Never do that by proxy which you can do yourself

is an Italian proverb ([1], [2]). So what would be the proverbial version of said quote in Italian?

  • Welcome to Italian.SE, @Jefery!
    – Charo
    Nov 20, 2015 at 14:13
  • 2
    I think that someone very freely translated one of the proverbs you can read in the answers, and someone else googled proxy proverb, just to decorate that documentation about proxy iterators. Nov 20, 2015 at 21:22
  • And in the middle stood Reverend James Wood, who compiled (with lots of mistakes) the "Dictionary of Quotations" Nov 20, 2015 at 21:49

4 Answers 4


I think that the proverb you quote is a (very) free translation of

Chi fa da sé fa per tre

(literally who does things by himself works like three people). I cannot think of any traditional proverb which is more similar and there is nothing in the Wikipedia page on Italian proverbs that is better than this.


Quel che tu stesso puoi dire e fare, che altri lo faccia mai non aspettare.

"For that thou canst do thyself, rely not on another." (Sources: 1, 2, 3)

It's an old Tuscan proverb. The meaning here is "If you are able to do it yourself, don't let anybody else to do things (for you)."

Its meaning is different from Chi fa da sé fa per tre, which is closer to the English saying "Want to have things done well, do it yourself."

  • 1
    This doesn't mean to be a negative on the answer, which I indeed upvoted, but on a side note I personally found "che altri lo faccia mai non aspettare" really hard to grasp at a first glance (the verb in third person singular for the subject in third person plural and the double "mai" / "non" negation), and I say this as a native speaker. I suggest to add a slightly more eloquent version such as "Quel che tu stesso puoi dire e fare, che altri lo faccia[no, tu] mai non aspettare."
    – kos
    Nov 21, 2015 at 15:11
  • @kos: The problem of the double negation appears again. I find this really interesting: I have now the suspect that this kind of constructions was common in old Italian, but was lost in nowadays Italian. In Catalan, as I have said, we have these constructions with the double negation ("mai no plou al gust de tothom" is a Catalan proverb), but I'm afraid they will be lost in a recent future (you can hear lots of people that, influenced by Castilian, say things like "mai plou al gust de tothom").
    – Charo
    Nov 21, 2015 at 16:30
  • @kos I am at a loss to understand where the problem is with the double negation. Don't we, in present-day Italian, say “Non dirmelo mai più” and the like? As for altri, it is singular.
    – DaG
    Nov 21, 2015 at 17:26
  • @DaG Fair point, but I've never heard of "altri" as referred to a single person nowadays. Moreover my point was more about the overall "weirdness" of the construct ("weirdness" to be intended as constituting something not common / atypical and for that sounding strange to the listener, i.e. weird in today's spoken language's perspective; weirdness to which I'll now add up the order of "che altri lo faccia" e "mai non aspettare", which would make the statement sound more natural if inverted, and the missing colon between the two).
    – kos
    Nov 21, 2015 at 17:41
  • 3
    Ok, @kos, but many proverbs or quotations of yore sound old, and personally I believe this adds to their charme! Let me add that the version I found of the present one reads che altri il faccia, adding one more weirdness... Then again, here we often discuss Dante or Goldoni, so we may admit some old-fashioned Italian.
    – DaG
    Nov 21, 2015 at 18:04

The nearest I can think of is

Chi fa da sé fa per tre

(literally, «Who does something on his own does it as if he were three», more or less). In a collection of proverbs, I also find

Non v'è più bel messo che sé stesso

(«There is no better messenger than oneself»).

In that book, Augusto Arthaber, Dizionario comparato di proverbi e modi proverbiali, both are considered to correspond to «If a man will have his business well done, he must do it himself» or «If you want a thing done, do it yourself».


Esiste anche

"Non far fare agli altri ciò che puoi fare da te"

  • Sai dirci da che zona proviene questo modo di dire? Dalle mie parti non si usa.
    – user525
    Dec 2, 2015 at 16:17
  • Benvenuto/a su Italian.SE, @rfb! Penso che Lucia abbia ragione: qui ci aspettiamo una risposta con più dettagli.
    – Charo
    Dec 2, 2015 at 16:58
  • Grazie del benvenuto. Io sono della Sardegna e ho sempre sentito questo genere di proverbio. In sardo esiste anche "chi cumandara malu missu è mellus chi si du fazza't issu" ("chi comanda un messo non valido è meglio che faccia da solo"). cmq il punto a mio parere è che per i proverbi, non tanto usati in effetti, si rimanda molto spesso al significato senza rispettarne strettamente una forma canonica. In questo senso penso si situi la mia risposta, fatto salvo comunque che l'ho sentita usare più di una volta.
    – rfb
    Dec 3, 2015 at 7:36

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.