6 Spanish Sayings: Funny, Strange and Useful Idioms

Did you know that the English saying “To kill two birds with one stone” has an equivalent in Spanish? That’s right!, but it changes a little in Spanish.

6 Funny Spanish SAYINGS 😂

If translated literally, this Spanish saying would go: “Matar dos pájaros con una piedra”, but Spanish-speakers probably thought that that was too hard and so they say, “Matar dos pájaros de un tiro” (Literally, to kill two birds with a single shot).

Today, we will go over 6 Spanish sayings that are funny, strange and useful. All of these Spanish sayings will make you sound more like a native: click on any of the to learn more about them!

Spanish SayingEnglish Translation
El que nace pa´tamal del cielo le caen las hojas.Those who have been born to be a tamal will get the leaves from the sky.
Agua que no has de beber, déjala correr.The water you shouldn’t drink, just let it run.
Salió más caro el caldo que las albóndigas.The broth was more expensive than the meatballs.
El que a buen árbol se arrima, buena sombra le acobija.Whomever gets close to a strong tree will be covered by a nice shade.
Más sabe el diablo por viejo que por diablo.A devil is wise not because he is a devil, but because he is old.
Al buen entendedor, pocas palabras.Few words need to be said to those who listen.

1. El que nace pa´tamal del cielo le caen las hojas. (Those who have been born to be a tamal will get the leaves from the sky.)

spanish sayings el que nace

Spanish sayings are short and clever expressions that contain advice or that highlight an obvious truth. 

Los refranes (sayings) are often based on everyday situations, which makes them catchy and easy to understand.

For example:

“El que nace pa´tamal del cielo le caen las hojas.” – Those who have been born to be a tamal will get the leaves from the sky.

This saying is very Mexican because it talks about a delicious Mexican dish that is usually eaten during the Christmas holidays.

If translated into English, it would say, “Those who have been born to be a tamal will get the leaves from the sky”…

I know! It makes no sense!

The first thing you should know is that tamales are an important part of Mexican culture and they are basically made of dough with different fillings and wrapped with corn or banana leaves.

So, this saying is telling us that if you are destined for something, life will by all means ease your way to your fate.

2. Agua que no has de beber, déjala correr. (The water you shouldn’t drink, just let it run.)

spanish sayings agua que no has de beber

Our second saying has to do with drinking water:

“Agua que no has de beber, déjala correr.” (The water you shouldn’t drink, just let it run.)

This could be literally translated as “The water you shouldn’t drink, just let it run.” What’s the piece of advice behind it?

Well, there are two, actually:

  1. Don’t get involved in things that don’t concern you
  2. Don’t do something you might regret

3. Salió más caro el caldo que las albóndigas. (The broth was more expensive than the meatballs.)

spanish sayings salio mas

When I was a child, I constantly heard the adults around me saying:

“Salió más caro el caldo que las albóndigas.” (The broth was more expensive than the meatballs.

If translated literally, it would say something like, “The broth was more expensive than the meatballs”. Yet another saying that doesn’t make much sense… and yet, it does!

Broth is made of water, while meatballs are made of meat. Meat is more expensive than water, usually. If it were the other way around, chances are things went pretty wrong.

So, this Spanish saying is telling us that an alleged solution was completely useless and probably created a bigger problem than there was at the beginning.

You could use this saying if, for example, you paid 2000 USD for an apparently promising Spanish course and, still, you are unable to speak fluent Spanish and you ended up feeling even more confused.

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4. El que a buen árbol se arrima, buena sombra le acobija. (Whomever gets close to a strong tree will be covered by a nice shade.)

spanish saying el que a buen

No one really knows who is behind sayings; still, they are handed down generation to generation and they have several meanings or interpretations —especially from one country to another.

Our fourth saying was actually written by a famous author, but maybe he is not as known as the character who said:

“El que a buen árbol se arrima, buena sombra le acobija.” (Whomever gets close to a strong tree will be covered by a nice shade.)

This saying is related to trees and it could be translated as “Whomever gets close to a strong tree will be covered by a nice shade”.

Now, you are surely wondering who said it. Remember I mentioned El Quijote towards the beginning? Well, THIS is the saying that appears in that novel. It was uttered by Sancho Panza, El Quijote’s companion.

It basically means that it is worth being related to powerful people to get their protection.  

5. Más sabe el diablo por viejo que por diablo. (A devil is wise not because he is a devil, but because he is old.)

spanish sayings más sabe el diablo por viejo que por diablo

“Más sabe el diablo por viejo que por diablo.” (A devil is wise not because he is a devil, but because he is old.)

Literally, “A devil is wise not because he is a devil, but because he is old”. ¡Quizás ya sabes qué quiere decir! (You probably guessed its meaning already!) This means that wisdom comes with age.

6. Al buen entendedor, pocas palabras. (Few words need to be said to those who listen.)

spanish saying al buen entendedor

I want to end this article by saying, 

“Al buen entendedor, pocas palabras.” (Few words need to be said to those who listen.)

This saying could be translated as: “Few words need to be said to those who listen”…

Learn Spanish sayings and speak like a native

So, if you come across reckless people, you might want to try giving them a piece of advice in Spanish using either of the phrases we learned today… depending on the situation, of course. 

Doing so will make you sound smart and clever, and you will also feel proud of yourself because learning sayings and proverbs in another language is a challenge not many people are willing to take on.

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