The Arab World’s Funniest Idioms, Ranked

From Tunisia to Syria

With over 12 million words, Arabic is by far considered as one of the richest languages out there. With such a wide choice of vocabulary, it’s safe to say that we have a word to literally describe everything and anything. And it’s especially not short of idioms that make the wisdom of it all.  

From Morocco to Syria, the region is known for carrying many tongues and dialects. Ask anyone and they’ll confirm, just sit by the closest café near you and you’ll be lucky enough to notice that most of our daily conversations are consistently flooded with more than one niche saying and witty expression. 

As much as many make perfect sense, some of them might sound totally absurd if you are not used to the lingo. Especially when translated, let’s face it, some are actually hilarious. 

At times bizarre and at others a little random, here’s our selection of some of the funniest proverbs that we love using when the opportunity shows up.


“القرد بعين أمه غزال – El ered bi 3eyn emo ghazal” (Syrian)

Literal translation: In the eyes of a mother, the monkey is a gazelle.

What it actually means: When a mother thinks that her child is the best.

How to use it: To explain how everyone sees the best in a person.

“الي ما عنده فلوس كلامو مسوس – Ily ma 3andou flous klamou massous” (Moroccan)

Literal translation: The one with no money has stale speech.

What it actually means: Money talks.

How to use it: To explain that whoever has the most money will be listened to the most.

“ففي بيناتنا خبز وملح – Fi baynetna khebez w meleh” (Lebanese)

Literal translation: We have bread and salt between us.

What it actually means: That you and someone have history together.

How to use it: To explain that you and the person you are referring to have a past that goes way back when.

الشاطرة تغزل برجل حمار – El shatra tighzil birigl himar” (Egypt)

Literal translation: The smart woman can knit with the leg of a donkey.

What it actually means: That someone is resourceful in any given circumstance.

How to use it: To describe someone that has more than one trick under their sleeve.

عمر القصير ما ياكل تين – A3omr alqaseer ma youkel teen(Jordan)

Literal translation: A short life doesn’t feed figs.

What it actually means: Some things are inevitable.

How to use it: To say that things won’t change.

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