10 Bizarre Spanish Proverbs That Will Teach You Some New Life Lessons

These proverbs have been passed down from one generation to another and now you can spread their wisdom

For those of us who can speak English and Spanish, we know how hard translating certain phrases from one language to the other can be. These brain-fart moments happen when we can’t find the words to express a thought or idea. But this isn’t something to feel ashamed about; on the contrary, some things just make more sense in one language than the other. For example, Spanish proverbs, or those odd sayings your siblings seem to have for every occasion, are among the hardest thing to translate. Have you actually tried interpreting one of these in English? It sure is a challenge and not just because of the contextual complexity of its translation, but because sometimes we don’t even know what they actually mean. You’ll be surprised to know that these play of words actually hide very wise life lessons behind their riddles and here are 10 to prove so.

‘En boca cerrada no entran moscas’

Translation: “With a closed mouth, files don’t enter.” You would probably use this proverb when referring to an opinion you rather don’t share because of the consequences this may bring upon you. The proverb means that whenever we speak our mind without thinking about it, we could hurt others and even cause an irreversible damage.

‘Borra con el codo lo que escribe con la mano’

Translation: “Erase with the elbow what you write with the hand.” Referring to those situations when we show a strong stand on an issue but later contradict ourselves, causing our credibility to fade away. The proverb pictures a hand writing and an elbow erasing.

‘Aunque la mona se vista de seda, mona se queda’

Translation: “No matter if a monkey wears silk, it’ll always be a monkey.” The proverb is directed to those individuals who try to imitate or pretend to be someone they’re not, we also call this type of people “wannabes.”

‘Cría cuervos y te sacarán los ojos’

Translation: “Raise crows and they’ll poke your eye out.” A proverb that refers to parenthood, especially when kids or teens turn out to be very troublesome. The meaning behind the proverb relates to bad parenting or incorrect teachings that consequently lead to a child's improper behavior. It can also be used on teachers and mentors, just to name a few.

‘Donde hubo fuego, cenizas quedan’

Translation: “Where there was fire, ashes remain.” A proverb meant for former lovers. It insinuates that although couples split, they might still have feelings for each other despite the distance that separates them, or the time passed since they were together.

‘Camarón que se duerme se lo lleva la corriente’

Translation: “Shrimp that falls asleep, is carried away by the current.” One of the most popular proverbs that although sounds funny, it actually talks about the consequences of laziness and being clueless. It is a motivational proverb, inspiring you to be proactive.

‘Del dicho al hecho hay un buen trecho’

Translation: “From speech to deed there's a good stretch.” A metaphor to distinguish those who talk a lot, from those who actually take action. If you are having trouble understanding this proverd, think of the saying “actions speak louder than words,” both refer to the same thing.

‘No dejes para mañana lo que puedas hacer hoy’

Translation: “Don’t leave for tomorrow what you can do today.” A pretty self explanatory proverb that actually speaks a lot of truth. We tend to neglect things, or leave them for the last minute, encouraging an irresponsible attitude that has many consequences. By taking action on thing you can do today, you can become a more efficient and active individual.

‘Zapatero a tus zapatos’

Translation: “Shoemaker to your shoes.” I remember my grandma yelling this proverb at my grandpa (an accountant) because whenever he wanted to save some money on repairs, like fixing the washer, he would end up making things worse. Thus, keep on doing what you are good at and leave what you are not to experts. It also refers to keeping your nose out of situations that don't concern you.

‘De tal palo, tal astilla’

Translation: “From such a branch, such a twig.” A proverb referring to the similarities parents and offspring share.


Although we're never really told what these proverbs actually mean, they are stored in our heads and tend to come out when we less expect it. They are life lessons passed down from one generation to another, and they remind us of the consequences that come from poor decisions. Take advantage of your heritage and teach others the wisdom of your proverbs. Which one is your favorite?

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