17th century egyptian curses
Returning again to the annals of the erudite Yusuf al-Maghribi’s cleverly-titled Dafʿ al-iṣr ʿan kalām ahl miṣr, we find recorded various curses and swear words used by Egyptians in the 17th century. There isn’t much analysis, just observation. Though al-Maghribi must have had an opinion on using swears/curses, he seems to have been mainly interested in them as linguistic curiosities. It is fascinating to see a linguist at work during this period in Egypt. His book could have been supplemented, though, by a transcribed, voweled passage of someone speaking the Egyptian dialect (because sources for “Middle Arabic” are so scarce).
Because curses and swears are usually based on what cultural mores or religious morals deem bad (which changes over time), such words and phrases can be quite humorous out of context.
Some insults and swears:
زِبْل مُفَرَّك zibl mufarrak “crumpled dung”
وَغْل waghl “parasite”
نِغِف nighif “dry snot”
تِرّل tirril “oaf”
مَهْبول mahbūl “simpleton”
بَهْلول bahlūl “silly, foolish”
هَبيل habīl “stupid”
عِكْفِش ʿikfish “stupid”
سُخام و لُطام sukhām wa luṭām“filth and slaps!”
رَغَم الله انْفُه ragham allah anfu “may god rub his nose in the sand”
نمّلت اِسْتُه nammilet istu “may his ass tingle”
في رقبة العدوّ سِلْعة fi raqabet alʿuduw silʿah “a cyst on the enemy’s neck!”
على قَلْبِهم دَبْلة ʿalā qalbihum dablah “may there be a lump on their hearts”
للعدا الَحكّة l-lʿada l-ḥakka “may the enemy get the itch!”
For those interested in vulgar expressions used in contemporary Arabic, the website mo3jam.com, a user-generated compendium of slang in the different Arabic dialects, is highly useful.
Reference: Egyptian Arabic in the seventeenth century: a study and edition of Yusuf al-Magribi’s Daf’ al-isr ‘an kalam ahl Misr, Ph.D dissertation, Liesbeth Zack, Netherlands Graduate School of Linguistics 2009. View the original Arabic text.