20 Classic Mexican Quotes and Proverbs in Spanish
These unique Mexican quotes in Spanish celebrate Mexican culture. They’ve shaped the thinking, traditions, and customs of generations of Mexicans.
Proverbs are phrases that reveal a general truth, a moral, or a piece of advice. Mexican proverbs about success, love, and life often include food, animals, or habits.
The many benefits of learning these classic Mexican proverbs include:
- Learning colloquial sayings
- Understanding Mexican culture
- Sounding like a native Spanish-speaker
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Mexican Quotes About Love
1. Agua que no has de beber, déjala correr – Anonymous
Literal translation: Water that you must not drink, let it run.
This Mexican proverb warns us not to get involved in something that we won’t be able to face later. People normally say this to you so that you don’t dar alas (give wings) to anyone.
Dar alas means to seem interested in someone when you really aren’t. Someone who “gives wings” is often seen as abusive or unreliable, so you give them this advice to stop that behavior.
2. Mejor solo que mal acompañado – Anonymous
Literal translation: Better alone than In bad company.
It is better to be alone than to be around a toxic person. In Mexico when people ask about a boy’s girlfriend and he says she couldn’t come, people may joke with this saying.
3. Escoge una persona que te mire como si quizás fueras magia – Frida Kahlo
Literal translation: Choose a person who looks at you as if you were magic.
This is a romantic Mexican quote from revolutionary artist Frida Kahlo. When you watch a magic trick, your face expresses admiration and surprise, and you can’t believe your eyes. This is the feeling Frida wishes for you, to be with a person that looks at you with such delight.
4. Amo el canto del cenzontle pájaro de 400 voces, amo el color del jade, y el enervante perfume de las flores, pero amo más a mi hermano, el hombre – Nezahualcóyotl
Literal translation: I love the sound of the mound bird of 400 voices, I love the color of jade, and the unnerving perfume of the flowers, but I love my brother more, the man.
This poetic Mexican quote expresses gratitude for nature and its beauty, yet a greater love for humankind.
5. Todo acto de creación, es un acto de amor – José Revueltas
Literal translation: Every act of creation is an act of love.
This José Revueltas Mexican quote in Spanish is true. When you create something purposely—a painting, a building, a baby—you put in the effort, focus, time, and money. That’s why endeavors like this are considered an act of love.
6. Amamos a un ser mortal como si fuese inmortal – Octavio Paz
Literal translation: We love a mortal being as if it were immortal.
Octavio Paz was a Mexican writer who won the Nobel Prize in 1990. He created this phrase as part of his response to the fascinating question “what is love?” in one of his last pieces. Octavio said writing about love while on his last days felt like a goodbye or a testament.
Mexican Quotes About Food
7. Barriga llena, corazón contento – Anonymous
Literal translation: Full belly, happy heart.
This is a typical Mexican grandma phrase. Whenever you feel sad, brokenhearted, or lonely Mexican matriarchs try to help by stuffing you with delicious food.
8. La panza es primero – Anonymous
Literal translation: The belly is first.
In Mexico, once you eat you can do anything else because being hungry ruins any mood or party.
9. Salió más caro el caldo que las albóndigas – Anonymous
Literal translation: The broth was more expensive than the meatballs.
We use this Mexican proverb plenty. You normally say this when the solution was more expensive or cost more effort than the original problem. Another analogy for this can be “the wrapping was more expensive than the present.”
10. Echarle mucha crema a sus tacos – Anonymous
Literal translation: Add a lot of cream to their tacos.
Someone “adds a lot of cream to their tacos” when they exaggerate their skills or achievements. It involves a lot of ego and people can easily perceive it as false.
Mexican Proverbs About Life
11. Al que a buen árbol se arrima, buena sombra le cobija – Anonymous
Literal translation: He who gets close to a good tree is sheltered by good shade.
This Mexican quote teaches you to get close to a skilled person to help you. If you do, this experience will benefit you.
12. Más sabe el diablo por viejo que por diablo – Anonymous
Literal translation: The devil knows more by being old than by being the devil.
This Mexican quote is about respecting your elders. It’s another way of saying “listen to what I am telling you, I know more than you because I’m older.”
13. El que se enoja, pierde – Anonymous
Literal translation: The one who gets mad loses.
This is a wise dicho (saying) that tells you to try to find solutions without getting angry. If two people are in conflict, the one who invests more anger loses.
14. Mucho ayuda el que poco estorba – Anonymous
Literal translation: The one who hinders little helps greatly.
This Mexican quote is an indirect way of saying “get out of the way!” Sometimes it’s best to stop trying to help—and start helping a lot by bowing out.
15. Ni tanto que queme al santo, ni tanto que no lo alumbre – Anonymous
Literal translation: Not so much that it burns the saint, not so much that it does not illuminate it
This Mexican proverb comes from the Catholic tradition. What it means is that both extremes are bad, if you put a lot of candles around the saint—something we do when we ask for a miracle or favor—you might burn it, if you put the only one you might not even be able to see it. Instead, the key is balance.
The most common way of using this Mexican quote is to make it short: ni tanto que queme al santo. It is easier to learn and say because that way it also rhymes.
Mexican Quotes About Success
16. A quien madruga Dios lo ayuda – Anonymous
Literal translation: God helps the one who wakes up early.
Those who make an effort to wake up early and work are favored by God or other circumstances. Hard work results in good things.
17. Hay que imponer nuestra voluntad a nuestras debilidades – Carlos Slim
Literal translation: We need to impose our will over our weaknesses.
If your weaknesses include being unreliable, irresponsible, or lacking discipline, overcome them by imposing your will to achieve things first. To reach your goals, you need to have a powerful will.
18. Aquel que no espera vencer, ya está vencido – Benito Juárez
Literal translation: He who does not expect to win is already defeated.
This Mexican quote from the legendary president aims to inspire you and push you to believe you can do whatever you set your mind to.
19. No estudio para saber más, sino para ignorar menos – Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz
Literal translation: I don’t study to know more, but to ignore less.
Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, one of the greatest exponents of the Golden Age of Literature in Spanish was a bright mind born in an archaic world. As a woman, she wasn’t allowed in school or intellectual circles So Sor Juana had to dress up as a man to get a formal education.
A famous historian once said that he studied to calm the anxiety produced by not knowing. This Mexican quote encompasses that idea and more.
20. Más vale ser cabeza de ratón que cola de león – Anonymous
Literal translation: Better to be the head of a mouse than the tail of a lion.
It’s better to be the leader of a little group than to be the least remarkable in a big group. Mexican proverbs like this inspire you to concentrate on being good wherever you are, instead of always looking to be part of something big.
Learn Spanish and Get Closer to Mexican Culture
If you are curious about more Mexican quotes and proverbs and Mexican culture as a whole, why not visit Mexico? It’s a beautiful country with white sand beaches, picturesque villages they call “magic towns,” and modern cities.
Being bilingual helps you enhance your traveling experience in many ways. By learning Spanish you will be able to ask for opinions, directions, and tips. Talk to locals, learn from them, and create lasting friendships. Become one of +24,000 monthly enrolled students at Homeschool Spanish Academy who trust our 10 years of expertise. Learn from talking to actual native speakers. See our pricing and programs and prepare for your trip to Mexico by signing up for a free trial class today!
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