The Wisest Ladder Proverbs From Around the World

The Wisest Ladder Proverbs From Around the World

02nd March 2020

When looking to sum up a situation or give some advice, people often turn to ladders for inspiration. The following wise phrases from around the planet show us how these objects can be used to explain many different concepts very easily. 

"Before you start up a ladder, count the rungs"

This Yiddish proverb tells us never to take on a task without first of all checking how big it is and whether we are capable of completing it. 

Can you imagine starting to climb safety ladders and then realising that they go up and up in the clouds, seemingly forever? This same problem could easily occur in anything that you start without fully looking into it.
"As if it weren’t bad enough to fall, the ladder lands on top of you"

This next phrase comes from Malawi. It tells us that sometimes one bad thing follows another, making the situation even worse than it already was. This is a variation on the saying “It never rains but it pours”.

This African country is also credited with the interesting proverb, “Kick away the ladder and your feet are left dangling”. The meaning is also clear here, as you should never neglect or mis-treat something that supports you or that you depend upon.

"He who holds the ladder is as bad as the thief"

The Germans use this saying to point out that helping someone do something bad is just as bad as doing it yourself. Saying that your part in it was minor is no excuse, according to this proverb.

Germany also gives us the interesting proverb “He who would climb the ladder must begin at the bottom”, although some sources suggest it may be from England originally. In this case, it is telling us that you always have to start at the beginning of anything that you do. There are no easy shortcuts.

"Life is a ladder - some will climb up it, others down"

This phrase from Bulgaria tells us that there are two types of people in life. Not everyone does things in the same way, and not everyone achieves the same results either.

Since climbing a ladder is often used as a metaphor for being successful, it is easy to imagine that the proverb is meant in that way. However, we could also simply take it as meaning that there are different ways to approach each challenge or obstacle that we come across. 

"It is easier to climb down than up"

The French point out with this phrase that going down is easier than going up. This is certainly true, whether you are climbing a ladder or walking up a hill. But what message does the proverb get across?

Again, it is easy to imagine that it is talking about success, whether that means climbing the career ladder or seeing your savings climb slowly but surely. Most things in life are harder to earn or to create than they are to lose.