Proverbs in Spanish (Dichos)

Marianopolita

Moderator Spanish Forum
Dec 26, 2003
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Proverbs are a way to test your language skills both understanding and interpreting their meaning. Often thought of being words of wisdom, I enjoy reading a list and learning the meaning. There are so many. However, there are common ones you hear daily because they are used in conversation, literature, the newspaper etc.

As well, some are regional meaning you may only hear in the DR or Cuba or Colombia etc. and the regional ones usually have a more general equivalent in the Spanish-speaking world.

Here is a list from Thought.com (a very good website BTW for all things Spanish). These are some common proverbs in Spanish and their meaning in English.


https://www.thoughtco.com/more-spanish-proverbs-3079512


Here is an example of one I often tell myself:

No dejes para mañana lo que puedes hacer hoy.





-MP.
 
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carlos

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Nice thread.

Here is another:

camarón que se duerme se lo lleva la corriente

My parents would alway say this when I was growing up. Another words; don’t ever “ fall asleep “, be alert and don’t be lazy while always trying to get ahead in life.
 
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Marianopolita

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One proverb I find myself using a lot especially over the past few years is:


Ojos que no ven corazón que no siente.

Basically, what you don’t see doesn’t hurt or Out of sight out of mind. It is perfect for work and many work situations.



-MP.
 
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Marianopolita

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A mal tiempo buena cara. One interpretation is to make the best of a bad situation.


A cada cual lo suyo is to each his own.


An old one that I really like is más vale pájaro en mano que cien volando is a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.


One for life is trata a los demás como quieres que te traten a ti. Treat people the way you want to be treated.


I was just listening to Raulin Rodríguez’ new song and in the lyrics he says A rey muerto rey puesto which means out with the old and in with the new.


-MP.
 

malko

Campesino !! :)
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A few i hear often,

Hijo de coulevra sale largito/ hijo de tigre sale manchao

Te gusta los mangos bajitos.

And my all time favourite used to describe a politician, of course : entre en chaquletas sale en yipeta.

( again, no idea of spelling ).
 

Marianopolita

Moderator Spanish Forum
Dec 26, 2003
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A few i hear often,

Hijo de coulevra sale largito/ hijo de tigre sale manchao

Te gusta los mangos bajitos.

And my all time favourite used to describe a politician, of course : entre en chaquletas sale en yipeta.

( again, no idea of spelling ).

Okay the last one gave me a good laugh....the politicians won’t be happy though.



BTW- Te gustan los mangos bajitos, Hijo de culebra sale larguito



-MP.
 

Marianopolita

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Cuando falta pan... Casabe

Yes!

Or A falta de pan, casabe


The expression is very regional- DR, Cuba. Basically, it means to make do with what you have. If something is missing use the closest substitute.


Casabe - Yuca (Cassava)- very common in all of the Caribbean-English and Spanish.



-MP.
 

malko

Campesino !! :)
Jan 12, 2013
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Yes!

Or A falta de pan, casabe


The expression is very regional- DR, Cuba. Basically, it means to make do with what you have. If something is missing use the closest substitute.


Casabe - Yuca (Cassava)- very common in all of the Caribbean-English and Spanish.



-MP.
En tiempo de sed, la batata es refesco.
 

Marianopolita

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En tiempo de sed, la batata es refesco.

That is a very local expression. Un refrán dominicano. Basically, when you are hungry anything will do (and taste good).


It is interesting how a lot of very regional expressions have something to do with food.


Also heard in DR:

El corazón de la auyama solo lo conoce el cuchillo .



I like this commentary about refranes in Listin Diario.

https://listindiario.com/puntos-de-vista/2012/12/10/258115/dime-que-refran-usas-y-te-dire-quien-eres


-MP.
 

malko

Campesino !! :)
Jan 12, 2013
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That is a very local expression. Un refrán dominicano. Basically, when you are hungry anything will do (and taste good).


It is interesting how a lot of very regional expressions have something to do with food.


Also heard in DR:

El corazón de la auyama solo lo conoce el cuchillo .



I like this commentary about refranes in Listin Diario.

https://listindiario.com/puntos-de-vista/2012/12/10/258115/dime-que-refran-usas-y-te-dire-quien-eres


-MP.
I heard mi suegra using that but instead of auyama she used ñamé ( sp )
 

Marianopolita

Moderator Spanish Forum
Dec 26, 2003
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A favourite of mine when describing a situation going from bad to worse or contemplating a risky decision. I always tell myself: No quieres salir de Guatemala y entrar en Guatepeor.



Another one I like is: meterse en buen berejenal. This means to get oneself into a messy situation.


Also another classic: Mejor prevenir que curar. Better to be safe than sorry.



-MP.
 
Last edited:

Marianopolita

Moderator Spanish Forum
Dec 26, 2003
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A lot of these expressions have food-related symbolism. We wrote about it in the Dominican Cooking blog and didn't even scratch the surface:

https://www.dominicancooking.com/18125-food-related-expressions-in-spanish.html

https://www.dominicancooking.com/18556-15-more-food-related-expressions-in-spanish.html

I just read through both articles. I like them. A nice mix of regional and generic expressions.

Yes, there are many but if one even hears the amount you listed in your articles it is sufficient because some overlap or can be substituted for another word or phrase.


-MP.
 

JDJones

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Un clavo saca otro.

One nails pulls another.

You get over an old love by having a new one.

Also:

Dime con quien anda y te digo quien eres.

Tell me who you have as friends and I'll tell you what you are.
 
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Marianopolita

Moderator Spanish Forum
Dec 26, 2003
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Un clavo saca otro.

One nails pulls another.

You get over an old love by having a new one.

Also:

Dime con quien anda y te digo quien eres.

Tell me who you have as friends and I'll tell you what you are.


Yes, those are common ones.

Dime con quién andas y te diré quién eres...



As well, you will hear:

Una espina saca otra. The first time I heard it was in a song and it stuck with me.


For some reason when I read un clavo saca otro it reminded me of this one:


No hay rosas sin espinas which is a simple way of saying nothing or no one is perfect.




-MP.
 

Marianopolita

Moderator Spanish Forum
Dec 26, 2003
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Here is an example of how expressions are part of the everyday fabric in any language and reading a local newspaper is one way to gain exposure to regional expressions.


After reading an article I thought about this thread:


Sea cual sea el resultado de lo que está por venir, el régimen no saldrá bien parado; pero al pueblo cubano le irá mucho peor.


Salir bien parado o mal parado is a very coloquial expression which means to come off well or badly in a situation.



-MP.
 

Chirimoya

Moderator - East Coast & Headline News
Dec 9, 2002
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Feo pa' la foto is - I think - a Dominican expression. Things are looking bad.