Arabic Language Blog

10 Common Levantine Proverbs Posted by on Jul 15, 2017 in Arabic Language, Culture, Grammar, Pronunciation, Vocabulary

Marhaba! As you know, every language and culture has different ways of saying things. Most cultures have accumulated across the years a number of proverbs and sayings to express certain ideas or describe a given situation. The Arabic language has of course a huge collection of proverbs. Today I am going to share with you 10 common Levantine proverbs, meaning sayings that have been mostly circulated in the Levant.

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Some of these proverbs are indeed unique to the Levant. Others proverbs, both in meaning and in their form, can be similarly found in other Arabic cultures or even outside the Arabic culture. I will provide each proverb in Arabic and then provide first a literal translation, accompanied with a translation of the meaning. This will help you learn when and how to use these proverbs properly. I will also provide transliteration to help you with the Levantine pronunciation of words. Enjoy!


Levantine Proverbs (أمثال شامية)

الرجال بلا كرش ما بيسوى قرش
Translation: A man without a belly is not worth a penny.
Transliteration: al-rijjal bala kirish ma biyiswa ‘irish.
Meaning: That a man’s belly is not to be ashamed of, but rather a source of wealth and pride. 

طنجرة ولاقت غطاها
Translation: A pot that has found its cover .
Transliteration: Tanjara w-la’it ghataha.
Meaning: Said when two people who are alike find each other and end up together.

على قد بساطك مد اجريك
Translation: Stretch your legs as long as your rug.
Transliteration: ‘ala ‘ad bisatak mid ijrek.
Meaning: Live within your means.

ابعد عن الشر وغنيله
Translation: Move away from evil and sing for it.
Transliteration: ub‘ud ‘an al-shar w-ghannilu.
Meaning: Stay away from evil.

ان كنه حبيبك عسل، ما تلحسه كله
Translation: Even if your love is honey, don’t eat/lick all of him
Transliteration: In kinno habibak ‘asal, ma tilhasu killo.
Meaning: Don’t abuse or overburden the love that loves you.

بحكي من الشرق بيرد من الغرب
Translation: I talk from the East, he responds from the West.
Transliteration: Bihki min al-sharq biyrid min al-gharb.
Meaning: Said when one doesn’t seem to understand someone at all.

خبّ قرشك الأبيض ليومك الأسود
Translation: Hide your white penny for your black day (similar to hide your save money for a rainy day).
Transliteration: Khabbeh qirshak al-abyad la-yawmak al-aswad.
Meaning: Don’t spend all that you have, a bad day will come when you will need it.

اللی بیشرب البحر ما بغض الساقية
Translation: He who drunk the sea does not choke from a brook.
Transliteration: illi byishrab al-bahir ma bighid al-saqiye.
Meaning: Some one who has done a great thing won’t be dissuaded by a small thing.

مثل الاربعة بنص الجمعة
Translation: Like Wednesday in the middle of the week
Transliteration: Mitil al-urbu‘a binus al-jum‘a.
Meaning: Said to someone sitting around doing nothing while everyone is busy.

الساقية الجارية ولا النهر المقطوع
Translation: A flowing brook rather than the dry river.
Transliteration: al-saqiye al-jariye wala al-nahir al-maqtu‘.
Meaning: A small but constant source (of income) is better than a large but unreliable source.


For now take care and stay tuned for upcoming posts!
Happy Learning!
Have a nice day!!
نهاركم سعيد

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About the Author: jesa

Salam everyone! Born as an American to two originally Arab parents, I have been raised and have spent most of my life in Beirut, Lebanon. I have lived my good times and my bad times in Beirut. I was but a young child when I had to learn to share my toys and food with others as we hid from bombs and fighting during the Lebanese Civil War. I feel my connection to Arabic as both a language and culture is severing and so it is with you, my readers and fellow Arabic lovers, and through you that I wish to reestablish this connection by creating one for you.