Bad mouthing men in Arabic

Today's post covers 2 phrases from Levantine Arabic and more specifically Syrian dialect although they are used in the neighboring countries as well. The clips are from an episode where a girl's friends tell her all the bad things they've learned about men so that she doesn't fall for her boyfriend's tricks. These are taken from بقعة ضو (spotlight) which is a Syrian comedy show.


1. وحدة ما باس تمها غير امها (wahdi ma bas timma gheyr imma) - Someone who has never been kissed except by her mom (i.e. a virgin).

وحدة means "someone" for a female. واحد is how you say "someone" when referring to a male.

باس is "to kiss" or "he kissed". The present tense is يبوس (yboos).

تم is the Levantine way to say "mouth". فم (fem) is the word for mouth in MSA.

About the clip:
The girl's friends are trying to teach her about men and how evil they are.

حبيبتي الشب بيتسلى بالبنت مثل السيجارة و بس يشبع منها بيروح لعند امه لتخطب لوحدة ما باس تمها غير امها (habeebti ashab byetsalla balbint mithl assigara wa bess yeshb'a minna beerooh l'and immu latakhtub lawahdi ma bas timma gheyr imma) - Honey, a guy enjoys himself with a girl just like (he does with) a cigarette. And once he gets his fill he goes to his mother to get engaged to someone who has never been kissed except by her mom.

يتسلى (yetsalla) - to have fun or play with

شبع - to become full, to satisfy one's appetite


2. يا مآمنة بالرجال مثل المي بالغربال (ya imaamni birijaal mithl almai balgirbal)- Don't trust men. (Literally this is "trusting men is like trusting water in a sieve". Here are pictures of sieves.)

مآمنة is belief or faith or trust. It's from the same root as مؤمن (mu'min) which is a believer. Most of the time a believer in God.

مثل - sometimes this is said متل (mitil) instead of مثل (mithil) in dialect. Also, the word زي sometimes replaces مثل when this phrase is said. زي and مثل mean the same thing; "like".

مي - this is the dialect word for water. The MSA word is ماء (ma').

غربال - sieve; I think of it as a sifter or a colander because those are things I'm familiar with that are pretty much the same as a غربال

About this clip:
This is from the same episode and the same topic. Bad mouthing men.


Arabic Proverb - Lion Fangs

This proverb, parable, saying or whatever you want to call it is a very popular one. If you say this to an Arabic speaking friend they will be very impressed with you, even if it's the only thing you know how to say in Arabic!

If you see the fangs of a lion showing, don't think the lion is smiling.

اذا رايت نيوب الليث بارزةً فلا تظن ان الليث يبتسم

There are 2 words used here that have common synonyms. The word you probably know for lion is أسد (asad). ليث means lion as well. Also, the word used here for fangs is نيوب , but أنياب (anyaab) is used as well.


Lebanese Soap: Ajyal أجيال

The word أجيال (ajyal) means "generations". The singular, "generation", is جيل (jeel). Ajyal is a soap opera shown on the Lebanese station MTV. Simply put it's about beautiful people having romantic and dramatic relationships. There's lots of yelling and crying which turns me off to this show. However it is very popular in Lebanon. To tell you the truth I just skip to the parts with Nadine Njeim (نادين نجيم) and Dalida Khalil (دليدا خليل). This lesson covers a conversation in Lebanese Arabic from the show.

You don't need a lot of context to understand what's going on here. The woman in the clip is a widow and has 3 kids. The man is trying to make his move. She pushes him away.


بعرف انه زيارتي مفاجأة بس – I know that my visit is a surprise, but…

تفضل تفضل بليز – Please, please, please

سوري عن جد ع عجقة الاوراق بس عندنا عشية حلقة ع الهوى و بعد عندي شي 200 سؤال بدي حضرهن - I'm really sorry about the clutter but this evening we have an episode live and I still have like 200 questions I need to prepare.

(عجقة ('aj'a) means congestion or "a lot of stuff everywhere". I've normally seen it used as عجقة سير meaning "congested traffic" or "a traffic jam".)

عن جد بعتذر انه جيت بلا تليفون حتى – I apologize for coming without even a telephone call.

(telephone rings)

هدول الولاد. الله يستر. الو؟ اي ماما؟ - It’s the kids. God protect. Hello? Yes, Mom.

(The phrase الله يستر is said when you want God to make sure everything is alright or help with something. The root ستر has to do with pulling curtains or a veil over stuff to hide or protect. ستارة means curtains.

In Arabic it is common for a mom, dad, aunt, uncle, etc to address kids by using their own name. Like we see here, the mom calls her child "mom". I don't think there's anything like that in English.)

احمد عم يضربها لنور – Ahmad is hitting Noor.

(This means the same thing as احمد عم يضرب نور . In Levantine it can be said like this as well, though.)

طيب حبيبي ما تخاف هلق رح شوف شو بدي اعمل. سوري بس لحظة. ابو ناجي؟ كيفك انا فرح. عمول معروف فيك تطللي ع البيت شوف بس ليش احمد و نور عم بيخبطو بعضن؟ الله يخليلياك ابو ناجي. إذا في شي خبرني. اوكي باي – Ok, baby. Don’t worry. Now I’ll see what I can do. Sorry. One moment. Abu Naji? How are you? This is Farah. Do me a favor. Can you look in on the house for me and see why Ahmad and Noor are fighting? God keep you for me, Abu Naji. Let me know if there’s anything. Ok bye.

(عمول معروف means "do me a favor". You can't really look at it and figure out what it means. You just have to memorize it. If you use MSA rules then a معروف is "a known". "Do me a known" makes no sense.)


انا من شان هيك جايي لعندك – This is why I came.

(لعندك literally means "to you")

لانه الولاد عم بيخبطو بعضن؟ - Because the kids are fighting?

لا. بصراحة من شان عدة اشياء. اولاً بدي اشكرك على الربورتاج عن جد كتير حلو لو ما بستاهل قد ما سببتلك مشاكل بيوم التصوير. و شغلة تانية كمان بدي اعتذر على إللي سببتلكياه بالبيت. كمان بدي قلك انه احمد بده متابعة. و الدكتور زوين -سامعة فيها مو هيك؟ - هي معالجة نفسية للاطفال يللي بتطلع ع التلفزيونات و هي بتطلع عندكن هون كمان – No. Frankly for a few reasons. First of all I want to thank you for the report. It was really very nice even though I don’t deserve it because of how many problems I caused you on the day of filming. And the second thing, I also want to apologize about what I caused for you at your house. I also want to tell you that Ahmad needs looking after. And Dr. Zwain - you’ve heard of her, right? – she is a psychologist for children who goes on TV and she’ll come to you here too.

(بستاهل means "I deserve")

بعرفها – I know her.

اي فهي بنت عمتي و... فإذا بتريدي... – Yes, she’s my cousin and… if you want…

مرسي كتير. عم عذبك كتير معي – Thanks a lot. I’m torturing you a lot.

("I'm torturing you" is basically like saying "I'm putting you out")

ولو ما في عذاب ابداً – No way. It's no torture at all.

بس بصراحة انا ما عم بفهم إهتمامك الزايد – But frankly, I’m not understanding why you care so much.

بصراحة انا انسان كتير صادق. ما بخطط للاشياء. بس حس انه بدي اعمل شي بعمله من دون لا سؤالات و لا جوابات – Frankly, I’m a very truthful person. I don’t plan things. When I feel that I want to do something, I do it without questions or answers.

مسيور تيو إذا انت انسان صادق, انا انسانة صادقة و صريحة كمان. اولاً بدي اشكرك على اهتمامك فيّ و بالولاد. و تانياً بتمنى عليك تضلك بعيد عننا لانه انا مرأة ارملة و وضعي مش كتير بيسمحلي ابني صداقات مع رجال و خاصةً زيارات مفاجأة هيك بالشغل و حتى عندنا بالبيت – Mr. Theo, if you’re a truthful person, I am a truthful and frank person as well. Firstly, I want to thank you for your caring about me and about the kids. And secondly I want you to stay away from us because I’m a widow and my situation doesn’t much allow me to build friendships with men and especially surprise visits like this at work and even at our house.

Very Egyptian Phrases

Egyptian is a very distinctive dialect. There are several words that give it away. You've got فين (feen, where), كده (kida, like this), أوي (awi, very), and they pronounce all their ج (j) as English G's. It's hard to confuse Egyptian with another dialect once you've had some exposure to it. This post is basically a sampling of some very Egyptian phrases.

1. يا راجل انت جننت ولا ايه؟ (Ya Ragil enta gannent wala ee) - Man, have you gone crazy or what?

The word ولا means "or" in Egyptian and in other dialects. It's a combination of و (and) and لا (no), but just remember that it means "or". جنن means "to go crazy". The word مجنون (crazy) which is usually one of the first words any Arabic student learns comes from the same root.

2. بقلك ايه (ba'ulak ee) - I'll tell you what...

This is used the same way we use it in English. You can say it before you tell someone something.

3. هو ده الكلام (huwa da alkalaam) - That's what I'm talking about

Literally this means "that is the talk". When something goes the way you want it to or someone says something you agree with you can use this phrase.

4. مش كده (mish kida)- Isn't it like that? مش هيك, أليس كذلك

It takes a lot of exposure to different Arabic dialects before you can differentiate between accents, but before you can do that there are words that are very specific to certain dialects. The word كده is specific to Egyptian. If you hear it then you are definitely listening to Egyptian dialect. كده literally means "like this".

5. ايه إللي جابك هنا (ee illi gaabak hena) - What brings you here?

This can be said in a mean way or if you're just wondering why someone is there. It's all about tone.

6. بجد (bigad) - For real

This is the same as Levantine عن جد. It can be translated as "really", "for real", "seriously", etc.

7. بصو بقى يا جماعة (busu ba'a ya gamaa'a) - Look, everyone.

This would be said to get the attention of a group of people. بص means "look". بقى is a strange word that basically just gives emphasis. It also means "to become" in some sentences.

8. رايحة فين يا حببتي (rayha feen ya habibti) - Where are you going baby?

I put this one here because it's very Egyptian. فين is "where". It comes from في اين which is MSA. Also, the way they say حببتي (habibti) instead of حبيبتي (habibati).

9. وحشتني قوي (wahashtani awi) - I missed you very much.

This phrase took a while to wrap my mind around. You would think it would be وحشتك (wahashtak), right? After all, in English we say I missed you. But in Egyptian they do it the other way around. So if you wanted to say "Did you miss me?" you'd say وحشتك؟ , but "I missed you" is وحشتني. I think of it as "You made me miss you." The action is being done to the other person.