Arabic Language Blog

Egyptian Proverbs (4) Posted by on Mar 20, 2012 in Arabic Language, Culture, Pronunciation, Uncategorized, Vocabulary

    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.

دارى عـلـــى شــمـــعــتــــك تــقــيـــــد 

/ dari ala sham’itak te’eid /

Literal Translation: Protect the flame of your candle and it will light more!

Hidden meaning: Don’t brag about your blessings otherwise you’ll lose them.

Applicability: Same as English saying “A cake watched never rise”.

إن غــاب الــقــــــط , الــعـــــب يــا فـــــــار  

/ in ghab el’ut, el’ab ya far /

Literal Translation: If the cat is away, the mice will play.

Hidden meaning: When authority leaves, chaos reigns.

Applicability: Obvious.

بــاب الــنــجـــــار مــخـــلــــــــع

/ bab el-naggar mekhala’ /

Literal Translation: The carpenter’s door is loose.

Hidden Meaning:  The expert does not apply his expertise to himself/herself.

Applicability: When people neglect what they can do best in their home, family, personal life, but do it only professionally to other people.

الــبــــاب الـلــــى يـيــجــــى مــنـــه الــريـــــح , ســـــده و اســتــــريـــــــح  

/ el bab elli yiegi menno el reeh, seddo westareeh /

Literal Translation: Block the door where the wind comes from, and relax.

Hidden Meaning:  Don’t dig for trouble; face your problems.

Applicability: An advice to prevent potential problems when someone is hesitating to solve a problem for good.

الـلــــي يـتــلـــســـــــع مــن الــشــُــربــــة , يــنــفـــــخ فــي الــزبــــــادي  

/ elli yetlesse’ min el shorba , yenfokh fe el-zabadi /

Literal Translation: He who burn his/her tongue when eating soup, will blow in the yogurt.

Hidden Meaning:  The impact of bad experiences makes one weary.

Applicability: When someone gets very suspicious because of a bad experience.

 مــفــيــــش دخـــــان مــن غــيــــــــر نـــــــــــــار  

/ mafeesh dokhan min gheer naar /

Literal Translation: There is no smoke without fire.

Hidden Meaning:  Rumors are always based on something.

Applicability: When someone tries to completely deny a rumor.

 الــضـــــرب فـــي الــمــيـــــت , حـــــــرام  

/ el darb fil-mayyit haraam /

Literal translation: Beating a dead person is a sin.

Hidden meaning: Don’t beat a dead horse, it’s a waste of effort.

Applicability: It is unethical to attack someone who is unable to defend himself/herself.

 خـــُــــد مـــن الـــتـــــل , يــخـــتــــــل  

/ khud min el-tal’l, yekhtal /  

 Literal translation: If you take from the hill, it will shake.

Hidden meaning: Large reserves can disappear.

Applicability: Usually used to describe the situation of having a sum of money, you spend from it, it diminishes.

 ســـكــتــنــــــــا لـــــه , دخــــــل بــحــمـــــــــــــاره  

/ sakatna luh, dakhal bi’humaruh /

Literal translation: We let him in, he brought his donkey along.

Hidden meaning: Sometimes one has to be careful with abusers, otherwise they will take advantage of you.

Applicability: When somebody doesn’t stop at the limits set for him/her.

 جــُــحــــــا أولـــى بــلـــحـــــــــم طــــــــــوره

/ Goha awla belahm toroh /

Literal translation: Goha (a comic Arabic character) has a right in his bull’s meat.

Hidden meaning: One better take care of his/her own business.

Applicability: To emphasize one’s responsibilities.


Egyptian Proverbs (1)              Egyptian Proverbs (2)            Egyptian Proverbs (3)


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Peace  سلام  /Salam/

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About the Author: Fisal

Well, I was born near the city of Rasheed or Rosetta, Egypt. Yes, the city where the Rosetta Stone was discovered. It is a small city on the north of Egypt where the Nile meets the Mediterranean. I am a Teacher of EFL.


  1. Ramliomar:

    A small flame is friend it changes to an enemy as it grows bigger.