Proverbs 11-20

Free Resources -> Arabic Proverbs -> Proverbs 01-10

The next 10 Arabic proverbs.


اذا اراد ربنا هلاك نملة انبت لها اجنحة (idha araada rabbuna halaak namla anbat laha adjnaHa)

“If God proposes the destruction of an ant he allows wings to grow upon her.”

The sudden elevation of persons to stations above their means or capacities, may often cause their ruin.


اذا رايت اعور عبر اقلب حجر (idha ra’yit a3war 3abar iqlib Hadjar)

“If thou seest a one-eyed person pass by, turn up a stone.”

The people of Cairo turn up a stone or break a water-jar behind the back of any person whom they dislike, just on his leaving them, hoping thereby to prevent his return; this is a kind of incantation. The term one-eyed here expresses a person disagree­able on any account. The Arabs regard a one-eyed man as of bad omen, and nobody wishes to meet him.


اذا رايت حيط مايل هرول من تحتها ( idha ra’yit HeeT maayil harwal min taHtaha)

“If thou seest a wall inclining, run from under it.”

Fly from him whose power is tottering, or whom dangers threaten. In the Egyptian dialect حيط is used forحائط.


اذا كثرت الالوان اعرف انها من بيوت الجيوان (idha kathurat al-alwaan u3rif annaha min buyout al-djeeraan)

If the dishes increase in number, it becomes known that they are from the houses of neighbours.”

In the East, neighbours frequently supply the wants of their friend’s kitchen on occasion of family feasts. This saying implies that when a person makes too expensive an entertainment, it is evident that he has borrowed from others. لون (lawn) in the plural means not only ” a colour,” but, among the Egyptians, a dish of dressed victuals.


اذا كترت النواتية غرقت الركب (idha katurat al-nawaateeya ghariqa al-rakb)

“If the sailors become too numerous, the ship sinks.”

كترت instead ofكثرت. Theثis seldom pronounced in Egypt.


اذا حبتك حية اطوّق بها (idha Habbatka Hayya iTawwaq biha)

“If a serpent love thee, wear him as a necklace.”

If dangerous people show affection towards thee, court their friendship by the most polite attention.


اذا انكسر الجمل حمّل حمل حمار (idha inkasar al-djamal Hammil Haml Himaar)

“If thy camel break down, put on an ass-load.”

Suit thy business to thy circumstances.



اذا بُليت بالشحاتة دق الابواب الكبار (idha buliyat bi al-shaHaata daqq al-abwab al-kibaar)

If mendacity [begging] should unfortunately be thy lot, knock at the large gates only.

Ask assistance from those only who have the power of helping thee.


اذا كان البصل يُهلّل له فالسكر ايش نقول له (idha kaan al-baSal yuhallil lahu fa al-sukar eysh naqool lahu)

If an onion causes his loud rejoicings, what then shall we say to sugar ?”

Said of people who bestow admiration upon trifling objects.

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