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Leather boots | © Mathias Shoots Analogue / Flickr
Leather boots | © Mathias Shoots Analogue / Flickr
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11 Spanish Proverbs That Make No Sense In English

Picture of Tara Jessop
Updated: 4 October 2016
When trying to speak in a different language, most of us will have experienced a literal translation gone completely wrong. Here, we’ve compiled some of our favorite Spanish proverbs which, when translated into English, literally make no sense! See if you can guess the English equivalents to these gems.


‘Gato escaldado del agua fría huye’  

‘The scalded cat runs away from cold water’

Closest English equivalent: ‘Once bitten, twice shy’

‘Qué bonito es ver la lluvia y no mojarse’

‘How nice to see the rain and not get wet’

Closest English equivalent: ‘Criticism is easy, art is difficult’

‘Quien quiera peces, que moje el culo’

‘He who wants to catch fish must wet his ass’

Closest English equivalent: ‘You can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs’

‘Quien tiene hijos o ovejas, no le faltan quejas’

‘Those who have children and sheep have plenty of complaints’

Closest English equivalent: ‘Children are certain cares but uncertain comforts’

‘Si el rio suena es porque piedras trae’

‘If the river makes noise, it’s because it brings rocks’

Closest English equivalent: ‘There’s no smoke without fire’

‘Cada uno sabe dónde le aprieta el zapato’

‘Everyone knows where their own foot hurts’

Closest English equivalent: ‘Each heart knows its own bitterness’

‘El mundo es un pañuelo’ 

‘The world is a handkerchief’

Closest English equivalent: ‘It’s a small world’

‘Quien acheja por agujero, ve su duelo’

‘He who looks through the keyhole, sees his duel’

Closest English equivalent: ‘Curiosity killed the cat’

‘Quien no adoba gotera, hace casa entera’

‘If you don’t fix a leak, you build an entire house’

Closest English equivalent: ‘A stitch in time saves nine’

‘Piedra sin agua no aguza en la fragua’

‘Stone without water doesn’t sharpen in the forge’

Closest English equivalent: ‘Out of nothing, comes nothing’

‘De perdidos, al río’

‘From lost, to the river’

Closest English equivalent: ‘In for a penny, in for a pound’