The following is taken from segment 15 of Talk Like an Egyptian (by Alaa Abou El-Nour and Matthew Aldrich).

معلِشّ is used to downplay a situation, whether to console, sympathize, or apologize. The word originally comes from the Modern Standard Arabic phrase ما عليه شيء, which literally means nothing against it.

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Alaa’s Clubhouse Room

Follow along with Alaa and participants in her Clubhouse room as they go through the materials below and learn about the uses of معلِشّ (ma3alíšš).

The full episode of Alaa’s podcast TriPod can be found here

Join “Talk Like an Egyptian” Clubhouse live ECA practice rooms every Saturday 10 am Cairo time!


معلِشّ can express sympathy.

أ: تخيّل بعْد كُلّ الشُّغْل ده رفدوني.

‏ب: معلِشّ هوِّن على نفْسك. إن شاء اللّه ربِّنا يِعوّضك بِشُغْل أحْسن.

A: Imagine! After all this work, they fired me.

B: It’s okay. Take it easy. God willing, our Lord will compensate you with a better job.

أ: أنا تعْبانة أوي، مِش عارْفة أركِّز في المُذاكْرة.

ب: معلِشّ يا حبيبتي، اِدْخُلي ريِّحي ساعة و قومي كمِّلي.

A: I’m so tired I can’t concentrate on studying.

B: Don’t be upset, dear. Relax for an hour and then resume [studying].

أ: النّهارْده عربية خبطِت فِيّا، وَقّعِتْلي الإكْصِدام

‏ب: معلِشّ، جت سليمة. المُهِمّ إنّك بِخيْر.

A: Today a car crashed into mine, and made my bumper fall off.

B: Never mind. It’s a minor thing. What’s important is that you’re okay.

جت سليمة is interchangeable with حصل خيْر. Both mean it turned out soundly and are used to assure someone that an incident was minor and could have been worse.

أ: ماما، أنا رجّعْت النّهارْده في المدْرسة…

‏ب: معلِشّ يا حبيبي. ألْف سلامة عليْك. حاوِل تِنْزِل بُكْره على مِعْدة خفيفة.

A: Mom, today I threw up at school…

B: Oh! It’s okay, sweetie. I hope you feel better. Just try tomorrow to leave with a light stomach [that is, not eat too much].

أ: شُفْتي إزّاي عدِّت وَلا كإنّها شايْفاني.

‏ب: معلِشّ، تِلاقيها مِش واخْدة بالْها.

A: Look how she walked by as if she didn’t see me!

B: Don’t worry. Maybe she didn’t notice [you].


معلِشّ is sometimes used to ask for a favor, as a sort of apology for the imposition.

أ: معلِشّ مُمْكِن ‏أعدّي؟

‏ب: آه طبْعاً، اِتْفضّلي.

A: Excuse me, can I just get past?

B: Oh, sure! Please!

(to a taxi driver)

أ: معلِشّ مُمْكِن نُقف هِنا دِقيقة أشْتِـري حاجة بْسُرْعة؟

‏ب: طبْعاً يافنْدِم. خُدي وَقْتِك.

A: Excuse me, could we stop here for a minute (so that) I would buy something quickly

B: Of course, ma’am. Take your time.

(between two coworkers)

أ: معلِشّ لَوْ يِنْفع نِبدِّل أجازِتْنا الأُسْبوع الجايّ؟

‏ب: مفيش مُشْكِلة. قولّـي تِحِبّ نْظبّطْها إزّاي.

A: Sorry to bother, but could we switch days off next week?

B: No problem. Tell me how you would like us to arrange it.

أ: معلِشّ هتْعِبك بسّ مُمْكِن تِجيبْلي كوبّايِّةْ مايّة؟

ب: طبْعاً يا عمّو! ثَواني تِكون عنْدك.

A: Sorry to bother, but could you please bring me a glass of water?

B: Of course, uncle! Just a moment, and you’ll have it.


معلِشّ is used as an apology for an unintentional inconvenience, especially when bumping into someone or stepping on their foot.

أ: ما تْفتّح يا عمّ!

ب: معلِشّ.

أ: معلِشّ دي أصْرِفْها مْنيْن؟

ب: ما خلاص! قُلْنا معلِشّ يا عمّ!

A: Hey, watch out! Are you blind?!

B: Sorry.

A: What will I gain from your ‘sorry’?

B: Enough! I said sorry, man!

أ: أيْه اللي إنْتَ عملْتُه ده؟ كسرْتها!

ب: معلِشّ حقّك عليّا. هجيبْلك غيْرْها.

A: What have you done?! You broke it!

B: Sorry, it’s my mistake. I’ll get you another one.


Often preceded by لا and spoken with a serious or angry tone, معلِشّ is used to correct someone and absolve oneself from responsibility–that is, to set the record straight.

أ: حضْرِتك طلبْت ‏منْدوب ييجيلك بُكْره خمْسة العصْر؟

‏ب: لأ معلِشّ، ثانْيَة واحْدة. أنا اتّصلْت إمْبارِح و بلّغْتُكُم إنّي لغيْت المعاد.

A: You requested a representative to come to you tomorrow at 5 p.m., right?

B: No, excuse me, hold on a second! I called yesterday and canceled the appointment.

أ: خلاص لَوْ كِده هنِضْطرّ ‏نِرْجع على مصْر.

‏ب: لا معلِشّ، ده مكانْش اِتِّفاقْنا. ‏إحْنا قُلْنا هنِـرْجع لمّا الأَوْلاد يِدْخُلوا كُلّية.

A: Well, that’s that. In that case, we’ll have to return to Egypt.

B: No, excuse me, but that was not our agreement. We agreed that we would go back when the kids go to college.

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