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31 Meaningful Spanish Proverbs To Fill Yourself With Wisdom

May 19, 2022

One of the things that will make you sound like a Spanish native speaker is starting to include proverbs in your conversations. Besides slang, it is one of the keys to expressing yourself naturally. Even when we don't realize it, we are using meaningful Spanish proverbs that leave honest advice, teaching, or a thought about a situation every day. 

In today's blog post, you will learn essential proverb phrases to enrich your vocabulary. The next time someone says a phrase that previously would have sounded strange to you, it will finally make complete sense! 

 

Word For 'Proverb' In Spanish

A proverb is a short phrase that carries meanings that can be moral or ethical. People traditionally use proverbs to offer advice or teachings for life.

The word proverb in Spanish is 'Proverbio.' It comes from the Latin 'proverbium,' (pro= to go forward). But there is another Spanish word to refer to these phrases that you can use interchangeably: 'Refrán' (Saying).

 

Spanish Proverbs That Hold Special Meanings For Our Lives 

Become wiser as you increase your Spanish vocabulary by learning the meaning of the most thoughtful and long-lasting Spanish proverbs that many generations have used before us.

Note: In different Spanish-speaking countries these phrases may differ in terms of words but the meaning will be the same.

1. "A palabras necias, oídos sordos."

Translation: To foolish words, deaf ears

Its literal translation allows us to understand that some words can be negative, and those words can only arrive on deaf ears. To put it simply, you should always ignore negative comments that are coming toward you.

You can use this phrase if your family member is going to a job interview, and you see that another person is telling them that they will fail the interview. You can go to your family and remind them not to listen to that foolish comment. Instead, ignore it and go to the interview with a positive attitude.  

2. "A barriga llena, corazón contento."

Translation: A full belly, a happy heart.

Food certainly makes us happy, especially if it is our favorite dish. At times like a Christmas or New Year's dinner, a person can say this phrase to remember the importance of food for our life and health and how much it is appreciated to have such a dinner.

3. "Año nuevo, vida nueva."

Translation: New Year, New Life.

A popular Spanish proverb phrase that you can use on New Year's Eve. It symbolizes a new beginning in our lives. Usually, it makes people feel refreshed to start on the right foot to fulfill their purposes.

4. "Al mal tiempo, buena cara."

Translation: To bad weather, a good face

This Spanish proverb means that we should always be positive while facing adversities. Having a 'good face,' or a happy face means being optimistic, which will lead us to overcome bad situations. 

Spanish Proverbs

5. "A quien madruga, Dios le ayuda."

Translation: Whoever gets up early, God helps him.

Many people think that this phrase means that you must always wake up extremely early in the morning for 'God to help you.' You don't need to look at this phrase as literal since it expresses how people should work with a lot of effort to accomplish goals in life. 

It is thought that people who wake up early achieve greater things in life, and that is where the phrase comes from. But many others believe that you don't necessarily have to wake up early, as long as you put effort into your life at any other time of the day. Do what works for you and your life goals.

6. "Al pan, pan y al vino, vino."

Translation: To bread, bread and wine, wine.

Its meaning is very interesting. Some people speak with little clarity and not enough honesty as if they were embellishing their words. 

Instead of telling them to 'speak clearly and honestly,' you can say 'Al pan, pan y al vino, vino' to remind the person they aren't being clear or frank about their speech.

7. "A falta de pan..."

Translation: Lack of bread...

In each country, this phrase will have different endings, but the meaning remains the same. It refers to those who can easily adapt to a complicated situation. If they don't have bread to eat, they will find another way to survive.

8. "Al buen entendedor, pocas palabras."

Translation: To the good listener, few words are enough.

There is no need to give a lot of explanations. A good listener will understand what the other person wants to convey with as few words as possible.

Spanish Proverbs

9. "Camarón que se queda dormido se lo lleva la corriente."

Translation: Shrimp that falls asleep, the current takes it away. 

If you aren't alert, conflict may arise near you. So this funny phrase reminds you not to be like a sleeping shrimp taken away by the current.

10. “Dime con quién andas y te diré quién eres."

Translation: Tell me who you are with, and I'll tell you who you are. 

You can get to know someone by their company, their friends. This phrase can be mainly used as a way of judgment towards someone who has a group of friends who aren't upstanding members of the community.

11. “El que no oye consejo no llega a viejo.”

Translation: The person who does not listen to advice does not grow old.

Probably a phrase that most Spanish-speaking children have heard of. Especially whenever we were rebels enough to not listen to our parents' advice, they would say: 'El que no oye consejo no llega a viejo.' 

A phrase that would have us thinking to realize we should listen to what others have to say to grow into better people. A piece of good advice is what shapes us, after all. 

12. “El hábito no hace al monje.”

Translation: The habit does not make the monk.

This is closely related to the English expression 'the clothes don't make the man.' We shouldn't judge people based on appearance.

Spanish Proverbs

13. "En casa del herrero, cuchillo de palo."

Translation: In the house of the blacksmith, a wooden knife.

A difficult Spanish proverb to understand for non-native speakers. You can use this phrase in situations where you expected something to be there or to be a certain way but isn't what you expected. For example, a fashion designer who doesn't care about their own looks and clothes.

14. "En boca cerrada no entran moscas."

Translation: Loose lips sink ships

The literal translation of this phrase is 'In closed mouths, flies don't go in.' It helps us remember that it is best to stay silent and be discreet on many occasions to avoid unnecessary problems.

15. "Luchar a capa y espada."

Translation:  fight tooth and nail

Also known as 'Defender a capa y espada.' This phrase can fill you with courage. It refers to the fact that a person must fight and defend someone or something before any obstacle that may arise.

It is an expression from medieval knights, who did not give up or stop their determination until they reached their goal.

16. "Lo hecho, hecho está."

Translation: What is done is done.

As its literal translation says, something that has been done, can't be undone and you must face it without regrets.

Lo hecho hecho está Spanish sayings

17. "Más vale prevenir que lamentar."

Translation: Better safe than sorry

A Spanish phrase that reminds you that you must take the necessary precautions to avoid negative situations in your lives. You can use this phrase to remind yourself every time you want to do something without thinking twice or advising someone else.

The clearest and most common example would be if you are unsure that you have an exam the next day, but you still study to avoid failing. 

18. "Más vale pájaro en mano que ciento volando."

Translation: A bird in the hand is worth more than two in the bush. 

There are people who leave certain situations or things in their lives, even people, for pursuing something that they feel will be better, but that is really uncertain and unsafe. Even if something does not have enough value for us, if it is safe and true, then it will always be a better option than something that has a lot of value but is uncertain.

This phrase helps us a lot to value what we have more and think better when we look for something else, so as not to get carried away by uncertainty and hope of obtaining it.

19. "Más vale prevenir que lamentar."

Translation: Better safe than sorry

A Spanish phrase that reminds you that you must take the necessary precautions to avoid negative situations in your lives. You can use this phrase to remind yourself every time you want to do something without thinking twice or advising someone else.

The clearest and most common example would be if you are unsure that you have an exam the next day, but you still study to avoid failing. 

20. "No dejes para mañana lo que puedes hacer hoy."

Translation: Do not leave for tomorrow what you can do today.

A very straightforward phrase that I have heard from my parents and teachers since I was young. Whenever you leave important tasks for the following day, and then, of course, many other tasks accumulate, making your situation worse, you may remember that it would have been better to do your task yesterday. 

Spanish sayings

21. "No es más rico el que más tiene, sino el que menos necesita."

Translation: It is not the richest who has the most, but the one who needs the least.

It is a beautiful phrase known worldwide that reminds us that being too ambitious can bring us negative outcomes. In addition, happiness doesn't come from material things. A person who has less and doesn't have the ambition to gain more and more lives a happier life.

22. "No hay rosas sin espinas."

Translation: There are no roses without spines. 

If you plant a rose, you will see that it has thorns that can hurt you when you harvest it. It symbolizes the consequences of what you have done. Like everything in life, any act you do right now will have a future consequence. This phrase helps you think that the consequences will not always be good, and therefore, you should know how to act with caution.

23. "Perro que ladra no muerde."

Translation: Barking dog does not bite.

If you ever meet a person who, in your opinion, talks too much, arguing and creating a scandal to scare others but doesn't follow through on what they say.

For example, if someone threatens you, but he does not fulfill that threat, you can say that they look like a barking dog. But they will never bite you, and therefore you should not be afraid of them or give them any importance.

24. "Todos los caminos llevan a Roma."

Translation: All roads lead to Rome.

This Spanish proverb can be also heard in other languages. It holds the meaning that if we put our mind to something, there can be many paths that will lead us to that objective.

Spanish sayings

26. "Zapatero, a tus zapatos."

Translation: Shoemaker, to your shoes

A shoemaker is an expert in his area, but he is not an expert when it comes to medicine. All of us must be careful not to talk unnecessarily about things that we really don't know about.

Another fairly clear example would be a student who is just beginning, trying to contradict a doctor who has 30 years of experience. In this case, just by saying 'Zapatero, to your shoes,' you are warning the person to remain silent and limit giving an opinion only when he knows about the topic.

 

Other Spanish Proverbs About Love

These phrases will most likely have you thinking and reconsidering life choices. 

27. "Amor y celos, hermanos gemelos."

Translation:  Love and jealousy, twin siblings.

It means that there is most likely jealousy involved in love. 

28. "Cuando la pobreza entra por la puerta, el amor salta por la ventana."

Translation: When poverty enters the door, love jumps through the window.

Refers to couples who say to be in love until they face poverty or other hard situations and fail to go through it together. 

Spanish sayings

29. "Donde hay amor, hay dolor."

Translation: Where there is love, there is pain.

A Spanish phrase that rhymes. The meaning is easy to understand. When you fall in love, there is a high probability of suffering from it for different reasons. 

30. "El amor es ciego, pero los vecinos no."

Translation:  Love is blind, but neighbors are not.

You may often hear funny Spanish proverbs like this one. It refers to people who seem too involved in other people's lives. They love gossiping about lovers. While both lovers are blindly in love, they have other people talking about their relationship behind their backs. 

31. "Quien bien te quiere, te hará llorar."

Translation:  Who does love you well will make you cry.

The person that truly loves you will, no matter what, try to advise you, correct your mistakes, and be completely honest with their opinions about you to see a better version of you. If the person notices you are going on the wrong path, they will let you know, even if that makes you cry. It is tough, but real love, since the other person cares for you. 

 

Enchanted By The Spanish Language? Learn Spanish With Ling App!

You just learned many Spanish proverbs that probably made you feel wiser than ever. At this point, you can learn even more about the Spanish language and its proverbs. But instead of turning to language books, you can start studying the language differently. 

Learn Spanish Ling App

With the Ling App, you will learn Spanish words and phrases used in everyday conversations among native speakers. Books often make you sound unnatural to native ears. That is why Ling is made by professional Spanish speakers that ensure you are learning exactly what you will need in a Spanish-speaking country. 

Besides, you can always visit our blog for more interesting information such as what kind of food we eat in Latin America, cultural and religious information, and even emergency vocabulary that can come in handy during a trip to a Spanish-speaking country.

Download Ling App and have it with you anytime, and everywhere you go. In no time, you will notice your Spanish skills increasing significantly! Try it out today!

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