What does the Arabic expression ‘العين بصيرة والإيد قصيرة’ mean?

24 Mar


If you have heard someone using this expression, you may have noticed that along with the Arabic words, come the physical movements and voice tonality which indicate that the speaker feels sorry or helpless. So perhaps you understood the words: eye, seeing, hand, short, but what do these have to do with being unable or sorry?!

Well, 'العين بصيرة' means that the eyes of the speaker see something: this could be a situation that requires their help or something they would like to have. But 'الإيد قصيرة' which means the arm is (too) short to reach what the eyes see, meaning he is unable to help the situation or get what he desires.  

Listen below to the pronunciation of this proverb in Egyptian Arabic colloquial.

Expression in Arabic:

  • العين بصيرة والإيد قصيرة


  • I want to, but it's beyond my means

Literal meaning:

  • The eye sees, but the arm is short


  • When someone wishes for something, but it's beyond his means to achieve 


If you have any question, please let us know in the comments. Also, if you'd like, try to imagine a situation in which you can use this expression. Write it below and we will check it for you!

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