Proverbs form an integral part of the collective memory of Lebanese society, emerging spontaneously when situations lend themselves to it. These linguistic expressions encompass moral teachings, popular wisdom, and experiential knowledge deemed worth remembering. Proverbs have diverse origins, with some drawing inspiration from religious texts such as the Old and New Testaments, the Qur’an, the Hadith, and the teachings of Imam Ali. Others find their roots in ancient verses of Arab poets, either reproduced in their original form or simplified. Finally, popular sayings can also be the fruit of observation and everyday experiences. Spoken in literal or dialectal Arabic, they are not attributed to specific authors. Proverbs are often very old and of folk origin, and therefore transmitted orally. In situations that are conducive to them, each proverb is prefaced by the phrase “there is a proverb that says” (في مثل بقول), followed by the recitation of the proverb itself.

In rural Lebanese society, proverbs reflect the careful observation of nature and its evolution, the climate, and the sky. These proverbs guide the behavior of peasants and villagers. Several proverbs are related to the climate and the seasons:

“If the moon is surrounded by a halo, the coming night will be rainy – اذا القمر عليه طارة بتكون ليلة غدي مطٌارة           

On the day of the blackberry picking, the worker works to die – ايام التوت العامل بيشتغل تيموت

A cold that splits the nail -برد بقص المسمار

The cold is more piercing than a sword – الصيف احد من السيف  برد

Summer cold, fear it; December-January cold, catch it – برد الصيف توقاه وبرد الشتي تلقاه

In summer conflagration, in winter flood – بالصيف حريق وبالشتي غريق

Heat is health, even in the middle of summer – الدفا عفا ولو بعز الصيف

If summer had a mother, she would have mourned him – لو كان للصيف ام لكانت بكيت عليه

Quand le grenouilles commencent à coasser, le froid n’a plus aucune nocivité – متى صار القر يقر ما بعود البرد يضر

(Samadi Naaman Hana, 2013)

Dagher Joseph, « Parémiologie Et Village Libanais : Étude Socio-Linguistique De Quelques Matériaux » (Paremiology And Lebanese Village : Socio-Linguistic Study Of Some Materials), Arabica, January 1994.
Freiha Anis, Dictionary of Modern Lebanese Proverbs, Beirut : Librairie du Liban, 1954.
Rahm Abdelrazak, الأمثال العامية اللبنانية وأثرها في المجتمع , (Lebanese popular proverbs and their impact on society), Beirut: 1982.
Samadi Naaman Hana, Les proverbes de ma mère: Proverbes du Liban & leurs équivalents dans les langues du monde (, My Mother's Proverbs: Proverbs from Lebanon and Their Equivalents in the Languages of the World), Paris: Geuthner, 2013.
Yacoub Emile, الأمثال الشعبية اللبنانية, Lebanese Popular Proverbs, Tripoli: Jarrous Press.