Arabic proverbs

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He who doesn't know the falcon roasts it.

Proverbs from all Arabic speaking parts of the world.


  • The food of the lion (causes) indigestion to the wolf.
  • The remedy may be worse than the disease.
    • English equivalent: The remedy is often worse than the disease; Burn not your house to rid it of the mouse.
    • "Action taken to put something right is often more unpleasant or damaging than the original problem."
    • Martin H. Manser (2007). The Facts on File Dictionary of Proverbs. Infobase Publishing. p. 232. ISBN 978-0-8160-6673-5. 
    • Atmaram Sadashiv, G. Jayakar (1900). Omani proverbs (Reimpresa ed.). Oleander Press. p. 69. ISBN 0906672120. 
  • He with no ears gets the earrings !
  • When suitors came asking for her hand, she played hard-to-get, when they all left her, she regretted it.
  • حبل الكذب قصير
    • Translation: The rope of lying is short.
    • English equivalent: A lie has short legs.
    • Katibah, Habib Ibrahim (1940). The new spirit in Arab lands. Published privately by the author. p. 121. 
  • كل ساقط له لاقط
    • Translation: Every faller has a catcher.
    • حسن, دين، محمد علي (2011). الامثال الشعبية. دار المحجة البيضاء للطباعة والنشر والتوزيع،. 
  • لا يفل الحديد إلا الحديد
    • Translation: Only iron strikes iron.
    • English equivalent: Fight fire with fire.
    • Meaning: "The best way to deal with an opponent is to fight back with similar weapons or tactics."
    • Source for meaning of English equivalent: Martin H. Manser (2007). The Facts on File Dictionary of Proverbs. Infobase Publishing. p. 87. ISBN 978-0-8160-6673-5. 
    • al-Kitäb. 1946. 
  • الوقت كالسيف إن لم تقطعه قطعك
    • Translation: Time is like a sword; if you don't cut it it'll cut you.
    • "Age imprints more wrinkles in the mind than it does on the face."
    • Michel de Montaigne, Essays (1595)
    • Manṣūr, ʻAbd al-Fattāḥ (1987). Mudhakkirāt kāìn maḥmūm. 

Bedouin Proverbs[edit]

  • الطول طول نخله والعقل عقل سخله*
    • Translation: [He has] The length of a palm tree but the brain of a goat.
    • فوزية, دريع، (2008). الرجل الحيوان. منشورات الجمل،. 
  • إلى كثروا الرعيان ضاعت الغنم
    • If the herders are a lot the sheep will get lost.
    • English equivalent: Too many cooks spoiled the broth.
    • "There may not be that natural connection and unity so essential to any production of merit."
    • Porter, William Henry (1845). Proverbs: Arranged in Alphabetical Order .... Munroe and Company. p. 173. 
  • لا تقول بـُر ليـن توكيــه
    • Translation: Don't say its wheat until you harvest it
    • English equivalent: Sell not the bear's skin before you have caught him.
    • Meaning: "Do not plan too far ahead and do not be too optimistic. One cannot be sure of the success of a job until it is completed. Unforeseen unfavourable developments can never be excluded."
    • Source for meaning of English equivalent: Paczolay, Gyula (1997). "X". European proverbs: in 55 languages, with equivalents in Arabic, Persian, Sanskrit, Chinese and Japanese. Veszprémi Nyomda. p. 217. ISBN 1-875943-44-7.