There is a phrase we commonly say in arabic, لا تكبر بطنك which literally translates to "don't enlarge your stomach", which doesn't make much sense in English.

It has a widespread usage and means not to be greedy and also to like for others what you like for yourself.

For instance, if a father said it to one of his children at the dinner table, it can mean that one of them is eating too greedily and not sparing anything for his siblings, or has said something like 'this food is all mine,' or has shown some intent in doing so.

It can be said in numerous other instances, like a discussion of the distribution of wealth.

Many would think it means simply "don't be greedy," and although it has that meaning, there's more to it than that.

Is there any such expression in English?

  • In what way "don't be greedy" does not fit your original idiom? – user66974 Jul 2 '15 at 6:14
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    One somewhat similar expression for greediness at meals is to say "Your eyes are bigger than your stomach"—but this usually implies that the person took more food than he or she could eat. – Sven Yargs Jul 2 '15 at 6:35
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    A more recent addition to the vernacular would be "Sharing is caring"... which I think fits with your secondary definition but I'm not sure. – Catija Jul 2 '15 at 7:56
  • @Josh61 As mahpack said, the expression has two parts, the don't be greedy one and the share what you like part – Yohann V. Jul 2 '15 at 8:18
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    "Don't be a pig." – Hot Licks Jul 3 '15 at 1:59

One that sprang to mind is make a pig of oneself.

The direct meaning is related to overeating, but it can be used idiomatically to mean taking more than your share of something, or of being selfish.


This may not be as common a phrase as you're looking for, but supposing that popular phrases from the King James Bible have entered the lexicon, it may be worth considering "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." (Matthew 6:21, from the Sermon on the Mount)

I found this phrase while looking through Aesop's fables, and in the Penguin edition translated by S.A. Handford, it is given as the title to fable 180 (Perry 225), commonly known as "The Miser and his Gold." Briefly, a man sells his possessions and buys with the proceeds a gold ingot, which he buries near his home and then boasts about. After it is dug up and stolen, it is pointed out to the miser that he may as well have buried a worthless rock in the ingot's place--it would have been just as useful.

Both the Biblical phrase and the fable address the wastefulness of greed, but the former's mention of "heart" may imply that for those whose treasure is not buried and is being used, its best use would be a compassionate one in sharing.

P.S. A possible origin of the Arabic expression is the Aesop fable (Perry 24) about the fox who finds a cache of food left in the hollow of a tree and proceeds to gorge himself on it, so much so that his stomach swells to a size that causes him to get stuck in the opening of the hollow when trying to exit. Another fox sees the lodged fox's predicament and advises waiting until he loses sufficient weight to be thin enough to pass through.


Your eyes are bigger than your belly


Specifically it means not taking so much food that you can't eat it.

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