Writing about Igbo proverbs, Professor Albert Chinualumogu Achebe, a well-known Igboland-born son, once described proverbs (ilu) as “the salt with which words are eaten. It is the wisdom of a people that can be summarized in the form of a proverb.
The essential meaning of the experiences from which they derive is captured and retained in a few words and phrases that are complex stories and situations.
Consequently, the use of Igbo proverbs, parables, and idioms (akpaalaokwu) has elevated the language to the status of a living art of popular communication.
The dialects of the Igbo language are numerous. Proverbs can be difficult to decipher because they are often written in a language that is unfamiliar to us. We begin to appreciate our total Igbo language heritage as we become more familiar with these dialects.
If you don’t want to use proverbs, don’t bother. If you want to use Igbo proverbs effectively, you must know when and where to use them. Otherwise, your message will go unnoticed and you will fail to accomplish your goals.
Proverbs attributed to the Igbo people are as follow;
1000 Igbo Proverbs And Their Meaning
Igbo Proverbs: Gidi gidi bụ ugwu eze.
Meaning(Literal): Unity is strength
Igbo Proverbs: Ihe ehi hụrụ gbalaba oso ka okuku huru Chọọ ewu ojii ka chi dị
Meaning(Literal): Make hay while the sun shines
Igbo Proverbs: Otu onye tuo izu, o gbue ochu
Meaning(Literal): Knowledge is never complete: two heads are better than one.
Igbo Proverbs: Ihe di woro ogori azuala na ahia.
Meaning(Literal): What was secret is revealed in the market place.
Igbo Proverbs: Ura ga-eju onye nwuru anwu afo.
Meaning(Literal): A person who has passed away will get all the rest they require.
Igbo Proverbs: Oge adighi eche mmadu
Meaning(Literal): Time and tide wait for nobody.
Igbo Proverbs: Si kele onye nti chiri; enu anughi, ala anu.
Meaning(Literal): Salute the deaf; if the heavens don’t hear, the earth will hear.
Igbo Proverbs: Ebe onye dara ka chi ya kwaturu ya.
Meaning(Literal): Where one falls is where his god pushed him down.
Igbo Proverbs: E lewe ukwu Egbue ewu.
Meaning(Literal): A buxom waist that makes her man(husband) kill a goat for her when he looks at it.
Another Igbo proverbs are;
Igbo Proverbs: Ewu nwuru n’oba ji abughi agu gburu ya
Meaning(Literal): A goat that dies in a barn was never killed by hunger.
Igbo Proverbs: A chuo aja ma a hughi udele, a mara na Nwunye awo si na di atoka uto, ya jiri nuta nke ya kworo ya n’azu.
Meaning(Literal): The female toad said that husband is so sweet that when she got married, she carried her husband permanently on the back.
Igbo Proverbs: Onyeubiam adi(ghi) aza “Omeokachie.
Meaning(Literal): An indigent does not take the title of “Omeokachie” (i.e. one who completes whatever he puts his hand to)
Igbo Proverbs: A ma ka mmiri si were baa n’opi ugboguru?
Meaning(Literal): Who knows how water entered into the stalk of the pumpkin?
Igbo Proverbs: ihe mere be ndimmuo.
Meaning(Literal): If the vulture fails to hover at the end of a sacrifice, then you know that something happened in the land of spirits.
Igbo Proverbs: Ugo chara acha adi(ghi) echu echu
Meaning(Literal): A mature eagle feather will ever remain pure.
Igbo Proverbs: Eze mbe si na olu oha di mma, mana oriri oha na-aka ahu.
Meaning(Literal): The tortoise said that many hands at work is enjoyable, but many mouths to feed can be embarrassing.
Igbo Proverbs: Eze mbe si na ihe ya ji-achiri ihe egwu ya aga njem bu maka ya ezu ndiegwu.
Meaning(Literal): The tortoise said that it always travels with its musical instrument in case it meets other musicians.
Igbo Proverbs: Ndi na-eje mposi abali na-ahu ukpana ndi mmuo.
Meaning(Literal): Those who defecate at night see the ghost grasshopper.
Igbo Proverbs: O na-abu a si nwata wuba ahu, o saba afo ya.
Meaning(Literal): Tell a child to wash his body, he washes his stomach.
Igbo Proverbs: Akwukwo juru n’ohia, ma a baa a choba okazi.
Meaning(Literal): There are various leaves in the bush, but people go in to look for okazi leaves.
Igbo Proverbs: Agwo emeghi nke o jiri buru agwo umuaka achiri ya hie nku.
Meaning(Literal): If a snake fails to show its venom, little kids will use it in tying firewood.
Igbo Proverbs: Nwaanyi muta ite ofe mmiri mmiri, di ya amuta ipi utara aka were suru ofe.
Meaning(Literal): If a woman decides to make the soup watery, the husband will learn to dent the Garri before dipping it into the soup.
Igbo Proverbs: Ukpala gbabara n’ikpo okuko na-ala ala mmuo.
Meaning(Literal): The grasshopper that runs into the mist of fowls ends up in the land of spirits.
Igbo Proverbs: Onye a kporo apari, o na-ehi n’amanna ya, abughi apari.
Meaning(Literal): A presumed fool who sleeps in his father’s house is not a fool.
Igbo Proverbs: Nwata bunie nna ya enu, akpaamu ya ayochie ya anya.
Meaning(Literal): If a child lifts his father, his scrotum will blindfold him.
Igbo Proverbs: Onye hapu onu ya, uguru arachaa ya.
Meaning(Literal): If one fails to lick his lips, the harmattan will do it.
Igbo Proverbs: Okuko si na ihe ya ji-ele anya n’enu ma ya na añu mmiri bu na ihe na-egbu si
Meaning(Literal): The chicken says it looks up when drinking water because what kills it comes from the sky.
Igbo Proverbs: Ijiji na-enweghi onye ndumodu na-eso ozu ala n’inyi.
Meaning(Literal): A fly that has no counselor follows the corpse to the grave.
Igbo Proverbs: “Nwunye anyi, nwunye anyi”: ka ndeli bia ka anyi mara onye o bu nwunye ya.
Meaning(Literal): “Our wife, our wife”: come midnight and we will know whose wife she really is.
Igbo Proverbs: O bialu be onye abiagbuna ya, mgbe o ga-ala mkpumkpu apukwana ya n’azu.
Meaning(Literal): May one’s visitor not constitute a problem, so that on his departure he will not leave with a hunchback.
Igbo Proverbs: Ula towa uto, ekwowe ya ekwowe.
Meaning(Literal): When sleep becomes enjoyable, we snore.
Igbo Proverbs: Okuko na-arogoro ite onu, chetekwe mma gburu ya.
Meaning(Literal): The chicken frowns at the cooking pot, ignoring the knife that killed it.
Igbo Proverbs: Uzu na-amaghi akpu ogene lee egbe anya n’odu.
Meaning(Literal): The blacksmith who does know how to forge a metal gong should look at the tail of a kite.
Igbo Proverbs: Nwa ovu na-eto, o di ka o ga-aka nne ya.
Meaning(Literal): When the baby wren is growing, it looks like it would be bigger than its mother.
Igbo Proverbs: Ihe ka-nte bata n’onu nte, nte etefu.
Meaning(Literal): When something greater than the pigmy cricket enters its hole, it takes off.
Igbo Proverbs: Oke oshimmiri anokataghi rie onye obula nke o na-ahughi ukwu ya anya.
Meaning(Literal): The ocean never swallows a person with whose leg it does not come in contact.
Igbo Proverbs: Onye buru chi ya uzo, o gbagbue onwe ya n’oso.
Meaning(Literal): He who walks before his godly guardian does the race of his life
Igbo Proverbs: Okuko nyuo ahu, ana achuwa ya oso.
Meaning(Literal): When the fowl farts, the ground becomes a nuisance.
Igbo Proverbs: Okwulu anaghi amiri ote ofe.
Meaning(Literal): A master chef is not blessed with a good harvest of okra.
Igbo Proverbs: Mmiri riri enyi ka mbe huru na-awa ogodo: o ga-efe mmiri a efe ka o ga -awu ya awu?
Meaning(Literal): The tortoise gears up to besides a river that swallowed an elephant: is it going to fly over this river or just jump over?
Igbo Proverbs: O bulu na i taa m aru n’ike, ma i zeghi nshi; mu taa gi aru n’isi, agaghi m
Meaning(Literal): If you bite me on the butt, despite the danger of sinking your teeth into fecal matter, then if I bite you on the head, I will disregard the danger of sinking my teeth into cerebral matter.
Igbo Proverbs: Ohia woro gi nku, sere gi onu
Meaning(Literal): The forest that denies you firewood has massaged your neck.
Igbo Proverbs: O bia mgbe Alio Ene gburu atu, ya biakwa ma atu zogbuo Alio Ene.
Meaning(Literal): He who calls whenever Elder Ene kills a deer, let him call if the deer kicks the living daylight out of Elder Ene.
Igbo Proverbs: Okuko mmanya na-egbu ahubegh i mmanwulu ara na-ayi.
Meaning(Literal): A drunken fowl has not met a mad fox.
Igbo Proverbs: Nwaanyi anaghi-eji na nwunyedi ya kwere ya ekene nke oma kpowa ya
Meaning(Literal): A woman does not regard her sister-wife as sister-in-law just because she (her husband’s other wife) accepted her greeting gracefully.
Igbo Proverbs: Onye si na ya anaghi ata anu nkita, ya arakwala mmiri ofe ya.
Meaning(Literal): He who abhors dog meat should not eat dog-meat soup.
Igbo Proverbs: A tuoro omara, o mara, a tuoro ofeke, o fenye ishi n’ohia.
Meaning(Literal): If you tell a wise one, he understands; tell a dunce, he runs into the bush.
Sometimes, it is good to deploy the use of Igbo proverbs and their meanings to talk about what you need to explain to the young ones, so as to train their feeble hearts to wisdom and understanding.