-rang-dtàae-phaaw-dtuua
  • Literal translation: A small bird builds its nest big enough for itself.
  • Close English proverb: Cut your coat according to your clothes.

Explanation:  
This Thai proverb means that you should only buy things you can afford.

Example:  
แม่ว่าหนูซื้อรถรุ่นนี้ก็พอ รุ่นนั้นแพงเกินไป นกน้อยทำรังแต่พอตัวนะจ๊ะ
mâae-wâa-nǔu-súue-rót-rûn-níi-gâaw-phaaw rûn-nán-phaaeng-gooen-bpai nók-náauy-tham-rang- dtàae-phaaw-dtuua ná-já
[mother talking to daughter] I think you should buy this model (car). That model is too expensive. You should buy things based on the amount of money you have.

8 – พูดไปสองไพเบี้ย นิ่งเสียตำลึงทอง

  • Pronunciation: phûut-bpai-sǎawng-phai-bîia nîng-sǐia-dtam-lueng-thaawng
  • Literal translation: Speaking lost two silvers, being silent got one gold.
  • Close English proverb: Silence is golden.

Explanation:  
Sometimes, staying silent is better or more appropriate than speaking out.

Example:  
เขากำลังโกรธ พูดไปก็สองไพเบี้ย นิ่งเสียตำลึงทอง รอเขาอารมณ์ดีก่อนดีกว่า
khǎo-gam-lang-gròot phûut-bpai-gâaw-sǎawng-phai-bîia nîng-sǐia-dtam-lueng-thaawng raaw-khǎo- aa-rom-dii-gàawn-dii-gwàa
He is angry now. It is not good to speak now, so you better stay silent and wait until he is in a good mood.

Silence Is Golden

9 – เข้าเมืองตาหลิ่ว ให้หลิ่วตาตาม

  • Pronunciation: khâo-muueang-dtaa-lìu hai-lìu-dtaa-dtaam
  • Literal translation: Go into the city where people look with one eye, and follow them by looking with one eye.
  • Close English proverb: When in Rome, do as the Romans do.

Explanation:  
This Thai proverb encourages us to act as most people do in a given society. When you go to a new place, you should follow the customs and actions of the people there.

Example:  
เข้าเมืองตาหลิ่ว ให้หลิ่วตาตาม ตอนนี้มาอยู่ที่อเมริกาแล้ว จะกินข้าวทุกมื้อก็คงจะไม่สะดวก
khâo-muueang-dtaa-lìu hai-lìu-dtaa-dtaam dtaawn-níi-maa-yùu-thîi-a-mee-rí-gaa-láaeo jà-gin- khâao-thúk-múue-gâaw-khong-jà-mâi-sà-dùuak
You should act as most people do in society. Now that you are in America, eating rice with every meal would be inconvenient.

10 – กันไว้ดีกว่าแก้

  • Pronunciation: gan-wái-dii-gwàa-gâae
  • Literal translation: Prevent is better than repair. 
  • Close English proverb: Prevention is better than a cure.

Explanation:  
This Thai proverb means that it’s better to prevent problems from happening than to solve them. It emphasizes the importance of prevention and preparation, as many problems won’t happen (or have a lesser chance of happening) if you take action in advance.

Example:  
ไปดูทีว่าปิดประตูบ้านดีหรือยัง กันไว้ดีกว่าแก้นะ
bpai-duu-thii-wâa-bpìt-bprà-dtuu-bâan-dii-rúue-yang gan-wái-dii-gwàa-gâae-ná
Go check whether the door is locked properly or not. It is better to prevent problems from happening.

11 – เข้าเถื่อนอย่าลืมพร้า

  • Pronunciation: khâo-thùuean-yàa-luuem-phráa
  • Literal translation: Don’t forget to bring a knife when you go to the jungle.

Explanation:  
This is just another way of saying, “Don’t be reckless.” You have to prepare yourself before doing things.

Example:  
พรุ่งนี้เธอจะเดินทางแล้ว เตรียมตัวหรือยัง เข้าเถื่อนอย่าลืมพร้านะ
phrûng-níi-thooe-jà-dooen-thaang-láaeo dtriiam-dtuua-rǔue-yang khâo-thùuean-yàa-luuem-phráa ná
Tomorrow, you will go traveling. Are you prepared? Don’t be reckless.

12 – คบคนให้ดูหน้า ซื้อผ้าให้ดูเนื้อ

  • Pronunciation: khóp-khon-hâi-duu-nâa súue-phâa-hâi-duu-núuea
  • Literal translation: Look at the face before making a friend with someone, like looking at the cloth itself before buying the clothes.

Explanation:  
There are good people and bad people in society. You should determine whether or not a person is good before becoming friends with them.

Example:  
คบคนให้ดูหน้า ซื้อผ้าให้ดูเนื้อ ฉันว่าคนนั้นพูดจาหยาบคาย เราอย่าไปยุ่งกับเขาเลย
khóp-khon-hâi-duu-nâa súue-phâa-hâi-duu-núuea chǎn-wâa-khon-nán-phûut-jaa-yàap-khaai rao- yàa-bpai-yûng-gàp-khǎo-looei
We have to think before making friends with someone. That person speaks rudely. We shouldn’t associate ourselves with him.

You Should Make Friends with Good People.

13 – ช้า ๆ ได้พร้าเล่มงาม

  • Pronunciation: cháa-cháa-dâai-phráa-lêm-ngaam
  • Literal translation: Slowly to get beautiful knife
  • Close English proverb: Haste makes waste.

Explanation:  
When you do things, you should take the time to do them carefully. The metaphor refers to how you can only make a good knife by taking your time.

Example:  
จะทำงานศิลปะต้องค่อย ๆ ทำถึงจะได้งานที่สวย ช้า ๆ ได้พร้าเล่มงาม
jà-tham-ngaan-sǐn-lá-bpà-dtâawng-khâauy-khâauy-tham-thǔeng-jà-dâai-ngaan-thîi-sǔuai cháa-cháa- dâai-phráa-lêm-ngaam
When you do artwork, you have to do it slowly to get beautiful work. When you do things, you shouldn’t rush; instead, take the time to do it carefully.

14 – น้ำขึ้นให้รีบตัก

  • Pronunciation: náam-khûuen-hâi-rîip-dtàk
  • Literal translation: Quickly fetch the water during the rising tide.

Explanation:  
This Thai proverb means that you should take advantage of opportunities as they arise.

Example:  
ช่วงนี้ ฉันเปิดร้านเร็วกว่าปกติ 1 ชั่วโมง เพราะ คนมาเที่ยวเยอะ น้ำขึ้นต้องรีบตัก
chûuang-níi chǎn-bpòoet-ráan-reo-gwàa-bpòk-gà-dti-nùeng-chûua-moong phráw khon-maa-thîiao-yóe náam-khûen-hâi-rîip-dtàk
Recently, I opened my shop one hour earlier than usual because there are a lot of travelers. I have to take a chance when I have one.

15 – อยู่บ้านท่านอย่านิ่งดูดาย ปั้นวัวปั้นควายให้ลูกท่านเล่น

  • Pronunciation: yùu-bâan-thâan-yàa-nîng-duu-daai bpân-wuua-bpân-khwaai-hâi-lûuk-thâan-lên
  • Literal translation: Don’t do nothing in another’s home; make a cow doll for their child.

Explanation:  
This Thai proverb means that if you live in another person’s house, you should help them. If someone lets you live with them for free, it’s good manners to help them out around the house.

Example:  
ไปพักอยู่บ้านคุณป้าก็ช่วยคุณป้าทำงานบ้านบ้างนะ อยู่บ้านท่านอย่านิ่งดูดาย ปั้นวัวปั้นควายให้ลูกท่านเล่น
bpai-phák-yùu-bâan-khun-bpâa-gâaw-chûuay-khun-bpâa-tham-ngaan-bâan-bâang-ná yùu-bâan- thâan-yàa-nîng-duu-daai bpân-wuua-bpân-khwaai-hâi-lûuk-thâan-lên
Once you live with your aunt, you should help do some of the housework. If you live in another person’s house, you should help them.

Help Your Aunt do Some Housework

16 – เอาใจเขามาใส่ใจเรา

  • Pronunciation: ao-jai-khǎo-maa-sài-jai-rao
  • Literal translation: Put his/her heart into our heart

Explanation:  
This saying means that you should think of others, and pay attention to how they think and feel.

Example:  
ถ้าจะอยู่ด้วยกัน ก็ต้องเอาใจเขามาใส่ใจเรา
thâa-jà-yùu-dûuai-gan gâaw-dtâawng-ao-jai-khǎo-maa-sài-jai-rao
If you want to live together, you have to think of one another.

4. Things You Shouldn’t Do

To conclude our list of popular Thai proverbs, let’s look at some words of wisdom on how not to act. 

17 – หมากัดอย่ากัดตอบ

  • Pronunciation: mǎa-gàt-yàa-gàt-dtàawp 
  • Literal translation: Dog bites, don’t bite back.

Explanation:  
This Thai proverb means that you shouldn’t lower yourself to a bad person’s level in order to fight back. Thai people view those who do bad things or act inappropriately as lower-class people. By doing the same action those people do, you lower yourself. So even when you’re angry at how someone hurt you, you should avoid hurting them back.

Example:  
ถึงเขาจะพูดจาหยาบคายใส่เรา แต่เราต้องไม่พูดจาหยาบคายกลับไป หมากัดอย่ากัดตอบ
thǔeng-khǎo-jà-phûut-jaa-yàap-khaai-sài-rao dtàae-rao-dtâawng-mâi-phûut-jaa-yàap-khaai-glàp-bpai mǎa-gàt-yàa-gàt-dtàawp
Although he talked to us rudely, we must not speak rudely back. Don’t do bad things in order to fight back against bad people.

18 – กินบนเรือนขี้บนหลังคา

  • Pronunciation: gin-bon-ruuean-khîi-bon-lǎng-khaa
  • Literal translation: Eat in the house and then poop on the roof.
  • Close English proverb: Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.

Explanation:  
This Thai proverb refers to a situation where someone is being unthankful and doing harm to people who are good to them and have helped them before. It encourages us to be thankful to parents, teachers, and our benefactors.

Example:  
คนที่กินบนเรือนขี้ยนหลังคาเป็นคนที่คบไม่ได้
khon-thîi-gin-bon-ruuean-khîi-bon-lǎng-khaa-bpen-khon-thîi-khóp-mâi-dâai
People who are unthankful and doing harm to people who are good to them shouldn’t be associated with.

19 – สาวไส้ให้กากิน

  • Pronunciation: sǎao-sâi-hâi-gaa-gin
  • Literal translation: Pull the intestine out for the crow to eat.
  • Close English proverb: Don’t wash dirty linen in public

Explanation:  
This saying refers to a situation where someone reveals a bad secret concerning family or friends to others. You shouldn’t tell secrets (bad things) about people who are close to you.

Example:  
เรื่องทะเลาะกันของพี่น้อง อย่าเล่าให้คนอื่นฟัง จะเป็นการสาวไส้ให้กากิน
rûueang-thá-láw-gan-khǎawng-phîi-náawng yàa-lâo-hâi-khon-ùuen-fang jà-bpen-gaan-sǎao-sâi-hâi- gaa-gin
You shouldn’t tell others about a fight between siblings. It’s like revealing bad things about your family to others.

20 – หาเหาใส่หัว / แกว่งเท้าหาเสี้ยน

  • Pronunciation: hǎa-hǎo-sài-hǔa / gwàaeng-tháo-hǎa-sîian
  • Literal translation: Find the louse and put it on the head. / Sway your feet for the bur.
  • Close English proverb: Let a sleeping dog lie.

Explanation:  
Both of these Thai proverbs encourage us not to interfere in a situation that’s already good enough, because it can lead to more problems.

Example 1:  
รู้ก็รู้ว่าเพื่อนทำผิด ยังจะไปช่วยอีก หาเหาใส่หัวชัด ๆ
rúu-gâaw-rúu-wâa-phûuean-tham-phìt yang-jà-bpai-chûuay-ìik hǎa-hǎo-sài-hǔua-chát-chát
You know that your friend did a bad thing but you still helped him. You just found yourself a problem.

Example 2:  
อย่าแกว่งเท้าหาเสี้ยนเลย แม่ขอร้อง
yàa-gwàaeng-tháo-hǎa-sîian-looei mâae-khǎaw-ráawng
[mother speaking to her children] I beg you, don’t do things that will bring problems.

21 – วัวหายล้อมคอก

  • Pronunciation: wuua-hǎai-láawm-khâawk
  • Literal translation: Making a stall after the cow is lost
  • Close English proverb: Locking the stable door after the horse is stolen

Explanation:  
This Thai proverb means that you shouldn’t wait to take action until after the problem arises, because it’s then useless. You should rather prevent the problem from happening in the first place. There’s no point in taking preventative measures afterward, because you can’t bring back what you already lost.

Example:  
ผมว่าหน้าต่างบ้านคุณดูไม่แข็งแรงเลย น่าจะเปลี่ยนใหม่นะ อย่ารอจนวัวหายแล้วค่อยล้อมคอก
phǒm-wâa-nâa-dtâang-bâan-khun-duu-mâi-khǎaeng-raaeng-looei nâa-jàa-bplìian-mài-ná yàa- raaw-jon-wuua-hǎai-láaeo-khâauy-láawm-khâawk
I don’t think your window is in good condition. You better change it. Don’t wait until the damage is already done to take some action.

22 – จับปลาสองมือ

  • Pronunciation: jàp-bplaa-sǎawng-muue
  • Literal translation: Catch fish with one hand at the same time
  • Close English proverb: He who hunts two hares, leaves one and loses another.

Explanation:  
Doing two difficult things at the same time will lead to failure in both. Imagine how hard it would be to catch a fish in each hand at the same time! Instead, we should focus on doing one thing at a time.

Example:  
จะทำอะไรก็เลือกเอาสักอย่าง อย่าจับปลาสองมือ
jà-tham-à-rai-gâaw-lûueak-ao-sák-yàang yàa-jàp-bplaa-sǎawng-muue
Choose one thing that you want to do. Don’t try to do two difficult things at the same time.

23 – ตีตนไปก่อนไข้

  • Pronunciation: dtii-dton-bpai-gàawn-khâi
  • Literal translation: Think that you have a fever before you actually have a fever
  • Close English proverb: Don’t cross the bridge until you come to it.

Explanation:  
This Thai proverb refers to a situation where someone is fearful or worried about something that hasn’t happened yet. It encourages us not to worry too much about problems that haven’t happened yet. In the end, that problem may not happen at all!

Example:  
ยังไม่เกิดปัญหาอะไร อย่าเพิ่งตีต้นไปก่อนไข้ จะปวดหัวเปล่า ๆ
yang-mâi-gôoet-bpan-hǎa-à-rai yàa-phôoeng-dtii-dton-bpai-gàawn-khâi jà-bpùuat-hǔua-bplào-bplào
There’s no problem yet. Don’t worry about things that haven’t happened yet. You’ll have a headache for nothing.

24 – กำแพงมีหู ประตูมีช่อง

  • Pronunciation: gam-phaaeng-mii-hǔu bprà-dtuu-mii-châawng
  • Literal translation: Walls have ears. Doors have holes.
  • Close English proverb: The walls have ears.

Explanation:  
When talking about a secret, you have to be very careful because people may overhear and reveal it to others. Even if you’re in a room with the door closed, there may be people outside trying to eavesdrop.

Example:  
จะพูดอะไรให้ระวังหน่อย กำแพงมีหู ประตูมีช่อง
jà-phûut-à-rai-hâi-rá-wang-nàauy gam-phaaeng-mii-hǔu bprà-dtuu-mii-châawng
Be careful when speaking. People may hear your secret and reveal it to others.

Be Careful When Speaking; Walls Have Ears

25 – เอาไม้ซีกไปงัดไม้ซุง

Pronunciation: ao-máai-sîik-bpai-ngát-máai-sung

Literal translation: Use a thin stick of wood to wedge a log

Explanation:  
If you fight or disagree with people who have more power, there’s a good chance you’re going to lose. This proverb encourages us to choose our fights carefully.

Example:  
ตัวเล็กแค่นี้ ยังไปท้าต่อยตีกับเค้า เอาไม้ซีกไปงัดไม้ซุงแท้ ๆ
dtuua-lék-khâae-níi yang-bpai-tháa-dtàauy-dtii-gàp-kháo ao-máai-sîik-bpai-ngát-máai-sung-tháae-tháae
You’re this small but still pick a fight with others. You’re going to lose as you fight with bigger people.

Don’t Fight People Who Are Bigger Than You

26 – กวนน้ำให้ขุ่น

  • Pronunciation: guuan-nám-hâi-khùn
  • Literal translation: Stir the water, making it muddy

Explanation:  
This proverb refers to a situation where things are about to become good again, but someone ruins it. It’s often used when someone is about to forget about a bad thing that happened, but someone does something to remind them of it again.

Example:  
พ่อกำลังจะลืมอยู่แล้ว จะพูดขึ้นมาเพื่อกวนน้ำให้ขุ่นทำไม เดี๋ยวพ่อก็โกรธอีก
phâaw-gam-lang-jà-luuem-yùu-láaeo jà-phûut-khûen-maa-phûuea-guuan-nám-hâi-khùn-ìik-tham-mai dîiao-phâaw-gâaw-gròot-ìik
Dad is about to forget. Why do you speak about it to make him remember? He will get angry again.

27 – กบเลือกนาย

  • Pronunciation: gòp-lûueak-naai
  • Literal translation: Frog chooses boss.

Explanation:
If you’re too choosy, you may end up making a bad decision in the end. This proverb aims to teach people that it’s good to consider your options, but you shouldn’t overdo it.

Example:  
อย่าทำตัวเป็นกบเลือกนายหน่อยเลย เลือกเอาจากตัวเลือกที่มีก็พอ
yàa-tham-dtuua-bpen-gòp-lûueak-naai-nàauy-looei lûueak-ao-jàak-dtuua-lûueak-thîi-mii-gâaw- phaaw
Don’t be too choosy or else you may end up with the bad choice in the end. Just choose from the options you have.

28 – ขี่ช้างจับตั๊กแตน 

Pronunciation: khìi-cháang-jàp-dták-gà-dtaaen

Literal translation: Ride the elephant to catch the grasshoppers

Explanation:  
This Thai proverb refers to a situation where you invest a lot but only get a small return. It warns us to be careful with our investments so that we don’t end up losing out in the end.

Example:  
คิดยังไงถึงจะลงทุนซื้อรถคันใหม่เพื่อไปส่งของแค่ไม่กี่ครั้ง ขี่ช้างจับตั๊กแตนชัด ๆ
Khít-yang-ngai-thǔeng-jà-long-thun-súue-rót-khan-mài-phûuea-bpai-sòng-khǎawng-khâae-mâi-gìi- khráng khìi-cháang-jàp-dták-gà-dtaaen-chát-chát
What are you thinking? Buying a new car to deliver packages for a few times. You’re investing a lot for a small return.

29 – ชี้โพรงให้กระรอก

  • Pronunciation: chíi-phroong-hâi-grà-râawk
  • Literal translation: Point cavity for squirrel

Explanation:  
This proverb encourages us to be careful about the things we say, because we may unintentionally invite others to do something bad. For example, someone may say that the window of her house is broken and she is afraid a thief may come in that way. People who are in need of money may overhear what she said and decide to break into her house to steal.

Example:  
จะพูดอะไรต้องระวัง เดี๋ยวจะเป็นการชี้โพรงให้กระรอกเสียเปล่า ๆ
jà-phûut-à-rai-dtâawng-rá-wang dǐiao-jà-bpen-gaan-chíi-phroong-hâi-grà-râawk-sǐia-bplào-bplào
You have to be careful when speaking or else you may unintentionally advise someone to do bad things.

30 – อย่าไว้ใจทาง อย่าวางใจคน จะจนใจเอง

  • Pronunciation: yàa-wái-jai-thaang yàa-waang-jai-khon jà-jon-jai-eeng
  • Literal translation: Don’t trust the way, and don’t trust people or else you will be in trouble.

Explanation:  
This Thai proverb warns us against trusting people too easily, because doing so can cause us trouble in the long run.

Example:  
ถึงแม้ว่าเพื่อนของเธอจะแนะนำ แต่เธอก็ต้องดูรายละเอียดของบริการเองด้วย อย่าไว้ใจทาง อย่าวางใจคน จะจนใจเองนะ
thǔeng-máae-wâa-phûuean-khǎawng-thooe-jà-náe-nam dtàae-thooe-gâaw-dtâawng-duu-raai-lá-ìiat- khǎawng-baaw-rí-gaan-eeng-dûuai yàa-wái-jai-thaang yàa-waang-jai-khon jà-jon-jai-eeng
Even though it was recommended by your friend, you still have to look at the service details. Don’t trust people easily.

5. Conclusion

In this article, you learned thirty of the most common Thai proverbs, what they mean, and how to use them. How many of them can you relate to? And are there similar proverbs in your language? 

If you enjoyed this lesson, we recommend continuing to explore ThaiPod101.com. We provide tons of fun and informative lessons from native speakers, free vocabulary lists, an online dictionary, and much more. Here’s just a sample of what you can expect: 

Happy learning!

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