En casa del herrero cuchillo de palo

Category: Spain Terms

There is a saying similar to the Spanish “en casa del herrero, cuchillo de palo”in any countries and in even more languages. But what does it really mean? The literal translation of the Spanish saying is: in the blacksmith’s house, wooden knife.

And you can somewhat get what the phrase is saying. The blacksmith is someone who works with metals, giving then shape and practical use. The Spanish word “palo” refers to a stick of wood, and anything made of “palo” is actually made of wood. So the craftsman who works with metals to give them shape and use would be neglecting his work-related skills when he is at home. It is as if you were saying: in the plumber’s house the faucets leak.

When someone says in Spain “en casa del herrero cuchillo de palo,” he or she is not necessarily criticizing the person, but expressing a common situation, which also seems to be common all over the world: The craftsman’s home is lacking that very thing which the craftsman takes care offs at work. And that amounts to not using the skills that we use at work when it comes to own private life.