Arabic proverbs

35 popular Arabic proverbs in Levantine Arabic

Arabic proverbs are a very important part of the language. Knowing proverbs in the language you are learning will allow you to better understand the culture and better understand people’s motivations.

We can divide proverbs in Arabic into two main groups: either they come from classical Arabic and are known in every Arab country or they come from a particular region/country.

Those that come from classical Arabic in everyday life are often adapted to the spoken language (i.e. changing the grammar/words to those in the dialect).

By learning Arabic proverbs you become more aware of the language and you definitely are going to impress native speakers.

Memorizing popular and frequently used Arabic proverbs can also help you remember some grammar rules.

Today you will learn 35 Arabic proverbs popular in the Levant region.

Popular Arabic proverbs in Levantine Arabic

1. دُقّ الحَديد وهو حامي

English: strike when the iron is hot

Meaning: don’t hesitate, use the opportunity

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2. عَصْفور باليد وَلا عَشْرَة عالشَّجَرَة

English equivalent: A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush

Meaning: be satisfied with what you have, don’t risk it all by being greedy

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3. يِلّلي فات مات

English equivalent: Let bygones be bygones

Literal translation: what has passed is dead

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4. لَوْ صَبَر القاتِل على المَقْتول كان مات لَحالُه

Literal Translation: If the killer had patience, his victim would die anyway

Meaning: don’t hesitate, be patient

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5. التِّكْرار بِعَلِّم الحْمار

Literal translation: The repetition teaches the donkey

English equivalent: practice makes perfect

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6. المَيّ بِتْكَذِّب الغَطّاس

Literal translation: The water expose the diver

English equivalent: The proof of the pudding is in the eating

Meaning: you can judge something only by trying it

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7. الباب يِفَوِّت جَمَل

Translation: The door is big enough for a camel to pass through

Meaning: said to get rid of unwanted person

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8. الصَّديق وَقْت الضّيق

English equivalent: friend in need is a friend indeed

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9. حَبْل الكِذِب قَصير

Literal translation: The rope of a lie is short

English equivalent: a lie has no legs

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10. في الحَرَكة بَرَكة

Literal translation: there is a blessing in the movement

Meaning: it’s good to be active

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11. يوم إلَك ويوم عَليك

Literal translation: one day for you, one day on you

English equivalent: win a few, lose a few

Meaning: sometimes the life is good, sometimes it is bad, don’t give up

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12. عُذُر أَقْبَح مِن ذَنْب

Literal translation: excuse is uglier than (the original) fault

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13. يد واحدة ما بِتْصَفِّق

Literal translation: one hand can’t clap

English equivalent: it takes two to tango

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14. غاب القِطّ اِلْعَب يا فار

English equivalent: when the cat is away, the mice will play

Meaning: people tend to behave badly when no one in authority (boss, teacher, parents etc.) is present

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15. صَبّ الزيت على النار

Literal translation: to pour oil on the fire

English equivalent: to add fuel to the fire

Meaning: to make the situation worse

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Arabic proverbs about people

16. الجَنّة مِن غير ناس ما بْتِنْداس

Literal translation: the Paradise without people is not worth going to

Meaning: relations with people are important

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17. طَبْخِتُه عَلى النّار وعينُه عَلى طَبْخة الجار

Literal translation: his food is already on fire and his eye is on the neighbor’s food

Meaning: don’t be envious

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18. يِلّلي ما يَعْرِف الصَّقِر يِشْويه

Literal translation: who doesn’t know what the falcon is, would grill it

Meaning: people without the taste can’t appreciate the value of something

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19. قالوا لَلْبَغِل مين أبوك قالْهُم الحِصان خالي

Literal translation: the asked the donkey: who is your father? He told them: my uncle is a horse

Meaning: said about people who are ashamed of their origin

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20. الحِمار حْمار لَوْ بين الخْيول سار

Literal translation: the donkey remains a donkey even if between horses

Meaning: you can’t change something in people that is impossible to change

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21. الجار قَبْل الدّار

Literal translation: the neighbor before the family

Meaning: care about your neighbors

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22. ضَرَب عَصْفورين بِحَجَر واحَد

English equivalent: to kill two birds with one stone

Meaning: to achieve two things by doing one action

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23. مَن حَفَرَ حُفْرَةً لِأخيهِ وَقَعَ فيها

Literal translation: Whoever digs a hole for his brother, falls into it himself

Meaning: what comes around goes around

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24. خاف مِن عَدُوَّك مَرّة ومِن صَديقَك أَلْف مَرّة

Literal translation: be afraid of your enemy once and of your friend one thousand times

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25. طُبّ الجَرّة على ثِمّها بْتِطْلَع البِنْت لَإمّها

Literal translation: turn the jug upside down, the daughter will turn out to be her mother

Meaning: like mother, like daughter

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26. رضينا بالبين والبين ما رِضي فينا

Literal translation: We have satisfied ourselves with the bad thing, and the bad thing is not satisfied with us.

Meaning: When you finally accept something that is not very good, and then even this doesn’t work out with you.

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27. أعْطي الخُبِزْ لَلْخَبّاز حَتّى لَوْ يآكُل نُصّه

Literal translation: Give the bread to the baker even if he eats half of it.

Meaning: Give the work to the professionals even if it costs more.

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28. المَنْحوس مَنْحوس ولَوْ عَلَّقوا عَلى راسُه فانوس

Literal translation: The unlucky will stay unlucky even if they hang a lantern on his head

Meaning: the unlucky will stay unlucky, no matter what

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29. اِمْشي شَهَر وَلا تَعْبُر نَهْر

Literal translation: walk for a month, but don’t cross the river

Meaning: Better to avoid risk or danger, even if it takes longer to do something

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30. لَوْ كان فيه خير ما رَماه الطّير

Literal translation: If there is any good in it, the bird wouldn’t throw it away

Meaning: no one is giving anything away unless it’s bad/useless for him

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31. طُنْجَرة ولِقْيَت غَطاها

Literal translation: The pot found its lit

English equivalent: when two things or people fit together perfectly

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32. المْبَلَّل ما يخاف مِن المَطَر

Literal translation: a wet man does not fear the rain

Meaning: Another misfortune will not change anything for the one who has already suffered a lot

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33. لَيْسَ كُلُّ ما يَلْمَعُ ذَهَبًا

Literal translation: not everything that shines is a gold

English equivalent: All that glitter is not gold

Meaning: not everything that looks good on the surface is indeed good

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34. إذا كان الكَلام مِن فِضّة فالسُّكوت مِن ذَهَب

Literal translation: If the speech is silver, so the silence is gold.

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35. القِرْد بِعَين إمّه غَزال

Literal translation: The monkey in his mother’s eye is a gazelle

Meaning: a mother never finds a fault in her own child

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That’s all for today, we hope you enjoyed the Arabic proverbs and learned something new. If you have a favorite Arabic proverb, feel free to share it with us!

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