Arabic Language Blog

Egyptian Proverbs (9) Posted by on Mar 25, 2015 in Arabic Language, Culture, Pronunciation, Vocabulary

   Arabic proverbs الأمــْــثــَــال الــعــَــرَبــِــيــَّـــة reflect the beauty جــَــمــَــال of the Arabic Language and the wisdom حــِــكــْــمــَــة of the Arabs and their culture. In Egypt, these proverbs are part of everyone’s daily routine. There is no one single situation مــَــوْقــِــف that would not have the perfect proverb tailored for it. Just for the sake of fun الــمــُــتــْــعــَــة , 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 إبــْــتــِــســَــامــَـــة on your face. These proverbs are in the Egyptian dialect الـلــَّــهــْــجــَـــة .

Egyptian Proverbs

تــمــوت الــرقــَّــاصــة و وســطــهــا بــيــلــعــب   

/ temoot el-raqqasa wi wistaha bi’yel’ab /

  • Literal Translation: The belly dancer dies, and her waist is still moving.
  • Hidden meaning: Habits stick to the person all his life.
  • Applicability: To criticize somebody for his bad habits.

يــا واخــده الــقــرد عــلــى مــالــه ، يــروح الــمــال و يــفــضــل الــقــرد عــلــى حــالــه  

/ ya wakhda el-ird ala kotr maloh, yerooh el-mal wi yefdal el-ird ala haloh /

  • Literal translation: If you “marry” a monkey for his wealth, the money goes and the monkey remains.
  • Hidden meaning: Don’t get deceived by money.
  • Applicability: To criticize a person who wants to marry anyone only for their money.

جــيـتــلــك يــا عــبــد الــمــعــيــن تــعــيــنــنــى ، لــقــيــتــك يــا عــبــد الــمــعــيــن عــاوز تــنــعــان

/ geetlak ya abdel-mo’een ti’inni, laqeetak ya abdel-mo’een awiz tin’an /

  • Literal translation: I came to you to help me, but I found that YOU need help.
  • Hidden Meaning: If you seek help from someone, he might indeed be in need of help.
  • Applicability: Ironic remark; don’t seek help from helpless people.

حــبـيــبــك يــبــلــع لــك الــزلــط ، و عــدوك يــتــمــنــى لــك الــغــلــط

/ habibak yebla’lak el-zalat wi adow’ak yetmana lak el-ghalat /

  • Literal translation: He, who loves you, swallows stones for you, while your enemy waits for your mistakes.
  • Hidden Meaning: The secrets of today will, in time, be common knowledge.
  • Applicability: To comment on the weird actions of friends/enemies.

يــدى الــحــلــق لــلــى بــلا ودان ، و الــفــســتــق لــلــى بــلا ســنــان    

/ yeddi el-hala’ lilli bila widan wi el-fustu’ lilli bila snaan /

  • Literal translation: Gives earrings to someone with no ears, and pistachio to someone with no teeth.
  • Hidden meaning: Some people get what they don’t deserve or can’t use.
  • Applicability: To comment on somebody getting what they can’t use.

اكــفــى الــقــدرة عــلــى فــُــمــَّــهــا ، تــطــلــع الــبــنــت لأمــهــا

/ ikfi el-qidrah ala fum’maha, titla’ el-bent li um’maha /

  • Literal translation: Place the pot upside down, and the girl will take after her mother.
  • Hidden meaning: A daughter will grow to be very similar to her mom.
  • Applicability: To comment on the physical or character resemblance of mother and daughter.

 اِخــطــُــب لــبــنــتــك ، و مــا تــخــطــبــش لابــنــك   

/ ekh’tob libentak wi matikh’tobsh libnak /

  • Literal translation: Don’t play matchmaker for your son but rather for your daughter.
  • Hidden Meaning: It is not shameful for parents to talk about their daughters and offer them as brides to trustworthy people.
  • Applicability: It is customary for men to propose, so this is a saying advocating that marriage (betrothal) proposals could come from either party. Applied when parents find a good match for their daughter

مــا يــعــجــبــوش الــعــجــب ، و لا الــصــيــام فــى رجــب

/ ma ye’giboush 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: To comment on someone who is “blasé” or who puts down everything or everyone.

بــعــد مــا شــاب ، ودوه الــكــُــتــَّــاب

/ ba’d ma shab, waddouh el-kut’tab /

  • Literal translation: After he grew old, they sent him to school.
  • Hidden Meaning: You can’t teach old dogs new tricks!
  • Applicability: when an old person starts to learn a new thing.

أســمــع كــلامــك أصــدقــك ، أشــوف أُمــورك أســتــعــجــب    

/ asma’ kala’mak asada’ak, ashouf umou’rak asta’gib /

  • Literal translation: I believe when you say, but I wonder when you act.
  • Hidden Meaning: Your words contradict your actions.
  • Applicability: When someone’s actions contradict his speech, i.e. doesn’t practice what he preaches.


Egyptian Proverbs (1)               Egyptian Proverbs (2)

Egyptian Proverbs (3)               Egyptian Proverbs (4)

Egyptian Proverbs (5)               Egyptian Proverbs (6)

Egyptian Proverbs (7)              Egyptian Proverbs (8)


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Peace  ســَــلام /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. anila:

    Nice n helpful