Refranes y dichos
(common sayings and proverbs)



This is a selection of the most commonly used saying and proverbs in Spanish, in fact this is a "refranero" (a collection of sayings or proverbs) Some of them are literally exactly the same in English and Spanish and some of them vary but have the same meaning. I have given you some notes on the meanings of the less common words.

English Spanish
a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush más vale pájaro en mano que ciento volando

it's the early bird that catches the worm
early to bed and early to rise (makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise)

a quien madruga Dios lo ayuda.

madrugar = to get up early

brain is better than brawn

más vale maña que fuerza.

maña = skill, knack

Rome wasn't built in a day no se ganó Zamora en una hora.

(Zamora is a town in Spain. It refers to a battle)
out of sight, out of mind ojos que no ven, corazón que no siente
one man's meat is another man's poison

nunca llueve a gusto de todos

llover = to rain

one man's meat is another man's poison

lo que a uno cura a otro mata

think before you speak antes de hablar pensar
the best things in life are free lo que no cuesta dinero, siempre es bueno
we all make mistakes el que tiene boca se equivoca
as you sow, so shall you reap

lo que siembres cosecharás
quien siembra vientos recoge tempestades

sembrar = to sow
cosechar = to harvest, reap, to pick

they that live by the sword shall die by the sword

quien a hierro mata, a hierro muere

hierro = iron

you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear

aunque la mona se vista de seda mona se queda

mono = monkey seda = silk

you never know what you've got till it's gone nadie sabe lo que vale el agua hasta que falta
a friend in need is a friend indeed en el peligro se conoce el amigo
if you keep your mouth shut, you won’t put your foot in it en boca cerrada no entran moscas
if you buy cheaply, you pay dearly lo barato sale caro
necessity is the mother of invention la necesidad hace maestros
let sleeping dogs lie

al perro que duerme, no lo despiertes

despertar = to wake, wake up

you can’t teach an old dog new tricks

loro viejo no aprende a hablar

loro = parrot

he who laughs last laughs longest el que ríe último, ríe mejor

the cure is worse than the cause ?
the solution is worse than the problem?
the cure is worse than the disease?

peor es el remedio que la enfermedad
talk of the devil …(and the devil appears) hablando del rey de Roma....... (y él que se asoma)
beauty is in the eye of the beholder
love is blind
el sapo a la sapa tiénela por guapa

sapo = toad
if you want a thing done well, do it yourself? si quieres ser bien servido, sírvate a ti mismo
better late than never más vale tarde que nunca
no cows, no cares quien no tiene, no teme
time is money el tiempo es oro
there's no time like the present no hay tiempo como el presente
a stitch in time (saves nine)

una puntada a tiempo ahorra ciento

stitch = puntada

better safe than sorry más vale prevenir que curar;
don’t count your chickens (before they’re hatched)

no hay que vender la piel del oso (antes de cazarlo)

oso = bear cazar = hunt

it’s no use crying over spilt milk a lo hecho pecho
the grass is always greener on the other side nadie está contento con su suerte
to throw the baby out with the bathwater

tirar las frutas frescas con las pochas

adj: pocho = over-ripe - past it

every cloud has a silver lining no hay mal que por bien no venga
half a loaf is better than no bread algo es algo, peor es nada
never put off till tomorrow what you can do today no dejes para mañana lo que puedas hacer hoy
absence makes the heart grow fonder la ausencia es al amor lo que al fuego el aire
when the cat’s away the mice will play cuando el gato duerme, bailan los ratones
the end justifies the means el fin justifica los medios
two heads are better than one cuatro ojos ven más que dos
waste not, want not

quien no malgasta no pasa necesidades

malgastar = waste

you can lead o take a horse to water but you can’t make it drink puedes darle un consejo a alguien, pero no puedes obligarlo a que lo siga
look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves a quien cuida la peseta nunca le falta un duro
many hands make light work

el trabajo compartido es más llevadero

adj: llevadero = bearable

to put all your eggs in one basket poner toda la carne en el asador
all that glitters is not gold

no es oro todo lo que reluce

relucir = to twinkle - glitter