Do you like to share proverbs or “sayings” with your children? Or maybe you’ve heard a thousand times your parents or grandparents repeat these phrases that seem meaningless but are full of meaning!

A proverb is a popular anonymous saying judgmental in nature. The aim of the saying is to impart needed wisdom in a simple but metaphorical way. These sayings belong to the paremiology genre, as well as the maxims, aphorisms and adages used both colloquially and in literature.  

Each country has a collection of their own sayings or similar versions. This forms a popular collection or group of sayings that defines the wisdom of its people. These sayings are often classified by geographical area, languages or theme.

But this is not anything new! These sayings carry a long tradition spanning from the middle to the far East, including Greco-Latin and biblical literature.

Proverbs are a means to transmit culture and wisdom, and are very important in Spanish-speaking countries! In the past, compilers of these well-known sayings were those who belonged to the literary group or cultured sector of society. This was due in great part to their ability to read and write!  For this reason, one of the oldest proverbs we keep is the book by Iñigo López de Mendoza, Marquis of Santillana entitled: “Refranes que Dizen las viejas tras el Fuego.”

Miguel de Cervantes in his book “Don Quijote de La Mancha”, defines these sayings as follows: ” Proverbs are short sentences drawn from long and wise experience and the speculations of our ancient sages” (part II, chapter LXVII). Similar to this work, there are many other valuable pieces of our literature such as “El Lazarillo de Tormes” (The Life of Lazarillo of Tormes), “Libro del buen Amor” (The book of good love) or “El Corbacho” filled with well-known wisdom. 

Today, these sayings are transmitted word-of-mouth, especially within the family circle.

Some of the best popular sayings of our culture are:

“The shrimp that falls asleep is swept away by the current.” English version: You snooze, you lose.” This means we must always be alert. If we are not, we can lose what we have achieved.

“With what measure you measure; it will be measured to you.”  This means you should treat others the way you would like to be treated! 

“Hares always jump where they are least expected.” English version: Opportunity knocks when you least expect it. This fact refers to things that happen when you least expect it!

To bite off more than one can chew.” Modern version: Jack of all trades, master of none. This implies that whoever tries to do too many things at the same time will not be able to perform any activity correctly.

He who sows the wind shall reap the whirlwind.” This refers to evil actions and ideas, which lead to dire consequences.

“A closed mouth gathers no flies.” English version: The less said, the better. It is always wise to think about what we say and be prudent in our speech.  

“A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” This saying helps us to avoid greed. It is much better to keep the little we have than risk losing everything for something greater, but unsure. 

“As the twig is bent, so grows the tree.” This saying is not optimistic and refers to bad behavior, which is not simple to correct. Whoever behaves in a bad way, never changes. 

“Each monkey on its rope.” This means that when people come together without any benefit to show for it… send them to work!

“There’s something fishy going on here.” This proverb is said when someone is cheating or lying, similar to the saying: “I smell a rat.

“No matter how early you get up, you can’t make the sun rise any sooner.” Diligence is not enough or rushing our work to get things done. Why? Because events follow a natural course and will take time no matter what we do!

“Foolish words fall on deaf ears.” It is better not to pay attention to the talk of foolish ones!   

“Nobody is perfect.” This means anyone can make mistakes.

“An old hen gives good broth. ” English version: The older the violin, the sweeter the music. This means age makes the experience! 

AND…what is your favorite saying? Share them with us!