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9 Timeless Arabic Proverbs about Wisdom

Arabic proverbs

Arabic proverbs, the outcome of life experiences, encapsulate great wisdom. For learners of the Arabic language, studying these proverbs offers countless benefits. First, they enrich our understanding of the culture behind the language. Additionally, since many proverbs are universal, they provide wisdom and advice useful in various circumstances. Most importantly, incorporating these proverbs into our speech adds depth and authenticity.

In our previous blogs, we shared with you unique proverbs about knowledge and friendship. In today’s blog, we look at 9 timeless proverbs that reflect the rich wisdom of Arabic culture. Covering a broad range of topics, these proverbs promote core values such as honesty, the importance of consultation in decision-making, patience, caution, and the dangers of procrastination, among other virtues.

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Let’s start!

Proverb 1: حَبْلُ الكَذِبِ قَصِيرٌ

A lie has no legs

 Ḥablu alkadhibi qaṣīrun

The first proverb warns against the consequences of dishonesty. It translates to: “The robe you weave with lying is short.” It teaches us that lies are bound to be exposed, and the truth will eventually emerge. The English equivalent, “a lie has no legs,” conveys the same message, emphasizing the importance of honesty and integrity in our lives.

Proverb 2: ما خابَ مَنِ اسْتَشارَ

Two heads are better than one

Mā khāba mani istashāra

The second proverb means “he who seeks counsel and advice from others does not do wrong.” This proverb emphasizes the value of collaboration and learning from the wisdom of others. The English equivalent is “Two heads are better than one.” It conveys the same sentiment, highlighting the benefits of working together and exchanging ideas.

Proverb 3: لا تَسلمُ الجَرّةُ في كلِّ مرّة

Don’t push your luck

Lā taslmu aljarrtu fī klli marrah

The third proverb can be translated to “The vase will not be safe every time you take a risk,” and it warns us not to rely on luck or expect to avoid negative consequences all the time. The English equivalent, “Don’t push your luck,” conveys the same sentiment, reminding us to be cautious and consider the potential outcomes of our actions.

Proverb 4: عُصْفور بِاليَدِ خَيْرٌ مِنْ عَشَرةٍ عَلى الشّجَرَة

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush

ʻUṣfwr biālyadi khayrun min ʻashartin ʻalá alshshjarah

This proverb means: “One bird in your hand is better than ten on the tree.” It highlights the value of contentment and appreciating what we have. It teaches us that it’s better to be grateful for the things we possess rather than coveting what we don’t have. The English equivalent, “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush,” shares the same wisdom, encouraging us to be mindful of the present and cherish our blessings.

Proverb 5: مَنْ شَبَّ عَلى شَيْءٍ شابَ عَلَيْه

Old habits die hard

Man shabba ʻalá shayʼin shāba ʻalayh

The fifth proverb can be translated to, “He who grows up doing something will grow old doing it,” and it serves as a reminder of the power of habits in shaping our lives. The habits we form in youth stick with us in old age. Once a habit is formed, especially over a long period, it becomes ingrained and is not easily altered or given up. The English equivalent is “Old habits die hard.” It conveys the same message, emphasizing the importance of cultivating positive habits especially when we are young and breaking free from negative patterns. 

Proverb 6: إِنَّ غَدًا لِناظِرِهِ قَرِيْب

Good things come to those who wait

Inna ghadan lināẓirihi qarīb

Our sixth proverb is about patience. The proverb translates to “Tomorrow, to the person waiting for it, is near.” Patience is a virtue emphasized in both Arabic and English cultures. This proverb teaches us the value of waiting for the right moment. The English equivalent, “Good things come to those who wait,” shares the same wisdom. It suggests that patience is often rewarded. It means that people who are patient and avoid rushing into actions or decisions are more likely to achieve desirable outcomes or receive good things in the end.

Proverb 7: لا تُؤَجِّلْ عَمَلَ اليَومِ إِلى الغَد

Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today

Lā tuʼajjil ʻamala alyawmi ilá alghad

Procrastination is a common struggle in many cultures. This proverb warns against the dangers of delaying important tasks, urging us to make the most of the present moment. The English equivalent, “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today,” reinforces this message, encouraging us to take action now and avoid regrets later.

Proverb 8: إِنْ كانَ الحَدِيْثُ مِنْ فِضَّةٍ فالسُّكُوتُ مِنْ ذَهَب

If speech is silver, then silence is golden

In kāna alḥadīthu min fiḍḍatin fālssukūtu min dhahab

This elegant Arabic proverb beautifully captures the wisdom of knowing when to hold one’s tongue. Often, we believe that contributing to a conversation or offering our perspective is the best way to be valuable or influential. However, this proverb reminds us that there are times when withholding our words can be even more powerful. Silence can convey respect, allow others to express themselves, and even prevent unnecessary conflict or misunderstanding. In English, we often say, “Silence is golden,” reflecting a similar appreciation for the prudent use of silence.

Proverb 9: الوَقْتُ كَالسَّيْفِ إِنْ لَمْ تَقْطَعْهُ قَطَعَكَ

Time is like a sword; if you don’t cut it, it will cut you

Alwaqtu kālssayfi in lam taqṭaʻhu qaṭaʻaka

This striking Arabic proverb serves as a stark reminder of the relentless passage of time. It emphasizes that if we do not make effective use of our time, it will, in essence, ‘cut us down,’ leading to missed opportunities, regret, and disappointment. The proverb urges us to seize the day, to be proactive, and to make every moment count. The English saying, “Time waits for no man,” communicates a similar sentiment. It highlights time’s unforgiving and unstoppable nature.

Final word

Now you have 9 common Arabic proverbs you can use in your speaking and writing, which will enhance your communication skills and demonstrate a deeper understanding of the rich cultural heritage behind the language. So, as you continue your journey in learning Arabic, remember to keep these timeless sayings in mind and use them to enrich your conversations and written work. You can learn more Arabic proverbs about friendship and knowledge.

To further consolidate what you learned in this blog, make sure you take our quick quiz. You can check if your answers are correct and learn from your mistakes by taking the quiz as many times as you need.

Don’t forget to check our Planner which you can also use to boost your learning journey. We have equipped this planner with a rich 30-page worksheet accompanied by over 200 practical exercises and activities, so it could serve as a powerful tool to back your acquired knowledge and newly learned language and push your learning journey forward with loads of practice opportunities.


Finally, we hope you have an enriching learning journey that continuously adds to your knowledge and skill of Arabic language and culture!

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Dania Ghraoui
Dania has worked as a language instructor and translator for almost 10 years. She has a special interest in the Arabic language and learning methods.
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