The Spanish language lends itself well to poetry and song. But it’s not just a beautiful language; it’s a wise one too. Many wonderful famous quotes have Spanish origins, and we’ve gathered a few of our favorite ones and their meanings together for you here.
We’ve got quotes from artists, actors, writers, philosophers, socialists, feminists, and athletes. Some are from centuries ago, some from the modern-day, and many are common Spanish proverbs that will not only provide you with a bit of homely advice but should make you chuckle too!
So if you’re looking for a little inspiration or just an insight into the psyche of the Spanish people, you’ve come to the right place. Have a read through our list of 20 famous Spanish quotes and their meanings and see if they can bring a little clarity to your day.
Table of Contents
Quotes About Truth And Self Knowledge
“The truth may be stretched thin, but it never breaks, and it always surfaces above lies, as oil floats on water.” – Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote.
What better way to start than by quoting Don Quixote, the novel widely considered the best Spanish literary work of all time. The famous work has had such a wide impact that many of its quotes and their meanings have become part of everyday Spanish language and have found their way into the English dictionary too. For example, the word ‘quixotic,’ meaning to be overly idealistic and impractical, comes from the excessively romantic hero of this novel.
While this quote about truth always triumphing over lies embodies this idealism perfectly, we have included it here because wouldn’t it be lovely it would be if that were true?
“Give me bread and call me a fool.” – Spanish Proverb.
This one might not seem wise at first glance; why would anyone want to be called a fool? But it contains more self-awareness than you might think. Its meaning is something like: so long as you’re giving me what I want (the bread), you can call me any names you like. So it is used by people who do not care what others think or say of them so long as they are getting something out of the deal. And we could all do with caring a little less about what other people think of us!
“You cannot live your life looking at yourself from someone else’s point of view.” – Penelope Cruz.
Someone else who doesn’t seem to care what people think of them, is internationally renowned Spanish actor Penelope Cruz. Her words remind us of the importance of knowing ourselves and holding onto that knowledge despite other people’s opinions. We’re not sure we would be quite so wise if faced with the constant scrutiny that comes with such epic fame!
“How nice it is to see the rain and not get wet.” – Spanish Proverb.
The first time you hear this one, you might think someone’s just making an innocuous comment about the weather. However, their true meaning might be a little more pointed. This phrase is commonly used to point out when someone is being a hypocrite. For example, when someone is pointing out faults in others that they themselves are guilty of. So if someone says this to you in Spain, don’t start looking for an umbrella; instead, take a look at your own behavior!
“Do you have no grandmother?” – Spanish Proverb.
You guessed it; this is no mere inquiry after your family tree. If the Spanish are asking you this, then it means you are a braggart. You’ve been caught boasting or talking too much about your achievements. It stems from the idea that grandmothers love to sing their grandchildren’s praises so much that the only reason someone would have to do it for themselves is that they have no loving grandmother to do it for them.
Quotes About Love and Friendship
“The beauty that attracts rarely matches the beauty that makes you fall in love” – Jose Ortega y Gasset.
While this phrase may sound like it’s referring to two different people, it’s actually talking about different qualities found in one person. For example, you might initially be attracted to someone because of their looks, but once you get to know them, it might be their kindness or sense of humor that has you falling in love with them. It’s a reminder from a 19th-century philosopher to look beyond first impressions and take the time to get to know someone properly.
“Tell me who your friends are, and I’ll tell you who you are.” – Spanish Proverb.
This is a prettily phrased reminder that the people you spend all your time with will have a massive influence on the choices you make. Although you could say this as a positive, it is more often used as a warning. Imagine Spanish parents saying it to their teenagers to keep them from hanging out with the wrong crowd.
“Solitude Is Very Beautiful… When You Have Someone Whom to Tell It To.” – Gustavo Adolfo Becquer.
Gustavo Adolfo Becquer was a romantic poet of the 19th century, but his words hold as much truth today as they did then. This quote perfectly describes the difference between solitude and loneliness. For many people, being alone is an enjoyable experience that is made all the better for having friends or a partner to later share it with. But, if you remove those friends and become truly alone, solitude can quickly lose its beauty and become loneliness. So, much as we may love spending time alone, it’s never wise to isolate ourselves entirely.
“Love laughs at locksmiths” – Spanish Proverb.
We like this little proverb that perfectly points out how little respect for the rules love has. Love does not care about locked doors, long distances, logistics, or laws. The heart wants what the heart wants, and love will find a way around any obstacle in its path.
Quotes About Life
“Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it.” – Salvador Dali.
As one of the most famous Spaniards of all time, Dali must have a place on our list. Unsurprisingly, given his position as the king of surrealism, many of the painter’s quotes are rather strange, but we do like this one about the futility of chasing perfection. If we can never reach it, there is no reason to worry, fear or seek it. And since Dali’s paintings now sell for many millions of dollars, it seems imperfection never held him back!
“In a hundred years we will be dead anyway.” Spanish Proverb.
This might be our favorite of all the Spanish quotes and meanings on our list. What a succinct reminder not to take life too seriously. What’s the point of overthinking our actions or regretting our choices when we’ll all be dead in the end anyway? Let’s live life to the fullest while we can!
“I see my path, but I don’t know where it leads. Not knowing where I’m going is what inspires me to travel it.” – Rosalia de Castro.
We like this quote by Galician poet Rosalia de Castro. It reminds us that, although none of us can know where our path in life is heading, we can choose to find the unknown inspiring rather than unnerving.
“One always returns to the places where he loved life.” – Spanish Proverb.
We have a suspicion that the Spanish love this phrase because the place many people love and return to is Spain! But biased or not, this phrase holds a lot of truth. Not many people return willingly to places where they were unhappy, but to places where life was wonderful, who wouldn’t want to go back there?
Quotes About Strength
“The one who rises up is greater than the one who hasn’t fallen” – Concepcion Arenal.
Concepcion Arenal was definitely a strong woman. A writer, a socialist, and a pioneer of the Spanish feminism movement, she wrote many works on the importance of female education, allowing women a role outside of the home, and acknowledging women as equals. And she left us this quote, reminding us that getting knocked down does not mean we are weak. In fact, by overcoming such setbacks and struggles, by getting up again, we become stronger than we were before.
“If our minds and hearts are into it, we can be a heck of a team. We can beat anybody.” – Pau Gasol.
Inspiring words from a modern Spaniard now. Barcelona-born Pau Gasol is a former professional basketball player who has won both NBA Championships and Olympic medals. Plus, he found the time to work as a Unicef ambassador, form a foundation to help prevent childhood obesity, and campaign to have more female coaches included in elite basketball. So if he believes that being a winner comes down to teamwork, heart, and focus, then we’re inclined to believe him!
“To what is done, the chest.” – Spanish Proverb.
This one is more fun to say in Spanish: A lo hecho, pecho, and is all about facing up to what has happened. So in the way we might say ‘what’s done is done,’ to advise someone to let go of what can’t be changed, the Spanish will use this to them to face it, move forward, and move on.
Quotes About Success
“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”
― Pablo Picasso.
This is one of the most famous quotes by Spanish genius Picasso and one with the saddest of meanings. We all remember the joy of painting as a child, splashing colors onto a page with abandon, thrilled with the results regardless of their merits. How sad it is that as we grow up, this streak of pure creativity is trained out of us until many of us would now say ‘I can’t paint,’ or ‘I’m not an artist.’
Well, it may be true that we can’t all produce a Picasso, but we can definitely all put paint on paper. And if we can just remember how much we used to enjoy it, maybe we can all learn to be artists again.
“The shrimp that falls asleep is taken by the current.” – Spanish Proverb.
You’ve undoubtedly heard the phrase, ‘you snooze you lose,’ well, this is the Spanish equivalent; both quotes have the same meanings. They remind us to stay awake and alert if we want to succeed in life and not find ourselves drifting away from our goals.
“Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.”
― Pablo Picasso.
Aren’t we all guilty of putting off tasks until some fictional future where we will have all the time and energy we need to complete them? If that sounds familiar, then this is a great quote to remind yourself of when you find yourself pushing something off until another day. Ask yourself if you’d be happy to die having not done that job. If the answer is no, then go get it done! But if the answer is yes, well, then procrastinate away, and if anyone asks, tell them Picasso said it’s ok!
“A proverb is a short sentence based on long experience.” – Miguel de Cervantes.
We thought this was a good one to end on as it’s so perfect for our list. Why spend long years trying to make sense of life when you can learn from the wise and well-crafted words of others? Let our list of famous Spanish quotes and their meanings be your shortcut to wisdom. And if not, at least you’ll have a better understanding of Spanish people!