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Arabic proverbs reflect the beauty of the Arabic Language and the wisdom of the Arabs and their culture. In Egypt, these proverbs are part of everyone’s daily routine. There is no one single situation that would not have the perfect proverb tailored for it. Just for the sake of fun, I am going to share some of these famous proverbs. If you are living in Egypt, you will probably recognize them right away, but if you live outside Egypt, most likely you will have a smile on your face. These proverbs are in the Egyptian dialect.
الحظ لما يآتى , يخلى الأعمى ساعاتي
/ el-hazz lamma yiaati yekhalli el-a’ma sa’aati /
Literal Translation: When fortune smiles, it makes the blindman a watchmaker.
Hidden meaning: Luck makes the unhappy happy.
Applicability: To describe a positive and sudden change in someone’s life.
في الوش مراية و في القفا سلاية
/ fi el-wesh merayah, wi fi el-‘afa sellayah /
Literal Translation: A mirror to your face, and a thorn behind your back.
Hidden meaning: A double-faced person
Applicability: To describe a person who pretends to be your friend then hurts you when you’re not looking.
اللي تقول عليه موسى , يطلع فرعون
/ elli ti’ool aleeh Mousa yetala’ fir’oon/
Literal Translation: He whom you think is Moses, turns out to be Pharaoh.
Hidden Meaning: Don’t be deceived by people’s appearance.
Applicability: to describe a person after they uncover their bad personality.
ابعد عن الشر و غنى له
/ ib’id ‘an el-sharr wi ghanneeloh /
Literal Translation: Keep away from evil and sing to it.
Hidden Meaning: Don’t be look for troubles.
Applicability: To advise people to avoid and dismiss trouble even with a song.
احيينى النهارده و موتنى بكره
/ ihyeeni innahardah wi mawitni bokrah /
Literal Translation: Let me live today and kill me tomorrow.
Hidden Meaning: Live and enjoy the moment. Don’t wait for tomorrow.
Applicability: To advise a person not to gamble.
ادى العيش لخبازينه
/ iddi el’eesh li khabbazeenoh /
Literal Translation: Give the bread to its bakers.
Hidden Meaning: Take the advice from experts only.
Applicability: to advise a person to listen to and obey only the wise and experts.
المكتوب على الجبين لازم تشوفه العين
/ el-maktoob ala el-gebeen lazim teshofo el-‘een /
Literal translation: What’s written on the forehead (i.e., one’s destiny) is to be seen by the eye.
Hidden meaning: One will inevitably meet one’s destiny
Applicability: What is predestined is predestined.
هذا الشبل من ذاك الأسد
/ haza al-shiblu min zaak al-asad /
Literal translation: This baby is from that lion
Hidden meaning: Kids inherit their parents’ good qualities.
Applicability: Words of praise for a promising kid. (same as English “a chip of the old block”)
البعيد عن العين بعيد عن القلب
/el-bi’eed ‘an el-een bi’eed ‘an el-qalb /
Literal translation: What is far from the eye, is far from the heart.
Hidden meaning: Out of sight, out of mind
Applicability: Distance makes us forget old friendships / relationships.
الجنازة حارة و الميت كلب
/el-ganazah harrah wi el-mayit kalb /
Literal translation: The funeral is hot while the dead is a dog.
Hidden meaning: Much ado about nothing. Trivial people can get a lot of attention.
Applicability: When a lot of fuss is made about a not so worthy person or topic..
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Peace سلام / Salam/