Somalis are known for their love and excessive use of proverbs. Here are 17 of the most famous Somali proverbs literally translated into English:
Aaddane eed ma waayo Human beings are never without a fault
Abaal nin gala waa la arkay, nin gudase lama arag. Those who accept a favour are many (have been seen), but those who pay back are none (have not been seen).Abeesadii lix jir kugu qaniintaa lixdan jir bay kugu dishaa. A snake-bite received at the age of six kills you at the age of sixty (i.e. evil lingers a long time).
Abkay dooli dilow, dad nool maas u dahaa?. My father has killed a mouse, will he fail to kill a man (people)?. Said about a coward who pretends to be brave.
Adduunyo waa hooska labadiisa gelin: The world is like a shadow: in the morning it is turned towards one direction, in the evening towards the opposite one (i.e. it is changeable).
Af daboolan waa dehab. A closed mouth is gold.
Af jooga looma adeego. Do not speak (do not serve for ) a mouth that is present (i.e. one should not speak on behalf of a person who is present).
Af macaan garan macaan baa dhaanta: A sweet ( i.e. generous) hand is better than a sweet ( i.e. generous with promises) mouth.
Af qoyani hadal ma daayo
~A living mouth does not give up talk
Afxumo nabadna waa kaa geysaa, colaadna wax kaagama tarto: Your nasty tongue will deprive you of peace, but will not help you in enmity.Af wax cunay, xishow. Oh mouth, you have eaten something, now keep quiet (i.e. do not object to he who has fed you).
Allow, nimaan wax ogayn ha cadaabin. Oh Allah, do not punish a man who sins through ignorance.
Ama afeef hore lahow, ama adkeysi dambe lahow. Either refuse (to do something) at once or put up with it later.
Ama leg ahay, ama lug ahay: Catch hold of a brisket or at least a leg (because even a bad thing is better than nothing).
Ama talo keen ahow, ama talo raac ahow. Either propose something yourself or agree to what is proposed by others.
Ama waa la muuqdaa, ama waa la maqnaada. Either be visible or be absent (.i.e. either do a job well or do not set about it at all).
Aqoonla`aani waa iftiinla’aan. The absence of knowledge is the absence of light.
Arrini madax la qabtay leedahaye mijo la qabto ma leh. A problem can be seized (only) by its head, one cannot seize it by its tail (ankel).
Arrinxumo abaar ka daran: A wrong (bad) decision is worse than a drought.
Aroos lagama raago, lagumana raago. One should neither be late for the wedding nor stay too long at it.
Awrba awrka ka horreeya ayuu saanqaadkiisa leeyahay. A camel (in caravan) follows the tracks of the leading camel.
Awr awr wado iyo nin naagi waddo midna kaama baydho: You cannot evade the camel which is driven ( in your direction) by another camel, nor the man who is driven (i.e. set on you) by a woman (i.e. a woman skilfully uses a man for pursuing her ends).
Ayax teg, eelna reeb. The locust flew away but it left hardship.
~Both excessive needliness, too much begging and chronic ill-health can create undo resentment in othersBallandarro waa diindarro: Not to fulfil a promise is just the same as not believing in God.
Bakayle intuu bur ku jiruu bur kale daydaydaa: The hare sits under one bush but looks out for another ( to which it might run if endangered).
Bannaankiisa-mare maradiisa geed ma qabsato: The cloth of the man who skirts about a clearing will not be torn by a tree ( i.e. a cautious person will avoid troubles).
Baqal fardo la daaqday faras bay is mooddaa. If a mule grazes with horses it thinks that it is also a horse.
Baqtiga ma cunee fuudkiisan cabbaa. I do not eat carrion. I drink soup made of carrion. Said about a bigot