Colloquial Egyptian Arabic expressions

مكحكح (mkaHkaH) or مهكع (mihakka3)
Broken-down, decrepit. Can be used to describe someone who's old and in bad health, or an old, broken-down object like a car.

ملحلح (mlaHlaH)
Lively and resourceful, enterprising

ماليش | ماعنديش مزاج (maliiš/ma3andiiš mazaag)
I'm not in the mood, I don't feel like it
ماعنديش مزاج دلوقتي للحكاية دى (ma3andiiš mazaag dilwa'ti lil-Hekaaya di)
I'm not in the mood for that right now.

نفسي (nifsi)
"I'd like to" or "I wish to/really wish I could"
نفسى اسافر لبنان (nifsi asaafir lebnaan)
I'd like to travel to Lebanon.

مبلغ (mablaġ)
(1) an amount or sum (of money)
اديت له شيك بمبلغ عشرة جنيه (iddet-lu šek bi-mablaġ 3ašara gneih)
I gave him a check for the amount of ten pounds.

(2) a large amount or great extent
المسافة كانت مبلغ (il-masaafa kaanit mablaġ)
It was a considerable distance.

عشان تعرفي مبلغ حبي ليكي (3ašaan ti3rafi mablaġ Hubbi liiki)
so that you should know how much I love you

زنّ - يزنّ (زنّ) على (zann - yizinn [zann] 3ala)
To nag, whine, or pester someone (lit. to buzz/hum).

رزل (rizil)
Someone impertinent who gives others a hard time

باين على (baayin 3ala)
To appear or seem a certain way
باين عليها مش مبسوطة (baayin 3aleiha miš mabsuuTa)
She doesn't look happy.

باين عليك متضايق (baayin 3aleik mitDayyi')
You seem annoyed.

لحلوح (ج) لحاليح (laHluuH (pl.) laHaliiH)
Slang for a pound (money), especially in the context of bribery

فوّل على (fawwil 3ala)
To jinx someone by mentioning possible misfortune

عمل له حركة وسخة (3mal lu Haraka wisxa)
To play s.o. a dirty trick (lit. a dirty move)

مسمار جحا (musmaar goHa)
Goha's nail. An excuse or pretext to keep one's foot in the door. Goha is a popular character from folktales. The story goes that he sold his house except for one nail, with a stipulation that he could come back and do whatever he wanted with the nail whenever. So later whenever he would get annoyed with the new owner of the house, he would come back and hammer on the nail.

وليمة (ج) ولايم (wiliima (pl.) walaayim)
The standard meaning is "banquet," but whereas a banquet in English is a formal event, wiliima can be used to describe an informal get-together or party with lots of food.

عمل حسابه على كدة (3amal Hisaabu 3ala kida)
To take s.t. into account and plan for it.

مسك - يمسك (مسك) (misik - yimsik [mask])
(1) To take hold of or grab; (2) to capture or arrest; (3) to take on or be in charge of (e.g. a job); (4) to stick, adhere, hold; (4) to harp on or keep on about
مسكوا له الغلطة اللى عملها (miskuu-lu l-ġalTa lli 3amalha)
They kept reminding him of his mistake.

مسك - يمسك في (misik - yimsik fi)
To start a fight with (s.o.), or to invite pressingly or insist that someone accept your invitation

لمّ - يلمّ (lamm - yilimm)
To collect or gather s.t., like money

اتلمّ على (itlamm 3ala)
To gather around or gang up on (s.o.)

علقة (3al'a)
A beating or thrashing
ضربته علقة جامدة \ سخنة (Darabtu 3al'a gamda/suxna)
I really beat him up/gave him a good thrashing.

زي الأطرش في الزفة (zayy il-aTraš fiz-zaffa)
Really out of it; describes someone who doesn't know what's going on around him (lit. like a deaf man at a wedding)

يدوب (yadoob)
Barely, hardly
انا يدوب واخد نفسي (ana yadoob waaxid nafasi)
I've barely caught my breath.

انا يدوب ماخدتش نفسي (ana yadoob maxadtiš nafasi)
either "I'm just on the point of catching my breath" or "I've just this very second caught my breath."

الفار لعب في عبّه (il-faar le3eb fi 3ebbu.)
He smelled a rat, began to have suspicions. (Lit. the mouse played in the gap between s.o.'s shirt and chest.)

مكسّح (mikassaH)
Literally mikassaH means crippled, but it can also mean really exhausted, so tired you can't move.

متدروخ (mitdarwax)
Literally "dizzy," but it can also mean really exhausted.

قرق - يقرق (قرق) ('ara' - yi'ro' ['ara'])
To complain about someone enviously, in an "evil eye" kind of way

راسه ناشفة (raasu našfa)
He's hard-headed, stubborn (lit. his head is dry)

نحس (naHs)
Bad luck, ill omen; you can call a person naHs if they bring bad luck

لا أبيض ولا اسود (la abyaD wala iswid)
No money at all (lit. neither black nor white)
ماعندوش لا ابيض ولا اسود (ma3anduuš la abyaD wala iswid)
He's penniless.

زي علب كبريت (zayy 3elab kabriit)
Like packs of matches (the equivalent of "packed like sardines")

أفلام الموسم (aflaam il-muusim)
The latest trend (lit. the season's [current] movies)

فيلم هندي (film hindi)
Something can be described as an Indian (Bollywood) movie if it's really fantastical and impossible.

تحفة (toHfa)
A collector's item or objet d'art; can be used to describe something/someone amusingly odd or eccentric

خنفس (xunfis)
A hippie or guy with long hair. Lit. "beetle" (because of the Beatles).

بيئة (bii'a)
Used as an adjective to describe something trashy, low-life, or the Egyptian equivalent of "ghetto" (as used as a disparaging adjective). Look up Saad El Soghayar videos to get an idea of what "bii'a" refers to. Lit. "environment."

قطّع في فروة __. ('aTTa3 fi farwit __.)
To gossip about someone. Lit. to cut someone's fur.

حنبلي (Hambali)
The literal meaning of this word refers to the Hanbali school of interpretation in Sunni Islam, which is generally considered the strictest of the four traditional mazaahib. When used outside this context in colloquial Arabic, though, it describes someone who is very strict — a martinet. It can also have a connotation of religious strictness.

شردوحة | شرشوحة (šarduuHa/šaršuuHa)
A tacky, loud, low-class woman. Sort of like a fishwife, except without the vendor connotation.

حين ميسرة (Hiina maysara)
When things get better. This expression is fuSHa, but it's commonly used in Egypt regardless. For example, if someone lent you money, you could tell them, هرجّع لك الفلوس حين ميسرة (haragga3lak il-filuus Hiina maysara), I'll pay you back when things get better for me.

بار - يبور (baar - yibuur)
To get past a marriageable age, become an old maid.
هي بارت ومش لاقية حد يجوّزها (heyya baaret wa miš la'ya Hadde yigawwizha)
She's gotten too old to get married and can't find anyone to marry her.

This is never said about men. You might say هو بار بوالديه (howwa baar bi-walideih), but this would mean that he takes care of his parents well. This expression comes from البر والطقوة (il-birr wiT-Taqwa) — used in reference to organizations that take care of the eldery.

معزز مكرم (mo3azzaz mokarram)
Content and well-taken-care-of. Usually used in the context of a son or daughter staying at home with their parents.

بقى - يبقى (ba'a - yib'a)
This can be a verb meaning "to become" or more generally "to be." But it can also be a particle used to follow up on a statement, like "So..." or "Then..."
لو عايز تنجح، يبقى لازم تذاكر (law 3aayiz tingaH, yeb'a laazim tizaakir)
If you want to succeed, [then] you have to study.

خلصت وخدت لسانس الحقوق...اعمل ايه بقى؟ (khalaSt wa-xadt lesans el-Hu'uu'...a3mel eih ba'a?)
I finished and got my law [now] what do I do?

متكبّر على (metkabbar 3ala)
Bigheaded. To say that someone is متكبر على خلق الله (metkabbar 3ala xal' allaah) — looks down on God's creations — or متكبر على الناس اللى حواليه (metkabbar 3ala n-naas illi Hawaleih) — looks down on the people around him — means that the person is really full of himself and thinks he's better than everyone else.

ديله في سنانه (deilu fi sinaanu)
Lit. "his tail in his teeth." Based on the idea that in "baladi" areas where people wear traditional galabeyyas, if someone gets into a fight or some trouble and ends up running away, he takes the "tail" of his galabeyya and puts it in his mouth so he doesn't trip over it as he runs off. This expression is the equivalent of "with his tail between his legs"; it describes someone running ingloriously away from a defeat.
هربوا ديلهم في سنانهم (hiribu deilhum fi sinaanhum)
They escaped with their tails between their legs.

انفذ - ينفذ بجلده (infad - yinfed bi-geldu)
To escape by the skin of your teeth.

ضرب كرسي في الكلوب (Darab kursi fel-klob)
To hit the lights with a chair in order to turn them off. Based on the idea that in a "baladi" 'ahwa or place like that, when there's a fight, someone might grab a chair and use it to knock out the lights so they can do whatever they want in the darkness, without being seen. So this expression describes someone who's trying to do bad things under the cover of darkness (figurative or literal).

من بقك لباب السما (min bo''ak li-baab is-sama)
From your lips to God's ear (lit. heaven's gate), i.e. "I hope that what you're predicting/hoping really happens."

اذا عرف السبب، بطل العجب (iza 3eref is-sabab, baTal il-3agab)
An expression meaning that once you learn the reason for something, you won't be surprised or amazed by it anymore. Used to explain curiosity or express relief that now you know why something happened.

مصلحجي (maSlaHgi)
Someone who is totally self-interested and opportunistic. From مصلحة (maSlaHa), "interest." Synonym with منفعجي (manfa3gi).

على ودنه (3ala widnu)
الفساد والنصب بقت على ودنه (il-fasaad win-naSb ba'et 3ala widnu)
Corruption and swindling have [taken over] everywhere.

كلام فاضي | كلام ولا بيودي ولا يبجيب (kalaam faaDi/kalaam wala biywaddi wala biigiib)
"Kalaam faaDi" (or "kalaam faariġ") is "empty talk" — just words or hot air. كلام ولا بيودي ولا يبجيب means "talk that doesn't accomplish anything" — useless talk.

كلام في الهوا (kalaam fel-hawa)
Used to describe talk that no one will listen to. For example, if someone was complaining and complaining about the government, you could tell them, بتتكلم في الهوا (bititkallem fel-hawa), since the government will never listen to their complaints. Lit. "talking in the air."

شغل على مية بيضة (šoġl 3ala mayya beiDa)
A cunning, well-planned plot.

قعد على قلبهم ('a3ad 3ala 'albohom)
To impose on someone while staying with them. If someone has been staying at your house for a while and you're getting sick of them, you could say they're قاعدين على قلبك ('a3diin 3ala albak), lit. sitting on your heart.

أم الكبائر (omm il-kabaa'ir)
In Islam, it means the biggest sin you can commit. Colloquially, it's more loosely used to mean something like "the worst thing you can do."

إن الله لا يغير ما بقوم حتى يغيروا ما بأنفسهم (inna allaaha la yuġayyiru ma bi-qawmin Hatta yuġayyiru ma bi'anfusihim)
This is from sura 13 (ar-ra3d) in the Qur'an. It means "God doesn't change the condition of people until they change it themselves." Used to urge people to take the initiative to change themselves, instead of waiting for some outside force.

من شوشته لحد أخمص رجله (min šuusitu li-Hadde axmoS riglu)
From the top of his head to the tips of his toes.

كداب الزفة (kaddaab iz-zeffa)
A big liar. الزفة is the wedding procession; this expression originates in the fact that many people join the wedding procession of people they hate.

عقدة الخواجة (3o'dit il-xawaaga)
The feeling, common in Egypt, that local things are inferior and foreign — especially Western — things are better. A sort of cultural inferiority complex, with the additional connotation of admiration of foreign things simply because they're foreign. For example, people often think that foreign brands/imports must be higher quality than local. Or, if an Arab government brought in a bunch of Brits to write a report on the internal workings of that Arab country and give recommendations on how to improve things, without the input of a single Arab, you might say it's because عندهم عقدة الخواجة (3andohom 3o'dit il-xawaaga). Literally, the "foreigner complex."

معلش (ma3alešš) or معلهش (ma3alihš)
A common expression that can mean "Sorry" or "Oh well, never mind." A popular joke goes that in Egypt, everything is done the IBM way — "In šaa' allaah" (God willing), "Bukra" (tomorrow), "Ma3alešš" ("Sorry/Oh well"). That is, people tell you they'll do something, God willing; then when you ask them why it wasn't done, they say they'll do it tomorrow. And when in the end you find that they never did it, they comfort you with a "Sorry." As one Egyptian blogger puts it:
...some people say that the bane of egypt is the word “Inshallah”, because if someone says it to ya, it almost always gurantess that they won’t do what you asked them to do. Egyptians actually include it in what they call the “failure” acronym, also known as I.B.M.! The I stands for Inshallah, which means “god willing”; the B stands for Bokrah, which means Tomorow, as in “will do it Tomorow”; and the M stands for “Maalesh”, which is word that conveys solace if you are met with failure or frustration. Those 3 words are usually given in that order for a reason, they compliment eachother as the perfect Trifecta to justify failure. At first they promise u to do it “Inshallah”, and when you wonder why shit isn’t done, they tell you “Bokrah” and when you relaise that nothing is gonna ever get done and confront them with your realisation they tell you “Maalesh”. I.B.M. people, making Egypt an economic failure for more then 20 years now.

مية مية (meyya meyya)
Can mean either "great" or "definitely." Literally, "100%."

يللا (yalla)
"Come on" or "Let's go," often used with a connotation of "Hurry it up!" Ex. يللا بنا (yalla biina), "Let's go." Also sometimes used to mean something like "Ok, all right" when you've agreed on something with someone. People frequently say, "Yalla bye" at the end of phone conversations, for instance.

ساذج (saazig)
Naive. However, "saazig" has a more negative connotation than the English "naive" does; "saazig" is like being naive to the point of total cluelessness.

مرتبط (mortabeT)
Literally "connected," but can be used to mean "taken" in a romantic sense; the person in question has a boyfriend or girlfriend.
مين الحلو ده؟ مرتبط؟ (miin il-Helw da?! mortabeT?)
Who's that cute guy?! Does he have a girlfriend?

بالعافبة (bil-3afya)
(1) only barely
الطرق دلوقتي مزدحمة اكتر من الاول جدا، والمرافق بتستوعب الناس بالعافية (iT-Turu' dilwa'ti muzdaHama aktar mil-awwil giddan, wal-maraafi' bitistaw3ib in-naas bil-3afya)
The roads have gotten much more crowded than before, and the infrastructure barely has room for [all] the people.

(2) by force
لما تفوقت فى مجال الطب، حمدت ربنا إن أبويا دخلنى كلية الطب بالعافية (lamma tafawwa't fi magaal iT-Tibb, Hamadt rabbinna inn abuuya daxxalni kolliyyit iT-Tibb bil-3afya)
When I did so well in medicine, I was grateful (lit. I thanked God) that my father made me enter med school.

على الهركرك (3ala l-horokrok)
Barely, just enough.
الميزانية ماشية على الهركرك (il-mizaniyya mašya 3ala l-horokrok)
I'm just getting by with my budget.

لعبي (li3abi)
When used to describe a man, this means feckless or frivolous — someone who doesn't like to work, just play.
الولد ده لعبي، مابيذاكرش ابدا، عايز يلعب كورة وبس (il-walad da li3abi, mabiyzaakirš abadan, 3aayiz yil3aab koora wa bass)
That boy is feckless, he never studies and just wants to play soccer.

When used to descibe a woman, it means that she is very flirtatious with lots of men.
المرا دى لعبية، دايما بتجري ورا الرجالة (il-mara di li3abiyya, dayman bitigri wara r-reggaala)
That woman's a total flirt, she's always running after men. (Very negative connotation.)

بالذمة (biz-zimma)
Honestly, really.
بالذمة، دى مش مسخرة؟ (biz-zimma, di miš masxara?)
Really, isn't this preposterous/outrageous?

بيعيد ويزيد (biy3iid wiyziid)
To keep going on and on about something.
المفروض ما نقعدش نعيد ونزيد فى الكلام وندور على اخطاء علشان نمسكها على الناس (il-mafruuD mani'3odš ni3iid winziid fil-kalaam wa-ndawwar 3ala axTaa' 3alašaan nimsikha 3ala n-naas)
We shouldn't sit around going on and on about stuff and searching for mistakes so we can hold them over people.

لقّح - يلقّح (تلقيح) بالكلام على (la''aH - yila''aH [tal'iiH] bil-kalaam 3ala)
To make insulting insinuations/remarks about.
المفروض بقى نبطل شغل العيال واقصد بكده ان الناس تقعد تلقح بالكلام على بعض ده مش صح اللى ما يقدرش يقول لحد كلمه فى وشه يبقى ما يقولهاش خالص ويحتفظ بيها لنفسه (il-mafruuD ba'a nibaTTal šoġl il-3iyaal wa-a'Sud bi-kida inn in-naas ti'3od tila''aH bil-kalaam 3ala ba3D, da miš SaHH, illi mayi'darš yi'uul li-Hadd kelma fi wiššu yib'a mayi'olhaaš xaaliS wa-yiHtafiZ biiha li-nafsu)
We should stop acting like children, and what I mean by that is that people sit making insulting insinuations about each other; that's not right, if you can't say something to someone's face, then you shouldn't say it at all, just keep it to yourself.

نكّد - ينكّد (تنكيد) على (nakkid - yinakkid (tankiid) 3ala)
To make someone's life miserable.
حماتي مش سايباني في حالي حتى يوم الفرح نكدت عليا (Hamaati miš saybaani fi Haali, Hatta yoom il-faraH nakkadit 3alayya)
My mother-in-law won't leave me alone; even on the wedding day she made me miserable.

استحمل - يستحمل (istaHmal - yistaHmil)
To bear, put up with.
استحملت كتير وكنت بسكت وما بردش عليها بأي كلمه (istaHmalt kitiir wa-kunt baskut wa-mabaroddiš 3aleiha bi-ayya kelma)
I put up with a lot; I would keep quiet and not respond to her with a single word.

اتلكك - يتلكك (itlakkik - yitlakkik)
To search for or pick on something trivial as an excuse (to get mad, etc).
كل يوم والتاني بتتلكك لي في اي حاجه (kulle yoom wit-taani bititlakkik liyya fi ayya Haaga)
Every other day she finds something tiny to get mad at me about.

الغمز واللمز (il-ġamz wil-lamz)
Criticizing and slandering; maligning and defaming.

فرط (farT)
An excess/extreme of.
أنا كنت أعاني من فرط التسامح والتساهل مع الآخرين (ana kunt a3aani min farT it-tasaamuH wit-tasaahul ma3l-axriin)
I used to suffer from an excess of forgiveness and lenience with other people.

مابطيقش (mabaTi'š)
I can't stand (something).
أنا بكره محمد سعد! دمه يلطش، مابطيقش أتفرج عليه (ana bakrah moHammed sa3ad! dammu yolToš, mabaTi'š atfarrag 3aleih)
I hate Mohamed Saad! He's so annoying and unfunny, I can't stand to watch him.

مهبّب (mihabbib)
Bad, lousy. Lit. "blackened with soot."
يا نهار اسود! يا نهار اسود ومهبب! (yanhar iswid! yanhar iswid wimhabbib!)
An expression of frustration. Lit. "Oh black day! Oh black, sooty day!"

احتار - يحتار (iHtaar - yiHtaar)
Literally, to be confused, but it can also mean "to try your hardest and still fail."
احترت يا ربي، احترت! (iHtart ya rabbi, iHtart!) after bickering with someone who's impossible to please
Oh my God, I can't win!

عينيه مليانة (3eineih malyaana)
He's economically comfortable/well-off. Lit. "his eyes are full."

بتهيألي \ متهيألي (bithayya'li/mithayya'li)
"I think..." or "It seems to me..." Not as definite/strong as بعتقد (ba3taqid), "I believe."
100% مش عارف بس متهيألي ان الكلام ده صح (miš 3aaref, bass mithayya'li inn il-kalaam da SaHH meyya bil-meyya)
I don't know, but it seems to me that that's completely right.

يده خفيفة (iidu xafiifa)
He's a thief, he's light-fingered (lit. his hands are light).

كرشه واسع (kiršu waasi3)
Lit. "his potbelly is wide." It can either mean that someone eats a lot, or that he takes a lot of bribes.

ماسألش - مابيسألش في (masa'alš - mabyis'alš fi)
To not care about (lit. not ask about).

غرقان \ نايم في العسل (ġar'aan/naayim fil-3asal)
Completely ignorant/unaware of what's going on around you. Kind of like "living under a rock." (Lit. drowning/sleeping in honey.)
الدنيا مقلوبة وانتو نايمين في العسل (id-donia ma'luuba wintu naymiin fil-3asal)
The world's been turned upside-down while you were sleeping.

زيادة الخير خيرين (ziyaadit il-xeir xeirein)
You can't have too much of a good thing. You could say this to someone if they give you a gift of something that you already have.

مسح - يمسح بـ__ الارض (misiH - yimsaH bi-s.o. il-arD)
To wipe the floor with someone. Used just like the English expression.
هي عايزة حد يهزّأها ويمسح بها الارض (heyya 3ayza Hadd yihazza'ha wa-yimsaH biiha l-arD)
She needs someone to cut her down to size and wipe the floor with her.

ماجابتوش ولّادة (magabituuš wallaada)
This expression describes someone who thinks they're so great, no one else can come close to their amazingness.
حاسس ان موضوع البنات مش لاقيه ده خلى كل واحد فى البلد فاكر نفسه لقطه و ماجابتوش ولاده (Haasis innu mawDuu3 il-banaat miš la'ya da xalla kulle waaHid fil-balad faakir nafsu lu'Ta wa-magabituuš wallaada)
I feel like this situation, with girls not being able to find [husbands], has made everyone in the country think himself a real catch and the world's most amazing guy.

ده مشكلته انه الإعلام هلل له كتير وخلاه يفتكر انه المخرج اللى ماجابتوش ولادة، صحيح هو له حاجات كويسة لكن مش للدرجة دى (da moškiltu innu l-i3laam hallil lu kitiir wa-xallaah yiftikir innu l-muxrig illi magabituuš wallaada, saHiiH hoowa lu Hagaat kwayyesa laakin miš lid-daraga di)
His problem is the media made a big deal about him and made him think he's a director like no other; yeah, he's good, but not that good.

طزّ (Tozz)
A not-very-polite interjection. Used on its own, it's equivalent to "So what!" or "Whatever!" Used with the preposition في, it means "To hell with..." A few years ago Mohamed Mahdi Akef, then the head of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, famously said طز في مصر (Tozz fi maSr), "To hell with Egypt," or "Screw Egypt," and that caused some controversy.

All vocabulary lists More colloquial expressions/idioms