Omani Proverbs


  • أخذت احسانك بلسانك (AJ 12)

You have taken away (the beauty of) your kindness by your tongue (unkind words).

–  إحْسان  = performance of good deeds, charity


  • إذا كان المتكلم مجنون يكون المستمع عاقل (AJ 13)

If the speaker is mad, the hearer should be wise.


  • إذا ما طاعك الدهر طِيعه حتى تكون ربيعه (AJ 14)

If fortune does not obey you, follow it so that you may become its companion.

–  طاع، يطيع  = to obey

– مطيع  = obedient

– تطوّع  = voluntary work

– دَهْر ج دهور / أَدْهُر  = time, age, here: fortune

– ربيع  = Gulf Arabic word for “friend”


  • لا فاتك اللحم شرب المرق (AJ 15)

If you lose the meat, drink the gravy.

– لا = if, from اذا  that then became الا

– مَرَق / مَرَقة  = broth, gravy


  • زيد البلا بالبلا امّا زاد امّا انجلى (AJ 35)

Add trouble to trouble, it will either grow or go.

  إمّا …  إمّا  = either … or

– انجلى، ينجلي، الانجلاء  = to be removed; to vanish; to become clear

– جَلِيّ  = obvious, clear


  • سارَت تبغى قرون جأت بلا ذِنين (AJ 35)

She (she-goat) went to get horns and returned without ears.

– سار، يسير  = to set out, walk, march

– بَغَى، يبغى/يبْغِي  = to want (usually بَغَى، يبى/يبْي )


  • شجرة ما تظِلّ عرقها اولى قَصّها (AJ 39)

It is better to cut off a tree which does not shade its own rootlets.

(On the advisability of giving up the friendship of a person who does not give any protection or help.)

–  اولى  = it is better

– أولوية  = priority


  • اشتري فِضّة وغلّف ذهب (AJ 39)

Buy silver and cover (it) with gold.


  • تعلّم الحسانة على روس المجانين (AJ 45)

Learn to shave on the heads of madmen.

(Applied in the sense of experimenting first on valueless or worthless things.)


  • عند الخُطْبة اللسان رُطْبة وخلاف تِيبس كما الحَطْبة (AJ 46)

At the times of asking in marriage the tongue is moist, but afterwards it dries up like wood.

– حَطْبة  = firewood


  • غابت السِّكْرة وجأت الفِكْرة (AJ 47)

The intoxication has passed away and anxiety has come.


  • قديم البَرَيْسم ولا جديد الصوف (AJ 48)

Better old silk than new wool.

– بَرَيْسم  = silk (more common in MSA: حرير )

– from Persian ابریشم  abrishom (same meaning)


  • كِبْره كِبْر نَخْلَة وعقْله عَقَل سخْلة (AJ 50)

His size is that of a date-palm, but his reasoning that of a kid.

– سخْلة  = infant, kid; lamb


  • كثير في العزاف غمٍ في البَطِن (AJ 50)

Plenty on the table but sadness in the stomach.

(Quantity without quality)


  • البيت يُدْخَل من بابه (AJ 26)

A house is entered by its door.

(Applied in the sense of everything having its proper way)

–  يُدْخَل  = note that Gulf dialects are among the only dialects that make use of the passive the way it is used in Fuṣḥā, other dialects usually use form VII or V. 


  • كلام الوطا أحسن من العطا (AJ 51)

Humble words are better than a gift.


  • كلٌ بِعَقْله راضي وعمّا ماله لا (AJ 53)

Everyone is pleased with his intelligence but not with the wealth he possesses.


  • كلٌ يَمْدَح سوقأ رُبُح فيه (AJ 53)

Everyone praises a market in which there is a profit (for himself).

–  سوقأ  = I think this should be written  سوقه  (of course this is pronounced  سوقأ  as the ه in the Gulf dialects is pronounced -ah)


  • كما بو يَدور جمل خالته من لقيه رِكِب وغنّى ومن ما لقيه مشى وغنّى (AJ 53)

Like one who searches for his aunt’s camel; if he finds it, he rides and sings; and if he does not find it, he walks and sings.

(Applied to a person who is sent in search of a thing or to do a business in which he takes no interest.)

– من = when; probably from لما which can be لمن  in Gulf dialects


  • لي ما يادَّبه أهله يادّبه الزمان (AJ 57)

He who is not taught (discipline) by his people, is taught by time.

– لي  = Fuṣḥā الذي


  • ما سادّة حال بِنْها يجَبّن منها (AJ 58)

It (milk) is not enough for her (the cow’s) calf, and she wants to make cheese out of it.


  • ما يشْتَق ثوب بين عاقِليْن (AJ 59)

Cloth cannot be torn between two wise men.


  • من جاد عاد (AJ 64)

He that gives (anything) out of generosity has it returned.


  • من حشِّن تعشِّن (AJ 65)

If you cut (grass), you will get your dinner.


  • من رأيْت صاحبك يتْحسّن بِل (AJ 66)

If you see your friend being shaved apply water (to your own head).

(Used in the sense of being warned by the calamities of others)


  • من شاف بعينه ضاق ضَيْنه (AJ 66)

He who sees with his eye is straitened in his heart.


  • لو فيه خير كان ما هده الطير (HQ 550)

Lō fī xēr čān ma haddah ṭ-ṭēr

If it had been of any use the bird would not have discarded it. 


  • خشمك منك لو كان وعج (HQ 550)

Xašmak minnak lō cān ‘away.

Your nose is a part of you even if it is crooked. (Don’t be ashamed of your folks).


  • في الليل خمايم وفي النهار عمايم (HQ 552)

B-il-lēl xamāyim u-f-il-nahār ‘amāyim. 

In daylight they are turbans, i.e., holy men with turbans, and at night they are garbage, i.e., rascals, knaves, etc.

– xamm = to sweep

– xmām, xmāyim = garbage



AJ =  Atmaram Sadashiv G. Jayakar. Omani Proverbs. Cambridge: Oleander Press. 1986