Egyptian & Arabic proverbs

Egyptian & Arabic proverbs

التكرار يعلّم الحمار. (it-tikraar yi3allim il-Humaar.)

Repetition teaches (even) a donkey. (Practice makes perfect.) 

في الامتحان يكرم المرء أو يحان. (fil-imteHaan yokram il-mar' aw yohaan.) 
At the time of a test, a person rises or falls. (People's real worth is known only through trial.) 

يا واخد القرد على ماله يروح المال ويقعد القرد على حاله. (ya waaxod il-'ird 3ala maalu yiruuH il-maal wa yi'3od il-'ird 3ala Haalu) 
If you marry a monkey (i.e. someone ugly) for his money, the money will go away and the monkey will stay the same (as ugly as ever). (Don't marry for money.) 

الوحدة خير من جليس السوء. (il-waHda xeir min giliis is-suu'.) 
Being alone is better than being with someone bad. (Warning about keeping bad company.) 

امشي في جنازة ولا تمشي في جوازة. (imši fi ganaaza walla timši fi gawaaza.) 
Being involved in a funeral is better than trying to arrange marriages. (Warning about matchmaking.) 

القرد في عين أمه غزال. (il-'ird fi 3ein ummu ġazaal.) 
In his mother’s eye, the monkey is (as beautiful as) a gazelle. (Comment about mothers' bias or partiality to their children.) 

لا يلدغ المؤمن من جحر مرتين. (la yuldaġ il-mo'men min goHr marratein.) 
The believer is not bitten from the same hole twice. (Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.) 

قليل البخت يلاقي العظم في الكرشة. ('aliil il-baxt yilaa'i l-3aDm fil-kirša.) 
The unlucky person finds bones in his tripe dinner. (You can't escape bad luck.) See also the variation قليل البخت يتكعبل في السديري ('aliil il-baxt yitka3bil fis-sideiri), "The unlucky person trips over [his own] waistcoat/vest." 

الطيور على اشكالها تقع. (iT-Tuyuur 3ala aškaaliha taqa3u.) 
Birds of a feather flock together. 

اليد في الميّة مش زي اليد في النار. (il-iid fil-mayya miš zayy il-iid fin-naar.) 
The hand in water isn’t like the hand in fire. (Easier said than done; used to criticize someone removed from the situation at hand who is telling those involved how to deal with it.) 

اللى على البرّ عوّام. (illi 3ala l-barr 3awwaam.) 
The one on shore is a master swimmer. (See above.) 

اللى على راسه بطحة بيحصص عليها. (illi 3ala raasu baTHa biHaSSiS 3aleiha.) 
Those who have an injury on their head keep checking it. (People who have a weakness show it.) 

لبس البوصة، تبقى عروسة. (labbis il-buuSa, tib'a 3aruusa.) 
Dressing up a stick turns it into a bride. (Clothes make the man.) 

ابن الوزّ عوّام. (ibn il-wazz 3awwam.) 
The son of a goose is a swimmer. (Like father, like son.) 

دوام الحال من المحال. (dawaam il-Haal min il-muHaal.) 
Continuing the same state is impossible. (Nothing stays the same.) 

اللى يشوف بلوة غيره تهون عليه بلوته. (illi yišuuf belwit ġeiru tihuun 3aleih belwitu.) 
Seeing someone else’s problems makes your own problems seem smaller. (Considering others' problems will give you perspective.) 

باب النجّار مخلع. (baab in-naggaar maxalla3.) 
The carpenter’s door is falling apart. (Used to criticize someone who tells other people how to do things but doesn’t apply his advice to himself.) 

الشاطرة تغذل برجل الحمار. (iš-šaTra tiġzil bi-rigl il-Homar.) 
The clever one spins with a donkey’s leg (i.e. can make something out of nothing). (Used to criticize someone who blames their tools for their bad work.) 

اللى ماعندوهوش مايلزمهوش. (illi ma3anduhuuš mayilzimhuuš.) 
He who doesn't have (the money to pay for something) does not need it. (If you can't afford something, think twice about whether you really need it or not.) 

بعد ما شاب ودوه الكتّاب. (ba3d ma šaab wadduuh ik-kuttaab) 
After his hair went white, he went to school. (You can't teach an old dog new tricks. Used to criticize someone old trying to do things more suited to young people.) 

عريان الطوق بينط لفوق. (3iryaan iT-Too' binuTT li-foo') 
Someone without (even) a collar tries to jump up (i.e. to a higher social class). (Used to criticize someone poor trying to reach up too high above his social status.) 

الفاضي يعمل قاضي. (el-faaDi yi3mel 'aaDi) 
Someone free plays the judge. (Used to criticize someone with too much free time interfering in other people’s business.) 

احنا في الهوا سوا. (eHna fil hawa sawa.) 
We are in the same boat (lit. same air). 

العروسة للعريس والجري للمتاعيس. (il-3aruusa lil-3ariis wel gari lil-mata3iis.) 
The bride gets a bridegroom and the rest get miserable. (The bride and bridegroom are happy at a wedding, but the guests go home unhappily.) 

اللى مكتوب عالجبين لازم تشوفه العين. (illi maktuub 3al-gibiin laazim tšuufu l-3ein.) 
What is written on the brow will inevitably be seen by the eye. (One will inevitably meet one’s destiny.) 

يا مآمن للرجال يا مآمن الميّة في الغربال. (ya me'aammin lir-ragaal ya me'aammin il-mayya fil-ġurbaal.) 
Trusting men is like trusting water in a sieve. 

الحلو حلو لو قام من النوم، والوحش وحش لو غسل وشّه كل يوم. (il-Helw Helw law 'aam min in-noom, wal-weHš weHš law ġasal wiššu kull yoom.) 
The beautiful is beautiful (even right after) rising from sleep, and the ugly is ugly (even) if they wash their face every day. (You can't hide beauty or make the ugly beautiful.) 

يد واحدة ماتسقفش. (iid waHda matsa''afš.) 
One hand doesn’t clap. (Cooperation from all sides is necessary to accomplish anything.) 

تحت العمّة قرد. (taHt il-3emma 'ird.) 
Under the sheikh’s hat is a monkey. (Used to criticize someone who tries to appear good on the outside to cover up their faults, specifically if they try to appear pious.) 

يا ما تحت السواهي دواهي. (yaama taHt is-sawaahi dawaahi.) 
Underneath the nice exterior is a bunch of problems. (Used to criticize someone who tries to put up a good appearance to cover up their faults.) 

على قد لحافك مد رجليك. (3ala 'add liHaafak midd regleik.) 
Stretch your legs as far as your blanket extends. (Don’t live beyond your means.) 

اللي يتلسع من الشوربة ينفخ في الزبادي. (illi yetlesse3 min iš-šorba yinfox fiz-zabaadi.) 
He who burns his tongue from soup will blow in yogurt (to cool it). (Once burned, twice shy.) 

انت تريد وهو يريد والله يفعل ما يريد. (anta turiid wa-howa yuriid wallaah yaf3al ma yuriid.) 
You want what you want and he wants what he wants, but God does what He wants. (Man proposes, God disposes.) 

عريان الطيز يحب تأميز. (3iryaan iT-Tiiz beHebb it-ta'miiz.) 
Someone with their ass exposed likes to criticize. (Used in reference to hypocrites.) Note the crude language in this saying, so be careful who you say it around. 

أقول تور، يقول احلبوه. (a'uul toor, yi'uul iHlibuuh.) 
I say it's a bull, he says milk it. (Used when you're talking at cross-purposes with someone who won't see reason.) 

العين ماتعلاش عالحاجب. (il-3ein mate3laaš 3al-Haagib.) 
The eye doesn't go higher than the brow. (No one can go above their status in life.) 

المتعوس متعوس ولو ركبه على راسه فانوس. (il-mat3uus mat3uus walaw rakibu 3ala raasu fanuus.) 
The miserable person will be miserable even if you hang a lantern on his head. (You can't escape your luck.) 

لقّيني ولا اتغدّيني. (la''iini wallitġaddini) 
Better a warm welcome than being invited to lunch. (Welcoming people warmly is important.) 

ظرّط الإمام، خريوا المصلّين. (ZarraT il-imaam, xiryu l-muSalliin.) 
The imam farted, so those praying behind him shitted. (A leader's errors are compounded by his followers.) Again, this saying uses crude language, so you should be careful who you say it around. 

طبّاخ السمّ بيدوقه. (Tabbaax is-simm biyduu'u.) 
One who cooks poison tastes it. (What goes around comes around.) 

اللي يلاقي اللي يطبخ له لية يحرق صوابعه؟ (illi ylaa'i lli yuTbuxlu leih yiHra' Sawab3u?) 
Why should one who finds someone to cook for him burn his fingers? (Don't do your own dirty work if you can find someone to do it for you.) 

اتغدّى بيه قبل ما يتعشّى بيك. (itġadda biih 'abl ma yit3ašša biik.) 
Eat him for lunch before he eats you for dinner. (Kill him before he kills you; get your blow in first.) 

القط مايحبش الا خناقه. (il-'uTT mayHebbiš illa xannaa'u.) 
The cat only likes its strangler. (People only respond to harsh treatment.) 

الغاوي ينقط بطاقيته. (il-ġaawi yna''aT bi-Ta'iytu.) 
The fan will donate his skullcap. (An enthusiast will give away everything he has for what he loves.) 

الحركة بركة. (il-Haraka baraka.) 
Movement is a blessing. (Exercise is good.) 

دبّور زنّ على خراب عشّه. (dabbuur zann 3ala xraab 3eššu.) 
A wasp that brought about the destruction of its own nest through its buzzing. (He asked for it, it was his own fault.) 

تضرب القدرة على فمها تطلع البنت لأمها. (tiDrab il-'idra 3ala fummaha, tiTla3 il-bint li-ummaha.) 
Like mother, like daughter. 

هاك الشبل من ذاك الأسد. (haak iš-šiblu min zaak il-asad.) 
Similar to the above, used to desribe someone's similarity to one of their parents. Lit. "this cub (is) from that lion." 

خسارة قريبة أحسن من مكسب بعيد. (xosaara qariiba aHsan min maksab ba3iid.) 
A loss soon is better than a victory much later. (It's better to cut your losses and admit defeat quickly rather than stick it out and eventually win a victory that cost you a lot.) 

شحات ونزهي. (šaHHaat we-nozahi.) 
A beggar but acting like a rich man. (Used to describe someone who's in no position to be picky but is still acting like he can set the terms of whatever bargain etc. is going on. Sort of like the equivalent of "Beggars can't be choosers," but in reverse.) 

شحات وعايز رغيف. (šaHHaat we-3aayiz riġiif.) 
A beggar, and he wants a (whole) loaf. (If you're relying on other people's generosity, you should just be grateful for whatever you can get instead of complaining you didn't get more.) 

حجة البليد مسح التختة. (Hegget el-baliid masiH et-taxta.) 
The bad student's excuse is erasing the blackboard. (Used to describe people who are trying to divert attention from their own failings by talking about other things.) 

مصائب قوم عند قوم فوائده. (maSaa'ib qawmin 3and qawmin fawaa'ido.) 
Some people's disasters provide benefits for other people. (What is disastrous for some people can prove to be advantageous for other people.) 

الجايات أحسن من الرايحات. (ig-gayyaat aHsan min ir-rayHHaat.) 
What is coming is better than what is gone. (The future is better than what's past; used to cheer people up.) 

لو حرف شعبطة في الجو. (law Harf ša3abaTa feg-gaww.) 
"If" is like trying to hold onto the air (i.e. something impossible). (The equivalent of "If wishes were horses"; if someone is talking about what they'd do if they were a millionaire, or something else impossible, you can tell them "law Harf ša3abaTa feg-gaww" to remind them that just wishing for things is pointless.) 

عمر الشقي بقي. (3omr iš-ša'i ba'i.) 
The wicked or naughty live longer. (Can be used to hint that if you take risks, it'll pay off. Can also be used in a joking way; for example, if a friend was in a minor car accident and was uninjured, you could tell them, "3omr iš-ša'i ba'i.") 

وقع في شر أعماله. (wi'i3 fi šarr a3maalu.) 
He got entangled in the evil of his own doings. (He was hoisted by his own petard — fell into his own trap, was harmed by his own plan to harm someone else.) 

المؤمن مصاب. (il-mo'men muSaab.) 
The believer is afflicted. (The righteous always suffer.) 

وقع في شر أعماله. (il-ġurbaal il-gediid luh šadda.) 
The new sieve is taut. (A new broom sweeps clean.) 

اسعى يا عبد وأنا أسعى معاك. (is3a ya 3abd wana as3a ma3aak.) 
Make an effort, and I'll make an effort [to help] you. (God helps those who help themselves.) 

الفلوس مع التيوس. (il-filuus ma3a t-tuyuus.) 
It's always the idiots who have [lots of] money. (Used to disparage the rich.) 

المية تكدّب الغطاس. (il-mayya tikeddib il-ġaTTaas.) 
The water gives the lie to the diver. (The proof's in the pudding.) 

الجهل نعمة. (il-gahl ni3ma.) 
Ignorance is bliss (lit. a blessing). 

كله عند العرب صابون. (kullu 3and il-3arab Sabuun.) 
It's all the same thing to those who know nothing. Used if someone views different things as if they're all the same. (Lit. It's all soap to the Bedouins.) 

العين بصيرة واليد قصيرة (il-3ein baSiira wal-yad 'aSiira) 
The eye sees, but the arm is short (cannot reach). Said when someone wishes for something beyond his means. 

القفة ام ودنين يشيلوها اتنين (il-'offa omm widnein yišiiluuha tnein) 
A basket has two handles (lit. ears) for two people to carry it. (Many hands make light work.) 

تأتي الرياح بما لا تشتهي السفن (ta'ti r-riyaaH bi-ma la taštahi s-sufun) 
Winds do not blow as the ships wish. (You can't always get what you want.) 

المال السايب يعلم السرقة (il-maal is-saayib yi3allim is-sir'a) 
Unattended money teaches thievery. (If you don't keep a close eye on your property, people will steal from you.) 

ديل الكلب عمره مايتعدل (deil ik-kalb 3omru mayet3edel) 
The dog's tail will never straighten out. (A leopard doesn't change its spots.) 

اذا كان حبيبك عسل، ماتلحسوش كله (iza kaan Habiibak 3asal, matilHasuuš kullu) 
If your friend is honey, don't lick it all. (Don't take advantage of your friends.) 

العجل لما يقع تكثر سكاكينه (il-3egl lamma yu'a3, tiktar sakakiinu) 
When the calf falls, the knives come out. (When people sense that someone's vulnerable, they'll attack.) There's also a non-Egyptian variant, لما يطيح الجمل تكثر سكاكينه (lamma yTiiH il-jamal, tiktar sakakiinu), referring to a camel instead of a calf. 

الكفن مالوش جيوب (il-kafan maluuš giyuub) 
The shroud has no pockets. (You can't take it with you.) 

صاحب بالين كداب وصاحب تلاتة منافق (SaaHib balein kaddaab, wa-SaaHib talaata mnaafi') 
Someone who tries to do two things at once is a liar, and someone who tries to do three things at once is a hypocrite. (You can't divide your effort between multiple things and do them well.) 

مافيش حلاوة من غير نار (mafiiš Halaawa min ġeir naar) 
There's no dessert without fire (i.e. in the baking process). (You can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs.) 

الغالي تمنه فيه (il-ġaali tamanu fiih) 
You get what you pay for. (Expensive things are worth the price for their quality.) 

إن سرقت، اسرق جمل، وإن عشقت، اعشق قمر (in sara't, isra' gamal, wa'in 3eše't, i3ša' 'amar) 
If you steal, steal a camel, and if you love, love (someone as beautiful as) the moon. (If you're going to do something, go all out.) 

حاميها حراميها (Hamiiha Haramiiha) 
Its protector is its thief. (Similar to "the fox guarding the henhouse," but not exactly the same. Used in reference to someone like a police officer or a government official, who should be protecting people, actually committing crimes, embezzlement, theft, etc. against them.) 

القرعة بتتباهى بشعر بنت اختها (il-'ar3a bititbaaha b-ša3r bint oxtaha) 
The bald woman boasts of her niece's hair. (Used to describe someone who brags about other people's accomplishments or abilities, in particular abilities that person lacks.) 

حماتى مناقرة، قال طلق بنتها (Hamaati mna'ra, 'aal Talla' bintaha) 
[He said:] "My mother-in-law's a plague." Someone replied, "Divorce her daughter!" (Used in reference to someone complaining about a problem he can solve himself.) 

دخول الحمّام مش زي خروجه (duxuul il-Hammaam miš zayye xruugu) 
Entering a bathroom isn't like leaving it. (It's easier to get yourself into a situation than it is to get out of it.) 

اتمسكن حتى تتمكّن (itmaskin Hatta titmakkin) 
Pretend to be weak and submissive until you get your chance. 

كل مشكلة ولها حل (kulle muškila wa-liiha Hall.) 
Every problem has a solution. 

الاعتراف بالحق فضيلة (il-i3tiraaf bil-Ha''e faDiila.) 
Admitting it when someone else is right is a virtue. 

ما خفي كان أعظم (ma xafiya kaana a3Zam.) 
What is (still) hidden is more than what has happened/been revealed so far. (This is just the tip of the iceberg.) 

الساعي في الخير كفاعله (is-saa3i fil-kheir ka'faa3ilu.) 
The person seeking to do good is (as good as) someone who (actually) does it. (Good intentions count for as much as good actions.) 

Last modified: Thursday, 11 May 2017, 3:24 PM