All or virtually all cultures possess a repertoire of formulations and use them mainly as rhetorically effective means of transmitting accumulated knowledge and experience. Proverbs are speech entities that can be used in every aspect of discussions such as poetry, wise saying, and contemplative argument as well as daily lives of all cultures to address situations or just in leisurely discourse. Mieder mentions that "proverbs are found in many parts of the world, but some areas seem to have richer stores of proverbs than others (such as West Africa), while others have hardly any (North and South America). As far as the functions of proverbs are concerned, Honeck has proposed the following functions for the proverbs:
A. Literary Function
Proverbs are used in prose, poetry and song. The reasons vary with the genre. Poetry and song tend to follow certain rhythmic structures, so the poetic and balanced syntactic structure of some proverbs can be appealing. In addition, they pack a great deal of information into a short statement and poets and song writer often have verbal economy as a goal. For writers of prose and some poetry, the goals may be different, with a shift in a focus to the rhetorical, sometimes indirect, distant style that typifies proverbs. Perhaps the most fundamental reason why proverbs appear in literary sources is that they pack an emotional and aesthetic punch. This effect can be traced not only to their frequent use of poetic devices, but to their common omnitemporal form and their arousal of affect-laden universal ideas about human affairs.
Writers such as Shakespeare, Emily Dickinson and Bernard Shaw have applied proverbs in their works. Then, Honeck makes this hint that "one can ask whether there is anything unique about the proverbs genre that makes for its use in literature. One hypothesis is that proverbs are detachable from their original context of use, but nevertheless can remind a reader of the social norms they embody that is, the proverbs can retain its general significance in spite of its being resituated in some text".
B. Practical Function
The other function which Honeck clarifies for the proverbs is their use in practical situations. Proverbs have characteristic properties that make them useful for everyday purposes. They are relatively short, poetic, typically concrete, and used as indirect comments. They have the power and wisdom of many people behind them, and they perform categorization and pragmatic functions. These properties strongly suggest that they can be used to facilitate memory, teach and persuade. Of course, these properties are precisely why many proverbs develop in cultures in the first place. Regarding the practicality of proverbs he adds "the proverbs are also used for treatment for sociopsychological problems such as substance abuse, psychotherapy, tests of mental status, as a way of teaching children to think more abstractly, as an imaginary mnemonic by the elderly, as a means of assessing workers' attitudes about work and life, and even as tests of a defendant's competency to stand trial.
According to Moosavi proverbs might be used for either of these functions;
1. Proverbs are used as a title of a book or title of a literary work on the whole (e.g. Shakespeare's measure for measure whose Persian equivalent is "kolukh andaz raa paadaash sang ast")
2. In press, hot news is circulated through a proverb in the heading or text of it which reflect news topic.
3. Statesmen and government authorities use proverbs in their speech in different occasions.
4. Proverbs might attract consumers' attention in ads (either commercial or political).