Arabic Language Blog

Egyptian Proverbs (5) Posted by on May 19, 2012 in Arabic Language, Culture, Pronunciation, 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.

اللــِّــى فــَــات قــديــمــُــه تــَــاه

/ El’li faat qadimoh taah /

Literal Translation: Lost is the person who forgets his/her past.

Hidden meaning: Remember what you were before bragging about what you are.

Applicability: Criticizing those who want to be disassociated from their roots.

الـــقــِــرد فــى عــِــيــن أمــُّــه غــَــزال

/ El-‘ird fi ein ommoh ghazal /

Literal Translation: The monkey’s mother sees him as beautiful and graceful as a deer.

Hidden meaning: To the biased eye, the ugliest can look beautiful.

Applicability: To criticize people with clearly biased opinions.

طــَــبــَّــاخ الــســِّــم دَواقــُــــه

/ Tabbakh el-sim dawa’uh /

Literal Translation: He who cooks poison, will taste it.

Hidden Meaning:  One gets the results of one’s own actions.

Applicability: To comment on somebody who suffers from his/her wrong actions. 

عــَــقــلــه فى راســـُــه يــعــرف خــَــلاصــُــه

 / Akluh fi rasuh ye’raf khalasuh /

Literal Translation: He has his own mind, so he can solve his own problems.

Hidden Meaning:  Don’t get into others’ own business.   

Applicability: To advise somebody not to intervene in somebody else’s business.

جــَــه يــكــحــلــهــا , عــَــمــاهـــا

/ Gah yekah’alha amaha /

Literal Translation: In trying to put make-up around the eye, he blinded it.

Hidden Meaning:  Instead of fixing it, he messed it up even more! 

Applicability: Said when somebody, trying to fix a situation, causes more harm.

الــعــَــيــْــن بــَــصــيـــرة و الإيــْــد قــَــصــيـــرة

/ El-ein baseerah wi el-eid aseerah /

Literal Translation: The eye can see but the hand is too short.

Hidden Meaning:  The will does exist but the actions are missing. 

Applicability: When under life’s pressures, one can not do the obvious!

يــَــا مــِــآمــنــه لــلــرِّجــَــال , يــَــا مــِــآمــنــه لــِــلــمــَــيــَّــه فــى الــغــُــربــَــال 

/ Ya me’amna lil-regaal ya me’amna lil-mayiah fil-ghurbal /

Literal translation: Trusting men is like trusting that a strainer can keep water.

Hidden meaning: Men are not to be trusted.

Applicability: Advice to women whose husbands might be cheating on them!

الــلــّــى بــيــتــُــه مــن قــِــزاز مــا يــحــدفــش الــنــَّــاس بــالــطــُــوب

/ Elli beituh min izaz, ma yehadefsh el-nass bel toob /

Literal translation: If you live in a glasshouse, don’t throw stones.

Hidden meaning: What you do to others, will be done to you.

Applicability: Everyone is vulnerable.

مــَــا يــعجــبــوش الــعــَــجــب و لا الــصــِّــيــَــام فــى رجــب

/ Ma ye’giboosh el ‘agab, wala el’siyaam fi ragab / 

Literal translation: Wonders don’t please him, nor does fasting in the month of Ragab.

Hidden meaning: Criticism  of  someone who’s impossible to please.

Applicability: Comments  on someone  who puts  down everything or everyone.

ضــِــل راجــِــل و لا ضــِــل حــيــطــة

/ Dill ragel wala dill heeta /

Literal translation: The shade of a man is better than that of a wall.

Hidden meaning: It is better to have a man than not to.

Applicability: When a woman is about to marry a not so good man.


Egyptian Proverbs (1)                      Egyptian Proverbs (2)

Egyptian Proverbs (3)                      Egyptian Proverbs (4) 


To listen to these proverbs in Egyptian Arabic, visit our Youtube Arabic Channel at 


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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.