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Libyan Proverbs

July 12, 2013


Libyan Proverbs

“The absentee has his own justification”
” الغايب عذره معاه ”  
It is used to advise people not to reproach he who is absent for he may bring forth reasons for his absence.  

“Stretch your legs according to your coverlet”  
” مد رجليك علي قد غطاك ”
This is a sound advice that pne should always live within his income.  

“They sell the monkey and laugh at the buyer”
” يبيعوا القرد ويصحكوا عاللي شاريه ”
This is used in desribing certain people who are known for deceiving others.  

“The flute player dies with his finger shaking,

”الزَمّار يموت و صُبْعه يرِفّ

meaning that strong habits stay with you your whole life, even until death.

“Each one brings the fire (closest) to his bread”

كل حدّ يجِرّ النار لخُبزه

“If the sun starts to move west, find a shady tree.”

لو قُوّسَت في العشيِ دَوِّر لك شجَرة تقية

Problems don’t get solved and disappear, life involves continuous problem-solving (I imagine).

“Who would tell the lion that his breath stinks?”

من يقول للصيد فَمَّك ابخر

For fear of retaliation, nobody wants to confront a tyrant. If this isn’t poignant in contemporary Libya, I don’t know what is.

“The person with no dignity eats his dinner twice.”

رقيق الغرَض ياكِل عشاه مَرّتين

This may be because, food being scarce in times past, eating more than one’s share would have been considered not only gluttonous, but a sign of lacking shame or concern for one’s fellows or host. [Thanks, Abdurahman!]

“The needle will be lost if the thread is too long.”

طول الخيط يوَدِّر لابرة

Meaning, use enough to do the job, and do not extend the matter (whether it’s conversation or a project).

“Only you can scratch your itch.”

ما يحَكّ للحَيّ لَذّ مِن يده

No one will do your job or look after your interests.

“It came running and was met by a slope.”

جَت تجْري و الحَمَتها حادورة

Similar idea as the English “to add fuel to the fire…”

“The one with big horns scratches itself where it pleases.”

طويلة القَرْن تحَكّ وين تِستلذّ

Interpretation unsure…I’m thinking something along the lines of ‘those who have the means can do what they please.’

“The high priced brings customers.”

سوق الغلا جلّاب

Unobtainable things are attractive.


These proverbs were taken from the following link:

From → Libyan Proverbs

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