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[pruh-vur-bee-uh l] /prəˈvɜr bi əl/
of, pertaining to, or characteristic of a proverb:
proverbial brevity.
expressed in a proverb or proverbs:
proverbial wisdom.
of the nature of or resembling a proverb:
proverbial sayings.
having been made the subject of a proverb:
the proverbial barn door which is closed too late.
having become an object of common mention or reference:
your proverbial inability to get anywhere on time.
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English < Latin prōverbiālis. See proverb, -al1
Related forms
proverbially, adverb
unproverbial, adjective
unproverbially, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for proverbial
  • That's our new conventional wisdom about an age of proverbial prudery.
  • If transients are the proverbial wolves of the sea, this is a pack snatching a rabbit, not hauling down an elk.
  • They may feel the brunt of their position, but one may liken them to the proverbial mouse in the maze: they lack the aerial view.
  • The best way universities can support today's working learner is to take the proverbial leap of faith and embrace the new.
  • There's nothing fun about watching the proverbial punch-drunk boxer climb in the ring for another beating.
  • He would be on many matters independent as the proverbial hog on ice.
  • At the meeting appeared the proverbial straw which broke the camel's back.
  • Achieving the proverbial win-win-win means forming partnerships for the long term.
  • They knew the job as it was, and that was it--the proverbial mile-wide but inch-deep understanding.
  • However, its own policies could have ominous implications for its proverbial golden-egg-laying goose.
British Dictionary definitions for proverbial


(prenominal) commonly or traditionally referred to, esp as being an example of some peculiarity, characteristic, etc
of, connected with, embodied in, or resembling a proverb
Derived Forms
proverbially, adverb
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for proverbial

early 15c. (implied in proverbially.), from Late Latin proverbialis "pertaining to a proverb," from proverbium (see proverb).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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