A friend of mine just showed me this Spanish proverb, which is some equivalent to English "shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations" (which means wealth gained in one generation will be lost by the third, source).

"Quien no lo tiene, lo hance; y quien lo tiene, lo deshance"

Googling I find this proverb in many pages on the internet.

Yet looking up "hances" and "deshances" directly or by guessing at their infinitive forms turns up nothing.

Are these actual Spanish words? Why are they hard to look up?


Searching for it on the Internet turns up a few references to it, all of which seem to be quoting it from a common source. Here's one example: "In Spain it’s ‘Quien no lo tiene, lo hance; y quien lo tiene, lo deshance’ (‘he who doesn’t have it, does it, and he who has it, misuses it’)".

There is also at least one instance of someone asking a similar question in which they write it as hacer: "Quien no lo tiene, lo hace; y quien lo tiene, lo deshace"

Based on this, it seems reasonable to assume this is either an isolated local version of hacer, or a widely quoted typo.

If that is the case, then I'd say a more faithful translation into English would be "He who doesn't have it, makes it. He who has it, destroys it."

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    That was one of my theories but there's plenty of hard-to-find Spanish words I've run into before and here be experts (-: – hippietrail Feb 21 '15 at 13:20
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    Agreed. I'm anxious to have a native speaker chime in. – Kent A. Feb 21 '15 at 13:21
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    Native Castilian speaker here. Never heard the proverb but it's definitely hacer/deshacer. – kaoD Feb 21 '15 at 19:55
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    And there's no similar word that I can think of it the other languages. If there's any other verb that fits the regex [fh]an?[czs][aei]r than maybe, but all that gets me is fazer (pt/mwl), and facer (gl/ast). At best it maybe it could be asir, but that's stretching it phonetically, although it works perfectly in the phrase: Quien no lo tiene, lo ase (lo coge, lo toma), y quien lo tiene, lo desase (lo tira / lo suelta) – user0721090601 Feb 23 '15 at 0:27
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    @guifa - I tried alternative spellings and found some support for your asir idea. It is a dictionary of regionalisms and it says that ansir means asir. It's for a certain region within Aragón, Spain: xiloca.org/xilocapedia/index.php?title=Diccionario_popular – aparente001 Sep 11 '19 at 15:52

I agree as my research has revealed the same paucity of usage information of hance/deshance.

However I would interpret the saying more accurately, to-wit:

He who lacks it acquires it, he who has it squanders it

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