Somalis use a lot of sayings and expressions in daily life which offer advice and even sometimes have hidden meanings.
Check out these proverbs (also known as maahmaah) and quotes below to gain some insight into Somali beliefs and ways of thinking.
Below I’ve listed famous Somali quotes, inspiring Somali sayings and common Somali maahmaah proverbs.
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Famous Somali Proverbs (Maahmaah) & Somali Sayings
Below I’ve listed the most famous Somali proverbs translated into English as well as some common Somali sayings. These are used often in day to day life.
In the Somali language, proverbs are known as ‘maahmaah’ so this list features a range of Somali maahmaah.
- Aaddane eed ma waayo – Human beings are never without fault.
- Iskaashato ma kufto – If people support each other they do not fall.
- 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.
This Somali proverb means that evil will linger for a long time.
- Af daboolan waa dehab – A closed mouth is gold.
- Talo xumo tog baas bay kaa riddaa – Bad counsel may cause you to fall into an abyss.
- Af jooga looma adeego – Do not speak for a mouth that is present.
This Somali quote means that one should not speak on behalf of another person who is present.
- Af macaan garan macaan baa dhaanta – A sweet hand is better than a sweet mouth.
This Somali maahmaah (proverb) means that a generous person is better than a person who makes a lot of promises.
- Hadday degdegsiinyo door dhalaan, kaadsiinyana kiish lacagay dhalaan – Haste can give birth to a bit of money, patience to a bag of it.
- Biyo sacabbadaada ayaa looga dhergaa – One drinks enough water only from one’s own palms.
- Maroodiga takarta saaran ma arkee kan kale tan saaran ayuu arkaa – An elephant does not see the fly which is sitting on it but sees the one sitting on another elephant.
- Intaadan fallin ka fiirso – Look before you leap.
This Somali saying means that you should consider all aspects of a situation before you take any action.
- Belaayo kaa sii jeedda layskuma soo jeediyo – If a trouble shows its back, do not force it to show its face.
- Ama afeef hore lahow, ama adkeysi dambe lahow – Either refuse to do something at once or put up with it later.
- Beentaada hore runtaada danbay u baas baxdaa – Your previous lie damages your present truth.
- Laabi laba la’ – A man’s chest cannot hold two things together.
According to Somali culture, the chest holds a person’s intellect and so this Somali proverb means that it is impossible to think about 2 different things at the same time.
- Belaayo ka-hor-tag moyee ka-dabo-tag ma leh – Misfortune can be caught only from the front, it cannot be caught from behind.
This Somali quote means that one can avert misfortune, but cannot control it if it has already happened.
- Caano daatay dabadooda la qabtaa – When milk spills try to save the last drop at least.
- Intii calooshu buki lahayd cagtu ha bukto – It is better to have an aching leg than an aching spirit.
This Somali proverb means that it is better to do something despite tiredness, than later regretting not doing it.
- Dheri ninkii ag jooga ayaa lafta kala baxa – He who sits close to a cooking pot gets a good bone.
- Nin aan ku furin doonin yuu kuu rarin – He who is not going to unload your camel should not be the one to load it.
- Gar iyo geeri loo siman – Death and justice affect all men equally.
- Far keliya fool ma dhaqdo – One finger cannot wash a face.
- Nin geed geli jiray geed looma galo – You cannot hide behind a tree from a man who always hides behind a tree himself.
This is one of the best Somali quotes about life which means that you can’t outwit someone in the same way they outwits others.
- Geeljire geela waa wada jiraa, waana kala jiraa – When the camels graze together each herdsman keeps close to his own.
- Qof aan dhididini ma dhego – A person who doesn’t sweat, does not get his/her fill.
- Soomaali been ma maahmaah do – Somalis don’t say a false proverb.
- Nin qoyani biyo iskama dhowro – A wet man is not afraid of water.
- Hadal badan haan ma buuxsho – Lots of talk does not fill a vessel.
This Somali saying means that talkativeness with no reasoning is always useless.
- Abaal nin gala waa la arkay, nin gudase lama arag – Those who accept a favor are many, but those who pay back are none.
Beautiful Somali Quotes Translated Into English
Below I’ve listed a range of famous and motivational Somali quotes.
- 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.
- Khayr wax kaama dhimee shar u toog hay – In good times be ready for bad times.
- Baqal fardo la daaqday faras bay is mooddaa – If a mule grazes with horses it thinks that it is also a horse.
- Belaayo intay kaa maqan tahay, qayrkaa bay ku maqan tahay – If misfortune does not come to you, it comes to somebody else.
- Ninkaad kabo ka tolanaysid kuwiisaa la eegaa – If you are asking a man to stitch a pair of shoes for you, look at his own shoes.
- Booraan hadimo ha qodin, ku dhici doontaana mooye – If you dig a hole for somebody, be careful not to fall into it yourself.
- Calool dheregsani calool baahan kama naxdo – A filled stomach does not sympathise with an empty one.
- Waari mayside war ha kaa haro – You will not remain on earth forever so let a good memory of you remain.
- Kabxume ma hadhee kablaawaa hadha – The one who has no shoes falls behind, not the one whose shoes are bad.
This Somali quote means that it is better to have something bad than to have nothing at all.
- Col kaa badan iyo biyo kaa badanba way ku hafiyaan – You will be drowned by two things: plenty of water and plenty of enemies.
- Nin sabraa sed leh – A patient man will get his share.
- Wadiiqada yari waddada weyn bay kugu riddaa – A small path will take you to a big road.
- Qun-yar-socde qodaxi ma muddo – He who walks slowly will not step on a thorn.
- Fadhi iyo fuud yicibeed laysku waa – One cannot sit at home and enjoy yi’ib nut soup.
This Somali culture quote is in reference to the fact that Somali people usually go to remote and often almost inaccessible places to gather yi’ib nuts which are very nutritious.
- Runi rag waa ka nixisaa, waxse ma yeesho – Truth can frighten a man, but it does not harm him.
- Gacmo is dhaafaa gacalo ka timaaddaa – Love emerges when hands give something to each other.
- La-yeele ma hilmaamo, laakin yeele wuu hilmaamaa – An offence is forgotten not by the offended but by the offender.
- Mar i dage Alle ha dago, mar labaad i dagase anaa is dagay – If somebody cheated you once he is a fool but if he cheated you twice you are a fool.
- Miro gunti ku jira kuwo geed saaran looma daadiyo – One does not throw away fruit in the pocket for the sake of fruit on the tree.
- Nin aan dhul marini dhaayo la’ – He who has not traveled in the world has no eyes.
- Taladaan la ruugin waa lagu rafaadaa – An unconsidered decision will make you suffer.
- Talo adigaa ku nool ee iyadu kuguma noola – It is you who needs advice, advice does not need you.
This Somali quote indicates that advice should be appreciated.
- Wax qof la toosan baa qof la tuur leh – What is straight to one man is crooked to another.
- Rag waxaa u liita ma toshe, ma tashade iyo ma tashiishe – The worst man is he who never sews, never consults and never economizes.
This Somali quote means that there is no value in someone who can’t consult his own mind, can’t manage his assets wisely or can’t look after himself.
Best Somali Idioms & Somali Expressions
Below I’ve listed the most well-known Somali idioms and expressions. Many of these have hidden meanings.
- Daacadi ma hungowdo
The literal meaning of this Somali idiom is ‘honesty is not treated with empty hands’. The true meaning is that honesty is always rewarded.
- Af wax cunay, xishow
This Somali idiom literally means ‘oh mouth, you have eaten something, now keep quiet’. The true meaning is ‘do not object to he who has fed you’.
- Bidaari sibiq bay kugu gashaa
This Somali idiom literally means ‘a bald spot reveals itself unexpectedly’. This phrase is usually said about an unexpected trouble.
- Bannaankiisa-mare maradiisa geed ma qabsato
The literal meaning of this Somali idiom is ‘the cloth of the man who skirts about a clearing will not be torn by a tree’. The true meaning is that a cautious person will avoid troubles.
- Dab aan kullaylkiisa la arag dambaskiisa lagama leexdo
The literal meaning of this phrase is ‘until you know how the fire burns, you are not afraid of the ashes’. The true meaning is that until you know how a person is when they are angry, you are not afraid of them when they are calm.
- Cadowgaaga caano mac ayaa la siiyaa
The literal meaning of this phrase is ‘an enemy should be treated to fresh milk’ however the true meaning is that an enemy should be treated as a dear guest in order to reduce his vigilance.
- Fallaadhi gilgilasho kaagama go’do
The literal meaning of this phrase is ‘the arrow will not fall out of your body however hard you may shake’. The true meaning is that no excuse will help you if you have been exposed.
- Geed walba in gubtaa hoos taal
The literal meaning of this Somali idiom is ‘under every tree there is something which hampers its growth’. This means everyone has their own troubles.
- Ilko abeeso hoos bay ka xidhiidhaan
This Somali idiom literally means ‘the snake’s teeth grow from one jawbone’. The true meaning is that kinsmen are bound by indissoluble ties.
- Lafo geri ayagaa laysku jebiyaa
This phrase literally means ‘a giraffe bone can only be broken against another giraffe bone’ however the true meaning is that a difficult problem can only be solved with an adequate solution.
- Nin Tuur lihi siduu u seexdo isagaa yaqaan
This Somali idiom literally means ‘a hunchback knows how he should sleep’. The true meaning is that every person knows better than you what they need.
- Qawl nin weyn ka dhacay waa qolof geed ka dhacday
The literal meaning of this phrase is ‘the word of a man is like a piece of a bark which has fallen from a tree’. As bark cannot go back into place, this phrase means that a person cannot take back their word.
- Timir laf baa ku jirta
This Somali idiom literally means ‘there is a stone in every date’. The true meaning is that there is something bad in every good thing.
- Fari qorrax ma qariso
This phrase literally means ‘a mere finger can’t obscure the sun’ however the true meaning is that one cannot hide the truth by deception alone.
Check out the videos below which feature a range of famous Somali quotes and well-known Somali sayings & proverbs.
Thanks for reading this post on the best Somali quotes about life, famous Somali sayings and fascinating Somali proverbs.
These Somali quotes & sayings give an interesting insight into the Somali beliefs and language.