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also by-word, Old English biword "proverb," formed on the model of Latin proverbium or Greek parabole. Meaning "something that has become proverbial" is from 1530s.
Hebrew _millah_ (Job 30:9), a word or speech, and hence object of talk; Hebrew _mashal_ (Ps. 44:14), a proverb or parable. When it denotes a sharp word of derision, as in Deut. 28:37, 1 Kings 9:7, 2 Chr. 7:20, the Hebrew _sheninah_ is used. In Jer. 24:9 it is rendered "taunt."