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Spanish Dichos
(Sayings and proverbs)

Latin American Spanish is bursting with dichos, the popular proverbs and wise sayings. They are colorful, they are pleasant to the ear, and they provide an interesting window to the culture. Most of these are from Mexican culture. Learn a few favorites to spice up your Spanish.

Aunque la mona se vista de seda, mona se queda. Even if the monkey dresses in silk, he's still a monkey.
(You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.)
A otro perro con eso hueso. Throw that bone to another dog.
(Tell that whopper to someone who will believe you.)
Con dinero baila el perro. For money even a dog can dance.
(Money talks.)
Del dicho al hecho hay gran trecho. There's a long way between "said" and "done."
Si mi tía tuviera ruedas, sería una bicicleta. If my aunt had wheels she would be a bicycle.
(If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.)
Quien tiene boca se equivoca. Whoever has a mouth is mistaken.
(Everyone makes mistakes.)
Ladrón que roba al ladrón tiene 100 años de perdón. Itís no crime to rob a theif.
Las mentiras tienen patas cortas. Lies have short feet.
(Lies don't take you very far.)
En boca cerrada, no entran moscas. A closed mouth gathers no flies.
(Loose lips sink ships.)
El flojo trabaja doble. A lazy person works twice as much.
Nadie sabe más que todos. None of us is as smart as all of us.
El amor entra por la cocina. Love enters through the kitchen.
El que no coge consejos, no llega a viejo. He who does not take counsel will never reach old age.
Haz bien y no mires a quien. Do good to everyone, not just the influential.
Cuentas claras, amistades largas. Straight talk, long friendships.
A palabras necias oídos sordos. Give deaf ears to ignorant words.
No soy moneda de oro, para que todos me quieran. Iím not a gold coin, such that everyone wants me.
(You canít please all the people all the time.)
Soñar no cuesta nada. It doesn't cost anything to dream.
acompáñate con los buenos y serás uno de ellos. Spend your time w/ good people and youíll become one.
A donde fueras, haz lo que vieras. Wherever you are, do what you see.
(When in Rome, do as the Romans.)
Agua que no has de beber déjala correr. Donít collect water that you shouldnít drink.
(Donít get involved in things that donít concern you.)
Nunca digas, de esta agua, no beberé. Donít say youíll never drink this water.
(Donít say itíll never happen to you.)
El tiempo da buen consejo. Time gives good advice.
Más vale maña que fuerza Skill accomplishes more than strength.
Al que madruga, Dios le ayuda. God helps those who wake up early.
(The early bird catches the worm.)
Lo barato sale caro. Cheap things become expensive in the long run.
Dime con quien andas y te diré quien eres. Tell me who you spend time with, and I will tell you who you are.
Yo solo sé que no sé nada. I only know that I know nothing.
Camarón que se duerme, se lo lleva la corriente. The shrimp that sleeps is carried away by the current.
(You snooze, you lose.)
Yo coseché lo que sembré. I reaped what I sowed.
Consultar con la almohada. Consult with the pillow.
(Sleep on it.)
Caras vemos, corazones no sabemos. You can see the face but not the heart.
(You can't judge a book by its cover.)
Al perro flaco se le cargan las pulgas. The skinny dog gets all the fleas.
(When it rains it pours.)
Entre broma y broma, la verdad se asoma. Between jokes, the truth shows up.
El gato escaldado del agua fría huye. The scalded cat runs away from cold water.
(Once burned, twice shy.)
Al buen entendedor con pocas palabras basta. A word to the wise is sufficient.
Cuando hay hambre, no hay pan duro. Where there is hunger, there is no stale bread.
Cree el ladrón que todos son de su condición. A thief believes that all people are thieves.
Descubrió que el agua moja. He discovered that water makes things wet.
(He finally realized the screamingly obvious.)
Sacarse el tigre en la rifa. To win the tiger raffle.
(To win a prize or position that nobody wants.)
El diablo sabe más por viejo que por diablo. The devil knows more from old age than from being the devil.
No hay rosa sin espina. There is no rose without thorns.
(Everything has its down side.)
Las malas hierbas nunca mueren. Weeds never die.
(Problems never just disappear.)
De la subida más alta es la caída más lastimosa. The bigger they are the harder they fall.
Se esta tomando una de su propio chocolate. Heís getting a taste of his own medicine.
Calladito te ves más bonito. You look prettier silent.
(Silence is golden.)
Quién mal anda, mal acaba He who lives badly ends up badly.
(You deserve what you get.)
El burro hablando de orejas. The donkey is talking about ears.
(The pot calling the kettle black.)
El perico dice lo que sabe, pero no sabe lo que dice. The parrot says what he knows but does not know what he says.
No hay nada tan atrevido como la ignorancia. There is nothing more bold than ignorance.
Otra vez la burra al trigo. Once again the donkey (jenny) goes to the wheat.
(As a dog returns to his vomit, so a fool returns to his folly.)
Cuando el río suena, agua lleva. When you hear the river it is because it carries water.
(If a rumor is popular, it has some truth in it.)
Pueblo chico, infierno grande! Small town, big hell (gossip, etc.).
En el país de los ciegos, el tuerto es rey. In the land of the blind, the one-eyed is king.
El muerto al pozo y el vivo al gozo. The dead to the grave, and the living to the party.
(Don't stop living because someone died.)
Le pagué el gordo (pagar) I hit the jackpot.
Más vale pájaro en mano de cien volando. A bird in the hand is worth a hundred flying.
Muchos pocos hacen un mucho. Many littles make a lot.
El que nada no se ahoga. He who knows how to swim wonít drown.
Al bagazo poco caso y a la basura un escobazo. Pay no attention to worthless things. Sweep the trash away.
(Donít get upset over meaningless things, nor the words of cruel people.)
El burro por delante (para que no se espante). Put the donkey in front (so he doesn't get spooked).
(Rude people put themselves first.)
El que nada debe, nada teme. He who owes nothing has nothing to fear.
Mejor solo que mal acompañado. It's better to be alone than with bad company.
El mundo nunca vuelva atrás. The world never spins backwards.
(You can't change the past.)
Cuesta poquito más para vivir en paz. It costs a little more to live in peace.
De la mano a la boca se pierde la sopa. You can spill your soup before it reaches your mouth.
(Nothing is certain in this life.)
Donde hay gana hay maña. Where there's a will there's a way.
El que adelante no mira, atrás se queda. He who does not look ahead falls behind.
El que quiera saber sus defectos que se case, y el que quiera saber sus cualidades que se muera. He who wants to know his flaws should marry, and he who wants to know his qualities should die.
Rico eres de bienes, si te bastan lo que tienes. You are rich in material goods if you are satisfied with what you have.
Arrieros somos y en el camino nos encontraremos. We're cattle drivers and we'll meet again on the road.
(If you don't help me when I need it, watch out. One day you'll want my help.)
La culpa no la tiene el chancho, sino el que le da de comer. It's not the pig's fault (that he's fat), but the one who feeds him.
(If you let people take advantage of you, then it's your fault too. A dog will run to the end of his leash.)
Cada quien cava su tumba con sus propias manos. Everybody digs his tomb by his own hands.
(Our choices cause our own downfall.)
Cría cuervas y te comerán los ojos. Raise crows and they will peck your eyes out.
(If you don't discipline your children, one day they will do you harm.)
A los malos pasos darle prisa. Take the bad steps quickly.
(For an unpleasant task, bite the bullet and do it quickly.)
Wikiquote, Mexican Dichos
Wikiquote, Spanish Proverbs
Quote Of The Day
Diccionario de Dichos y Expresiones Populares