Spanish proverbs

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What will not woman, gentle woman dare; when strong affection stirs her spirit up?
Robert Southey
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A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - L - M - N - O - P - Q -R - S - T - U - V - Y

A

  • A Dios rogando y con el mazo dando
    • Translation: Praying to God but hitting with the mallet
    • Interpretation: Pray to God but also do your part (work for it). This is the right interpretation of this proverb, or at least the only one officially accepted by the Real Academia de la Lengua (Spanish normative language regulation institution).
    • Interpretation: Hypocrisy: being religious and at the same time not being good to other people. While this interpretation is widely spread among Spanish speakers, it is a common mistake, which is neither right nor officially accepted by the Real Academia de la Lengua (Spanish normative language regulation institution).
    • Interpretation: Beg from God but never forget to strike your blows with your hammer.


  • A donde fueres, haz lo que vieres/Allá donde fueres, haz lo que vieres
    • Translation: 'To where you go, do the things you see'
    • Interpretation: Adapt yourself to the local customs.
    • Equivalent English proverb: "When in Rome, do as the Romans do."


  • Caballo regalado no se le mira el diente/colmillo/dentado.
    • Translation: Do not check the teeth of a horse given as a present
    • Interpretation: Do not search for faults in a gift
    • Equivalent English proverb: "Don't look a gift horse in the mouth."


  • A carro entornado, todos son caminos.
    • Translations:
      • To a car that's half closed, all are roads.
      • To an upset wagon all are roads.
        (entornado: turned inwards, twisted, overturned; carro: carriage, cart, wagon)
    • Interpretations:
      • To the confused, panicked, gullible, or half-educated person, all answers seem equally valid.
      • To a corrupt person, everyone is a road (useable.)


  • A enemigo que huye, puente de plata.
    • Translations:
      • For fleeing enemies, a silver bridge.
    • Interpretations:
      • To get rid of people you don't like sometimes you have to "help" them to leave.
      • Gallantry assists a defeated foe. (Don't kick adversaries when they're down.)
      • Insult a defeated enemy with silver bridges of ridicule.
      • Don't let the door hit you in the rump.


  • Agua que no has de beber, déjala correr
    • Translation: 'Water you are not going to drink, let it run'
    • Interpretation: Do not hoard what you can't or won't use.


  • A la tercera va la vencida
  • Translation: 'To the third goes the conquered.'


  • Al buen entendedor, pocas palabras bastan.
    • Translation: To the good "understander", few words are needed.
    • Interpretations:
      • Erudition is brevity.
      • To a good listener, few words are enough (understanding comes easy).
      • To a careful listener, interpreting hidden or inferred meanings, oftentimes of veiled implications or innuendo, is easy;
    • Equivalent English proverbs:
      • "Brevity is the soul of wit."
      • "Read between the lines."
      • "A word to the wise is sufficient."


  • Al mal tiempo, buena cara
    • Translation: Put a nice face to the bad times.
    • Interpretation: Be positive even in bad situations.


  • Al que le van a dar, le guardan y si llega tarde, le calientan
    • Translation: He who is to receive, some is saved for him, and if he is late, it will be warmed up again.
    • Interpretation:
      • Sometimes, people tend to get stuck with ideas and principles and make way for them through rain and storm.


  • A rey muerto, rey puesto
    • Translation: 'To a dead king, a king crowned.'
    • Equivalent English saying: "The King is dead. Long live the King."


  • A falta de pan, buenas son tortas.
    • Alt: A falta de pan, galletas
    • Alt: A falta de pan, tortillas (Guatemala)
    • Alt: A falta de pan, casabe (República Dominicana)
    • Translations:
      • If there's no bread, cakes will do.
      • In place of bread, cakes are good.
      • Alt. Trans.: If there's no bread, have crackers
    • Interpretations:
      • Settle for the next best thing.
      • Beggars can't be choosers.
      • In times of need, kindness is especially sweet.
    • Equivalent English proverb: "Any port in a storm."


  • A papaya puesta, papaya partida. (Colombian saying)
    • Alt: No hay que dar papaya...y a papaya puesta, papaya partida
    • Translation: papaya that is served, papaya that is eaten
    • Interpretation: If you leave yourself open to abuse, people will abuse you.
  • Agua que no has de beber, déjala correr.
    • Translations:
      • Water you should not drink, let it flow.
      • Let waters you will not be drinking run freely.
    • Interpretations:
      • If you don't need something, leave it for others to use; be generous; avoid greed.
      • Don't take that which is not rightly yours.
      • Avoid dangerous situations; avoid foreseeable problems.
      • Save some for the fish.


  • A lo hecho, pecho.
    • Translation: Of that which is/you have done, (take it on the) chest.
    • Interpretations:
      • Accept the consequences of what you do (to the chest; like a man).
      • Deeds are honor; claim your victories.
    • Equivalent English proverbs:
      • "Face the music."
      • "Take it like a man."


  • A perro flaco todo son pulgas.
    • Translation: To a skinny dog, all are fleas.
    • Interpretations:
      • If/when you are weak, it will seem that only problems surround you.
      • To the weak of character, all responsibilities are irritating.
      • To misers, all are parasites.


  • A perro flaco se le suben las pulgas.
    • Alt: A perro enfermo se le suben las pulgas.
    • Translations:
      • Fleas jump on a skinny dog.
      • Fleas jump on a sick dog.
    • Interpretations:
      • The weak attract problems.
      • To the weak of character everyone is irritating.


  • Árbol que nace torcido, jamás su tronco endereza
    • Translation: a tree that is born twisted never grows straight
    • Interpretation:
      • It is hard to break old habits.
    • Equivalent English proverb: "You can't teach an old dog new tricks."
    • Equivalent English proverb: "As the twig is bent, the tree will lean."


  • A quien madruga, Dios le ayuda.
    • Alt: Al que madruga, Dios le ayuda.
    • Alt Variation: Al que madruga, dios le ayuda; el que se apendeja dios lo deja. (A play with words that rhyme)
    • Translations:
      • God helps those who get up early.
      • Alt.Var:God helps those who get up early, and leaves those who are too late
    • Interpretations:
      • Initiative will be rewarded.
    • Equivalent English proverbs:
      • "The early bird gets the worm."
      • "God helps those who help themselves."


  • A quien Dios no da hijos, el diablo le da sobrinos.
    • Translation:'If God doesn't give children to you, the devil will give you nephews'


  • Aunque la mona se vista de seda, mona se queda.
    • Alt: Aunque la mona se vista de seda, mona siempre queda.
    • Translations: Although the monkey dresses in silk, she is still a monkey.
    • Equivalent English proverb: "You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear."
    • Equivalent U.S.A. Interpretation: You can't take the ghetto out of them.
    • Equivalent: A piggy with lipstick, stilla piggy
      • Context: The U.S.A. equivalent lets you get the idea. This proverb is heard in Spanish-speaking Novelas ("Soap Operas") in the context of the traditional and wealthy White family of Spanish origins against those seeking upward social-mobility, who are almost certainly Indian or mixed.

B

  • Barriga llena, corazón contento.
  • Barriga llena, no hay pena.
    • Translation: "Full stomach, happy heart."
    • Interpretations:
      • When one has eaten enough/much, one is happy.
      • Satisfaction ensures compliance.
      • Satisfy desires and ensure cooperation/dominance/security.
  • Bueno es culantro, pero no tanto.
    • Translation: Spices are good but not too much
    • Interpretations:
      • There's no need to overdo it.
      • Garnishes are no substitute for the main course.
    • Equivalent English proverbs:
      • "All things in moderation."
      • "Too much of a good thing."

C

  • Caballo grande, ande o no ande
    • Translation: 'Big horse, whether or not it can trot'
    • Interpretation: A good thing, even if it can't do something basic


  • Cae más rápido un hablador que un cojo.
    • Alt:Se atrapa mas rápido a un hablador que a un cojo
    • Alt:Se atrapa mas rápido a un mentiroso que a un cojo
    • Translation: A loudmouth/big-talker will fall (on his face) faster than a lame man.
    • Interpretations:
      • A braggart will quickly be revealed as a fraud when he can't back up what he says.


  • Calladita se ve mas bonita.
    • Translation: You look prettier when you're quiet.
    • Interpretations:
      • If you can't say anything nice (or intelligent), don't say anything at all


  • Camarón que se duerme se lo lleva la corriente.
    • Translation: The shrimp that falls asleep is swept away by the current.
    • Interpretations:
      • You should never take things for granted nor cease to make an effort.
      • The unwary are overtaken (by events, progress, circumstance).
      • Don't rest on your laurels - you snooze, you lose.


  • Caras vemos, corazones no sabemos.
  • Alt: Se ven las caras pero nunca el corazón
    • Translation: Faces we (can) see, hearts we don't/can't know.
    • Interpretations:
      • We know what someone looks like but not what he thinks or feels.
      • Appearance can be deceiving.
      • Treachery can show a friendly face.
      • Don't judge a book by its cover.


  • Casa de herrero, cuchillo de palo.
  • Alt: En casa de herrero, cuchillo de palo.
    • Translation: In a blacksmith's house all knives are wooden
    • Interpretations:
      • Someone doesn't work for him/herself.
      • Someone doesn't know how to apply their knowledge to their own life.
      • A strange circumstance

Equivalent in English:- "The cobbler's wife/children goes unshod".


  • Cría cuervos y te sacarán los ojos.
    • Translation: Raise crows and they will peck your eyes out.
    • Interpretations:
      • If you take care of / raise / tolerate inherently indecent people, they will still take advantage of you at the end.
      • No good can come of doing unworthy deeds.
      • People can be ungrateful - even if you hand-raise a crow, it can still peck out your eyes
      • See also: Aesop's tale of the man and the frozen snake.


  • Crea fama y acuéstate a dormir.
    • Alt: Coge buena fama y échate a dormir.
    • Translation: Create fame, and go to sleep.
    • Interpretations:
      • First impressions go a long way.
      • Do things right the first time and your tranquility is assured.
      • Create something that brings you fame and live off the royalties.


  • Cree que es la última coca-cola en el desierto.
    • Translation: He/she thinks he/she is the last Coke in the desert.


  • Cría cuervos, y te sacarán los ojos
    • Translation: 'Breed crows, and they will take out your eyes'
    • Interpretation: 'You reap what you sow'


  • Al que no quiere caldo se le dan dos tazas
    • Translation: Two rations are served to whom does not want any
    • Interpretation: Greater than normal waste


  • "Cuando el grajo vuela bajo hace un frío de carajo".
    • Translation: When ravens are seen flyng low, it is cold for the sake of a prick.
    • Interpretation: In a country context, seeing the way ravens fly is a clue for deducing the weather.


  • Cuando el indio va de culo, no hay barranco que lo ataje.
    • Translation: When the Indian (pejorative, meaning 'a fool') slides / falls on his butt, there is no ravine to escape through.
    • Interpretations:
      • Stupid people trap themselves.
      • When a knave has other motives there's no way to stop him.


  • Cuando el río suena, agua lleva.
    • Translation: When the river makes noise, (is because) it's carrying water.
    • Interpretations:
      • Every rumour has probably a true part.
      • English: Where there's smoke, there's fire.


  • Cuando toca, toca.
    • Alt: Cuando te toca, te toca.
    • Translations:
      • When it's your time, it's your time.
      • When your time is up, it touchs you, it affects you.
    • Interpretations:
      • You can't avoid some things / You can't escape fate.
      • You will get what you deserve.
      • When your time is up, it's up.


  • Cura Gatica, predica pero no practica [Chile]
    • Alt: El cura predica pero no aplica
    • Translations: Priest Gatica preaches but doesn't practice (what he preaches) [Word game by rhyme]
    • Interpretations: What he says is not what he does.
      • He doesn't practice what he preaches.
        • Practice what you preach

D

  • Dame pan y llámame tonto.
    • Translation: 'Give me bread and call me stupid.'
    • Interpretation: There's no problem if you call me stupid so long as you remember to give me bread to eat.
    • English: Sticks and stones ...
  • Del árbol caído todos hacen leña.
    • Translation: 'Everyone makes lumber from a fallen tree.'
    • Interpretations:
      • Anyone can make a profit from someone's disgrace.
      • Opportunities need to be taken when they show up.
      • It is always easy to benefit from the loss of others.


  • Del dicho al hecho hay un buen trecho.
    • Alt: Entre el dicho y el hecho hay un buen trecho.
    • Alt: Del dicho al hecho hay mucho trecho.
    • Translation: Between word and deed, there's a wide trench (journey).
    • Interpretation:
      • Easier said than done.
      • There's a big difference between what people say and what they do.
      • Between saying and doing there is a great gap.
  • De perdidos, al río.
    • Translation:'Since we are lost, let's go to the river'
    • Interpretarion: Sentence used when people accept that something wrong is going to happen.


  • De tal palo, tal astilla.
    • Translation: 'A chip off the old block.'
    • Translation: 'The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.'
    • Interpretations:
      • This is mostly used to say that kids are just like their parents, good or bad.


  • Dime de qué te alabas, y te diré de qué padeces.
    • Alt: Dime de qué presumes y te diré de qué careces.
    • Translations:
      • Tell me what you praise yourself of, and I'll tell you what you suffer from.
      • Tell me what you boast about and I'll tell you what you lack.


  • Dime con quién andas, y te diré quién eres.
    • Translation: Tell me who you hang around with and I'll tell you who you are.
    • Interpretation: Your choice of friends or associates is sign of your character.
    • Interpretation: Birds of a feather flock together.


  • Divide y vencerás
    • Translation: Divide and conquer


  • Dos tetas tiran más que dos carretas.
    • Alt: Pelo de cuca jala más que un tractor.
    • Translation:
      • Two breasts pull more than two wagons.
      • A woman's pubic hair pulls more than a tractor.
    • Interpretation:
      • The ability of women to get things in their favor due to their beauty and sexuality.


  • Donde caben dos, caben tres.
    • Translation: Where there is room for two there is room for three.


  • Donde las dan, las toman.
    • Translation: 'Where they give things, they can take them too'.
    • Interpretation: Sentence used as a threat when some one wants to pay somebody back.


  • Donde menos se piensa, salta la liebre.
    • Translation: Hares always jump where they are least expected.


  • Dios los cría y ellos se juntan.
    • Translation: God makes them and they look for each other
    • Translation: God raises them and they meet each other


  • Dios le da pan al que no tiene dientes
    • Translation: God gives bread to whom can not bite
    • Interpretation:
      • Used to complain about your own luck in comparison to a third person.
      • It has the meaning: I deserve something more than him, but luck is on his side

E

  • El cojo le echa la culpa al empedrado.
    • Translation: The crippled blames the cobblestones.
    • Interpretation: A person will blame his misfortune on circumstances or other people rather than accept that he is to blame.


  • El hábito no hace al monje.
    • Translation: Cowl does not make the friar.
    • Idiomatic translation: Don't judge the book by its cover.


  • El que calla, otorga.
    • Translation: He who keeps quiet, grants/consents.
    • Interpretation: Those who keep quiet after getting accused, usually admit guilt with their silence. Also used to imply that people that are asked something and remain quiet are silently accepting.


  • El que madruga coge agua clara.
    • Translation: He who rises early gathers clear water.
    • Interpretation: First come, first served.
    • Equivalent English Proverb: Early bird gets the worm.


  • El que va piano, va lontano
  • Alt: Paso a paso se llega lejos
    • Translation: Walk safe and slow to go far and well.
    • Equivalent English Proverb: Slow and steady wins the race.


  • El que todo lo quiere saber...todo lo quiere contar
    • Translation: Who wants to know it... wants to say it


  • El que busca encuentra
    • Alt:Buscar lo que no se ha perdido
    • Translation: Who looks for something will find it


  • El que quiera pescado que se moje el culo
    • Translation: Anyone who wants fish should go get his/her butt wet.
    • Interpretation: If you want something, get it yourself.


  • El que sabe sabe
    • Translation: Who knows knows


  • El que no transa, no avanza.
  • OR: Si no transas, no avanzas.
    • Translation: He who doesn't scheme, doesn't get ahead. OR If you don't scheme, you don't get ahead.
    • Interpretation: Usually used as a justification for illegal or questionable activities.


  • El tiempo perdido los santos lo lloran
    • Translation: the time wasted the saints cry for
    • Interpretation: time is money
      • be productive


  • El perezoso trabaja doble
    • Translation: Lazy people work twice
    • Interpretation: If you don't do the work right the first time, you'll work twice as hard later


  • En boca cerrada, no entran moscas
    • Translatio: 'In a shut mouth, flies cannot get in'
    • Interpretation: Sometimes silence is the best option.


  • En casa de herrero, cuchillo de palo.
    • Direct Translation: In the house of blacksmith, knife of wood.
    • Interpretation:
      • Not always what he preaches is what he practices.
      • What should be, happens not to be.
      • That which is expected is not the case.
      • Looks may be deceiving
      • Equivalent English proverb: The cobbler's children go barefoot. OR The cobblers children run without shoes


  • En guerra avisada no muere soldado.
  • Alt: Guerra avisada, no mata gente.
    • Translation: In a scheduled war, no soldiers will die.
    • Interpretation: Be aware of the future.


  • En la sala una dama, una puta en la cama.
    • Translation: In the living room a lady, a whore in bed. (Proverb of advice for brides to be)
    • Interpretation: A lady in public and a freak in the bedroom.
  • En tierra de ciegos el tuerto es rey
    • Translation: In land of blind people a one-eyed is king
    • Interpretation:
      • One eye will make you king so long as others are blind.
      • The value of your capacities is relative, and depends on the context.
      • Usually used for making vain people to come back to reality.
  • Es más fácil ver la paja en ojo ajeno que la viga en el propio
    • Translation: It's easier to see the straw in someone else than the beam in oneself
    • Interpretation:
      • Normally you see defects on other people easier than in yourself

F

  • Fue por lana y salió trasquilado.
    • Translation: (He/She) went looking for wool and came back shorn.
    • Interpretations:
      • If you go for something it might end up biting you
      • you woo someone but end up heartbroken.
      • you try to cheat someone but get cheated yourself.
      • Chasing glamour will get you fleeced.
      • All that glitters isn't gold.

G

  • Gato escaldado del agua fría huye.
    • Translation: A scalded cat flees from cold water.
    • Interpretation: Once bitten, twice shy.


  • Los gatos siempre caen de pie.
    • Translation: Cats always fall in their paws.


  • Gato por liebre. (dar gato por liebre)
    • Translation: (give) cat for rabbit/hare.
    • Interpretation: Cheat someone, water down, bait and switch, one-card Monty.
    • Origin: This comes from an Aztec legend about a man who was so picky that he had to have a certain type of rabbit for lunch every single day. One day, the man he bought his rabbits from got fed up with the man and gave him a cat instead of a rabbit like the man had paid for, and the man never noticed.
    • Origin: Rabbit is a common meal in Spain, and skinned rabbits are hung in the meat stall of markets. A skinned rabbit looks very much like a skinned cat.


  • Genio y figura hasta la sepultura.
    • Translation: Character and presence from the cradle to the tomb.

H

  • Hablando del rey de Roma...y éste que se asoma.
    • Translation: "As we were speaking of the King of Rome, look who dropped by!"
    • Equivalent English expression: "Speak of the Devil (and he's sure to appear)."


  • Hasta el justo se equivoca.
  • Alt: Al mejor panadero se le quema el pan.
  • Alt: Hasta al mejor mono se le cae el zapote. (Costa Rica)
    • Translation: Even the wisest makes mistakes.


  • Hijo de tigre sale pintado.
    • Literal Translation: "The tiger's son comes out painted."
    • Translation: The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.


  • Hombre prevenido vale por dos.
    • Translation: The man who is aware is worth two men.
    • English equivalent: Forewarned is forearmed.


  • Hoy no se fía, mañana sí.
    • Translation: No loans today but tomorrow.
    • Interpretation: Never loan anything now, but always propose on the never-arriving tomorrow.

I

  • Imposible solo existe en el mundo de los incapaces.
    • Translation: Impossible only exists in the world of the incapables.
    • Interpretation: Anything is possible if you put your mind toward it.

L

  • La culpa no es del chancho, sino del que le rasca el lomo
    • Alt: La culpa no es del chancho, sino del que le da de comer.
    • Alt: La culpa no es del chancho, sino del que le da el afrecho.
    • Translation: Don't blame the pig, blame the one who scratches his back.
    • Alt. Translation : Don't blame the pig, blame those who feed it.
    • Interpretation: Bad things' blame goes to the ones who allowed them besides the ones who actually do them.

Las curvas vemos, pero del celulos no sabemos


  • Lagarto que traga no vomita.
    • Translation: The lizard that swallows doesn't vomit. (NB- lagarto is also archaic for dragon.)
    • Interpretation: A tough stomach can take anything.


  • Le salio el tiro por la culata.
    • Interpretation: His plans backfired.
    • The literal translation of this proverb is that "His bullet-shot came out through the buttocks of the rifle".


  • Les da uno la mano y se toman hasta el codo.
    • Alt: Le das la mano y te agarran el pie
    • Translation: You give them a hand and they take your elbow.
    • Interpretation: When you help someone they might abuse of your kindness
    • English Equivalent Proverb: Give him an inch and he'll take a mile.


  • Llover a cántaros.
    • Translation: Raining pitchers-full.
    • English Equivalent: It's raining cats and dogs.


  • Lo barato sale caro.
    • Translation: Cheap things turn out to be expensive
    • Interpretation: It is better to buy something of high quality, than continually repair/replace something of low quality.
    • Interpretation: Just because something is cheap, does not mean it's worth the price.
    • Sometimes one pays more for the things one gets for nothing. (Attributed to Albert Einstein)
    • Penny wise, pound foolish.


  • Lo que no mata, engorda.
    • Alt: Mugre (mierda) que no mata, engorda.
    • Translation: What does not kill, fattens.
    • Interpretation: What doesn't kill me, strengthens me. (Nietzsche)

M

  • Más sabe el diablo por viejo que por diablo"
  • Alt:Perro viejo late echado
    • Translation: The devil knows more from being old than from being the devil.
    • Interpretations:
      • Don't underestimate experience.
      • Titles do not always describe a person's abilities and knowledge.


  • Más vale llegar a tiempo que en convidado.
    • Alt: Más vale llegar a tiempo que ser invitado.
    • Translation: It is better to arrive at the right moment than to be invited.
    • Interpretations:
      • It is better to arrive in time (prepared) than to depend on others (being invited/hosted).
      • Be responsible; be self-sufficient.


  • Más vale tarde que nunca.
    • Translation: Better late than never.


  • Más vale maña que fuerza.
    • Translation: Skill is better than strength.


  • Más vale pájaro en mano que cien volando.
    • Translation: A bird in the hand is worth more than a hundred flying.
    • English proverb: "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush."
    • Dutch proverb: "Better one bird in the hand than ten in the air"
    • German proverb: Lieber den Spatz in der Hand als die Taube auf dem Dach. (Better the sparrow in the hand than the pigeon on the roof."


  • Matrimonio y mortaja del cielo bajan.
    • Translation: Marriage and shroud come from heaven.


  • Moro viejo nunca será buen cristiano"

Translation: You can't teach an old dog new tricks

    • Translation: An old Moor will never make a good Christian.
    • Interpretation: In the end, Morocco is a Muslim country, not Christian.
    • Equivalent English proverbs:
      • "You can't teach an old dog new tricks."
      • "A leopard can't change his spots."

N

  • Ni raja ni presta el hacha.
    • Alt: Ni lava, ni presta la batea.
    • Alt: Ni picha, ni cacha, ni deja batear. (Guatemala)
    • Translations:
      • Neither splits, nor lends the axe.
      • Neither surrenders nor applies the axe.
    • Interpretations: Neither works (does) nor lets others work (or do)
      • Stalwart; takes care of things.
      • similar to "lead, follow, or get out of the way"
      • Fish or cut bait.


  • Ni come, ni deja comer. (El perro del hortelano)
    • Translation: He neither eats, nor lets others eat.
    • "The dog in the manger".


  • Ni tanto que queme al santo, ni tan poco que no lo alumbre.
    • Translation: Put the candle not so close that it would burn the saint, nor so far that it will fail to light it.
    • Interpretation: Find the right place/setting/configuration; don't be careless or shoddy.


  • No dejes para mañana lo que puedas hacer hoy.
    • Translation: Don't wait for tomorrow to do something you can do today.
    • Interpretation: If you want to do something, then do it today; don't put it aside for tomorrow.


  • No es oro todo lo que reluce
    • Translation: 'Not everything that glimmers is gold'


  • No hables de la soga en casa del ahorcado.
    • Translation: Don't speak of the noose in the hanged man's house.
    • Interpretations:
      • Don't talk about others problems in their own home.
      • Beware the beam in your own eye; take care of your own back yard.
      • Beware of speaking about touchy subjects at inappropriate times/in inappropriate places.


  • No hay mal que por bien no venga.
    • Translation: There is no misfortune that doesn't come with good.
    • Interpretations:
      • Don't take for granted that with good luck won't come misfortune.
      • The road to Hell is paved by good intentions.
    • English proverbs: Every cloud has a silver lining; It's an ill wind that blows no one good.


  • No hay miel sin hiel. (from Don Quixote)
    • Translation: There is no honey without gall.
    • Interpretations: There is nothing good in life without a downside.
    • English proverbs:
      • No pain, no gain.


  • No por mucho madrugar amanece más temprano.
    • Translation: Waking up earlier won't make the sun rise any quicker.
    • Interpretations:
      • Just because you do something daily doesn't mean things around you will arrange themselves to you.
      • You can't push on a rope.
      • Some things cannot be changed.


  • No tiene la culpa el indio, sino el que lo hace compadre.
    • Translations:
      • It's not the Indian's fault but the one who befriends him/makes him a companion.
      • The Indian is not at fault, but the one who trusts him.
    • Interpretations: NB-pejoritive
      • Don't entrust your loved ones to untrustworthy strangers.
      • Don't blame others for your own folly.
      • You were foolish for trusting a knave.


  • No hay cuña que más apriete que la del mismo palo.
    • Translation: The best wedge comes from its own stick.


  • No hay maestro como carne propia.
    • Alt: Nadie escarmienta en cabeza ajena.
    • Translation:
      • There is no teacher like your own flesh.
      • Nobody learns from the others mistakes.
      • There is no better teacher than one's own aching flesh.
    • Interpretation:
      • Experience is the best teacher.
      • Learn from your mistakes.


  • No es solo soplar y hacer botellas.
    • Translation: It's not as easy as blowing and making bottles.
    • Interpretation: It's not as easy as it looks.


  • No todo lo que brilla es oro.
    • Alt: No es oro todo lo que reluce.(España)
    • Translation: Not everything that shines is gold.
    • Interpretation: Somethings are not what they seem to be.


  • No hables a menos que puedas mejorar en el silencio.
    • Translation: Don't speak unless you can improve on the silence.


  • Nunca digas de esta agua no beberé.
    • Translation: 'Never say I will not drink from this water'
    • Interpretation: Never say never. Alt. Nunca digas nunca


  • No vendas la piel del oso antes de cazarlo.
    • Translation: Don't sell the bear's fur before you hunt it."
    • English equivalent: Don't count your chickens before they hatch."

O

  • Ojos que no ven, corazón que no siente
    • Translation: Eyes that don't see heart that doesn't feel.
    • Interpretation: If you don't see something happen, you never feel sorry for it.
    • Interpretation: Often used for a cheated person

"Out of sight out of mind".

    • Interpretation: One's virtues are always within the reach of one's own sight.

P

  • Perro ladrador, poco mordedor.
    • Alt: Perro que ladra no muerde.
    • Translation:
      • A barking dog doesn't bite.
      • His bark is worse than his bite.
    • Interpretation:
      • If someone says to be very violent, it means that he is not so bad.
      • When somebody is always threatening you, he shall not hurt you.
      • In general, situations which seem very dangerous are more often harmless than situations in which we can't notice the potential danger.


  • Perro viejo, ladra echado
    • Translation: An old dog barks while lying
    • Interpretation: An old dog knows that he has authority even if he is lying, so he doesn't need to waste energy in getting up.

Q

  • Quien a buen árbol se arrima buena sombra le cobija.
    • Translation: Whoever leans close to a good tree is blanketed by good shade.
    • Interpretation: Seek out the good in life.


  • Quien anda con lobos a aullar aprende.
    • Translation: He who hangs out with wolves will learn how to howl.
    • Interpretation: Bad influences transform you.
    • Interpretation: The same as Nietzsche's "Those who look into the abyss must be careful lest they find the abyss looking into them".


  • Quien bien te quiere, te hará llorar.
    • Translation: He / She who loves you a lot can make you cry.


  • Quien calla, otorga. (El que calla, otorga.)
    • Translation: 'He / She who is silent, consents'
    • Interpretation: 'Those who keep their silence are those who legislate.'
    • Explanation: You cannot consent to injustice and then repent when your time has come.


  • Quien con niños se acuesta, meado se levanta.
    • Translation: He/She(whom-ever) sleeps with kids wakes up with their piss.
    • Translation: Whom sleepest with children, waketh with their piss.
    • Translation: He/She sleeps with children, wakes up with their pee.
    • Interpretation: We have to accept how people are when we deal with them.


  • Quien guarda, halla.
    • Translation: He / She who keeps things, can find them.


  • Quien la hace, la paga.
    • Translation: 'He/She who does it, pays it'.
    • English version: What goes around comes around.


  • Quien la sigue, la consigue.
    • Translation: He/She who follows it, gets it.
    • Interpretation: When you persist in something, you can obtain what you want


  • Quien no cojea, renquea.
    • Translation: He / She who does not limp, hobbles.
    • Interpretation: We are all the same.


  • Quien no llora, no mama
    • Translation:Who doesn't cry doesn't nurse
    • Interpretation: If you never ask for help probably you will never receive it


  • "Quien quiera peces, que moje el culo"
    • Translation: He who wants fish, get his ass wet.
    • Interpretation: If you want to achieve something, you must make an effort in order to get it.


  • Quien quiere celeste que le cueste
    • Translation: If you want luxury work for it.


  • El que se va a la villa pierde su silla.
    • Translation: He who leaves the manor loses his seat.
    • Interpretations:
      • Don't change horses in the middle of a stream.
      • Leaving a sure thing for a gamble is folly.
    • Variants:
      • Quien/El que fue a Sevilla perdió su silla (España)
      • El que se va pa Sevilla pierde su silla
      • El que se va pa' Aguadilla, pierde su silla (Puerto Rico)
      • El que se va para Virilla pierde su silla (Costa Rica)
      • El que se va para Limón pierde su sillón (Costa Rica)
      • El que fué a Melipilla perdió su silla (Chile)
      • El que fue a Melilla perdió su silla
      • El que fue a Melillón perdió su sillón
      • El que fue a Matilla perdió su silla
      • El que fue a Quellón perdió su sillón
      • El que fue a la villa perdió su silla
      • El que se va a Barranquilla pierde su silla (Colombia)
      • El que va para Quito pierde su barquito (Ecuador)
        • Interpretation: He who went to [insert city of choice here that rhymes], lost his seat. This is not actually a proverb. Usually uttered to someone you have taken a seat from (obviously), it can be equated to "Move your feet, lose your seat."


  • Quien tuvo, retuvo (La que tuvo, retuvo)
    • Translation: 'He/She who had something, retains it'
      • Interpretation: 'When somebody is good in something, she/ he will always be'

R

  • Río que suena, piedras trae.
    • Translation: A river that rumbles brings boulders.
    • Interpretation:
      • Any rumor has some truth.
      • Any lie has some truth.
  • Río revuelto, ganancia de pescadores
    • Translation: 'A rough river is a profit for the fishers'.

S

  • Si Mahoma no va a la montaña, la montaña irá a Mahoma
    • Translation: 'If Muhammad does not go to the mountain, the mountain will go to Muhammad'
    • Interpretation: There are some things that have to happen.
    • Translation from an English proverb. The earliest appearance of the phrase is from Chapter 12 of the Essays of Francis Bacon, published in 1625.

T

  • Tanta carne y yo comiendo bacalao.
    • Alt: Tanta carne y yo sin dientes.
    • Translation: So much meat, and I'm eating cod / and I with no teeth.
    • Interpretation: So yummy and I can't enjoy it. (in referring to an attractive person who may be out of one's league); water, water everywhere nor any drop to drink.


  • Tanto nadar para quedar en la orilla.
    • Translation: Swimming so much, only to remain on the shore.
    • Interpretation: Said when one's returns aren't commensurate with one's efforts. Running twice as fast just to stay where you are.


  • Tanto te quiero perrito, pero pa' pan muy poquito.
    • Translation: Much as I like you, puppy, but not enough to give you bread.
    • Interpretation: You're not that attractive!
    • I'm not that desperate.


  • Tanto va el cántaro al agua que al final se quiebra.
    • Translation: So often goes the pitcher to the fountain that will be finally broken.


  • Todos los caminos conducen a Roma.
    • Translation: All roads lead to Rome.
    • German proverb: Alle Wege führen nach Rom.

U

  • Una golondrina no hace verano.
    • Translation: The summer does not start with a single swallow
    • German proverb: Eine Schwalbe macht noch keinen Sommer.


  • Un loco hace cien
    • Romani proverb: One madman makes madmen, many madmen make madness


  • Un clavo saca a otro clavo
    • Alt: La mancha de una mora, con otra verde se quita.
    • Translation: one nail drives out another
    • Translation: That driven nail draws-out the other.

V

  • Vámonos que nos vamos a mojar.
    • Translation: Let's go we're getting wet (Knowing when to take one's leave).
    • Interpretation: Let's get out of here or we'll get in trouble.


  • Ver la paja en el ojo ajeno, y no la viga en el propio.
    • Translation: Why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?


  • Vivieron felices y comieron perdices (y a mí no me dieron).
    • Translation: They lived happily and ate partridge (and didn't give me any).
    • English equivalent: And they lived happily ever after.


  • Vístanme despacio que estoy de afán.
    • Alt.: Vístanme despacio, que estoy apurado.
    • Alt.: Vísteme despacio, que tengo prisa.
    • Translation:
      • Dress me slowly when in a hurry
      • Dress me slowly, since I'm in a hurry.
    • Interpretation:
      • Do the things as best as you can, even if you are running out of time.
      • If you do things too fast when running out of time, you might screw up. So, do them slowly and patiently.

Y

  • Yo tengo una tía que toca la guitarra.
    • Translation: I have an aunt who plays the guitar.
    • English proverb: What does that have to do with the price of rice in China?
    • Interpretation: That was completely irrelevant.

Z

  • Zapatero a tus zapatos.
    • Translation: Shoemaker to his shoes


NB: The sound files are read in a slight Argentinian accent.

  • A buen hambre no hay pan duro. (There is no hard bread if you are hungry) - "Hunger is the best gravy" (Shakepeare) (sound)
  • A caballo regalado no le mires el dentado. A caballo regalado no se le miran los dientes. (Don't look a gift horse in the mouth)
  • A donde fueres haz lo que vieres. (Wherever you go, do what you see) - When in Rome, do as the Romans do. (sound)
  • A falta de hombres buenos, a mi padre hicieron alcalde. (For lack of good men, they made my father mayor) (sound)
  • A perro flaco, todo son pulgas. (To a skinny dog, all are fleas.)
  • A quien madruga, Dios le ayuda. (God helps those who get up early) - God helps those who help themselves. Or, The early bird gets the worm. (sound)
  • A tou gochín i llega su samartín
  • A todo cerdo le llega su San Martín (Every pig has its San Martin's day) - What goes around, comes around. (sound)
  • Caras vemos, corazones no sabemos. (We see the faces, we do not know about the hearts)
  • Cuando el indio va de culo, no hay barranco que lo ataje. (When the indian slides on his butt, there's no way to stop him)
  • Del árbol caído todos hacen leña (Everyone gets wood from a fallen tree.)
  • Del dicho al hecho, hay un buen trecho (There's a great distance between the word to the deed)
  • Dime con quién andas y te diré quién eres (Tell me who is by your side and I'll tell you who you are.) - Birds of a feather flock together. Or, A man is known by the company he keeps. (sound)
  • El mal escribano le echa la culpa a la pluma (The poor writer blames the pen) - It is a poor workman who complains about his tools. (sound)
  • El que con niños se acuesta, molido (or meado) se despierta (Those who go to bed with babies get up damp) - Lie down with dogs and you wake up with fleas.
  • El que no llora no mama (He who doesn't cry, doesn't suckle) - The squeaky wheel gets the grease.
  • El que se ha quemado con leche al ver una vaca llora (He who has scalded himself on milk, weeps when he sees a cow)
  • En boca cerrada no entran moscas (A closed mouth gathers no flies) - Same in English. (sound)
  • En casa del herrero, cuchillo de palo (In the house of a smith, they use a wooden knife)
  • Gato escaldado del agua fría huye (The cat that has been scalded flees from cold water)
  • Más vale llegar a tiempo que en convidado (It's better to arrive at the right moment than to be invited)
  • Más vale pájaro en mano que cientos volando (A bird in the hand is better than a hundred flying birds) A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
  • No hables de la soga en casa del ahorcado (Don't talk about rope in a hanged man's home) (sound)
  • No hay mal que por bien no venga (There's no bad that something good doesn't come from it) - Every cloud has a silver lining. (sound)
  • No por mucho madrugar amanece más temprano (Dawn doesn't hurry if you get up earlier) (sound)
  • Quien a buen árbol se arrima buena sombra le cobija (If you lean to a good tree you will be protected by a good shadow)
  • Ser como el perro del hortelano, que ni come él ni deja comer al amo (To be like the gardener's dog, who doesn't eat the cabbages, nor lets the master eat them)
  • Si quieres el perro, acepta las pulgas (If you want the dog, accept the fleas.) (sound)
  • Si tu mujer quiere tirarte de un tejado, procura que sea uno bajo, mayormente (If your wife wants to throw you off the roof, make sure the roof is as low as possible)

See also