Igbo Proverbs - Introduction

PROVERBS (Proverb is ilu or ilulu)
Igbo proverbs are expressions of the experiences of the people. In order to understand Igbo proverbs, one needs to have an understanding of Igbo language, the culture and the environment. Igbo proverbs permeate all aspect of life: family, marriage, bravery, love, patience, self control, gratefulness, peace, satisfaction, gratitude, problems, difficulties, common sense and others.


Proverbs are highly prevalent in Igbo language. Ilu bụ mmanụ ndị igbo ji eri okwu. Proverbs are used to lubricate spoken words. The same proverb can be used in a variety of different situations with different meanings. Ụka bụ nka, spoken word is an art. The ability to use a suitable proverb shows the mastery of the art. Igbo proverbs are very flexible, allowing the speaker to substitute certain words to lighten or deepen the proverb. This mastery could be heard in how the speaker introduced the proverb. For instance, the speaker could say a sị (it is said that), nna m sị (my father said), m wee na-ajụ sị (and I ask), otu nwoke sị (one man said), onye ara ka a jụrụ sị (a mad man was asked), mbe sị (the tortoise said), nwaanyị orie Umuduru sị (the market woman said). The proverb as a whole can come in the form of a rhetoric question; Olee anụ nụ sị nne ya nwụọ ya were ọnụ tụnuo osisi niile?, What's that animal that said she will chop down all the trees in her village the day her mother dies? Oke ọ ga-esonụ ngwere ma mmiri?, Will the rat play in the rain with the lizard?


The proverbs on this website
The proverbs have been written in various dialects of Igbo language, to retain their individual strengths. To interpret a proverb, one must know the context in which it was used, but this website will attempt to provide a general discussion on the proverbs. The proverbs on this website is work-in-progress, so we will update them from time to time.

Please click on a letter to see the proverbs beginning with the letter
A B CH D E F
G H I J K L
M N O P R S
T U V W Y Z

There are no proverbs beginning with L, P, R, V, Z. We will update as they become available