Popular Spanish Sayings (refranes)

After collaborating with Spanish friends, we have come up with a list of the top sayings (refranes) used every day in Spain today.

1. Cuando las ranas críen pelos. (Lit. When frogs grow hair.)
English equivalent: When pigs might fly. / When hell freezes over.

2. A quien madruga, Dios le ayuda. (Lit. God helps the one who rises early.)
English equivalent: The early bird catches the worm.

3. No hay que empezar la casa por el tejado. (Lit. You mustn’t start the house before the roof.)
English equivalent: Don’t put the cart before the horse.4. Saliste de Guatemala y te metiste en Guatepeor. (Lit. You left Guate-bad and went to Guate-worse.)
English equivalent: You jumped out of the frying pan into the fire.

5. No vendas la piel del oso antes de cazarlo. (Lit. Don’t sell the bears fur before you hunt it.)
English equivalent: Don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched.

6. Dios ayuda a la inocencia. (Lit. God helps the innocent.)
English equivalent: Fools rush in where angels dare to tread.

7. Sacar agua de las piedras. (Lit. To get water out of a stone.)
English equivalent: To get blood out of a stone.

8. Tocar el gordo. (Lit. To hit the fat one.)
English equivalent: To hit the jackpot.

9. Beber como una esponja. (Lit. To drink like a sponge.)
English equivalent: To drink like a fish.

10. Hay gato encerrado. (Lit. There’s a cat locked up.)
English equivalent: There’s something fishy going on.

11. Poner los cuernos. (Lit. To put the horns.)
English equivalent: To cheat on someone. / Two-time someone.

12. Me dejó plantada. (Lit. He left me planted.)
English equivalent: He stood me up.

13. A lo hecho, pecho. (Lit. Of that which is done, take it on the chest.)
English equivalent: There’s no use crying over spilt milk.

14. Caras vemos, corazones no sabemos. (Lit. Faces we see, hearts we do not know.)
English equivalent: Don’t judge a book by its cover.

15. Yo tengo una tía que toca la guitarra. (Lit. I have an aunt who plays the guitar.)
English equivalent: What has that got to do with it?!

16. No se ganó Zamora en una hora. (Lit. Zamora wasn’t won in a day.)
English equivalent: Rome wasn’t built in a day.

17. El mundo es un pañuelo. (Lit. The world is a handkerchief.)
English equivalent: It’s a small world.

18. Ser más ciego que un topo. (Lit. To be blinder than a mole.)
English equivalent: To be as blind as a bat.

19. Pegarse las sábanas. (Lit. To stick to the sheets.)
English equivalent: To sleep in / oversleep.

20. Lo que no mata, engorda. (Lit. What doesn’t kill, fattens.)
English equivalent: What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.

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