to keep/break a promise


Senior Member
American English & Kreyòl Ayisyen
What are some of the most common idioms and expressions related to promises in your language?
In English, you:
Keep your promise, also: keep your word
Break a promise
Empty promise

What about for you?
  • ilocas2

    some Czech idioms about promises:

    sliby - chyby - promises - mistakes
    slibem nezarmoutíš - you will not aggrieve with a promise
    slibovat hory doly - to promise mountains and mines
    slibovat modré z nebe - to promise blue from the sky

    «Μην τάξεις τ' άγιου κερί και του παιδιού παιχνίδι» [min ˈtak͡sis ˈtaʝi.u ceˈɾi ce tu peðˈʝu pexˈniði] --> never promise a candle to a saint and a toy to a child (i.e. never promise anything you can't keep).

    «Τάζω λαγούς με πετραχήλια» [ˈtazo laˈɣus me petraˈçiʎa] --> to promise rabbits with epitrachelions (i.e. to make impossible promises).

    «Υπόσχομαι ενώπιον Θεού και ανθρώπων» [iˈposxome eˈnopi.on θeˈu ce anˈθropon] --> to promise before God and men (i.e. to make a moral commitment).

    «Στο λόγο της τιμής μου» [sto ˈloɣo tis tiˈmis mu] --> (to promise) on the word of my honour (i.e. to make a pledge).

    And an ancient one (a Pythagorean saying):

    «Ὅρκους ἐγώ γυναικῶν εἰς ὕδωρ γράφω» hórkous ĕgṓ gŭna̯ikôn e̯is húdōr grắpʰō --> the promises of women, I write on water (i.e. never trust a woman making promises).


    Senior Member
    American English & Kreyòl Ayisyen
    Nice examples.

    Some in Haitian Creole:
    Pwomès se dèt - Promises are debts
    Sa ki pwomèt bliye, sa ki espere sonje. - The one who makes the promise forgets,
    The one who waits for the promise remembers


    Senior Member
    Russian - Russia
    In Russian:

    держать обещание (слово) - keep your promise (word)
    нарушить обещание - break a promise
    пустые обещания - empty promises
    сулить (обещать) золотые горы - to promise mountains of gold

    A proverb: Обещанного три года ждут.
    (One has to wait for three years to get what's been promised.)
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    Senior Member
    Moroccan Arabic
    In Moroccan Arabic :
    ابقى على كلمتك keep your word !
    كلمة الرجال؟ a word of men ?
    ما عندوش الكلمة He doesn't have the word (he breaks his promise)
    الراجل هو الكلمة The man is the word (who keeps his word)


    Senior Member
    Russian - Russia
    In Italian:

    mantenere la promessa keep one's promise
    non mantenere una promessa break a promise
    promesse vuote empty promises

    Some phrases/sayings:
    Non promettere mari e monti. Don't promise seas and mountains.
    Fede, promessa, sacrificio. Faith, promise, sacrifice.
    Nel paese delle promesse si muore di fame. In the land of promises, people die of hunger.
    Promettere non costa nulla. Promises are cheap.
    Con la legna promessa non si scalda il forno. With promised wood, you cannot warm up the oven.
    È risposta delle donne gravide a chi promette loro maschio o femmina. It's the answer of the pregnant women to those who promise them a boy or a girl.
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    Gde ti mnogo obećavaju, malu torbu ponesi. ~ Where people promise you much, take a small bag.
    Obećanje, ludom radovanje. ~ Promise, happy thing for a fool.


    Senior Member

    complir una promesa ("fulfill a promise")
    trencar una promesa ("break a promise")

    prometre la lluna en un cove
    ("promise the moon in a basket")


    cumplir una promesa ("fulfill a promise")
    romper una promesa ("break a promise")

    prometer el oro y el moro ("promise the gold and the moor")

    lo prometido es deuda ("what is promised is debt")
    del dicho al hecho hay un buen trecho ("from said to done there is a great gap")


    I remembered another Czech one:

    Sliby se slibují, blázni se radují. - Promises are promised, fools are enjoying.


    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    Belofte maakt schuld. Pwomès se dèt - Promises are debts
    I'd translate as: "promises generate/ make debts (maybe obligation even)". We generally suggest by that that if you promise s'thing, you must do it.

    Further on:
    - een belofte houden (hold), gestand doen (stick to it, execute [doen])
    - een belofte breken, verbreken (more neg. than break)
    - de hemel op aarde beloven (promise heaven on earth: too much)
    - holle/ lege beloftes (hollow/ empty promises-)


    Senior Member
    Veel beloven en weinig geven doet de zotten in vreugde leven
    To promise much and give little keeps the fools happy.

    in het land van belofte sterft men wel van honger
    In the land of promises, people die from hunger.