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Spanish proverbs
Spanish proverbs and sayings
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Refranes y Dichos - Proverbs and Sayings

Here 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. There are notes on the meanings of the less common words.

Español
English
a lo hecho pechoitís no use crying over spilt milk
a quien cuida la peseta nunca le falta un durolook after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves
a quien madruga Dios lo ayuda.
madrugar = to get up early
 
it's the early bird that catches the worm
early to bed and early to rise (makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise)
al perro que duerme, no lo despiertes
despertar = to wake, wake up
let sleeping dogs lie
 
algo es algo, peor es nadahalf a loaf is better than no bread
antes de hablar pensarthink before you speak
aunque la mona se vista de seda mona se queda
mono = monkey, seda = silk
you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear
 
cuando el gato duerme, bailan los ratoneswhen the catís away the mice will play
cuatro ojos ven más que dostwo heads are better than one
el fin justifica los medios the end justifies the means
el que ríe último, ríe mejor he who laughs last laughs longest
el que tiene boca se equivocawe all make mistakes
el sapo a la sapa tiénela por guapa
sapo = toad
beauty is in the eye of the beholder
love is blind
el tiempo es orotime is money
el trabajo compartido es más llevadero
adj: llevadero = bearable
many hands make light work
en boca cerrada no entran moscasif you keep your mouth shut, you wonít put your foot in it
en el peligro se conoce el amigoa friend in need is a friend indeed
hablando del rey de Roma....... (y él que se asoma)talk of the devil Ö(and the devil appears)
la ausencia es al amor lo que al fuego el aireabsence makes the heart grow fonder
la necesidad hace maestrosnecessity is the mother of invention
lo barato sale caroif you buy cheaply, you pay dearly
lo que a uno cura a otro mataone man's meat is another man's poison
lo que no cuesta dinero, siempre es buenothe best things in life are free
lo que siembres cosecharás
quien siembra vientos recoge tempestades
sembrar = to sow
cosechar = to harvest, reap, to pick
as you sow, so shall you reap

 
loro viejo no aprende a hablar loro = parrot you canít teach an old dog new tricks
más vale pájaro en mano que ciento volandoa bird in the hand is worth two in the bush
más vale maña que fuerza. maña = skill, knackbrain is better than brawn
más vale prevenir que curar; better safe than sorry
más vale tarde que nuncabetter late than never
nadie está contento con su suertethe grass is always greener on the other side
nadie sabe lo que vale el agua hasta que faltayou never know what you've got till it's gone
no dejes para mañana lo que puedas hacer hoy never put off till tomorrow what you can do today
no es oro todo lo que reluce relucir = to twinkle - glitterall that glitters is not gold
no hay mal que por bien no venga every cloud has a silver lining
no hay que vender la piel del oso (antes de cazarlo)
oso = bear cazar = hunt
donít count your chickens (before theyíre hatched)
no hay tiempo como el presentethere's no time like the present
no se ganó Zamora en una hora.
(Zamora is a town in Spain. It refers to a battle)
Rome wasn't built in a day
nunca llueve a gusto de todos llover = to rainone man's meat is another man's poison
ojos que no ven, corazón que no sienteout of sight, out of mind
peor es el remedio que la enfermedad

 
the cure is worse than the cause
the solution is worse than the problem
the cure is worse than the disease
poner toda la carne en el asador to put all your eggs in one basket
puedes darle un consejo a alguien, pero no puedes obligarlo a que lo sigayou can lead o take a horse to water but you canít make it drink
quien a hierro mata, a hierro muere hierro = ironthey that live by the sword shall die by the sword
quien no tiene, no temeno cows, no cares
quien no malgasta no pasa necesidades malgastar = wastewaste not, want not
si quieres ser bien servido, sírvate a ti mismo if you want a thing done well, do it yourself?
tirar las frutas frescas con las pochas
adj: pocho = over-ripe - past it
to throw the baby out with the bathwater
una puntada a tiempo ahorra ciento stitch = puntadaa stitch in time (saves nine)