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Spanish Proverbs

Spanish proverbs offer insight into Spanish culture, history, and society, and are often used in speech and writing. There is no substitute for knowing them, and if you can use them in yourself, so much the better. Below are all the standard proverbs used in Spanish, along with English translations and explanations. Use the Search Box at left if you cant't navigate your way to what you want.


cada cabeza es un mundo
each mind is a world unto itself. (lit.: each head is a world; i.e.: everyone thinks differently, despite the uniformity and conformity that seem to exist)

cada día que amanece, la suma de tontos crece
each day brings more fools. (lit.: each day that dans, the number of fools grows)

cada oveja con su pareja
birds of a feather flock together. (lit.: each sheep with its mate)

cada uno en su casa y Dios en la de todos
each to his own and God watching over everyone. (lit.: each in his own home and God in all homes)

cagar y comer, despacio ha de ser
eating and pooping should be done slowly. (n.b.: the idea of chewing one's food slowly is well-known; the benefits, if any, of pooping slowly are unknown)

camarón que se duerme, so lo lleva la corriente
time and tide wait for no man. (lit.: the shrimp that sleeps is carried away by the current)

carta(s) canta(n)
be in black and white. (lit.: cards sing)

con amor y aguardiente, nada se siente
love and eau-de-vie make everything else tolerable. (lit.: with love and eau-de-vie, nothing is felt)

con las curas y los gatos, pocos tratos
sometimes you just can't win. (lit.: with priests and cats, little negotiating)

con pan y vino se anda el camino
things never seem so bad after a good meal. (lit.: with bread and wine one goes on)

con pequeña brasa se seule quemar la casa
one ember can burn down a house. (n.b.: this proverb cautions us to pay attention to the little things, as they can have a big effect at times)

cuando barato el Diablo vende, él bien se entiende
all that gillters is not gold. (lit.: when the Devil sells on the cheap, he knows it; i.e.: what is a bargain now often costs dearly later)

cuando el gato duerme, bailan los ratones
when the cat’s away the mice will play. (lit.: when the cat is asleep, the mice dance)

cuando el gato va a sus devociones, bailan los ratones
when the cat’s away, the mice will play. (lit.: when the cat goes off to prayer, the mice dance)

cuando el río suena, agua lleva
where there’s smoke, there’s fire. (lit.: when the river makes noise, it brings water)

cuando el río suena, piedras trae
where there’s smoke, there’s fire. (lit.: when the river makes noise, it brings stones)

cuando hay hambre no hay pan duro
beggars can’t be choosers. (lit.: when hungry there’s no hard bread; n.b.: RPl usage)

cuando las barbas de tu vecino veas arder, pon las tuyas a remojar
you should learn from other people’s mistakes. (you should learn from other people’s mistakes

cuando menos se piensa, salta la liebre
things often hapen when you least expect. (lit.: when it is least expected, the hare jumps out)

cuánto tienes, cuánto vales
you are worth what you have. (lit.: how much you have, how much you are valued; i.e.: money is what matters; a Mexican saying)

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