امثال لبنانية طريفة

He who over-lengthens his stride falls down.

إللي بيكبّر فشختو بيوقع

 He who needs something from the dog, says to it Good morning milord!

إللي بيعوز الكلب بيقول له صبحَك بالخير يا سيدي

Ride a rooster and see where it takes you! (the answer is the dung heaps which it enjoys much)

اركب الديك وشوف لوين بيوَدِّيك

God cannot make [me] more misshapen than a monkey. (So let the worse come, I’m not afraid)

اكتر من قرد ما مسخو الله

I married a [beautiful] stranger, but found that the tares of ones homeland are better than the wheat of the crusaders.

تزوّجنا وجبنا غريبة، زِوان بلادك ولا القمح الصليبي

Repetition teaches [even] the donkey.

التكرار بيعلّم الحمار

Three things cannot be kept hidden: love, pregnancy, and riding a camel.

ثلاثة ما بيتخبّوا: الحُب والحَمل وركوب الجمل

The bell invites people to church but remains outside.

الجرس بيدعي الناس للكنيسة وبيبقى برّا

Nothing can be done when an old man is in love.

جهل الختيار ما لو دبّار

Yes I’m your ruler and oppressor, to whom are you going to make an appeal?

حاكمك وظالمك ولمين بتشكي أمرك؟

When eating grapes, take one berry at a time, although taking two is considered polite. But three berries at a time make you spit them; four make you like a gluttonous bear

حَبّة حَبّة أكل العنب. تِنتان تِنتان حشمة وأدب
تلاتة تلاتة تبِقّ العنب، أربعة أربعة أكل الدبب

We thought the Pasha [a fearful man of rank] was a Pasha, it turned out that the Pasha was a mere man.

حسبنا الباشا باشا، تاري الباشا زلمه

Would you put your hand in a hornet’s nest and say, this is my fate?

حِط إيدك بوكر الدبابير وقول هيدا من التقادير!

Lucky indeed who has a mother-in-law who loves him

حظّو من السما اللي بتحبّو الحما

Lucky indeed who has not a mother-in-law.

حظّو من السما اللي ما عندو حما

They loaded the donkey with books; he thought that he could read now!

حمار حَمَّلوه كُتب، خمَّن حالو صار يعرف يِقرا

Learn their secrets from their children

خود اسرارهم من صغارهم

He who takes to politics is like someone trying to get into the garbage can

الداخل بالسياسة متل الداخل بتنكة الكناسة

Jiha [a fictional naive character] went to pray. He found the door of the mosque locked. He said, Its good that its because of you and not of me

راح جحا ت يصلّي، شاف باب الجامع مسكّر
قال: مليح اللي طلعت منَّك وما إجت منّي

A man (in the family), though may be a bit of black charcoal, is a blessing

الرجّال ولو كان فحمة، وجوده بالبيت رحمة

Not even an axe can smash a Greek Orthodox head

الروم ما بيكسِّر راسو القدّوم

(Id rather have) the (harmful) sun of February for my daughter-in-law; the (better) sun of March for my daughter; and the (best) sun of April for my old age

شمس شباط لكنتي، وشمس آذار لبْنَيْتي، وشمس نيسان لشيبتي

What’s sweeter than honey? FREE vinegar.

شو أحلى من العسل؟ الخل ببلاش

What can the hairdresser do with an ugly face (or, with a crooked mouth)?

شو بتعمل الماشطة مع الوِج العكش (او مع النّيع الألوق)؟

A son-in-law may be a good support, but he may be ready to get his spade to bury (his father- and mother-in-law)

صهر بيشدّ الظهر، وصهر بيجيب المجرفة ع القبر

 The oppression of rulers, the intrigue of women, and the obstinacy of monks (are things unbearable)

ظلم الحكام، وكيد النسوان، وعناد الرهبان

I kept praying till I got what I wanted; but when I got what I wanted, I gave up praying

ظلّيت صلّي حتى حصل لي، ولما حصل لي بطّلت صلّي

Only the shroud can extirpate a bodily habit

 عادة في البدن، ما بيغيِّرها غير الكَفَن

The camel went lame on account of its lip! (a bad excuse or reason to complain)

عرَج الجمل من شفتو

The groom took the bride, and the guests went back like he-goats

العريس اخذ العروس، والمعازيم رجعوا متل التيوس

When a donkey is invited to a wedding, its either to carry wood or to bring water

عزيمة الحمار للعرس، يا للحطب يا لزقّ المَي

His brains are half-sleeved (lacking intelligence)

عقلاتو بنصّ كِم

At the time of changing of governments, keep your head (during which there’s usually bloodshed)

عند تغيير الدول احفظ راسك

That which the brunette earns is hardly enough to pay for her makeup

اللي بتطَيلعهن السمرا ما بيكفّوها خطوط وحُمرا

He who wants to butt should not hide his horns

اللي بدّو يناطح ما بيخبّي قرون

He who swears a lot tells many lies.

اللي بيحلف كتير بيكذب كتير

Just as lice beget nits, so does money begets money.

المال بيجرّ المال والقمل بيجرّ السيبان

He (the man who deprives himself to give to others) is like the needle: it clothes people while it remains naked

متل الابرة بتكسي الناس وهيي عريانة

Like the one who entrusts a piece of cheese to a cat

متل اللي بيوَكِّل القط بالجبنة

The debtor is the donkey of the creditor

المديون حمار الدائن

If the miserable should become rich, he dies

المعتَّر لو سِعِد بيموت

His face cuts ones livelihood

وِجّو بيقطع الرزق

His face is like the obituary (death notice)

وِجّو متل ورقة النعوة

She’s very ugly, moreover, she’s standing in the middle!

وِحشة وعِكشة، وواقفة بالوِج

A master craftsman standing by, watching another master craftsman, is an embarrassing thing

وقفة المعلّم ع إيد المعلّم صعبة

A child is a child, even if he became the ruler of a town

الولد ولد، ولو حكم بلد

If someone sells you with the price of an onion, sell him with the price of its skin

يلّي باعك ببصلة، بيعو بقشرتها!

If someone treats you as a jackass, kick him!

يلّي بيعملك حمار، البُطه!

If I spit downwards it fells on my beard, and if I spit upwards it fells on my moustache. (Every conduct I choose will be painful)

إن بزقنا لفوق ع شواربنا وإن بزقنا لتحت ع ذقنّا

It’s far easier for a sieve to hold water than for a woman to trust a man.

إن ضبطت المَي بالغربال بتأمِّن المرا للرجّال

The hand which you’re unable to bite, kiss and pray that it may be broken.

الإيد اللي ما فيك تعضها، بوسها وادعي عليها بالكسر

Nothing is secret to the son of the midwife (who knows every gossip in town).

ابن الداية ما عليه مخبّاية

If you want to have a country ruined, pray that it may have many chiefs.

اذا بدّك تخرب بلاد، ادْعي عليها بكتر الرؤسا

If I should say to you, toqborni, should you get the shovel and actually bury me?

اذا قلتلَّك تقبرني بتجيب المجرفة وبتطمني؟

Just for tasting things, he needs to have seven ooqiehs [=1400 g.]

بدّو من الذواق سبعة واق

Bribery makes the judge loosen the belt of his pants.

البرطيل بيحلّ دكّة القاضي

They spat in the face of the defamed person. He said, “it’s raining.” (Even the worst insult won’t leave any effect on a base person)

بزقوا ع وِجّ النذل قال الدني عم بتشتّي

He distracts a donkey from eating his fodder (for he’s a good entertainer, or chatterer)

بيلهي الحمار عن عليقه

You could drink him with turbid water (for he’s so amiable)

بينشرب مع المَي العكرة

The sea and the wind quarreled; the consequences fell upon the boat.

تخانق البحر والريح طلعت الفلّة ع المركب

Borrow money and then lend it; you’ll find yourself drowned without even knowing it.

تْدَيَّن ودَيِّن، بتغرق ما بتبيِّن

He stumbled over the ashes of a cigarette!

تفركش برماد سيكارة

Three things are unbearable: tick tacking, grumbling, and bed bugs. (The words rhyme in Arabic)

تلاتة ما بينطاقوا: الطق والنق والبق

Hold to the bad luck you have, lest you get a worse luck.

تمسّك بنحسك لا يجيك انحس منو

Titi, Titi, you’ve come back the same as you were gone.

تيتي تيتي، متل ما رحتِ متل ما جيتِ

They brought the wolf to teach him reading. They said to him, say A, he said goat.

جابوا الديب تيعلموه القراية قالوا له: قول ألف، قال: عنزة

A Christian marriage: no separation except by choking (too difficult for a Christian to get a divorce in Lebanon)

جازة نصرانية: لا فراق الا بالخنَّاق

Do you think I’m an apricot tree? You never stopped jiggling me!

حاسبني مشمشة كل ساعة بتهزّ فيّ؟

He’s as restless as a hen wanting to lay an egg.

حايص متل دجاجة بدها تبيض

They put the dog’s tail in a mold for forty years and it remained crooked. (He’s unteachable)

حَطّوا ذنبة الكلب بالقالب اربعين سنة بقيت لَوقة

Close him tightly from above, he speaks from below.

سِدّو من فوق بيحكي من تحت

What am I to expect from you, quince, when every bite of you is followed by a choke?

شو بدي اترجى منك يا سفرجلة وكل عضة بغصّة؟

Do you take people as watermelons?

شو محسَّب الناس بطيخ؟

[I admit] you’re my friend and eyes, but do not come near my purse.

صاحبي وعيوني وصَوب الجيبة لا تقرِّب

Although she’s deaf, she’s eavesdropping through the door.

طرشا ع الباب بتتنصَّت

A pot that has found its lid (they both make a perfect match)

طنجرة ولقيت غطاها

Fear drives pain away.

الفزع بيطيِّر الوجع

To be a judge of children is to hang oneself.

قاضي الاولاد شنق حالو

Said one to another, “Love me, and I’ll give you a young donkey.” The other replied, “Love does not come by force.” (Young donkey and force rhyme)

قال لو: حبني وخدلك جحش، قال لو: المحبة ما بتصير دحش

They said to the mule, “Who’s your father?” He answered, “The horse is my uncle.” (Said of a man of low origin but who boasts of some distant aristocratic kin)

قالوا للبغل مين بيَّك؟ قال: الحصان خالي

He broke his hand and used it to beg

كاسر إيدو وشاحد عليها

Whenever Tannous needed us, we would call him Tannous only; whenever we needed Tannous, we would say to him, Master, please!

كل ما احتاجنا طنّوس منقلّو طنّوس حاف
وكل ما احتجنا طنّوس منقلّو تفضّل يا معلّم

The dog says, “May the children live that I may be fed by them!” But the cat says, “May the children die that I may sit in their [the parents] laps!”

الكلب بيقول: يا الله يعيشوا وليداتهم ت آكل من ديَّاتهم، والبسين بيقول: الله يقطع وليداتهم ت اقعد بحضَيناتهم

If someone pisses in front of you, but you never piss in front of him, he’d think you’re a woman.

اللي بيبوِّل قدامك وما بتْبوِّل قدامو بيفْتكرَك مرا

He who is unable to prevail over his wife takes vengeance on his mother-in-law.

اللي ما فيه لمرتو بيرجع لحماته

The Emirs dog died, everybody sent his condolences; the Emir himself died, no one paid any attention.

مات كلب المير، كل الناس عزّت فيه
مات المير ما حدا اهتم فيه

He’s like flowers: away all year long, comes only for a month.

متل الزهر، بيغيب سنة وبيحضر شهر

He’s like the porters, he knows God only when under a heavy load

متل العتّالة، ما بيعرف الله الا تحت الحِمل

The only love expression he knows is: I miss you.

مش عارف من العشق إلا كلمة وحشتونا

The present of the disgusting one is onions.

هدية المقرف بصل

God, don’t make me an example for others!

يا رب ما تجعلني عبرة لغيري

He who gets afraid from his bride will never have children.

يلّي خاف من العروس ما جاب ولاد

A toothache on his wedding day!

يوم عرسه وجعه ضرسه

Antar, who made you an Antar? The fact is I haven’t seen anyone dare oppose me! (Antar is a well known hero in Arabic folklore)

"مين عنترك يا عنتر؟" "ما لقيت حدّا ردّني"

Eating air [euphemism for shit] is good for the low person

أكل الهوا لِلْواطي دوا

True, this food is not yours. But isn’t your stomach yours? (said to the voracious)

الأكل ما إلك، بطنك ما إلك؟

Play alone, rather than be vexed (Do business alone)

إلعب وحدك ولا تغتاظ

A thousand curses wouldn’t tear a shirt, nor would a thousand wedding songs marry a man

ألف دعوة ما مزّقت قميص، وألف زلغوطة ما جوّزت عريس

Even if I was called coward a thousand times, it’s better than saying about me, Rest his soul

ألف كلمة جبان ولا كلمة الله يرحمه

(It’s far easier for) garlic to be added to knafeh (a very sweet pastry) than its for a Maronite to love a Greek Orthodox

إن كان الكنافة بيدْخلاّ توم، الموراني بيحب الروم

If you befriend a government official, he’ll devour you; if you have enmity with him, hell destroy you. [Also] The governors dog bites

ابن الحكومة اذا صادقته أكلك، واذا عاديته هلكك
[بنفس المعنى:] كلب الحاكم بيعضّ

If the baby doesn’t cry, his mother will forget to feed him

اذا ما بكي الطفل إمو ما بترضعو

When I traded in shrouds, people stopped dying (bad luck!)

اشتغلت بالكفان بطّل حدا يموت

A one-eyed man among the blind is a king

الاعور بين العميان ملك/مفتَّح

Do you want to disgrace a man? Incite a woman against him

بدّك تبهدل رجّال، فلِّت عليه مرا

Do you want to disgrace a woman? Incite a child/another woman against her

بدّك تبهدل مرا، فلِّت عليها ولد / مرا

If you give a bath to a Bedouin, he dies!

البدوي اذا غسّلتو بيموت

His stomach holds a caldron of makhlootah soup, but fails to hold one word

بطنو بيساع دست مخلوطة، وما بيساع كلمة

A red gown after this old age?

بعد هالكَبرة، جبّة حمرا؟

Trousers on a woman suggest things rather than hide them

بنطلون المرا بيفسِّر بس بيستِّر

He eats the egg and its shell, and says I saw nothing

بياكل البيضة وقشرتها وبيقول ما شِفت شي

He keeps on eating and sleeping like the simpletons of Egypt

بياكل وبينام متل تنابل مصر

The transgressor repents (of his sin) after a month, the gambler repents after eternity

توبة العاصي بعد شهر، وتوبة المقامر بعد دهر

Three things cannot be lent: the weapon, the beast of burden, and the wife

ثلاثة ما بينعاروا: السلاح والدابة والمرا

The donkey of village is smarter than I am, and no one is more stupid than that donkey except the one who lends his money

جحش الضيعة بذاتو / أفهم مني بعقلاتو.. وأجحش من جحش الضيعة / يلّي بيديِّن مصرياتو

If the camel could see its hump, it would fall down and break its neck (said of people who fail to see their defects)

الجمل لو بيشوف حردبتو بيوقع وبيفكّ رقبتو

Become a fool and you’ll be happy

جِن تِسعَد

Your husband is what you’ve accustomed him to, whereas your child is what you’ve brought him up to

جَوزِك على ما عوَّدتيه، وولدِك على ما ربَّيتيه

Love runs away through the window when poverty enters through the door

الحُب بيطلع من الشباك إذا دخل الفقر من الباب

Women’s tricks are able to bring down (heavy stone) rollers from the rooftop

حِيَل النسوان بتنزِّل المحادل عن السطوح

The rooster dies with its eyes on the dung heap (accustomed to something which he finds it difficult to break away from)

الدِّيك بيموت وعينو بالمزبلة

The man is the donkey of his wife

الرجّال حمار مرتو

Their beards have become gray, but their brains have not come yet

شابت لحاهم والعقل إسّا ما جاهُم

The poor sees an egg as big as a cow

الفقير بيشوف البيضة بقرة

They asked a hungry man how much are 2+2? He answered, Four loaves

قالوا للجوعان: اتنين واتنين، قال: اربعة ارغفة

The bear got up to dance. It killed 7 or 8 persons (said of a clumsy heavy-motioned person)

قام الدب تَ يرقص، قتَّل سبع ثمانة انفس

Every tall man is a blockhead; every short man is (the embodiment of) sedition on earth

كل طويل هبيل، وكل قصير في الارض فتنة

In each family there’s a weakling

كل عيلة وإلها شرشوحها

He who farts prevails over the one who burns frankincense (goodness is eclipsed by evil)

اللي بيفسي بيغطّي ع اللي بيبخِّر

There’s hardly any tribe in which there’s no fool

ما في قبيلة ما طلع منها هبيلة

Like the government, can’t keep anybody as friend

متل الحكومة، ما إلو صاحب

Like priests, always take and never give

متل الخوارنة، أَب هات مش أَب خود

Like olives, they sweeten with bruising

متل الزيتون، ما بيجي إلا بالرص

Like the tax collector, anyone seeing him curses him

متل جابي الدولة، مين ما شافو بيلعنو

Like the governments horses: a lot of food, and doing nothing

متل خيل الدولة: اكل ومرعى وقلة صنعة

Like telling stories about snakes, when it begins it never ends

متل سيرة الحيّات، بتبدا ما بتخلص

Cursing in its proper time is like praising

مسبّة الدِّين بوقتها تسبيح

He who tries to make peace gets two third of the blows

المصلح إلو تلتَين القتلة

A Maronite and doing good? That’s amazing!

موراني وخَيِّر؟ شي بيحَيِّر!

I’d rather be drowned or burned (to death) than have my mother-in-law live with me at home

المَيّ والنار ولا حماتي في الدار

Some people eat the (stolen) chicken, while others fall into the thorn-hedge (that is, into trouble)

ناس بتاكل دجاج، وناس بتوقع بالسياج

Have you forgotten, peasant [who has become suddenly rich], your old days, and your cracked heels full of dung?

نسيت يا فلاح زمان كان كعبك مفسَّخ والزبل محشي فيه!

One ear is a roof, the other is a gutter (not listening; words flow through his head like water running from the roof through the gutter)

دينة سطح ودينة مزراب

In the stomach and not in the bush (better to eat remaining food than to throw it away)

بالكرش ولا بالحرش

Drinking water while being hungry is like a blow on the elbow

الشرب بالجوع متل الضربة ع الكوع