As Egyptians, we often find ourselves impressed with/wondrous of other Egyptians’ creativity. Every culture has its own sayings that people of said culture utilize on a daily basis for various purposes. Usually these sayings portray everyday life or specific instances, or bring wisdom to the people that hear them. For Egyptians, these sayings have a special place in our hearts. Our creative metaphors and inspired analogies bring much-needed spice to everyday conversations and no other culture can fully understand the perfectness of these sayings. It’s only right that we dedicate a whole piece to them.
1. El erd f 3ein omo 3’azal / القرد في عين أمه غزال
Literal Meaning: A monkey is a gazelle in its mother’s eyes.
An Egyptian mother: no other woman will love her son quite like her. Although this saying can go for girls too, it just perfectly describes mother-son relationships in our culture.
2. Ebn el wiz 3awam / ابن الوزّ عوّام
Literal Meaning: The son of a goose is a swimmer.
One can only deny how similar they are to their parents for so long. Sooner or later you’ll realize that the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree (there’s another proverb for you).
3. De5ool el 7amam mesh zay 5oroogo / دخول الحمّام مش زي خروجه
Literal Meaning: Going into the bathroom is not like leaving it.
Is it fair to say that only Egyptians would compare situations, and therefore life, to a bathroom? This saying basically means that it’s much harder to get yourself out of something than it is to get into it.
4. Sha7at w 3ayez regheef / شحات وعايز رغيف
Literal Meaning: The beggar wants a loaf of bread.
Talk about being humble. Just graduated and want a seven-figure job? Take a step back and reevaluate.
5. Temoot el ra2asa w westaha beyel3ab / تموت الرقاصة و وسطها لسة بيلعب
Literal Meaning: The belly dancer dies but her hips still shake.
Weird image aside, ‘old habits die hard’ is perfect for a world that’s desperately trying to be better but is constantly struggling. Maybe today you don’t throw your trash out the window and don’t drive down the wrong side of the street just because it’s faster?
6. Eli yetgawez omi a2olo ya 3ami / إلي يتجوز أمي أقول له يا عمي
Literal Meaning: If he marries my mother I’ll call him uncle.
This one is so appropriate for current circumstances. It basically means that people roll with the punches to avoid trouble, even if it might hurt them. So many people have stopped this habit and have fought, or are still fighting, against those that hurt them. Whether we agree with the fighters or not, we have to admire their willingness to stand up for what they believe in, instead of just accepting the inevitable.
7. Eli 3ala el barr 3awam / اللى على البرّ عوّام
Literal Meaning: The one on the shore thinks he is a master swimmer.
Things are easier said than done. To all those passenger-side-drivers, this one is for you. Buckle in and zip it.
8. Labbis el boosa, teb2a 3aroosa / لبس البوصة، تبقى عروسة
Literal Meaning: If you dress up a stick, it will turn into a doll.
Paging all ladies with constant face paint and all guys who think all ladies just wake up looking that way. Also, don’t judge a book by its cover. It’s still a stick if you take away all the dress up. You did not wake up “like dis” Beyoncé.
9. Bab el naggar me5ala3 / باب النجّار مخلع
Literal Meaning: The carpenter’s door is loose.
To the singles giving relationship advice, to the judgmental folk, and finally, to the mysterious neighbors who care when I come home at night (hi mom): make sure all of your stuff is in order before looking at others’.
10. Sikitnalo, da5al be 7omaro / سكتناله دخل بحماره
Literal Meaning: We didn’t object, so he came in with his donkey.
With all the political drama that has happened and with that which is yet to come, it’s important to remember that one should always stand up against wrongdoing, because complacency is the best way to invite a donkey into your house.
You gotta love Egyptians.