38 Basque Proverbs And Quotes (With English Translations)

38 Basque Proverbs And Quotes (With English Translations)

Reading Basque proverbs and quotes is a great way to learn about the culture and wisdom of the Basque people. They often contain lessons about life, love, and work, and can be used to add a bit of flavor to your conversations.

Though the writing used in proverbs and quotes can be difficult to understand, as it is often written in dated Basque, you can still get a lot out of reading them. You’ll pick up plenty of new vocabulary, and you may even find yourself inspired by the words of the Basque people.

Basque Udemy course

We’ve put together a list of 38 Basque proverbs and quotes about life, love, work, money, and more, complete with English translations. We’ve split them up into 10 different categories for your convenience. Use the table of contents above to find the topics that are most relevant to you.

And now, without further ado, let’s look at some Basque proverbs!


Proverbs about family

Basque proverbs and quotes about family

Aita biltzaileari, seme hondatzaile.

A thrifty father begets a squandering son.


Asto askok, lasto asko.

A lot of donkeys means a lot of hay.


Etxean ikusia, umeak ikasia.

What is seen at home is what the child learns.


Haurrak hazi, nekeak hasi.

One’s troubles really begin when one begins to raise children.


Amari egindako zorrak ez dira inoiz ordaintzen.

The debts made to one’s mother are never paid.


Besteren ama ona, norberea askoz hobea.

Another’s mother is good, but our own is much better.


Etxeko sua etxeko hautsez estali behar da.

The home’s fire must be put out with the home’s ashes.

Proverbs about work

Basque proverbs and quotes about work and laziness

Alfer egon eta alfer-lana egin, biak berdin.

Doing nothing and doing useless work is the same thing.


Alferrarendako lanik ez, eta astirik ez.

The lazy person has no work and no time.


Arian, arian, zehetzen da burnia.

Working and working at it, iron can be pulverized.


Azken gaizto egingo duk, txoria, gazterik egiten ez baduk habia.

You will have a sad end, bird, if you don’t make your nest while you’re still young.


Gaztean alfer, zaharrean lander.

In youth, lazy; in old age, destitute.


Ez da ogirik neke gaberik.

There is no bread without pain.


Garaipena, neke askoren ondorena.

Success is the result of a lot of hard work.


Hegaztia airerako, gizona lanerako.

Birds are meant to fly and people are meant to work.


Jan behar ba duk/n, lan egin beharko duzu.

If you must eat, then you must work.


Lanik errazena, agintzea.

The easiest of jobs is giving orders.


Nagia, beti lantsu.

Lazy people are always busy.


Mando merkea, nagusiaren nekea.

A cheap mule is more work for the owner.


Gaurko izerdia, biharko ogia.

Today’s sweat is tomorrow’s bread.

Proverbs about nature

Basque proverbs and quotes about nature

Hazi gaiztoa, bera sortzen.

The bad seed grows by itself.


Lapiko txikiak, laster gainez.

A small pot soon overflows.


Zuharrari ez eska gari.

From the elm tree don’t ask for wheat.


Zura berago, harra barrenago.

The softer the wood, the deeper the worm goes.


Lurrak hazi, lurrak jan behar.

The earth makes us grow and the earth must consume us.

Proverbs about animals

Basque proverbs and quotes about animals

Oilo ibiltari, azerien janari.

The wandering hen will be food for the fox.


Oiloari, oloa, astoari, lastoa.

To the hen, oats, to the donkey, straw.


Otso gosea, ibiltari.

A hungry wolf wanders.


Otsoak otsoari gaitzik ez, eta lapurrak lapurrari laztan.

Wolves don’t harm other wolves, and thieves give affection to other thieves.


Zakur handiak, zaunka handia.

A big dog has a big bark.


Ardi galdua atzeman daiteke, aldi galdua berriz ez.

The lost sheep may be recovered, the lost time cannot.


Ardi txikia, beti bildots.

The small sheep, always a lamb.


Ardiak beeka egonik, ez du jaten belarrik.

A bleating sheep eats no grass.

Proverbs about love

Basque proverbs and quotes about love

Maitasuna da zoriz eta zorteaz egina.

Love is made by chance and luck.


Ilargiaz maitemintzen zarenean, izarrei begiratzeari uzten diozu.

When you fall in love with the moon, you stop looking at the stars.


Ez dakit nora doan nire bidea baina hobeto ibiltzen naiz eskuak zurea estutzen duenean.

I don’t know where my path goes but I walk better when my hands squeeze yours.


Ongi nahi hauenak negar eginaraziko dauk/daun/dizu; gaizki nahi hauenak barre eginaraziko dauk/daun/dizu.

The one who loves you will make you cry; the one who hates you will make you laugh.

Proverbs about money

Basque proverbs and quotes about money and wealth

Dirua, mutilik hoberena eta nagusirik txarrena.

Money is the best of servants, but the worst of bosses.


Diruak malkarrak zelaitzen.

Money flattens hilly terrain.


Aberats izatea baino, izen ona hobe.

It’s better to have a good name than to be rich.


Asko baduk/n, asko beharko duzu.

If you have much, you will need much.


Gehiegi baino, aski hobe.

Having just enough is better than having too much.


Urte euritsu, urte ogitsu.

A year full of rain is a year full of wheat.

Proverbs about age

Basque proverbs and quotes about age

Azeri zaharrak ile zaharra uzten du, aztura zaharrik ez.

The old fox sheds its old hair, but not its old habits.


Zahar eroa, gazte zoroa baino txarrago.

A crazy old person is worse than a foolish young person.


Zahar-ele, zuhur-ele.

The old one’s words are wise words.


Zaharrari azkar joateko eta haurrari geldi egoteko esatea, berdin da.

To tell the old person to hurry and the child to be still is the same thing.

Proverbs about selfishness

Basque proverbs and quotes about selfishness

Aseak gosea ezin ikus.

The satiated cannot see the hungry.


Bat eman eta bi hartu, gure etxean ez berriz sartu.

Giving one and taking two, don’t come back into our house.


Nork bere opilari ikatza.

People always put the coals next to their own bread.


Nerea neretzat, zurea biontzat.

Mine for me, yours for both of us.


Onegi dena beretzat ez da aski besterentzat.

One who is too good to oneself is not good enough to others.

Proverbs about friendship

Basque proverbs and quotes about friendship

A, zer parea! Karakola eta barea!

Oh, what a pair, a snail and a slug.


Adiskide onekin, orduak labur.

With a good friend, the hours are short.


Adiskidegabeko bizitza, auzogabeko heriotza.

Life without friends means death without neighbors.


Egiak esan eta adiskideak gal.

Telling the truth, you may lose your friends.


Guztien adiskide dena, ez da inorena.

One who is everybody’s friend is no one’s friend.


Lagun onak, ondu; gaiztoak, gaiztotu.

A good friend makes one a better person, a bad friend makes one worse.

Proverbs about life and death

Basque proverbs and quotes about life and death

Nola bizi, hala hil.

How you live is how you will die.


Hil arteraino bizi, han arte ez izi.

Live until you die. Until then, don’t panic.


Hilak lurpera, biziak mahaira.

May the dead go under ground and the living to the table.


Jaio zara, hilko zara.

You were born, you will die.


Munduan nahi duenak luzaroan bizi, oiloekin ohera eta txoriekin jagi.

Those who want to live long go to bed with the chickens and get up with the birds.


Neke gaberik ez da bizitzerik.

Without suffering, there is no life.


Gilen, bihar hilen, etzi ehortziren, etzidamu ahantziren.

Tomorrow will kill you, the next day will bury you, and the day after will forget you.

We had a lot of fun finding these, and we hope you enjoyed reading them as much as we did. By reading these and incorporating them into your daily life when they apply, you’ll be able to learn more about the Basque culture, the people’s values, and the way they think. Not to mention, you’ll sound a lot more like a native speaker when you use these proverbs and quotes in conversation!

If you want to learn some Basque vocabulary, head over to Basque Language Basics: 42 Useful Phrases For Beginners And Travelers, or check out Days Of The Week, Months Of The Year, Seasons, Weather, And Time In Basque.

Special thanks to Jon Aske ([email protected]) who collected and translated these proverbs.