Definition of proverbial in English:

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Pronunciation: /prəˈvəːbɪəl/


1(Of a word or phrase) referred to in a proverb or idiom: I’m going to stick out like the proverbial sore thumb
More example sentences
  • On campus, they stick out like the proverbial sore thumb because they are the ones with the bandaged fingers.
  • In other words, the government is between the proverbial rock and the hard place.
  • The title of the movie refers to the proverbial elephant in the living room - the big problem that is ignored for so long that people are no longer able to recognize it.
1.1Well known, especially so as to be stereotypical: the Welsh people, whose hospitality is proverbial
More example sentences
  • You don't have to be a Democrat, a liberal, or a socialist to acknowledge that the proverbial wheels are falling off the juggernaut.
  • For those who may have been living under the proverbial rock, Andy Warhol is perhaps the most well-known American artist of the twentieth century.
  • Taken at face value, the question seems simple enough but scratch it and the hidden prejudices and stereotypes tumble out of the cupboard like the proverbial skeletons.
well known, famous, famed, renowned, traditional, time-honoured, legendary;
notorious, infamous


Used to stand for a word or phrase that is normally part of a proverb or idiom but is not actually uttered: one word out of line, and the proverbial hits the fan
More example sentences
  • The shows have been packed to the proverbials, with punters lining up to get some one-to-one time with their gag gurus.
  • Let's just say that I've been rushed off my proverbials, settling into life in London.
  • If nothing else, it should be more open than the only league meeting between the two so far this term, when Chelsea bored the proverbials off everyone on their way to a 1-0 win at Old Trafford.



Pronunciation: /prəvəːbɪˈalɪti/
Example sentences
  • There was no ‘general collapse of proverbiality’ and no ‘nearly complete blackout’ of proverbs, and, as will be shown in this present study, not even Lord Chesterfield himself could escape the spell of proverbs.
  • This is cited as farm wisdom, and there is no reason to doubt its proverbiality, although a few more references would be welcome.


Pronunciation: /prəˈvəːbɪəli/
Example sentences
  • This study holds that around the time of marriage, happiness increases briefly during what is proverbially called the honeymoon period, but that after one year it returns to the level that prevailed more than one year before marriage.
  • She sums up her social experience by saying proverbially, ‘The poorer you are, the happier you are.’
  • Traditional, local institutions were thought to be the solution to what is proverbially known as ‘the tragedy of the commons.’


Late Middle English: from Latin proverbialis, from proverbium (see proverb).

Words that rhyme with proverbial


For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: pro|verb|ial

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