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Somali Proverbs

June 26, 2013
Somali Proverbs
Aabe, kan yar iga celiyoo kan weyn igu sii daa. Oh Father, save me from the small one, the big one i shall manage myself.

Said when somebody is unable to solve a small problem, but thinks he can deal with a big one, or when somebody is trying to palm of on to someone else the solution of a problem he cannot solve himself. This goes back to a story about a boy who was often beaten up by other boys of his age. One day the boy and his father encountered one of his attackers, who had a bigger fellow with him. The victim, realising that if it came to blows he would not be able to beat the boy of his own age, but that the big fellow would scarcely want to fight with him, pronounced these works, which became a proverb. 

Aaddane eed ma waayo
~Human beings are never without a fault

Abaal nin gala waa la arkay, nin gudase lama arag. Those who accept a favour are many (have been seen), but those who pay back are none (have not been seen).

Abeesadii lix jir kugu qaniintaa lixdan jir bay kugu dishaa. A snake-bite received at the age of six kills you at the age of sixty (i.e. evil lingers a long time).

Abkay dooli dilow, dad nool maas u dahaa?. My father has killed a mouse, will he fail to kill a man (people)?. Said about a coward who pretends to be brave.

Adduunyo waa hooska labadiisa gelin: The world is like a shadow: in the morning it is turned towards one direction, in the evening towards the opposite one (i.e. it is changeable).

Af daboolan waa dehab. A closed mouth is gold.

Af jooga looma adeego. Do not speak (do not serve for ) a mouth that is present (i.e. one should not speak on behalf of a person who is present).

Af macaan garan macaan baa dhaanta: A sweet ( i.e. generous) hand is better than a sweet ( i.e. generous with promises) mouth.

Af qoyani hadal ma daayo
~A living mouth does not give up talk

Afxumo nabadna waa kaa geysaa, colaadna wax kaagama tarto: Your nasty tongue will deprive you of peace, but will not help you in enmity.

Af wax cunay, xishow. Oh mouth, you have eaten something, now keep quiet (i.e. do not object to he who has fed you).

Allow, nimaan wax ogayn ha cadaabin. Oh Allah, do not punish a man who sins through ignorance.

Ama afeef hore lahow, ama adkeysi dambe lahow. Either refuse (to do something) at once or put up with it later.

Ama leg ahay, ama lug ahay: Catch hold of a brisket or at least a leg (because even a bad thing is better than nothing).

Ama talo keen ahow, ama talo raac ahow. Either propose something yourself or agree to what is proposed by others.

Ama waa la muuqdaa, ama waa la maqnaada. Either be visible or be absent (.i.e. either do a job well or do not set about it at all).

Aqoonla`aani waa iftiinla’aan. The absence of knowledge is the absence of light.

Arrini madax la qabtay leedahaye mijo la qabto ma leh. A problem can be seized (only) by its head, one cannot seize it by its tail (ankel).

Arrinxumo abaar ka daran: A wrong (bad) decision is worse than a drought.

Aroos lagama raago, lagumana raago. One should neither be late for the wedding nor stay too long at it.

Awrba awrka ka horreeya ayuu saanqaadkiisa leeyahay. A camel (in caravan) follows the tracks of the leading camel.

Awr awr wado iyo nin naagi waddo midna kaama baydho: You cannot evade the camel which is driven ( in your direction) by another camel, nor the man who is driven (i.e. set on you) by a woman (i.e. a woman skilfully uses a man for pursuing her ends).

Ayax teg, eelna reeb. The locust flew away but it left hardship.

Baadiyi nin aan lahayn bay ag joogtaa. Lost cattle (i.e. which are looked for by their owner) find themselves at the disposal of the man who does not need it (i.e. sometimes a thing belongs not to the man who cannot do without it, but to a man who does not need them).

Baahi badan, baryo badan, iyo bukaan badanba waa laysku nacaa
~Both excessive needliness, too much begging and chronic ill-health can create undo resentment in others

Ballandarro waa diindarro: Not to fulfil a promise is just the same as not believing in God.

Bakayle intuu bur ku jiruu bur kale daydaydaa: The hare sits under one bush but looks out for another ( to which it might run if endangered).

Bannaankiisa-mare maradiisa geed ma qabsato: The cloth of the man who skirts about a clearing will not be torn by a tree ( i.e. a cautious person will avoid troubles).

Baqal fardo la daaqday faras bay is mooddaa. If a mule grazes with horses it thinks that it is also a horse.

Baqtiga ma cunee fuudkiisan cabbaa. I do not eat carrion. I drink soup made of carrion. Said about a bigot

Barasho horteed hay nicin. Do no reject me until you know me well (i.e. one should not be judged by appearances). This goes back to a tale about an ugly but brave young man who was unsuccessfully wooing a girl. She preferred a handsome but as it turned out cowardly man.

Baroorta ceesaanta ka weyn: One does not mourn so bitterly over a (lost) she-goat ( there is obviously a more serious hidden reason).

Baruur keliya ayaa baruuryo qudhmisa: One fat piece of meat spoils many other pieces.

Barti-yaqaan bari uma kororto: The herd of a man who knows only one place (i.e. pasture) does not grow. Another interpretation. The herd of a man who takes care only of his own animals does not grow ( because in any disater no one would help him.

Baryo badan iyo bukaan badanba waa laysku nacaa. Beggars and ailing people are disliked equally.

Beenaale markhaatigiisuu fogeeyaa: A liar settles his witness in a faraway place (i.e. he calls as witness someone who is not able to come.

Been fakatay runi ma gaaarto: The truth will not catch up with a runaway lie.

Beeni raad ma leh. A lie leaves no trace (i.e. it has no weight).

Beenlow nin dhintay iyo nin dheer ayuu marqaati u qabsadaa. A liar calls as witness one who is either dead ord far away.

Beentaada hore runtaada danbay u baas baxdaa. Your previous lie damages your present truth.

Been sheeg, laakin been run u eg sheeg. Tell lies, but let your lies resemble the truth.

Belaayo intay kaa maqan tahay, qayrkaa bay ku maqan tahay: If misfortune does not come to you it comes to somebody else ( somebody of your age).

Belaayo ka-hor-tag moyee ka-dabo-tag ma leh: Misfortune can be caught only from the front, it cannot be caught from behind (i.e. one can avert misfortune, but cannot control it if it has already happened).

Belaayo kaa sii jeedda layskuma soo jeediyo. If a trouble shows its back, do not force it to show its face.

Belo ama il la’ayd, ama lug la’ayd: A wicked man is lacking either one eye or one leg ( which means he cannot damage the people round him in full measure).

Bidaari sibiq bay kugu gashaa. A bald spot reveals itself unexpectedly. Said about an unexpected trouble.

Bilsaddex gurigaagana way kaa kexeysaa, guri kalana kuma gaarsiiso: A young moon (a moon which was born three days ago) will take you out of your own house but it will not take you to somebody else’s ( because it does not shine long). This means, no good will come of a hasty decisions.

Biyo fadhiya biyo socdaa kiciya: Dead-water is moved by running water.

Biyo intaysan ku soo gaarin ayaa layska moosaa. Make a dam before the flows.

Biyo meel godan bay isugu tagaan. Water flows to a low place.

Biyo sacabbadaada ayaa looga dhergaa. One drinks enough water only from one’s own palms.

Booraan hadimo ha qodin, ku dhici doontaana mooye: If you dig a (deadly) hole for somebody, be careful not to fail into it yourself.

Caado la gooyey caro Allay leedahay: A broken tradition angers God.

Cadowgaaga caano mac ayaa la siiyaa: An enemy should be treated to fresh milk (i.e. should be treated as a dear guest in order to lessen his vigilance).

Cagtii joogsan weyda, mar bay ceeb la kulantaa. The restless foot comes across trouble (shame).

Canjeelo siday u kala korreyso ayaa loo cunaa. As the pancakes are piled, so they should be eaten.

Calool dheregsani calool baahan kama naxdo: A filled stomach does not sympathise with an empty one.

Caano aan fiiqsi loo dhamin iyo hadal aan fiiro loo odhan feedhahaaga ayay wax yeelaan: Milk which is gulped and words which are said rashly will hurt your ribs ( in the first case they will ache from coughing, in the second from a beating).

Caano daatay dabadooda la qabtaa: When milk spills one tries to save the last drop at least ( catches milk by its tail).

Carruuri haddii aad kuftid way kugu qososhaa: When a grown-up falls, children laugh.

Carruurnimo waa ciil laga weynaaday: Childhood is a grudge, which will be forgotten in time. Said to a child who is eager to become adult.

Ciirtaa-dhamaa ceebtaa yaqaan. He who has drunk your sour milk (i.e. whom you have reared) knows how to offend you deeply.

Cimrigaagoo dheeraadaa geel dhalayuu ku tusaa. If you live long you will see how the camels are born. This is a city proverb, since the calving of camels is a normal thing for a nomad.

Cimri tegay ceeb laguma sagootiyo. An old man should not disgrace himself (one’s old age should not be seen off with disgrace.

Colaadi yaryaraysi ma leh: Enmity is never small (i.e. each enemy can bring trouble)

Col kaa badan iyo biyo kaa badanba way ku hafiyaan. You will be drowned by two things: pelty of water and plenty of enemies.

Colka wadhaf ma lagu deyey: What if we were to strike the enemy with a sling.

Said when someone has despaired of a problem he had tried to solve, as it seemed to him, by all thinkable means. This goes back to a tale about a tribe attacked by a strong enemy. After the attempts to repel it had failed and the people were about to surrender someone said ” What if we were to strike the enemy with a sling?” They tried and won .

Daacadi ma hungowdo: Honesty is not treated with empty hands ( i.e. it always rewarded).

Dab aan kullaylkiisa la arag dambaskiisa lagama leexdo: Until you know how the fire burns you are not afraid of the ashes (i.e. until you know how the man is when he is angry you are not afraid of him when he is calm).

Dab munaafaq shiday mu’min baa ku gubta. A fire lit by sinful man (a hypocrite) burns a sinless man (a good Muslim).

Dad iyo duurba wax aadan filayn baa kaaga soo baxa: You should expect from people and the forest what cannot predict.

Dagaal wiil baa ku dhinta ee wiil kuma dhasho: In a war sons (a son) are killed, but none are borned.

Dagaal nin aan aqoon baa ku orda
~A men who doesn’t know about war is likely the one who rushes ot it

Dameerada tan ugu foosha xun ayaa ugu haraanti kulul: An ugly she-ass kicks most angrily (i.e. ugly women are most capricious).

Dameeri isku-halleyn bay hooyadeed dabada uga nuugtaa: A foal quietly suckles a she-donkey from behind ( not being afraid of a kick).

Dameeri dhaan raacday. The camels went for water and a donkey skipped with them. Said about an excessively complaisant person.

Damiin faro waaweyn baa wax loogu qoraa. For a muddle-headed pupil everything should be written in capital letters (it is difficult to ram something into a numskill).

Dani xishood ma leh. Gains are shameless (i.e. in striving for gains a man loses all sense of shame).

Dan iyo xarrago is weyday: One cannot think of gain and please one’s pride.

Dantaada maqaar ey baa loogu seexdaa. In striving for gains you will sit even on a dogskin. According to Muslim ideas a dog is a dirty animal, so after having touched one , the ‘defiled’ spot needs repeated ablutions.

Dawaco meeshay macal uga baratay ayay macaluul ugu baqtidaa. The Jackal who has got accustomed to fat brisket will die of starvation.

Dawaco tallaabadeediina ka tagtay, tii Nebigana gaari wayday: The jackal has changed its step but still does not walk like the Prophet (i.e. one cannot change oneself).

Dhagarqabe dhulkaa u dhaqdhaqaaqa: The ground quakes under a rascal (i.e. it seems to him that he is pursued).

Dhagax taabasho iyo tuujin waa isugu mid: It is all the same to a stone whether you touch it or squeeze it ( i.e. it does not matter).

Dhar aanad lahayni dhaxan kaama cesho: Somebody else’s clothes do not warm you.

Dhar magaalo intii laga xirto waa dhowdahay, dhal magaalase intii lagu noqdo noqdo waa dheer tahay: One can quickly put on town clothes, but it takes a long time to become a townsman.

Dhegi meel dheer bay ku dhacdaa, dhagaxna meel dhow: A stone flies (falls) near, a word (an ear) far off.

Dheriga karka kulaylkaa ka keenay: it washeat that made the cooking pot boil ( it was a certain reason that made that person angry.

Dheri ninkii ag jooga ayaa lafta kala baxa: He who sits close to a cooking pot gets a good bone.

Dhicisku inta birta loo soo siduu ka bakhtiyaa: A prematurely born ( camel) can die before one brings a knife ( to slaughter it). Said when the slighest delay can damage a case.

Dhubuq-dhubuq hore dhabanno-hays dambe ayay leedahay: He who makes haste at firs twill clutch at his head afterwards.

Dhurwaa kan ciya iyo kan aamusan, kan ciyaa roon: A barking hyena is better than one which keeps silent ( it is less dangerous).

Doofaar ficilla’aan baa loo cadaabaa. A swine is cursed only because it is a swine. Said when somebody is treated with undue contempt.

Doqon iyo *censur* nimay legdaan kama kacaan: A fool and a woman will not get off the man they have brought fown.

Doqon wixii casarkii lagu caayo ayay cishihii kugi caysaa: How you curse a fool in the afternoon so will he curse you in the evening. This usually means: One should not do anything with a fool.

Doqoneey, dabkaa ba’. Oh fool, your fire is too hit. Said when a silly person offers his help: one cannot even ask him to kindle a fire, he will burn everything around him

Doqonta usha agteeda ku dhufo, hadday garan weydana gogga u geli. Threaten a fool with a stick and if he misunderstands you beat him.

Doqoni calaf ma leh. A fool has no luck

Doqoni meeshii lagu dagaalay waa ogeyd ee meel lahu heshiiyey ma ogeyn: The fool knew where they fought but not where they were reconciled.

Doqoni sokeeye ma aha: A fool is not a kinsman ( i.e. one cannot rely upon).

Doqoni xadhkaha lagu xidhayo xusulladay ku sidataa: A fool brings the rope himself with which he will be bound.

Doqonnimo daawo ma leh: One cannot be cured of foolishness.

Eebe ma naxee waa naxariistaa. God does not have mercy (on people), but is merciful (he inflicts many ordeals, but gives people all they need).

Erayga alifka ku qalloocda al bakhra kuma tooso: If you err in the first letter of a word, it will not become better by the last letter ( by the last sura of Koran).

Fadhi iyo fuud yicibeed laysku waa: One cannot sit at home ( i.e. idle) and enjoy yi’ib nut soup. Somalis usually go to remote and often almost inaccessible places to gather these very nutritious nuts.

Fallaadhi gilgilasho kaagama go’do: The arrow will not fall out of your body however hard you may shake (i.e. no excuse will help you if you have been exposed).

Far kaa xumaatay filiq-filiq kaagama harto: However hard you shake (your hand) a score (bad) finger will not fall off ( i.e. you cannot get rid of your shortcomings).

Far keliya fool ma dhaqdo. One finger cannot wash a face.

Fari qorrax ma qariso
~A mere finger can’t obscure the sun ( one can not hide the truth by deception alone

Farta iyo meesha buktaa is og. The finger knows where you ache (i.e. it always touches the sore spot).

Fiqi tolkii kama janno tago: A (Muslim) man of law will not go to paradise without his kin ( because their ties are very strong). Another interpretation: A (Muslim) man of law will not go to paradise because of his kin ( whom he has favoured).

Fuley habartii ma gablanto: The mother of a coward does not lose her son ( does not die without sons).

Fulayow, guuli kuu dhowaydaa!: Oh, coward, the victory was at hand ( but you let it go).

Fule xantii ma mooga: A coward knows that he is talked about.

Gabar guri ha kaa gasho ama god: Only a (timely) marriage or death (a grave) can keep your daughter (from disgrace).

Gaal dil, dartiisana sii. You may kill an infidel (if he deserves it), but be just to him (i.e. be just even to your enemy).

Gacmo is dhaafaa gacalo ka timaaddaa: Love emerges when hands give something to each other.

Gacmo wadajir bay wax ku gooyaan. One can tear something ony with two hands.

Gacantii qaad-qaad barata gummudkeedaa dhaqdhaqaaaqa: If the hand which used to catch (i.e. steal) is chopped off, the stump will twitch (i.e. it will also try to catch something).

Gadaal-ka-gaar waa goob-dumis: He who comes late ruins the gathering ( because his out-of-place judgements prevent it from reaching the already co-ordinated decisions).

Gadhba gadh baa la tusaa: A beard should be shown a beard (i.e. in a dispute an experienced man should be opposed by a man of similar experience).


Gar iyo geeri loo siman
~Death and justice affect all men equally

Gari Ilaah bay taqaan. Justice knows only Allah.

This goes back to a tale about Ina-Sanweyne, known to be a just man, whose wife’s brother appropriated somebody else’s she-camel. The victim asked Ina-Sanweyne to settle the dispute, and the after having examined the case he hold his relative. ” Justice does not know a father-in-low and a brother-in-low, a relative blood and relative by marriage, a son and a daughter, a brother and a sister, a father and a mother, a maternal uncle and a paternal uncle, a distant relation and a close relation. Justice knows only Allah. Man, return the she-camel”.

Gari laban in kama wada qosliyo. A just sentence cannot make happy (make laugh), both sides at once.

Geed walba in gubtaa hoos taal: Under every tree there is something which hampers its growth ( burns it). This means everyone has his own troubles. 

Geeljire geela waa wada jiraa, waana kala jiraa. When the camels graze together each herdsman keeps close to his own.

Geel laba jir soo wada mar. All the camels were two years old (i.e. once upon a time everybody was young).

Geeriyi nin aanad garanayn iyo geeljiray ku roon tahay: Death is good in a man whom you do not know and in a herdsman ( who is likely to be far away).

Geesi Allah ma xilo: Allah does not disgrace a brave man.

Geesi hooyadiis dhaqsay u gablantaa: The mother of a brave man soon loses her son (dies without sons).

Gees lo’aad kulaylkaa lagu gooyaa: Cut off the cow’s horn while (the knife is still hot).

Guri ann hooyo lahayni waa lama degaan
~A home without a mother is like a desert (mother makes home trustworthy, happier and lovable; without her, it’s dark, fearful and very horrible to live in)

Habar fadhidaa legdan la fududaa. To an old woman who is sitting down, wrestling seems to be the most simple thing. (i.e. when one takes a detached view, every job seems easy.

Hadal badan haan ma buuxsho
Too much talk doesn’t not fill vessel (talkativeness with no reasoning is always useless)

Hadal haan ma buuxsho. Many words cannot fill a pitcher.

Hadal intuu uurkaaga ku jiro ayuu ammaan yahay. A word is yours while it is in your stomach.

Hadal nin si u yiri, ninna si u qaaday. You tell one thing but he may hear another.

Hadal nin badiyey ma wada odhan, nin yareeyayna kama wada tegin: He who talked much did not tell all he wanted, and he who talked a little told more than he wanted (i.e. one should not talk much).

Hadal waa mergi hadba meel u jiidma. A word is like sinew. It stretches in every direction.

Haddaad dhimaneysid dhareerka waa layska duwaa. If you are dying, wipe off your saliva (i.e. try to die suitable.

Haddaan la kala roonaan, roob ma da’o. Unless one of the debaters gives in, it will not rain (i.e. no headway will be made in the matter.

Hadday degdegsiinyo door dhalaan, kaadsiinyana kiish lacagay dhalaan: Haste can give birth to a bit of money ( a small benefit), patience to a bag of it.

Hadday fooli timaaddo, gudi qarsiimo hadhay: When a labour pains start, shame must be thrown off.

Haddii geeriyi ku deyn lahayd, gabow baan ku daayeen: If you have managed to avoid a premature death, you will not manage to avoid old age.

Hal diideysaa geed ay ku xoqato wa weydo: If a she-camel does not want to do something, she finds a tree against which to rub herself.

Hal libaax arkaysaa ma godlato: When a she-camel sees a lion her milk disappears ( because of fear).

Hangaraarac lug ima dhutiyo: A millipede will not limp because of one leg.

Haween la’aani waa hoy la’aan
~Where there are no women, there is no home (no women means no shelter; therefore, as they are the main pillars of the society then without them there is no means of joyous life)

Hilib waa nin waayay iyo nin dabada ku xirtay: One man does not have meat, another man does not know what to do with it ( he sticks it to his buttocks). Said by a hungry hyena at the sight of a monkey with ted buttocks.

Hilmaan hadal kuma jiro: A slip of the tongue does not count ( does not enter speech).

Hubsiimo hal baa la siistaa. To know something for sure, one would even part with a she-camel.

Hunnu-hunnuna hadal ma aha, himbiriirsina wax arag ma aha: Wispering is not talk, screwing up one’s eyes is not a glance.


Idho jaceyl isma eegaan
~Eyes in love do not dare to stare at each other (lovers’ eyes are bashful)

Ilko abeeso hoos bay ka xidhiidhaan: The snake’s teeth grow from one mandible ( they are bound from below). This means: Kinsmen are bound by indissoluble ties.

Ilko wadajir bay wax ku gooyaan. Teeth bite something only when they bite togheter.

Intii calooshu buki lahayd cagtu ha bukto: It is better to have an aching leg than an aching spirit ( stomach, i.e. it is better to do something despite tiredneess, than later to regret that it had not been done).

Intaadan falin ka fiirso: Think before you do something.

Ishiisa-laga-arkaa ushiisa lagu tumaa: A coward ( a man whose cowardice is betrayed by his eyes) is beaten with his own stock.

Iskaashato ma kufto: If people support each other they do not fall.

Jinni ninkii keenaa bixiya. He who brought the jinnee (the trouble) must take it away.

Kaadi-badane waa loo gogol badiyaa. One has to change many ats for the man who is incontinent (i.e. one has to be patient with an intolerable person).

Kab iyo xaarkeed waa laysla tuuraa: A shoe is thrown out together with the shit it has trodden on.

Khayr wax kaama dhimee shar u toog hay: In good times be ready for bad times ( because times always change).

Kabxume ma hadhee kablaawaa hadha: ( on the road) the one who has no shoes falls behind, not the one whose shoes are bad ( i.e. it is better to have something bad than to have nothing).

Kor waayel waa wada indho: A old man sees even with his skin ( his skin consists of eyes).

Kud ka guur oo qanjo u guur. He drove the cattle from plague to glanders (i.e. went from one trouble to another).

Kula-jire, kaa-jire: He is with you but not with you ( i.e. he only pretends to be your friend).

Kunka koodi kownaka guurso.
“A thousand assignations, one marriage.”

Kuu-shekeeye, kaa-shekeeye ha la sheekeysan. Do not trust ( do not talk to) he who gossips with you about others and with others about it.

Laabi laba la’: A man’s chest cannot hold two (different) things together ( i.e. it is impossible to think about two different things at the same time). According to the notions of the somalis, the chest ( as well as the stomach) is the main depository of the intellect.

Labaatanjir intuu geed ka booduu talo ka boodaa: A young man of twenty makes mistakes as if he jumps over a log ( i.e. as easily).

Laba qaawani isma qaaddo. One naked man cannot carry another naked man (i.e. one poor man cannot help another poor man).

Laba kala bariday kala war la’: If two men spend a night far from each other, neither one of them knows how the other one is now.

Lafo geri ayagaa laysku jebiyaa: A giraffe bone can only be broken against another giraffe bone ( a difficult problem can only be solved with adequate means).

Laga barayba laga badi. One surpassses the man from whom one has learnt something.

La jiifiyaana bannaan, la joojiyaana bannaan. It is level at the rod standing upright and it is level at the rod lying flat.

Said when someone appears to be using double standards. This goes back to a tale about the chief who had to decide two cases about the damage caused to the adjacent field by somebody else’s and by his own cows. He ordened that two heaps of corn, to reach the height of a rod, be poured out for the victim. On the first occasion the rod was standing upright, but on the second occasion he ordered that the rod be lain on the ground. The chief alleged that both his decisions were just , since each time the heap of corn was level at the hieght of the rod.

Lamahuraan waa cawska jilaal. In the rainless season dry grass is (rich) fodder.

Lax dhukani abaar moog: The short-eared sheep does not hear the complaints about the drought ( it forgets
about the sufferings of others once it is full)

Lax walba shillalkay is dhigtaa lagu qalaa: A sheep is slaughtered on the deck on which she herself is standing (i.e. everybody gets according to his deserts).

La-yeele ma hilmaamo, laakin yeele wuu hilmaamaa: An offence is forgotten not by the offendeed but by the offender.

Libaax nin aan aqoon baa lax ka rida: Only he who does not know a lion ( and therefore is not afraid of him) can take a sheep from him ( i.e. sometimes ignorance can be useful).

Madax ka kor meel la salaaxo ma leh: Above the head there is nothing to stroke. This means, 1) There is limit to everything. 2) Theres is no appeal against the decision of a superior.

Madax muuqda iyo mindi saawir ah midna lagama samro: A (stupid) head and a blunt knife, if they are near at hand, will always prove useful.

Manjo dhooqo midba mar baa la baxshaa: One pulls one’s feet (ankels) out of the mud one by one (i.e. one finishes one thing before beginning another.

Mar i dage Alle ha dago, mar labaad i dagase anaa is dagay. If somebody cheated you once he is a fool (because by the fraud he shook your faith in him), but if he cheated you twice you are a fool.

Markii aan tamar hayayna talo ma ahayn, maantoon talo hayana tamar ma hayo: When I had strengh I did not have brains, now I have brains but do not have strength.

Marti badan iyo baryo badanba waa laysku nacaa: Frequent guests and much begging are disliked equally.

Maroodiga takarta saaran ma arkee kan kale tan saaran ayuu arkaa: An elephant does not see the gadfly which is sitting on it but sees the one sitting on another elephant

Mas madaxaa laga dilaa. A snake must be killed by a blow to its head (i.e. an enemy must be struck down).

Matag meshaad doonayso kuguma simo: A man vomits not where he wants to but where he is forced to. This means: Sometimes a man is not able to control his actions.

Maxay ku nuugtaa, maxayse ka nuugtaa?: Ah, what will he now suckle and with what?.
This goes back to a tale about a hyena who bit the lips off a camel calf and the udder of a she-camel, and then shed tears, pretending to be concerned with the fate of the poor calf.

Meeshaad madaxeeda tahay manjaheeda layskama dhigo: Do not be legs where you are a head ( i.e. do not behave as a subordinate man).

Meel il laga la’yahay haddaad tagto, il baa layska ridaa. If you come to the one-eyed people’s country (place), pull out your eye.

Meel lagaa jecel yahay haddaad ka tagtid, meel lagaa neceb yahay ayaad tagtaa: If you leave the place in which you are loved, you will come to the place in which you are hated.

Meel siday u taallo ayaa loola yaallaa: As the place is, so conduct yourself in it ( as the place stands so stand in it).

Meel waa laga muuqdaa ama waa laga maqnaadaa
~At your niche, either make your presence known or stay away (be active or better be absent)

Miro gunti ku jira kuwo geed saaran looma daadiyo. One does not throw away fruit in the pocket for the sake of fruit on the tree.

Mukulaal mininkeeda joogtaa miciyo libaax bay leedahay. A cat in its own house has lion’s fangs.

Mulac carruurta ciyaar bay ka tahay, isna waa kan af bax: What is play for children is death for a lizard.

Naftu orod bay kugu aammintaa. The soul tells you to run as fast as you can (i.e. to save your life with all your might).


Naag la’aani waa naf la’aan
~To be without a woman is to be without life (this indicates the crucial importance of a woman’s support)

Naag waa guri ama god ha kaga jirto.  (or) Naag ha kaga jirto guri ama god.
“Your woman should be in the house or in the grave.”

Naagi nin ay taqaan nin ma mooddo. A woman does not think of a man whom she knows well, as a man.

Nin aad dhashay kuma dhalin. He to whom you gave birth did not give birth to you (i.e. your child does not treat you in the same way as you treat him).

Nin aad fadhi kaga adag tahay looma sare joogsado: If you can overcome somebody when you are sitting, do not stand up.

Nin aad kabtiisa toleysid oo kafantaada tolaya: You are stitching for him sandals and he is sewing for you a shroud.

Nin aanad saacaad ku baran sanad kuma baratid. The man whom you failed to know within an hour you will not know within a year.

Nin aan baqin waa loo baqaa: One fears for the man who is fearless ( i.e. who does not take care of himself).

Nin aan dhididini ma dhergo: He who does not perspire ( i.e. does not toil) does not eat to fullness.

Nin aan dhul marini dhaayo la’: He who has not travelled in the world has no eyes.

Nin aan ku furin doonin yuu kuu rarin. He who is not going to unload your camel should not be the one to load it.

Nin aan shantaadu kaa reebin sharci kaama reebo: the law will not save you from the man you have failed to save yourself from with your fist.

Nin aan shaqaysan, shaahi waa ka xaaraan. For he does not work (even) tea is not prohibited (impure).

Nin aan warankaagu gelin warkaagu ma galo: He who is not afraid of your spear will not be frightened of your word.

Nin aan waxa jooga garani waxa soo socda ma garto: He who does not understand what is going on now will not understand what is going to happen.

Ninba ceesantii ceel keen: Everybody brings to the well a young (beautiful) she-goat ( so as to give the best impression).

Ninba intuu cunuu ciidamiyaa: As a man eats, so does he work.

Ninba meeshii bugtaa isagay belbeshaa: Pain burns the who has it.

Ninkii boqolka soomay oo bakhtiga ku affuray: He fasted a hundred days but broke his fast with carrion.

Nin bukaa boqol u talisay. A sick man has a hundred advisers.

Nin cimrigiisa dheerada geel dhalaya ayuu arkaa. (Banaadir)
“A man prolonging his age sees a camel giving birth.”

Nin daad qaaday xunbo cuskay. A man caught by a flood clings to the foam.

Nin dhintay kabihiisaa dhamaa. The sandals of a dead man are more valuable than he is (there is no benefit from a dead man).

Nin kuu digay kuma dilin. He who warned you, saved you (did not kill you).

Nin is faanshay waa ri’is nuugtay. He who praises himself is like a she-goat which suckles herself.

Nin fadhigaaga arkaya looma sare joogsado: Don’t ask for help from a man who sees you need it ( who sees you sitting, because he would already have helped you if he had wanted to).

Nin gardarran ma guuleysto: He who is not just does not succeed.

Nin geed geli jiray geed looma galo: You cannot hide behind a tree from a man who always hides behind a tree himself ( i.e. you canoot outwit him in his own manner).

Nin gu’kaa weyni gu’baas kaa weyn: He who is one year older than you has lived in need one year longer.

Nin habar dhashay hal ma seegi waayo: He who was borne by a mother ( i.e. every man) can’t help making mistakes (can’t help missing).

Nin ilko weyni hadduu go’ayana, inuu qoslayaa la moodaa: When a man whose teet hare too big, for his mouth is dying, people think that he is laughing.

Nin intuu geed ka boodo ayuu talo ka boodaa: Man makes mistakes (as easily) as he jumps over a log.

Nin is waalaba waabiyaa hela
~The aggressive man ultimately encounters a more aggressive man

Nin iyo naagtii colna ma aha, nabadna ma aha. A husband and his wife live together neither at war nor at peace.

Nin lagu seexdow, ha seexan. The man who guards the sleep of others sheep not sleep.

Ninkaad kabo ka tolanaysid kuwiisaa la eegaa: If you are asking a man to stitch a pair of shoes for you, look at his own shoes.

Nin kaa hadal badan dhaxalka aabbahaa ayuu kaa qadiyaa: He whose tongue is more eloquent than yours, will deprive you of your father’s inheritance.

Ninkii qayrkii loo xirayow, soo qoyso adiguna. If somebody of your age is being shaved, wet your own hair ( get ready for the same trouble).

Ninkii seexdaa sicii dibi dhal. The sleeping herdsman’s cow calves a he-calf.
This goes back to a story about two herdsmen, whose cows calved at the same time. One giving birth to a he-calf, the other to a she-calf. While the owner of the cow which had calved a she-calf was asleep, his companion substituted it for his he-calf. Somalis consider that a she-calf is better than a he-calf, since when it grows it will give milk and have calves. 

Ninkii tiisa daryeela tu kale ku dara. Only he who managers his own job can help with somebody else’s.

Nin qoyani biyo iskama dhowro: A wet man is not afraid of water.

Nin rag ah haweentii ka adag, doqonna isgaa ka adag
~A good man may be controlled by his wife, while lesser man dominates his

Nin sabraa sed leh: A patient man will get his share.

Nin sigtay ma noola: If the blow missed you that does not mean that you may feel safe ( because another blow can be delivered).

Nin soori kaa qaadday waa nin seefi kaa qaadday. A gluttonous man is like a a dead man ( as if killed by a sword).

Nin Tuur lihi siduu u seexdo isagaa yaqaan. A hunchback knows how he should sleep (i.e. every man knows better than you what he needs.

Nin waalan hadduu qoslo, nin fayownaa qosla: When a fool laughs, even a clever man cannot refræn from laughting.

Nin walba kitaab qummane ah ayaa qoortaa ugu jira. It is written on the face (neck) of everyone that he thinks himself good.

Nin wax cunay xishood.
“A man who has eaten something becomes shy.”

Nin xil qaaday eed qaad. The man who does something is the one to scold.

Oodo dhacameed siday u kala sarreeyaan baa loo kala guraa: As the branches of a fence (gate) are piled up, so they should be taken down.

Oodi qaadis iyo jiidis waa isla guri weyn. It makes no difference if you carry or drag a branch ( to make a fence) it will get to the same yard (house).

Qabri qori-saarid mooye qori-ka qaadid ma leh: One should take branches to the grave ( marking the buring place ), but should not take them away. This means, one should help a man in neeed, but should not ask him for help.

Qawl nin weyn ka dhacay waa qolof geed ka dhacday. The word of a man is like a piece of a bark which has fallen from a tree ( bark does not go back to its place and man does not take back his word).

Qaybshe qad ama qaaday: He who divides something gets either nothing or too much.

Qof aan dhididini ma dhego
~A person who doesn’t sweat, does not get his/her fill

Qof kuu digey kuma dilin
~ He who warns in advance is not likely to kill you (The man who fore-warns you is like the one who saves your life; someone who gives you a verbal warning beofre starting any hostilities with you cannot be blammed for harming you afterwards. if one admonishes you before he/she does harm to you, is the one who must be listened with care and left alone in peace; otherwise you will share the blame with him/her if anything untoward happens)

Qooq ma jabee ninkiisa jaba: It is not the madness that gets in trouble but its owner (i.e. the madman himself).

Qori iyo qiiqiisa waa laysla tuuraa: To get rid of smoke, you also throw out a fire-brand ( i.e. together with a bad thing one throws out a good thing).

Qun-yar-socde qodaxi ma muddo: He who walks slowly will not step on a thorn.

Quud aan jirin qoryo u guro. There is nothing to cook yet, but he has started to gather brushwood.

Rag waa raggii hore, hadalna waa intuu yiri: Real men are the men of old, and real words are those they pronounced.

Rag waa shaah, dumarna waa sheeko: Men like tea, women like conversation.

Rag haween ayaa kala hor mariya
~It’s the women who make some men succeed where others fail

Rag tag lama dhago ee wuxuu ku tago ayaa la tusiya.
“One doesn’t tell a man ‘go away’ but one shows him something so he will go.”

Rag waxaa u liita ma toshe, ma tashade iyo ma tashiishe
~The worst man is he who never sews, never consults and never economizes ( There is no social value for he who can’t consult his mind, can’t manage his assets wisely or can’t help himself otherwise)

Roonaa Rabbaa og; Only God knows what is best.

Runi rag waa ka nixisaa, waxse ma yeesho: Truth can frighten a man, but it does not harm him.

Run iyo ilkaba waa la caddeeyaa: Truth and teeth should both be polished.

Saddex baa rag ugu liita: ma-toshe, ma-tashade iyo ma-tashiishe: Of all men, three types are the worst: he who does not know how to sew (clothes for himself), he who does not know how to get (clothes) and he who does not know how to take care ( of them).

Saddex waa layku nacaa: baryo badan, bukto badan iyo baahi badan: Three types: beggars, ailing people and gluttons, are all disliked equally.

Sagaaro laba tun oo la kala qalo ma leh: The neck of a dik-dik cannot be divided in half ( it is too small). The dik-dik is a miniature antilope.

Salaadi siday kuu qabataa loo tukadaa: As you are placed when caught by prayer-time, just so pray.

Salaad walba waqtigeeda la tukadaa. Every prayer should be offered at its proper time.

Samataliye sedkii waa janno
~To advice good is true faith

Shimbiri mar bay dab qaadday, markiina buulkii hooyadeed bay gubtay. Only once did a bird take up some fire and even then it burnt its mother’s nest. Said when someone acts beyond his knowledge and competence.

Shimbirba shimbirkiisu la duulaa. Each bird flies only with birds (bird) of its own kind.

Sidaad dooneyso haddaad weydo, sidaad ka badin weyso ayaa la yeela: If you fail to do what you want, do what you have to do.

Sidaan kuguu lisay iiguma hambayn: I had milked for you much milk but you have left me only a little. According to the somali traditions, after having been given some milk a guest must leave something for the host.

Sidee xeego loo xagtaa, ilkana u nabad galaan?: Is it possible to gnaw a hego and not break any teeth. Hego is the very hard fruit of one of the palm trees.

Sinji waa magguuraan: You will never get rid of what you were born with ( it will not roam from you)

Sir-ma-qabe Allaa u sahan ah. Allah Himself helps a simple man to find a good place for his camp.

Sir-ma-qabe saab baa biyo u celiya: For an honest man even a saab holds water. The saab is an openwork wicker frame for holding a water-jar.


Sirow ma hodmo
~A deceiver never prospers ( a cheater never succeeds)

Sir nageed lama sal gaaro: Women’s tricks are not something one is able to percieve.

Soomaalidu been waa sheegtaa, beense ma maahmaahdo. Somalis can lie, but their lie will never become a proverb.

Taladaan la ruugin waa lagu rafaadaa: An unconsidered (unchewed) decision will make you suffer.

Talo adigaa ku nool ee iyadu kuguma noola: It is you who need advice, it does not need you ( therefore advice should be appreciated).

Talo isuma kaa sheegto: The right decision does not come by itself (i.e. it has to be found).

Talo walaal diide taagoogta ayuu kajabaa.
“One refusing a sibling’s advice breaks his arm.”

Talo xumo tog baas bay kaa riddaa
~Bad counsel may cause you to fall into an abyss

Timirtii horaba dab loo waa. There is not yet a fire for the first dates (i.e. until one job is completed, one should not start another one).

This goes back to a story about a man given some dates, and not knowing that dates are eaten uncooked decided to fry them. Before he had time to kindle the firewood he had been given another handful of dates, and pronounced these words which became a proverb.

Timir laf baa ku jirta. There is a stone in every date (i.e.something bad in every good thing). It may also mean that there is a hidden sense in everything. 

Tuug la qabtay talo ma leh: Nothing can help a caught thief.

Tuug tuug ma xado. One thief does not steal from another thief.

Ushaada nin aad ka qaadan kartid ayaa loo dhiibtaa: Give your stick to hold only to a man from whom you can take it away again.

Waa dhalaankii dhalmada hooyadood baray.
“These youth taught their mother to give birth.”

Waanu abuuris baa ka horreysay. The character of a man was formed before the arguments (and therefore no form of persuasion can change it).

Waari mayside war ha kaa haro. You will not remain (on earth) let a good memory of you remain. 

Waayeel warkiisa kaftan buu ku dhammeystaa: A grown-up ma concludes his speech with a joke.

Wadiiqada yari waddada weyn bay kugu riddaa: A small path will take you to a big road.

Waraf iyo shimbiro war isuma hayaan. The sling feels no animosity towards the birds (i.e. it kills them not through animosity, but by the will of its owner).

War jiraaba cakaaruu iman: News hurries to a meeting place (i.e. secrets become known).

War la qabaa xiiso ma leh: What is known is not interesting.

Waxaad barataaba waa baaskaa: what will ruin you is what you have got accustomed.

Waxaad taqaan guurso, waxaad taqaan ha kuu dhashee: Marry a woman you are sure of and you will have no doubt of your children ( i.e. you will be sure that you are their father).

Waxaan ku cuninba waa la cunaa: What does not eat you is eatable.

Wax badso wax beel bay leedahay. If you want to get more, you will lose everything.

Wax is weyddiini ma xuma ee wax is weydaarsi baa xun. It is not bad to ask each other for something, but it is bad to dodge each other.

Wax la arko carrab iyo ilkaa isugu dhow, iyaguna waa is qaniinaan: Nothing is so close to teeth as a tongue and event hen thet sometimes bite it.

Wax la qariyo qurun baa ku jira. In What one hides (from people) there is always something bad (a piece of shit).

Wax qof la toosan baa qof la tuur leh: What is straight to one man is crooked to another ( i.e. what is liked by one man is disliked by another).

Wax rag kaa galay rako kaa gale: What you give a man you will not get back ( it will stick with him).

Weysha gowrac, dibigu ha ku quustee. To get a bull, slaughter a heifer.

Wiil is walaaba waabiyaa hela: Every rowdy will meet a man who can master him.

Wixii araggiisu ku deeqo ayaa oontiisu ku deeqdaa: What is nourishing in appearance is nourishing indeed.

Wixii uurkaaga ku jira afkaa kaa xada. Your tongue steals what hides your soul ( stomach).

Xaajo nimaan ogayni indhuhuu ka ridaa: He who does not know the problem under discussion prevents its solution ( knocks out its eye).

Xaydha jecli, beerka jecli: I like fat and I like liver. Said when somebody cannot choose between two things the simultaneus possession of which is not possible.

Xisaabi xil ma leh: To count (money, things) is not shameful.


Xoolo rag farana ka tirsan feerana ka sisaaban
~Men’s wealth is countable by hand and remembered by heart


The proverbs were taken from the following links:

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