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A Collection of Palestinian Proverbs
This post contains a humble collection of Palestinian proverbs in Arabic and their literal meanings in English. The proverbs have been grouped into five different groups, each holding the context of the proverb members.
Key to Arabic wording: (capital) T = Tah, as in Tabla, S = Saad, as in Saddam, D = Dhaad, as in Dameer, 3 = Ayn, as in eye, 7 = Ha (strong H) as in Al7amdulillaah.
Advice Luck Descriptive Sarcasm Misc.
"Eddamm 3omro ma biseer mayyeh"
Literal: Blood can never turn into water.
Used to describe blood relations and how tight they should be.
"Doqq el 7adeed wo howweh 7aami"
Literal: Hit the iron while it's still hot.
Don't waste time, do things while you've got the chance within your hands.
"El 3ein ma bte3la 3an el 7aajeb"
Literal: The eye can't go any higher than the brow.
A word of respect: It's a matter of fact that the brows are higher up the face than the eyes, therefore, he who says this proverb is one who feels less important than the person he's talking to.
"Elli beitoh min qzaaz ma birmi ennaas be7jaar"
Literal: He who has a house of glass throws no people with stones.
Used to describe one who has enough faults to worry about, but instead goes out gossipping about other people's faults.
"Is'al mjarrib wala tes'al 7akeem"
Literal: Ask an experienced, and don't ask a philosopher.
Experienced people can know more than those who've read (studied) the topic.
"Khalli irshak el abyaD la yoamak el aswad"
Literal: Keep your white penny for your black day.
Don't waste your money on things you don't need or are not too necessary when you can save your money for a better reason later when you need it.
"3asfoor bil eed wala 3ashara 3ala eshajara"
Literal: A bird in the hand is better than ten on the tree.
A chance of acheiving more than one desired goal at one time is always pleasant.
"Dallak ma3 el 3ayyaar la baab eddaar"
Literal: Stay with the measurer until he reaches the door.
Used to describe one's patience with others, when at the time being one thinks they don't make any sense, they might do at the end.
"Bous el kalb 3a thimmo la tokhed 7aajtak minnoh"
Literal: Kiss the dog on his mouth until you get what you need out of him.
In other words, be nice to those you don't like if you have a business to finish with them.
"Eb3ed 3an el sharr wo ghanneeloh"
Literal: Stay away from the evil and sing to it.
Do not to get involved in the evil.
"La tqool la lemghanni ghanni illa tayghanni la7aaloh"
Literal: Don't ask the singer to sing until he wishes to sing by himself.
In other words, don't nag for something - the person concerned will do whatever you're nagging for when they feel like doing it.
"Odrob 3asfourein b7ajar"
Literal: Hit two birds with one stone.
"Lsaanak 7Saanak, in Sontoh Saanak wo in hinto haanak"
Literal: Your tounge is your horse, if you take care of it it'll take care of you, and if you offend it will offend you.
In simpler words, watch what you say - your words are always a reflection of you.
"Dobb eedak mlee7 la btedmi wala betqee7"
Literal: Keep your hand tight, you won't bleed and you won't weep.
Organise your money spending and you won't have to feel sorry for yourself it in the future.
"3ala qadd l7aafak midd rijleik"
Literal: Stretch your legs as long as your quilt can cover.
Don't burden yourself with things you cannot afford - spend your money on things you can.
"Leskaafi 7aafi wel 7ayek 3eryaan"
Literal: The shoemender is bare-footed and the weaver is naked.
"Baab ennajjaar mkhalla3"
Literal: The Carpenter's door is broken.
The above two proverbs describe how people can solve any problem other than thier own.
"Jibtak ya 3abd el mo3een t3een, laqeitak biddak meen y3eenak"
Literal: I've called you Abd El Mo'een to help, I found you in need for help.
Note: Abd el Mo'een is an Arabic name which literally translates to: Slave of Helper
"Ajat el 7azeena tefra7 ma leqyatelhaash maTra7"
Literal: The sad has come for joy, she found no place to take her.
The above two proverbs are used to describe a person's despair in need for help he cannot get.
"El 3ein baSeera wel eed aSeera"
Literal: The eye can see, the hand cannot reach.
Used to describe a poor person's desire for things he cannot afford.
"Saba3 Sanaye3 wel bakhet Daye3"
Literal: Seven trades and luck is lost.
"A jack of all trades is master of none" - similarly, he who does all seven trades has no luck.
"Eltamm el mat3oos 3ala khayeb erraja"
Literal: The unlucky and the hopeless have come together.
"Tanjara wo laqat ghataaha
Literal: The pan found its lid.
The above two proverbs are used to describe two people of the same type (two of a kind).
"Elli 3ala raasoh baT7a y7asses 3aleiha"
Literal: He who has a flask on his head can keep touching it.
"Elli 3ando 7enna y7anni daan 7maaroh"
Literal: He who has Henna can use it for his donkey's ear.
The above two proverbs are used in a sarcastic sense of describing people's pride: "IF he's got something to be proud of then he can be so (away from us)"
"Iqlib el jarra 3ala tommha bteTla3 el binit la ommha"
Literal: Turn the jar onto its mouth, the girl will resemble her mom.
Like father like son (Like mother like daughter).
"Toulo Toul ennakhleh wo 3aqloh 3aql essakhleh"
Literal: He's as tall as a palm tree and his brains as small as a sheep's.
Used to describe those who give a very serious impression by their looks/outfits/height/etc.. but who actually are nothing but idiots.
"Albi 3ala ibni zayy ennaar wo alb ibni 3alayyeh 7ajar"
Literal: My heart goes out for my son like fire, and my son's heart goes out for me like stone.
Describes how deep mothers (parents) feel about their sons, and how, in return, sons don't show many signs of love.
"Ya arD eshtaddi ma 3aleiki addi"
Literal: Ground be stronger, none walks on you like myself.
Used to describe haughty arrogant people who think human race has never had a better being than themselves.
"El ird b3ein immoh ghazal"
Literal: A monkey is a deer in his mom's eye.
The sight of love is stronger than the sight of the eye: A mother sees its child with her heart rather than her own eyes.
"Eb3ed te7la (eb3ed teghla)"
Literal: The further you are, the dearer you become.
"Absence makes the heart grow fonder".
"Deil el kalb 3omroh ma bini3del"
Literal: A dog's tail will never straighten out.
Used to describe perverts who never give up their bad habits no matter what.
"Koll fooleh msawwseh wo illha kayyal a3war"
Literal: Every bad bean has its seller..
Like the good seek the better, the bad seek the worse - can still make a match.
"El jar abl eddaar"
Literal: The neighbour before the house.
- When you're off looking for a new house, know who your new neighbours will be before you settle in. A good neighbour means a good house.
"Ya maakhed el ird 3ala maloh biroo7 el maal biDall el ird 3ala 7aloh"
Literal: He who takes a monkey for his money, the money shall go and the monkey shall remain.
He who sticks around a rich man for his money will come to a day when the rich loses his money and he's left with the man alone.
"Yama ta7t essawahi dawahi"
Literal: Behind every meterious thing is a disaster.
Descibing meterious people who can easily fool those not so cautious.
"Jajeh 7afrat 3araas-ha 3afrat"
Literal: A chicken dug in the soil, and the dirt came onto her head.
"Ya dakhel bein el baSaleh wo qishrit-ha ma ynoobak gheir Sannet-ha"
Literal: He who gets in between the onion and its shell shall come out with its stinking smell.
The above two proverbs warn people from interfering in other people's problems and troubles. One could come out with problems too if one is involved in problems other than his.
"Raa7 ydawwer 3a fTeima fi soo' el ghazzalaat"
Literal: He went searching for Fteima in the knitters' mall
"Dawwer 3ala ibreh bkoam qash"
Literal: Look for a needle in a heystack
Used to describe a search for the somewhat impossible - there are hundreds of Fteimas in a mall, and similarly it is hard to look for a needle in a heystack.
"La 3aajibhom el 3ajab wala esSyaam bi rajab"
Literal: Wonder they don't like, and Rajab they don't fast.
Used to describe those who do not appreciate other people's work - nothing satisfies them.
"Teeti teeti zayy ma ro7ti zayy ma jeeti"
Literal: Like you've gone, like you've come back.
"Tli3na min el mouled bala 7ommoS, eed wara wo eed oddam"
Literal: We came out of the Carnival without Chickpeas, one arm in front, one arm behind.
Everybody used to come out of Carnivals with at least chickpea dips. The proverb is used to describe those who came out of a carnival with empty hands (no luck desipte celebration). Similarly the first proverb describes those who go off for a mission and return with nothing to show.
"Rej3at reema la 3adet-ha el adeema"
Literal: Rima's back to her old habit
Used to describe those who have promised to stop their bad habits but automatically return to them soon.
"Ya m'ammin errjaal ya m7ammel el mayya fel ghorbaal"
Literal: She who trusts men is one who carries water in a riddle.
This proverb basically advises women not to trust men!
"Ya mesta3jel waqqef"
Literal: You person in a hurry, stop.
Used when one has very little time left to acheive a desire and all of a sudden something comes in his way and delays him.
"Jay ybee3 el mayy bi 7aret essaqqayeen"
Literal: He's come to sell water in a mall of water-carriers.
Used to describe those who show-off what they know, in a stubborn manner, to those who already know what they're all on about.
"Aja yka77ilha 3amaaha"
Literal: He came to draw Kohl (eyeliner) on her eyes, he blinded her instead.
Used to describe those who intend to fix something and instead they mess it all up.
"Tabbel 3ind aTrash"
Literal: Drum near a deaf.
"Binqolloh toar, biqollna e7libouh"
Literal: We tell him it's a Taurus, he says milk it.
"Onfokh fi qirbeh maqtou3a"
Literal: Blow in a torn bagpipe.
"El kalaam ilik ya jaara, wo esma3i ya kinneh"
Literal: The advise is for you, neighbour, and listen daughter-in-law.
The above three proverbs - In other words, no use advising and lecturing in this case, the person you're trying to talk to won't listen.
"El qar3a btitbaaha bi sha3er bint okht-ha"
Literal: The bald (woman) shows off her neice's hair.
Some people show off other people when they have nothing for themselves to show or be proud of!
"Qaal min etTafar shaaf el bazqa shilin"
Literal: 'Cause of poverty he saw the spit was a shelling.
Describes the poor who thrives for money so he mistakes his spit for change.
"Eddar dar abouna wo ajo el ghorob yeT7oona"
Literal: The house is our father's and strangers came to take over.
Used to describe the occupation's cruilty in throwing people out of their homes (and land...)
"Ma beqTa3 erraas gheir elli rakkaboh"
Literal: No one can chop the head off, apart from that who put it on.
Used in a sense to describe the consequences of one's deeds - In a way it could mean something like: If you do something, be prepared to undo it, because simply noone else can.
"Koll thaalem iloh yoam"
Literal: Every opressor has a day.
..when he'll opressed (in return).
"Eed wa7deh ma betsaqqef"
Literal: One hand doesn't clap.
Without co-operation one can't do certain jobs.
Literal: Truth is comfort.
And nothing like the truth!
"Ma shaafhom wo hommeh besriqou shaafhom wo hommeh bet7aasabou"
Literal: Didn't see them stealing, saw them sorting their shares.
Used to describe theifs who co-operate quietly in stealing but fight loudly when they sort their shares between them.
"Bnimshi el 7aiT el 7aiT wo binqool ya rabb essitir"
Literal: We walk by the walls and ask God for shelter.
In other words, we mind our own business and ask God for nothing but a good life.
"Boas el ayadi de7k 3alle7a"
Literal: Kissing hands is fooling beards.
The proverb describes those who try all sorts of winded methods to reach their desire, but not a single time have they tried to go straight to the point.
"Ma qidir 3ale7maar, qidir 3al barda3a"
Literal: He couldn't manage the donkey, he managed its saddle.
Used to describe a person who tried to play the smart on someone or in something but couldn't manage a success. Instead, s/he went off trying an easier thing to manage.
"Ennaas fennaas, wel qoTTa fennfaas"
Literal: People with people, and the cat with the souls.
People are busy staying alive, while others are busy exaggerating minor things.
!!!! Palestinian for EVER !!!!
English Club For Arab Students
English Club For Arab Students
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