Spanish Idioms Regarding Knowledge, Wisdom, and Education

Hispanic Community April 2023 PREMIUM
Knowledge, wisdom, and education have been essential to human development since the earliest civilizations.

It allowed our ancestors to survive and thrive by learning from their experiences and passing that knowledge and wisdom on to future generations. Pursuing and sharing such knowledge is a universal human trait that unites us all regardless of our cultures, ethnicities, or religions. One way of doing so is through idioms and proverbs, which abound in Spanish. We have compiled a few for your enjoyment.

1- El saber no ocupa lugar –

Knowledge does not get in the way or take up space

Literal translation: Knowledge does not occupy space

Similarity to English: You learn something new every day.


2. El saber es poder

The more one knows, the more powerful one is.

Literal translation/similarity to English: Knowledge is power.


3. A buen entendedor, pocas palabras

A person who understands a situation does not need an elaborated explanation.

Literal translation: Few words are needed for he who understands well.

Similarity to English: A word to the wise is sufficient.


4. Libros y años hacen al hombre sabio

Wisdom and knowledge cannot be acquired overnight. They are the result of accumulating knowledge and experience -with the help of books throughout one’s life.

Literal translation: Books and years make a man wise.

Similarity to English: Experience is the best teacher.


5. Dos cabezas piensan mejor que una

Teamwork and collaboration are always better. Better results are achieved when two people put their minds together into action.

Literal translation: Two heads think better than one

Similarity to English: Two heads are better than one.


6. Si a tu vecino quieres conocer, averigua qué libros suele leer

In Latin America, when one is in an emergency at home, it is more typical to call a neighbor before a family member. That is why it is so important to know one’s neighbors. Knowing which books they choose to read can give us an insight into their likes, beliefs, and personality.

Literal translation: If you want to get to know your neighbor, find out what books they like to read.

Similarity to English: Tell me what you read, and I'll tell you who you are.


7. Romperse la cabeza

To put a lot of mental effort into figuring something out, a problem that requires a lot of thinking.

Literal translation: To break one’s head.

Similarity to English: To rack one’s brain


8. La letra con sangre entra

Not in use today and generally attributed to a painting by Goya -also called School Scene, implies that severe punishment and strict discipline are needed for someone to learn.

Literal translation: The letter with blood enters.

Similarity to English: Spare the rod and spoil the child.


9. Cada uno es maestro y artífice de su fortuna

Suggests that life is not solely conditioned to external circumstances beyond one’s control. Each individual is responsible for their failure and success. This idiom emphasizes the importance of one’s initiative to shape their own fate.

Literal translation: Each one is the master and partisan of their fortune.

Similarity to English: Make your own luck.


10. La Buena suerte se pasa y el saber se queda en casa

Good luck is temporary, while knowledge is permanent; in other words, more importance is given to knowledge than fortune.

Literal translation: Good luck passes, but knowledge stays at home.

Similarity to English: Hard work pays off

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