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[pruh-vur-bee-uh l] /prəˈvɜr bi əl/
of, relating 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.
Origin of proverbial
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. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for proverbially
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • I therefore lay these facts before you, an Englishman, knowing that a Briton's generosity and capabilities are proverbially equal.

    The Royal Mail James Wilson Hyde
  • Servants are proverbially lavish and careless in this matter.

    The Young Maiden A. B. (Artemas Bowers) Muzzey
  • Bad temper is proverbially infectious, and as soon as he was gone a scene of mutual recrimination ensued.

  • Was not a Spaniard proverbially as quick to love as to jealousy?

  • But the Butes, then, were proverbially notorious for their callousness and their ingratitude.

    Tobias Smollett Oliphant Smeaton
  • Time and Tide passed on—as they are proverbially said to do—without waiting for any one.

    Rivers of Ice R.M. Ballantyne
  • proverbially such acts belong to a policy that outwits itself.

    Sir William Wallace A. F. Murison
  • The Swedish and Finnish pilots are proverbially among the best in the world.

    The Land of Thor J. Ross Browne
  • "Regrets for what 'might have been' are proverbially idle," cries the historian from whom I have chiefly quoted.

    Albert Durer T. Sturge Moore
British Dictionary definitions for proverbially


(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 proverbially



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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