Read our selection of the best known and inspiring Arabic proverbs below.

What’s a proverb?

A proverb is a brief, simple, traditional saying that gives advice based on practical experience, often in the form of a metaphor or allegory Proverbs are popular in spoken language, and form part of the folklore of a culture, passing down the generations.

Arabic is an ancient language and an ancient, rich culture. As such the stock of Arabic proverbs and sayings to draw on is equally rich and deep. Over 420 million people around the world speak Arabic – from Oman on the Indian Ocean to Mauritania on the Atlantic Ocean – meaning a huge variety on traditional wisdom being passed through the generations in the form of proverbs, Below we’ve pulled together the very best and most popular Arabic proverbs (translated into English, of course!).

“A foolish man may be known by six things: Anger without cause, speech without profit, change without progress, inquiry without object, putting trust in a stranger, and mistaking foes for friends.”

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“A house divided cannot stand.”

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“A known mistake is better than an unknown truth.”

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“A paradise without people is not worth stepping foot in.”

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“A pebble can support a barrel.”

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“A secret is like a dove: when it leaves my hand it takes wing.”

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“A sense of humor is the pole that adds balance to our steps as we walk the tightrope of life.”

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“A tree begins with a seed.”

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“Actions speak louder than words.”

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“An envious person is the unhappiest.”

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“Anger begins with madness, but ends in regret.”

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“Arrogance diminishes wisdom.”

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“Arrogance is a weed that grows mostly on a dunghill.”

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“Ask the experienced rather than the learned.”

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“Ask your purse what you should buy.”

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“Avoid that which requires an apology.”

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“Avoid the company of liars, but if you can’t, don’t believe them.”

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“Avoid things that will require an apology.”

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“Be patient and you’ll get what you want.”

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“Be wary around your enemy once, and your friend a thousand times. A double crossing friend knows more about what harms you.”

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“Believe what you see and lay aside what you hear.”

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“Beware him whom you have been charitable to.”

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“Beware the levelheaded person if they’re angry.”

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“Blood does not become water.”

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“Close the door that brings in the wind and relax.”

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“Days are like countries.”

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“Determination is the key to everything.”

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“Discipline your son when he’s young, and be his friend when he grows up.”

arabic proverbs - discipline your son when he's young, and be his friend when he grows up

“Distance equals disaffection.”

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“Do not buy either the moon or the news, for in the end they will both come out.”

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“Do not delay today’s work for tomorrow.”

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“Do not eat your bread on somebody else’s table.”

arabic proverbs - do not eat your bread on somebody else's table

“Don’t says beans until they are on the measuring scale.”

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“Eat less to sleep more.”

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“Even if friend is honey, don’t lick them all up.”

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“Every rooster crows on its own dunghill.”

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“Every sun has to set.”

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“Everyone is critical of the flaws of others, but blind to their own.”

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“Experimentation is the greatest science.-“

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“Falseness lasts an hour, the truth lasts until the end of time.”

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“Far from sight, far from the heart.”

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“Flip the jar on its mouth, and the daughter comes out like her mother.”

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“Forgetting is the plague of knowledge.”

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“Give your friends your money and your blood, but don’t justify yourself. Your enemies won’t believe it and your friends won’t need it.”

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“Go with the lesser of two evils.”

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“Good health is a crown worn by the healthy than only the ill can see.”

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“He makes a dome out of a grain.”

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“He who desires the top must sit up many nights.”

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“He who digs a pit for his brother, falls into it.”

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“He who sees the calamity of other people finds his own calamity light.”

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“He whose house is made of glass should not throw stones at people.”

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“I curse my own child but I hate whoever says amen.”

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“If speaking was of silver, then silence is of gold.”

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“If the wind blows, ride it.”

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“If you are charitable, you are rich.”

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“If you have an opinion, you better be determined.”

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“If you’re unable to reward, then make sure to thank.”

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“Ignorance is the most terrible acquaintance.”

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“In haste there is regret, but in patience and care there is peace and safety.”

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“It’s better to avoid mistakes altogether than do something that you should apologize for after.”

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“It’s better to fix what you have than wait to get what you don’t have.”

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“Keeping a secret is a commitment.”

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“Lack of intelligence is the greatest poverty.”

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“Laugh and the world laughs with you; weep, and you weep alone.”

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“Laughing without a reason is rude.”

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“Like a fish in water.”

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“Lying is a disease, and truth is a cure.”

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“Make distance between you and every dirtiness.”

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“More skillful than a silk worm.”

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“Movement is a blessing.”

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“Necessity is the mother of invention.”

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“No crowd ever waited at the gates of patience.”

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“Oh bald man, we’re confused about where to kiss you.”

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“One will not attain everything he wishes for. The winds blow unlike what the ships wish for.”

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“Opinion comes before the bravery of the braves.”

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“person of two minds is a liar, and a person of three minds is a hypocrite.”

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“Planning is half of living.”

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“Receiving (blows from) a stick is not the same as counting them.”

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“rooster dies with his eye still on the dunghill.”

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“Send a wise man; don’t advise him.”

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“shoemaker is barefoot and the weaver is naked.”

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“Silence is the sign of approval.”

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“Speaking is not like seeing.”

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“The best answer will come from the person who is not angry.”

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“The carpenter’s door is loose.”

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“The crooked furrow is caused by the big bull.”

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“The end result of a good deed is a slap with the palms.”

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“The envious were created just to be infuriated.”

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“The fruit of silence is tranquility.”

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“The fruit of timidity is neither gain nor loss.”

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“The house of a tyrant is a ruin.”

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“The key to everything is determination.”

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“The monkey is a gazelle in the eyes of his mother.”

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“The rope of lies is short.”

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“The smarter you are, the less you speak.”

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“The stingy have large porches and little morality.”

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“The straw that broke the camel’s back.”

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“The stupid might want to help you, but they just ended up hurting you.”

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“The wisest is the one who can forgive.”

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“The world is like a belly-dancer: it dances a little while for everyone.”

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“There is always something to learn from experimentation.”

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“There’s always tomorrow.”

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“Think of the going out before you enter.”

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“Time is gold.”

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“Time is made of gold.”

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“Tomorrow is another day.”

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“Tomorrow is close if you have patience,”

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“Tougher than a stone.”

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“Unity is power.”

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“Visit rarely, and you will be more loved.”

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“Walk in a funeral procession, not in a marriage.”

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“Wealth comes like a turtle, and runs away like a gazelle.”

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“What is learned in youth is carved in stone.”

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“Whatever is forbidden is desired.”

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“When brains were passed out, everyone was pleased with his brains; but when fortunes were given out, no one was satisfied with his fortune.”

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“When it comes to the stomach, the mind is lost.”

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“Whoever gets burned by soup, blows on yogurt.”

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“Whoever has a head-wound keeps feeling it.”

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“Whoever plays with a cat will find his claws.”

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“Winds blow counter to what the ship wants.”

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“Wishing does not make a poor man rich.”

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“With care do you realize your opportunities.”

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“You are striking cold iron. This means you’re trying to change something that you can’t.”

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“You can’t clap with one hand.”

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“You reap what you sow.”

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“You will know your friend in time of need.”

That’s your lot for Arabic proverbs. What do you think – any great ones that we’re missing? Drop us a line in the comments section below.