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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.

A B C D E H L M N O P Q R S T U V Z


echar margarits a los cerdos
cast pearls before swine

echar margarits a los puercos
cast pearls before swine

el amor es ciego
love is blind. (n.b.: a Mexican saying)

el camino andado es el más seguro
the familiar path is the safest. (lit.: the path walked is the most secure; n.b.: a Mexican saying)

el diablo sabe más por viejo que por diablo
the devil knows more from being old than from being the devil

el fin justifica los medios
the ends justify the means. (n.b.: a saying common to many languages)

el gato escalado del agua fría huye
once bitten, twice shy. (lit.: a scalded cat flees from cold water)

el hábito hace al monje
clothes make the man; fine feathers make fine birds. (lit.: the habit makes the monk)

el hábito no hace al monje
clothes do not make the man. (lit.: the habit does not make the monk)

el hambre aguza el ingenio
necessity is the mother of invention. (lit.: hunger sharpens ingenuity)

el hombre propone y Dios dispone
man proposes and God disposes

el la variedad está el gusto
variety is the spice of life. (n.b.: a Mexican saying)

el mundo es como un pepino: hoy lo tienes en la mano, mañana en el culo
life has its ups and downs. (lit.: the world is like a pepper; today you have it in your hand, tomorrow in your ass; n.b.: culo is a vulgar term; a Mexican saying)

el ocio es la madre de todos los vicios
idleness is the root of all evil; the devil finds work for idle hands. (lit.: idleness is the mother of all other vices)

el primer paso es el que cuesta
nothing is easy at the start. (lit.: the first step is the one that costs)

el que a hierro mata, a hierro muere
he who lives by the sword shall die by the sword

el que a hierro mata, a hierro muere
he who lives by the sword dies by the sword. (n.b.: from the Bible, and unfortunately not what happens in the real world; n.b.: a Mexican saying)

el que canta, sus penas espanta
song lightens the heart. (lit.: he who sings scares off his pains; n.b.: a Mexican expression)

el que no transa, no avanza
he who does not yield does not advance. (n.b.: a Mexican saying)

el que obedece no se equivoca
he who obeys does not err. (n.b.: a Mexican saying)

el que padece de amor hasta con las piedras habla
he who suffers from love will talk even with rocks. (n.b.: a Mexican saying)

el que pega, paga
he who strikes, pays. (i.e.: he who causes damage or is violent should pay for it; n.b.: a Mexican saying)

el que porfía mata venado
haste makes waste. (lit.: he who rushes or insists, dies poisoned; n.b.: a Mexican saying)

el que rie último, ríe mejor
he who laughs last laughs best

el que roba a un ladrón tiene cien años de perdón
it’s no crime to steal from a thief. (lit.: he who robs a thief has one-hundred years worth of a pardon)

el que sabe, sabe
he who kows, knows. (n.b.: a Mexican saying)

el que se enoja, pierde
he who becomes angry loses. (n.b.: a Mexican expression)

él que se fue a Sevilla, perdió su silla
if you go away you can’t expect people to keep your place for you. (lit.: he who goes to Seville will lose his seat)

el que venga detrás, que arree
every man for himself, andthe devil take the hindmost. (lit.: he who comes last, may be be urged on)

el saber no ocupa lugar
you can never know too much. (lit.: knowing takes no space)

el último mono es el que se ahoga
every man for himself, and the devil take the hindmost. (lit.: the last monkey is the one that drowns)

en arca abierta, el santo (el justo) peca
deep down we are all thieves. (lit.: when the chest is open, the saint [the just] sin)

en boca cerrada no entran moscas
silence is golden. (lit.: bugs do not enter a closed mouth)

en casa de herrero, cuchillo de palo
the shoemaker’s son always goes barefoot. (lit.: in the blacksmith’s home, the knife is a stick)

en casa de tamborilero todos son danzantes
the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. (lit.: in the house of the drummer everyone is a dancer)

en el país de ciegos el tuerco es rey
in the country of the blind the one-eyed man is king

en el reino de ciegos el tuerco es rey
in the country of the blind the one-eyed man is king

en la variedad está el gusto
variety is the spice of life

en las malas se conoce a los amigos
a friend in need is a friend indeed. (lit.: in bad time one finds one’s friends)

en tiempo de tempestad, cualquier agujero es puerto
any port in a storm. (lit.: in stormy times, any hole is a port; n.b.: a Mexican saying)

en tierra de ciegos el tuerco es rey
in the country of the blind the one-eyed man is king

entre casados y hermanos, ninguno meta las manos
no one should interfere in marriages or family matters. (lit.: no one sticks his hands between married couples or brothers; n.b.: a Mexican saying)

entre col y col, lechuga
variety is the spice of life. (lit.: between cabbage and cabbage, lettuce)

errar es humano, perdonar, divino
to err is human, to forgive, divine

es de sabios cambiar de opinión
only a fool never changes his mind. (lit.: it is characteristic of the wise to change their minds)

es de sabios el callar
a still tongue makes a wise head. (lit.: it is characteristic of the wise to be silent)

están verdes
it’s sour grapes. (lit.: they are green)


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