Last Updated on 2024/01/01
Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth
Table of Contents
The Italian proverb “A caval donato non si guarda in bocca” (in Latin: Noli equi dentes inspicere donati) is a well-known saying that has permeated various cultures around the world. Its origins can be traced back to a Latin quote attributed to Saint Jerome. The proverb holds significant meaning and reflects a cultural attitude towards gratitude and manners.
Literal Meaning and Interpretation
The literal translation of “A caval donato non si guarda in bocca” is “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth”. This phrase encapsulates the idea that one should not be critical or overly analytical of a gift they have received. The underlying sentiment is that receiving a gift is a gesture of goodwill, and it would be impolite or ungrateful to scrutinize its quality or value excessively.
Historical Context and Origin
The origin of this proverb is credited to Saint Jerome in his work, Commentariorum In Epistolam Beati Pauli Ad Ephesios. The proverb’s rationale is derived from the practice of estimating a horse’s age, and hence its value, by examining its teeth. In historical contexts, a younger horse was often considered more valuable than an older one. Therefore, the saying implies that when receiving a horse as a gift, one should refrain from evaluating its age or worth, as it is the gesture of giving that holds true value.
This proverb has been adopted and adapted into various languages and cultures, demonstrating its universal appeal and relevance. Some international versions include:
Bulgarian: На харизан кон зъбите не се гледат.
Corsican: À cavaddu dunatu, un fidià denti
Croatian: Poklonjenom konju se ne gleda u zube
Dutch: Een gegeven paard moet je niet in de bek kijken
English: Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth
French: À cheval donné on ne regarde pas les dents
German: Einem geschenkten Gaul schaut man nicht ins Maul
Greek: σου χαρίζαν γάιδαρο και τον κοίταζες στα δόντια
Hungarian: Ajándék lónak ne nézd a fogát
Lithuanian: Į dovanoto arklio dantis nežiūrima
Polish: Darowanemu koniowi nie zagląda się w zęby
Portuguese: Em cavalo dado não se olha os dentes.
Romanian: Calul de căpătat nu se caută la dinți
Russian: дареному коню в зубы не смотрят
Spanish: A caballo regalado no le mires el dentado/diente
Swedish: Skåda inte en given häst i munnen
Ukrainian: дарованому коневі зубів не лічать; дар – не купля: не гудять, а хвалять
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