Have you ever been in a conversation where an Arabic Idiom was used, and you had no clue what it meant? Don’t worry, this is frequently experienced by many native English speakers. It’s not because they don’t understand Arabic, it’s simply because the equivalent translation is absolutely nothing like what was talked about and they are left puzzled!
Let’s be honest, most of those who actually understand the meaning of the Arabic idiom being used, rarely take the time to think about what it literally means. It is very unlikely to hear someone say a common Arabic phrase ‘bale3 radio بالع راديو‘, the equivalent form of the English Idiom “You talk a blue streak”, and envision an actual radio in someone’s mouth. Without giving it much thought, this phrase is automatically understood as a description of someone who is extremely talkative. If taken literally without any consideration of context, many Arabic sayings would sound totally strange and hilarious! Take a closer look at another 9 ‘literally’ hilarious colloquial Arabic idioms and phrases:
- He is in the seventh sleep: في سابع نومه/ He’s out for the count
- The ax came down on the head: طاح الفاس بالراس/ The fat is in the fire
- The situation is electrified: الوضع متكهرب/ Tense or charged atmosphere
- His tongue is long: لسانه طويل/ Impudent
- His blood is light: دمه خفيف/ Charming
- His blood is thick: دمه ثقيل/ Boring; dull
- Took my eye out: طلع عيني/ He gave me a hard time
- My leg on your leg: رجلي ع رجلك/ Where you go I go
- The eye doesn’t rise over the eyebrow: العين ما تعلا عن الحاجب/ Know your place
Each idiom/phrase holds a different purpose; some are used as descriptions of certain situations and some are used as descriptions of people. Although these phrases, in their entirety, are commonly used in the Middle East, each country uniquely expresses such idioms using its own dialect. So don’t feel too strange when encountering these phrases, they usually have a logical explanation!
Feel free to share with us your favorite and funniest Arabic expressions!