Colloquial Egyptian Arabic expressions
Here are some colloquial expressions used in Egyptian 3ammiyya (and only in 3ammiyya; I didn't list words that are also found in fuSHa with the same meanings). I focused on interesting idioms, very commonly-used words and phrases, and words that can have completely different meanings from the standard meaning. And I tried to list only expressions that I've actually heard used, ones that are relatively frequent or at least interesting.حطّه على الرفّ (HaTTuh 3ala r-raff)
To put someone on the shelf (not make use of their abilities)
Like I said before, Zamalek (an Egyptian soccer team) bought Khaled Saad (a Jordanian soccer player) when they heard that Ahli (Zamalek's rival team) wanted him. They paid $400,000 for him, and then they put him on the shelf.
وجع - يوجع راسه (waga3 - yiwga3 raasu)
To annoy or inconvenience someone (lit. hurt their head)
Don't worry about questions. I'll definitely ask more (questions) and annoy you...but you're the one who asked (for questions), and I can't refuse you!
ناس مابتجيش الا بالعين الحمرا (naas matbitgiiš illa bil-3ein il-Hamra)
People who only do things the hard way, like after being yelled at (lit. who only come by the red/evil eye)
Some of the Egyptian people are kind with big hearts, and you can only deal with them calmly and kindly (lit. it's no good [to deal] with them except with calmness and kind talk). And some will only do things the hard way.
مقطع السمكة وديلها (mi'aTTa3 is-samaka we-delha)
A "player," generally used in a negative or disapproving way, though men might sometimes use it in a more positive way.
As for that "player," I wouldn't be the first girl in his life, plus, as soon as he got tired of me, he'd chuck me aside and get someone else to take my place, and of course I'd never accept such treatment.
A womanizer or philanderer. Connotations are similar to those of مقطع السمكة وديلها.
Nice, kind guys who say all the right things (lit. have a sweet tongue) turn out to be cheaters and womanizers with a wandering eye. If they don't cheat on you, at least they'll drive you crazy with jealousy.
عنده وشّ (3andu wašš)
Someone crazy (lit. who has a buzz/hum)
Mortada Mansour is crazy, he thinks the whole country is a bunch of thieves and corrupt, and that he's the only clean one.
ماعندوش دمّ (ma3anduuš damm)
He has no shame (lit. no blood). There is also a stronger variant, ماعندوش دمّ (ma3anduuš riiHit id-damm) — He doesn't (even) have the smell of blood.
Anyone who'd leave this country after the people who died for her has no shame.
Connections; someone you know who can grease the wheels for you. This form of corruption is present on a high level, but also in everyday life; if you know the right people, you can manage to get through bureaucracy quicker, get a job, etc. — things that would be difficult or impossible without such connections. Colloquially, some people in Jordan and the Gulf call it "vitamin wow." In more standard Arabic, it's called a wasTa (واسطة); in Tunisia it's كتاف (ktaaf, literally "shoulders"). كوسا literally means "zucchini."
Are these elections for the local council or for the National Party*? I'm sure the ten [candidates] who aren't in the National Party had major connections that got them to win.
* The National Democratic Party; the ruling party in Egypt under Presidents Sadat and Mubarak.
بين فكيّ الكمّاشة (bein fakkeiyy il-kammaaša)
Between a rock and a hard place (lit. between the plier's jaws)
خرجنا\طلعنا من حفرة\نقرة ووقعنا في دحديرة (xaragna/Tili3na min Hofra/no'ra wa wi'i3na fi daHdiira)
We jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire (lit. we got out of a hole and fell down a slope)
[Referring to the transition of power from Hosni Mubarak to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, headed by Field Marshal Mohamed Tantawi] On February 11, I said that the Field Marshal and Mubarak were two sides of the same coin, and that we jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire.
The Military Council is determined to abort the revolution and make it fail, whatever the cost, from prison to torture to making charges stick to political activists...we jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire.
نزل من عيني (nizil min 3eini)
He went down in my estimation, my opinion of him fell (lit. he fell from my eye)
Honestly, I used to like this girl at first because she's talented, but now it's over, I lost respect for her.
على مهلك (3ala mahlak)
Slowly, take your time; you can say this to a driver to try and get him to slow down.
Why are you in a hurry, slow down. Haste makes waste, and taking your time is safe. [Lit. in haste there is regret, and in taking one's time there is safety]
مافيش فايدة (mafiiš fayda)
It’s no use, it’s pointless
I've tried everything and it's still no good. That's it, I'm turning to God [lit. our lord].
It does no good, it's useless. It can also mean "it's not right/good" or "one can't/shouldn't."
A Doctor? Now it's 7 at night, and they all close here at 5. And besides, you have to make an appointment [first]. And you can't go to any doctor (more literally: any doctor won't do), we have to use the doctor we're registered with. And suppose I want an emergency visit; I'd have to call them at 9 in the morning.
It's not good to ever use red lipstick in the morning, no matter how happy you are, or gold or copper-colored or bright fuschia. You shouldn't put on any black, silver, or any kind of glittery eyeshadow when you're going to work. And it's not good to use fake eyelashes when we're going out for lunch with our friends or going to nightclubs, for example.
مش معقول (miš ma3'uul)
An expression of astonishment, disbelief, or indignation, like "No way!" It can have other meanings, like "Incredible/great!" "Unbelievable!" "That's horrible!" "How annoying!" Lit. not reasonable.
I said it was amazing that after 24 hours, I got a response, when I was sitting for years without a response to a thing. It's incredible, the world must've really changed.
I really think Mohamed Barakat [a soccer player for the Ahli team] takes steroids. Guys, he runs for the whole match and [even] at the 90-minute mark, he runs without seeming tired. There's no way that's natural.
زي الفل (zayy il-full)
Perfect (lit. like jasmine)
ولا يهمّك (walla yhimmak)
مافيش مشكلة (mafiiš moškila)
خللي بالك من (xalli baalak min)
Watch out for, take care of (s.t.)
Sit outside, look after the baby, and I'll make tea and come back.
في المشمش (fil-mišmiš)
Never; when pigs fly. Used to express skepticism about something happening (lit. in the apricot season)
Sweetie, you say the word and I'll bring you whatever you want. - [a cynical response:] Yeah, right!
Why (especially, particularly)
يا سلام (ya salaam)
Wow! Expression of surprise (lit. oh peace)
يا خبر أبيض | اسود (ya xabar abyaD/iswid)
Expresses surprise about a piece of news; you can say just يا خبر! or يا خبر ابيض in reaction to any news; يا خبر اسود is used in reaction to bad news.
مالوش دعوى بـ (maluuš da3wa bi)
He has nothing to do with (s.t.) or no right to interfere in it; you can tell someone مالكش دعوى بي (malakš da3wa biyya) to tell them to leave you alone and stop meddling in your affairs.
زي القمر (zayy il-'amar)
Beautiful (lit. like the moon)
A slangy intensifier.
an awesome picture
بحبك موت (baHebbak moot)
I love you so much.
انا تعبانة موت (ana ta3baana moot)
I'm really tired.
يموت في (yimuut fi)
To be crazy about something (lit. to die in)
مهووس بـ (mahwuus bi)
Crazy about s.t.
A fan, enthusiast or devotee.
The important thing is not to be obsessed with showing off, sitting and jumping all over him with what you know, your money, your admirers, or your relationships. Believe me, you'll look really bad and he'll feel right away that there's something wrong with you (lit. that you have something missing), or he'll get scared he's not on your level and run off. If you're this kind of person, (find a way to) deal with it.
And whenever she comes to talk to him about something he doesn't feel like talking about, he tells her, "You love misery, and you love making me miserable."
غاوي كورة (ġaawi kora)
a soccer fan
كييف (ج) كييفة (kayyiif (pl.) kayyiifa)
A buff or enthusiast; or a connoisseur or sophisticated devotee
a koshari fan
كييف مزيكا (kayyiif mazziika)
a music connoisseur
What's wrong with you? What's with you?
ضحك على (DiHik 3ala)
To fool, trick (lit. to laugh at)
قد الدنيا ('add id-donia)
(1) world-class, very big and important, a big-shot
He's a top-class doctor.
(2) very much
I love you a lot.
في آخر الدنيا (fi aaxer id-donia)
At the ends of the earth; can be used to indicate great distance
في شمال خط السما (fi šemaal xaTT is-sama)
Very far away
طويل الأمل (Tawiil il-amal)
It was a very long trip.
زي اللبلب (zayy il-liblib)
Fluently; used in reference to someone's language abilities
غصب عنه (ġaSb 3annu)
Forced on someone, against their will
بلّوه واشرب ميته (billuuh wišrib mayyetu)
Wet it and drink its water; used to denigrate a worthless or useless piece of paper
ده كلام أي كلام (da kalaam ayy kalaam)
That's a bunch of nonsense
الكلام ده (il-kalaam da)
A state of affairs or condition (lit. that talk); حكاية (Hekaaya, lit. story) can also be used in a similar way to mean matter/affair.
عشان خاطرك (3ašaan xaaTrak)
For your sake
بتلاتة مليم (bi-talaata milliim)
Worthless, poor-quality (lit. for three pennies)
طوّل بالك (Tawwal baalak)
بلسان طويل (bi-lisaan Tawiil)
Rudely, insultingly (lit. with a long tongue)
طول بعرض (Tuul bi-3arD)
Can be used in reference to a man to refer to their muscular build (lit. height by breadth)
By force (lit. by the arm)
حباله طويلة (Hibaalu Tawiila)
He takes a long time to get anything done (lit. his ropes are long)
زي سمن على عسل (zayy samn 3ala 3asal)
Used in reference to two people who get along really well (lit. like clarified butter on honey)
حرام عليك (Haraam 3aleik)
Shame on you
عالفاضي (3al faaDi)
اتكل على الله (ittakil 3al allah)
Depend on God; you can tell someone اتكل على الله to mean "Go away!"
حاجة غريبة (Haaga ġariiba)
دمّه خفيف (dammu xafiif)
He's fun to be around (lit. his blood is light). (The opposite expression would be دمّه تقيل dammu ti'iil, his blood is heavy.)
على حسابي (3ala Hisaabi)
On my bill; I'm the one who pays. Can be used to offer to pay for dinner, etc. (Lit. on my account)
على فكرة (3ala fikra)
By the way, incidentally
ضرب عليه بمبة (Darab 3aleih bomba)
To cheat s.o. of their money
مافيش حاجة اسمها (mafiiš Haaga ismaha)
There's no such thing as... (lit. there's nothing called...)
A spare; can be used in the context of a spare tire etc. or can mean an understudy in the context of theater
نمر | لئيم (ج) ليمه (nimr/la'iim [pl.] lu'ma)
Somone cunning and sly (نمر literally means "tiger")
راجل اخطبوط (raagul axTabuuT)
A corrupt, ruthless businessman who accumulates a lot of money (lit. an octopus)
زي الحصان (zayy il-HiSaan)
Used to describe someone who is strong and active (lit. like a horse)
زي القطة تاكل وتنكر (zayy il-'uTTa taakul wa tinkir)
Like the cat who eats and denies (that she just ate). Used to describe someone ungrateful.
Used to describe someone clever and astute (lit. a weasel, but it's not used insultingly like it would be in English)
أظرط من ستي إلى سيدي (aZraT min sitti ila siidi)
Used to describe two people who are worse than each other
Describes someone who knows all the tricks of his trade
طلّع عينيها (Talla3 3eineiha)
To give someone a hard time
لعّبها على الشناكل (la33abha 3alaš-šanaakil)
To give someone a hard time
Not just to give someone a hard time, to put them through the wringer. At the Military Academy, the non-commissioned officers say this to intimidate the cadets — هشيّبكو النهارده! (hašayyibku n-nahaarda!) It can also describe something really scary — ده موضوع يشيّب (da mawDuu3 yišayyib) Lit. to make s.o.'s hair turn white.
احترم نفسك (iHtirim nafsak)
Behave yourself, be polite (lit. respect yourself)
In addition to "tired," it can mean "sick, ill" or "poor, of bad quality."
I'm tired from last night's party.
هو تعبان أوي اليومين دول (howwa ta3baan 'awi il-yoomein dool)
He's really sick these days.
فيلم تعبان أوي (film ta3baan 'awi)
a lousy movie
Potbelly; you can call someone with a potbelly ابو كرش (abu kirš).
To cope or manage, to find a way to deal with something. (The more standard meaning is "to act or behave.")
I don't know how I'd cope if my husband died.
اعمل ايه في المشكلة دى؟ - اتصرف (a3mil eih fil-muškila di? - itSarraf)
What should I do about this problem? - Find your way out of it.
عينه صفرا (3einu Safra)
His eye is yellow; used to describe someone jealous
In addition to the usual meaning of "heat," Haraara can also mean an electric current in the context of a phone line. If someone is checking to see if there's a ring tone, you can ask them, في حرارة (fii Haraara?).
I couldn't call you, the line was dead.
الخط طار (il-xaTTe Taar)
The (phone) line went dead. Lit. "The line flew."
حطّ - يحطّ النقط على الحروف (HaTT - yiHoTT il-no'aT 3ala l-Horuuf)
To clarify something, make everything crystal-clear and precise. Lit. "to put the dots on the letters."
Now I'm going to explain everything and make it all clear.
خده تحت باطه (xaduh taHt baaTu)
To take someone under one's wing, be a friend to someone (lit. to take s.o. under one's armpit)
حتّة (ج) حتت (Hetta (pl.) Hetat)
Several meanings: (1) a piece or bit, like a piece of food or material; (2) place or neighborhood.
طلع - يطلع (Tili3 - yiTla3)
Aside from meaning "to go up," it can also mean "to turn out (to be s.t.)."
I thought he was a good man but he turned out to be a liar.
الاكل طلع حلو (il-akl Tili3 Helw)
The food turned out good.
يسرق الكحل من العين. (yisra' il-kuHl mil-3ein.)
He could steal the eyeliner from your eye. (Used to describe a big thief.)
حطّه في جيبه (HaTTuh fi geibu)
To put someone in one's pocket, have them at your beck and call
يفتح الله (yiftaH alla)
Said between a seller and buyer, if one doesn't accept the other's price; the meaning is like "May God open (another opportunity)."
نام - ينام (naam - yinaam)
Aside from meaning "to sleep," in the context of a tire or battery, naam can mean "to go flat," as in العجلة نايمة (il-3agala nayma), The tire is flat.
جدع (ج) جدعان (gada3 (pl.) gid3aan)
Gada3 can have several different meanings: (1) smart and hard-working; (2) someone with integrity and nobility of character; (3) a manly tough guy. A general, vague translation could be "a good guy." It can also be used to address a young man (يا جدع). It's not always used to describe men, but it often is; if a woman displays one of these characteristics, she can also be called a جدعة.
نضيف (ج) نضاف (niDiif (pl.) nuDaaf)
In addition to meaning "clean/free of impurities," نضيف can mean (1) presentable or neat and proper-looking; (2) honest, upright, morally decent; (3) high-quality, excellent.
Baladi can mean (1) local, traditional Egyptian (as in رقص بلدي ra'S baladi, local Egyptian-style dancing, or عيش بلدي 3eiš baladi, local coarse whole-meal bread); (2) common or garden, ordinary; (3) of the more rural or lower class; upper middle-class Cairenes often refer to something as being "baladi" in a condescending way; (4) vulgar
Often used as an interjection of annoyance, surprise, or frustration
على الله (3al-alla)
Can be used (1) when refusing alms to a beggar (as in "God will provide") or (2) to imply misgivings about an outcome.
The plumber told me he's coming right away - Let's hope so.
على طول (3ala Tuul)
3ala Tuul has several meanings: (1) straight ahead, as e.g. a direction for a driver; (2) right away, immediately; (3) continuously, incessantly
Bitaa3 is a flexible word with different meanings: (1) it can indicate possession, particularly in situations where the normal iDaafa structure might cause confusion.
the new student's book
نضارة شمس بتاعته (naDDarit šams bita3tu)
(2) In a more general sense, it can also indicate an association or a general tendency/inclination.
هو راجل بتاع الله (howwa raagil bitaa3 allaah)
He's a very religious man.
ده كلام بتاع ستات (da kalaam bitaa3 sittaat)
That's womanish talk.
انا مش بتاع جواز (ana miš bitaa3 gawaaz)
I'm not the marrying kind.
راجل بتاع نسوان (raagil bitaa3 niswaan)
(3) بتاع ايه (bitaa3 eih) can mean "Why, what for?" or "How come?"
Why should you take a pound?
بتاع ايه ماقلتلوش؟ (bitaa3 eih ma'ultiluuš?)
How come you didn't tell him?
(4) It can also indicate a genitive relationship.
Egypt's historical monuments
بتاع زمان (bitaa3 zamaan)
of a long time ago, in the old days
(5) Or it can indicate approximation, like تقريبا (ta'riiban) or حوالي (Hawaali).
I brought about a kilo.
(6) Especially with a "wa-" it can mean "and so on, and what not."
We went to the market and so forth.
يمكن نلاقي حتة جلد وبتاع (yimkin nilaa'i Hettet gild wi-btaa3)
We may find a bit of leather or what not.
(7) And finally, I hear it used frequently to mean "the thingamajig, the whatchamacallit."
Where's that thingummy?
حطّ صوابعه في الشقّ من (HaTT Sawaaba3u fiš-ša'' min)
To give on s.t., be completely fed up with it. Lit. to put one's fingers in the crack.
I've had it with those liars.
روحي طلعت (ruuHi Til3et)
Another way of saying "I'm fed up."
وقع الفاس في الراس (wi'i3 il-faas fir-raas)
Things have gone past the point of no return, there's nothing that can be done about it now. The situation is ended. (Lit. the hoe has fallen on the head)
كذا مرة (kaza marra)
شرب - يشرب (širib - yišrab)
Aside from meaning "to drink," شرب can also mean "to smoke" (ex. cigarettes or shisha), or "to absorb or soak in."
The walls absorb the sun all day.
على ما يرام (3ala mayraam)
مش ولا بدّ (miš wala bodd)
So-so, not very good.
مش بطال (miš baTTaal)
عرف - يعرف (3irif - yi3raf)
In addition to meaning "to know s.t.," 3araf can mean: (1) to have the ability to do s.t.
Can you swim?
(2) to manage to
I couldn't manage to get to sleep yesterday.
(3) to discover or find out s.t.
I kept coming and going to no avail until I realized he wanted some money.
(4) to recognize or distinguish s.t.
I didn't recognize you in your glasses.
(5) to show consideration for
People here show no consideration for one another.
ضربه على قفاه (Darabu 3ala 'afaah)
To fool someone, make a fool of him (lit. to hit someone on the back of the neck). To literally slap a man on the back of his neck is a huge insult in Egypt; it's seen as humiliating and degrading to one's manhood.
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