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Idioms and Proverbs


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A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Lieber ein Spatz in der Hand als eine Taube auf dem Dach.
Prefer a sparrow in your hand to a pigeon on your roof.
Un tiens vaut mieux que deux tu l'auras.
Having one is better than going to have two.
Más vale pájaro en mano que ciento volando.
A bird in the hand is worth more than one hundred flying.
A full belly and a happy heart. Liebe geht durch den Magen.
Love passes through the stomach.
C'est avec de bons petits plats qu'on retient les maris à la maison.
With good, small dishes one keeps the husband in the house.
Barriga llena, corazón contento.
A watched pot never boils. Ungeduld führt nicht zum Ziel.
Impatience does not lead to the goal.
Alles zu seiner Zeit.
Everything at the proper time.
Quand on est impatient, chaque seconde semble durer une éternité.
When one is impatient, every second seems to last an eternity.
Inutile de s'inquiéter, ça ne fera pas avancer les choses.
No need to worry, that won't get things any further.
Chaque chose en son temps.
Everything at the proper time.
Quien espera desespera.
Who waits will despair.
Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Durch die Ferne wächst die Liebe.
Loves grows with distance.
L'absence est à l'amour ce qu'est au feu le vent.
Absence is to love what wind is to fire.
La ausencia hace crecer el cariño.
Absence makes love grow.
Act or be acted upon. Sei nicht Amboss, sondern Hammer.
Be the anvil, not the sledge.
Jeder ist seines eigenen Glückes Schmied.
Everyone forges his own luck.
Au lieu de subir, il faut agir.
Instead of suffering, one has to act.
Cada cual es artífice de su fortuna.
Everyone is creator of his future.
Actions speak louder than words. Taten sagen mehr als Worte.
Actions say more than words.
Les actes en disent plus long que les mots.
Actions speak longer than words.
Hechos, no palabras.
Facts, not words.
All good things come to those who wait. Gut Ding will Weile haben.
Good things need patience.
Was lange währt, wird endlich gut!
What takes a long time will finally turn out to be good.
Tout vient à point à qui sait attendre.
Everything comes to those who know how to wait.
Las cosas buenas vienen a aquellos que esperan.
All good things must come to an end. Alles hat einmal ein Ende. Toutes les bonnes choses ont une fin. Todo lo bueno se acaba.
All talk and no action. Nur Gerede und keine Taten.
Maulhelden!
Mouth heroes!
Nichts als heißer Wind.
Nothing but hot wind.
Hunde, die bellen, beißen nicht.
Barking dogs do not bite.
Gros parleur, petit faiseur.
Big speaker, small doer.
C'est tout du vent.
It is all wind.
Mucho ruido y pocas nueces.
Much noise and few walnuts.
Perro ladrador, poco mordedor.
Barking dogs bite rarely.
All that glitters is not gold. Nicht alles was glänzt ist Gold. Tout ce qui brille n'est pas l'or. No todo lo que brilla es oro.
No todo lo que reluce es oro.
All's well that ends well. Ende gut, Alles gut. Tout est bien qui finit bien. A buen fin no hay mal principio.
A good end does not have a bad beginning.
Beggars can't be choosers. In der Not frisst der Teufel Fliegen.
In a hardship, the devil eats flies.
Faute de grives, on mange des merles.
For lack of thrushes, one eats blackbirds.
En tiempo de guerra, cualquier agujero es trinchera.
In times of war, any hole is a trench.
Better late than never. Besser spät als nie. Mieux vaut tard que jamais. Más vale tarde que nunca.
Chin up! Halt die Ohren steif.
Let your ears stay stiff.
Bon courage !
Good courage !
¡No agaches las orejas!
Don't bend your ears down!
Do as I say, not as I do. Tu, was ich dir sage, und nicht, was ich selber tue. Fais comme je dis, non comme j'agis. Consejos vendo y para mí no tengo.
I sell advice but have none for myself.
Do not leave for tomorrow what you can do today. Was du heute kannst besorgen, das verschiebe nicht auf morgen.
Don't postpone to tomorrow what you can obtain today.
Morgen, morgen, nur nicht heute, sagen alle faulen Leute.
Tomorrow, tomorrow, but not today, that's what all the lazy folks say.
Il ne faut pas remettre au lendemain ce qu'on peut faire le jour même. No dejes para mañana lo que puedas hacer hoy.
Don't bite off more than you can chew. Wer alles tun will, tut nichts recht.
Who wants to do everything, does nothing righfully.
Qui trop embrasse mal étreint.
Who holds too much holds it badly.
Quien mucho abarca poco aprieta.
He who takes ahold of too much can't hold on to all of it.
Don't put all your eggs in one basket. Setze nicht alles auf eine Karte.
Don't place all your bets on one card.
Il ne faut pas mettre tous ses œufs dans le même panier. No te lo juegues todo a una sola carta.
Don't place all your bets on one card.
Easy come, easy go. Wie gewonnen, so zerronnen.
Melted away as it was won.
Ça va, ça vient.
That goes, that comes.
Tal como vino, se fue.
It came like it went.
Every little bit helps. Mühsam ernährt sich das Eichhörnchen.
A squirrel feeds laboriously.
Steter Tropfen höhlt den Stein.
Constant dripping hollows the stone.
Petit à petit, l'oiseau fait son nid.
Little by little the bird builds its nest.
Poco a poco hila la vieja el copo.
Little by little the elderly spins the ball of wool.
Cat.: De mica en mica, s'omple la pica.
Little by little the things are done.
Great minds think alike. Zwei Genies, ein Gedanke.
Two genuises, one thought.
Les grands esprits se rencontrent.
Great minds come together.
Los genios pensamos igual.
Haste makes waste Eile mit Weile.
Take your time when hurrying.
Il ne faut pas confondre vitesse et précipitation.
One shall not confuse speed and haste.
La prisa es mala consejera.
Haste is a bad advicer.
Vísteme despacio, que tengo prisa.
Dress slowly when you are in a hurry.
He is known all over town. Er ist bekannt wie ein bunter Hund.
He is as known as a colorful dog.
Être connu comme le loup blanc.
To be as known as the white wolf.
Ser más conocido que „El Litri“.
To be more known than 'El Litri'.
Ser más conocido que la Pepita en su barrio.
To be more known than Pepita in her neighbourhood.
He let the cat out of the bag. Er lässt die Katze aus dem Sack. Il vend la mèche.
He sells the fuze.
Él contó el secreto.
He told the secret.
Irse de la lengua.
To let down the tongue.
Hold your horses Immer langsam mit den jungen Pferden.
Always slow with the young horses.
Immer mit der Ruhe.
Always with patience.
Pas si vite.
Not so fast.
Para el carro.
Stop the cart.
Honesty is the best policy. Ehrlich währt am längstem.
Honest lasts longest.
L'honnêteté est toujours récompensée.
Honesty is always rewarded.
La sinceridad es la mejor política.
La verdad os hará libres.
The truth shall make you free. (John 8:32)
Quien nada debe, nada teme.
Who owes nothing, fears nothing.
Hope for the best and prepare for the worst. Hoffe auf das Beste und erwarte das Schlimmste.
Hope for the best and expect the worst.
Espérer le meilleur mais se préparer au pire. Procura lo mejor, espera lo peor y toma lo que viniere.
Get the best, expect the worst and take what comes.
I have to hit the books. Ich muss pauken.
I have to play the timbal.
Ich muss büffeln.
I have to buffalo.
Il faut bosser.
It is necessary to study hard.
Tengo que estudiar.
I have to study.
Hincar los codos.
To punch in the elbows.
Tengo que empollar.
I have to breed.
I'll keep my fingers crossed for you! Ich drücke dir die Daumen.
I'll press my thumbs for you.
Je croise les doigts pour toi. Cruzeré los dedos por ti.
Pondré un cino para ti.
I will put a candle for you.
If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Man soll nicht reparieren, was nicht kaputt ist. On ne change pas une équipe que gagne.
One does not change a winning team.
Le mieux est l'ennemi du bien.
The best is the enemy of the good.
Si no está roto, no lo repares.
It costs an arm and a leg. Es kostet ein Vermögen.
It costs a fortune.
Ça coûte un bras.
It costs an arm.
Cuesta un riñón.
It costs a kidney.
Cuesta un ojo de la cara.
It costs an eye from the face.
Es un sablazo.
It is a saber cut.
It costs peanuts. Es kostet nur einen Apfel und ein Ei.
It only costs an apple and an egg.
Acheter quelque chose pour une bouchée de pain.
To buy something for a mouthful of bread.
Por cuatro perras.
For four pennies.
Cat.: Per quatre peces
For four pennies.
Por un puñado de higos.
For a handful of figs.
It is raining cats and dogs. Es schüttet wie aus Eimern.
It pours as out of buckets.
Il pleut comme vache qui pisse.
It is raining like pissing cows.
Llueve a mares.
It is raining seas.
Llueve a cántaros.
It is raining jars.
Laughter is the best medicine. Lachen ist die beste Medizin. Le rire est le meilleur remède. La risa es la mejor medicina.
Let bygones be bygones. Lass die Vergangenheit ruhen.
Let the past rest.
Schwamm drüber!
Sponge on it!
Le passé c'est le passé.
The past is the past.
Il faut savoir tourner la page.
One has to know how to turn the page.
Borrón y cuenta nueva.
Erase and count again.
Like father, like son. Wie der Vater, so der Sohn.
Der Apfel fällt nicht weit vom Stamm.
The apple does not fall far from the tree.
Les chiens ne font pas des chats.
Dogs do not make cats.
De tal palo tal astilla.
Like stick, like splinter.
Love will find a way. Die Liebe ist unaufhaltsam.
Love is unstoppable.
L'amour vaincra.
Love will win.
El amor todo lo puede.
Love can do anything.
Move your feet, lose your seat. Weggegangen, Platz gefangen.
Went away, place catched.
Qui va à la chasse, perd sa place.
Who goes hunting loses his place.
Quien se fue a Sevilla, perdió su silla.
Who went to Sevilla lost his chair.
Nothings lasts forever. Nichts hält für die Ewigkeit. Rien n'est éternel. Nada es para siempre.
Out of sight, out of mind. Aus den Augen, aus dem Sinn. Loin des yeux, loin du cœur.
Away from eyes, away from the heart.
Ojos que no ven, corazón que no siente.
Eyes that don't see, a heart that does not feel.
People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. Wer im Glashaus sitzt, soll nicht mit Steinen werfen. C'est l'hôpital qui se moque de la charité.
It is the hospital that taunts charity.
Es más facil ver la paja en el ojo ajeno que la viga en el propio.
It is easier to see the straw in one other's eye than the beam in the own.
Practice makes perfect. Übung macht den Meister.
Practice forms the master.
Es ist noch kein Meister vom Himmel gefallen.
No master has yet fallen out of the sky.
C'est en forgeant qu'on devient forgeron.
One becomes blacksmith in a blacksmith's shop.
La práctica hace al maestro.
Practice forms the master.
Run for your life! Rette sich wer kann!
Save yourself if you can.
Sauve qui peut.
Save yourself if you can.
¡Sálvese quien pueda!
Save yourself if you can.
She hit the nail on the head. Sie hat den Nagel auf den Kopf getroffen. Elle a mis dans le mille.
She hit in the thousand.
Ella dio en el clavo.
She hit the nail.
That is yesterday's news. Das ist kalter Kaffee.
That is cold coffee.
Das ist Schnee von gestern.
That is yesterday's snow.
Das ist ein alter Hut.
That is an old hat.
C'est de l'histoire ancienne.
That is an old story.
Eso es agua pasada.
That is gone water.
The absent are always in the wrong. Abwesende haben grundsätzlich unrecht.
The absent are categorically wrong.
Les absents ont toujours tort. Ojos que no ven ladrillazo que te pego.
What the eyes do not see gets hit by a brick.
The early bird catches the worm. Morgenstund hat Gold im Mund.
Morning hour has gold in the mouth.
Der frühe Vögel fängt den Wurm.
Le monde appartient à ceux que se lèvent tôt.
The world belongs to those who rise early.
À qui se lève matin, Dieu aide et prête la main.
God helps and lends his hand to those who rise in the morning.
A quien madruga, Dios le ayuda.
God helps those who rise early.
The pen is mightier than the sword. Die Feder ist mächtiger als das Schwert. La plume est plus forte que l'épée. Más puede la pluma que la espada.
The straw that breaks the camel's back. Der Tropfen, der das Fass zum Überlaufen bringt.
The drop that lets the barrel overflow.
La goutte qui fait déborder le vase.
The drop which makes the vase overflow.
Es la gota que colma el vaso.
It is the drop which makes the glass overflow.
The walls have ears. Die Wände sind aus Papier.
The walls are made of paper.
Les murs ont des oreilles. Los paredes oyen.
The walls listen.
Los paredes son de papel.
The walls are made of paper.
That's not my cup of tea. Das ist nicht mein Bier.
That's not my beer.
Ce n'est pas mes oignons.
Those are not my onions.
No es santo de mi devoción.
He is not a saint of my devotion.

To each his own. Jedem das Seine.
Jedem Tierchen sein Pläsierchen.
To each animal his pleasure.
À chacun ses goûts.
To each his own tastes.
Cada loco con su tema
Every madman with his own issue.
Too many cooks spoil the broth. Viele Köche verderben den Brei.
Many cooks spoil the mash.
Autant de têtes, autant d'avis.
So many heads, so many opinions.
Deux patrons font chavirer la barque.
Two bosses capsize the boat.
Muchas manos descomponen la olla.
Many hands decompose the pot.
Muchos gatos en un plato hacen muchos garabatos.
Many cats on the plate are causing many scribblings.
When in Rome, do as the Romans do. Man muss mit den Wölfen heulen.
One has to howl with the wolves.
À Rome, fais comme les Romains. Donde quieras que fueres, haz lo que vieres.
Where you want to be, do as you see.
You can't have your cake and eat it too. Man kann nicht den Kuchen essen und trotzdem auf dem Teller behalten.
One cannot eat the cake and yet keep it on the plate.
Avoir le beurre et l'argent du beurre.
To have the butter and the money for the butter.
No se puede tener todo.
One cannot have everything.
You only live once. Man lebt nur einmal. On ne vit qu'une fois. Sólo se vive una vez.
You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours. Eine Hand wäscht die andere.
One hand washes the other.
Une main lave l'autre.
One hand washes the other.
Un service en vaut un autre.
One favor is worth another.
Una mano lava la otra y las dos lavan la cara.
One hand washes the other and both together wash the face.
You snooze, you lose. Wer schläft, verliert. Celui que hésite est perdu.
He who hesitates is lost.
Camarón que se duerme, se lo lleva la corriente.
The crab which sleeps is washed down the stream.
Translations in italics are literal translations. If no literal translation is given, it is probably very similar or identical to the English expression.
Some expressions also have a Catalan translation, listed under Spanish and preceded by Cat.
I am not a professional linguist. If you find any minor or major mistakes, feel free to send me an email.
You can see the changelog of this page here.

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