18 Oct 8 Arabic Sayings That Have Hilarious “Literal” Translations
The below colloquial expressions are sure to come up in most everyday Arabic conversations. The literal translations will make you laugh out loud, but you’ve got to read on to know how each one is used.
1. من عيوني
Transliteration: min ouyou-ni
Literal Translation: “from my eyes”
Dialect: all Arabic dialects
When someone asks you for a favor and you fulfill it out of kindness, you say ‘min oyouni’. In other words, it is the equivalent of ‘of course’, ‘my pleasure’ and ‘I’d do anything for you’. Surprise your Arab friends and text them ‘min 3youni’. If you’re wondering why number 3 replaced the ‘ou’ in ouyouni (my eyes), this is how the Arabic letter ع (:ain) is written in the Arabizi alphabet or the informal Arabic chat alphabet.
2. على راسي
Transliteration: ‘aa-la rasi
Literal Translation: “on my head”
Dialect: mostly Levantine (Lebanon, Syria, Palestine) but it is said in other Arabic dialects as well.
You’d say this phrase when you convey courtesy and respect for someone i.e., when you hold a person in high regard.
3. فولة وانقسمت نصين
Transliteration: foo-la wu-enasamet nouss-een
Literal Translation: “a peanut split into two”
Any two things that are exactly identical. For e.g., you can say it if you see two people who resemble each other (so much!). Talking about ‘looks’ here.
4. كلامك عسل على قلبي
Transliteration: kalamak ‘aa-sal ‘aa-la galbi
Literal Translation: “your words are honey on my heart”
Dialect: all Arabic dialects
Conveys what’s been said to you is genuinely sweet. This one can be a flirting phrase for your special someone too, *wink wink*.
Hint: kalamak (m) ; kalamik (f)
5. دمه خفيف
Transliteration: damah khafeef
Literal Translation: “his blood is light”
Dialect: all dialects
You’d say this phrase to someone who’s adorable, sweet and likeable.
Hint: damah (m) ; dam-ha (f)
6. تقبر قلبي
Transliteration: tu’bir albi
Literal Translation: “you’ll bury my heart”
Dialect: Levantine (Lebanese mostly)
The literal meaning may sound horrific, but it’s NOT AT ALL. It’s, in fact, a term of endearment (believe it or not!) said to a loved one to express your love to him/her. It can also be used with anyone special to you; your son/daughter, a friend and so on.
Hint: tu’bir (m) tu’biri (f)
Literal Translation: “Garden”
As odd as it may sound and surely you’re asking how’s this one funny?! Well, wait until you read how this one is used in a conversation.
“Hadeeqa” is popular among young people in Iraq and it is said to refer to someone who’s broke, unemployed, unproductive and has no life! Hence, ‘hadeeqa’ because they have nothing to do and most of the time hang out in public gardens.
8. بط جبدي
Transliteration: baat chabdi
Translation: “popped my liver”
So, now you got the hang of it. Most of these colloquial Arabic sayings involves a body part/organ be it eyes, heart, liver, etc. So, this one is said when you’re telling someone how annoyed you are with another someone or situation.
Here’s one for you: “the taxi driver baat chabdi, he doesn’t even know the location!”
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About the Author: Randa A. Loves experimenting and being creative with food and recipes. She is passionate about nature, learning languages, and exploring different cultures. Randa speaks English, Arabic, and some Spanish.