Meaning of proverbial in English:


Pronunciation /prəˈvəːbɪəl/

See synonyms for proverbial

Translate proverbial into Spanish


  • 1(of a word or phrase) referred to in a proverb or idiom.

    ‘I'm going to stick out like the proverbial sore thumb’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘She looked as though there was something she wanted to say, but either she couldn't find the words or the proverbial cat had her tongue because she didn't say anything.’
    • ‘Conversely, an inconsistency in your essay will stick out like the proverbial sore thumb.’
    1. 1.1Well known, especially so as to be stereotypical.
      ‘the Welsh people, whose hospitality is proverbial’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I was notorious for talking myself straight into a proverbial brick wall, and that was something I certainly didn't want to do in this situation.’
      • ‘It's just so much easier to curse like the proverbial inner city sailor than to speak in a traditionally sophisticated and cultured manner.’
      well known, famous, famed, renowned, traditional, time-honoured, legendary
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  • 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’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Although by trying to ‘organise’ the separate groups the PCT bureaucrats displayed their inability to organise the proverbial in a brewery.’


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