What’s the meaning of “A caval donato non si guarda in bocca”?

In this short lesson, we will learn the meaning of the Italian proverb A caval donato non si guarda in bocca along with its pronunciation. Do you like horses? Then this idiom is for you.

Let’s get started! Iniziamo!


A caval donato non si guarda in bocca

Meaning of the proverb

A caval donato non si guarda in bocca can be literally translated as “you don’t check the mouth of a gift horse” and it means that you shouldn’t look for flaws in a gift you’ve been given, but simply appreciate that someone was generous enough to give you a gift. It is equivalent to the English idiom don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.

dentist cleaning a customer's teeth - a caval donato non si guarda in bocca

Bad teeth belong to older animals, and older animals are worth less on the market. It’d be rude to focus on them when the horse (cavallo) is given to you (donato).


Pronunciation of the proverb

Now let’s hear how this proverb is pronounced.

A caval donato non si guarda in bocca.
Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.
Literally: You don’t check the mouth of a gift horse.

You might have trouble pronouncing the cluster -rd- in guarda. If you need help learning how to pronounce Italian, check out the lesson on the Italian alphabet and pronunciation.


Where does A caval donato non si guarda in bocca come from?

A horse’s mouth (bocca) is usually not a pleasant sight, and in the past, checking on the animal’s teeth was a way to estimate its age for business purposes.

cat showing its clean teeth

Its meaning is similar to that of the proverb Se il cavallo è buono e bello, non guardare razza o mantello, “if the horse is good and nice-looking, don’t check its race or mane”.

And that’s the end of our lesson on the Italian proverb A caval donato non si guarda in bocca!


What next?

See all the other Italian idioms!

Now that you’ve seen what the meaning of the proverb A caval donato non si guarda in bocca is in Italian, you might want to keep learning Italian online with these free Italian resources:

Title: Italian All-in-One For Dummies
Language: English / Italian
Publisher: For Dummies
Pages: 672

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