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Jamaican Proverbs for inquisitive people

Jamaican Proverbs & Meanings

The Jamaican language, known as the Jamaican patois, is a mix of phrases and proverbs. It will take a knowledge of the language to understand exactly  what is being said. Here are some Jamaican proverbs and the meanings.

1. Beg wata cyaan bwile cow kin
English: Begged water cannot boil the skin of a cow
Meaning: You should not depend on the tools of others to do your own work
Explanation: Cow kin refers to the skin of the cow, which is a regular meal in Jamaican cuisine (cow's skin a broad beans) Cow skin is tough and takes a long time to boil; therefore, it takes a lot of water to cook until tender. The intent of this saying is to hammer home the fact, whereas it's okay to beg water- there is no way that you can beg enough water from your neighbour to boil your tough cow skin.

 

2. Nuh bite di han weh feed yu
English: Never bite the hands that feed you
Meaning: Do not be ungrateful to one who has given you help

3. Nuh mek yu right han' know weh yu lef han' do
English Do not allow your right hand to know what your left hand does
Meaning: Do not quick to share private information with others (not even your best friend)

4. Yu caan sow corn and expect fi reap peas
English: You cannot sow corn seeds and expect to reap peas
Meaning: Do not be surprised by the logical result of your past action

 

5. Nuh dash weh yu tick 'fore yu cross di riva
English: Don't throw away your stick before you cross the river
Meaning: Persons who have helped you in difficulties should not be forgotten

 

6. Nuh count yu chicken 'fore dem hatch
English: Do not count your chicken before they are hatched
Meaning: Do not believe in things until they have materialized

 

7. A nuh every day a Christmas
English: it's not  every day is Christmas
Meaning: Is not everyday things go as planned

 

8. Show off brings disgrace
English: Showing off will bring disgrace
Meaning: Showing off(bragging) will lead to ones' downfall

 

9. Nuh swap black dog fi monkey
English: Do not swop a black dog for a monkey
Meaning: Be careful of exchanging bad for worse

 

10. Independent John crow fly high
English: An independent John crow (vulture) flies high
Meaning: A person who feels superior tries to stay on top

 

11. Naygah sah, if sinting nuh go suh, eh naily go suh
English; Negro says, if something does not go as is said, it is near to what is said.
Meaning: Anything that is said which is not a 100% fact, must at least some percentage of truth.
Another way of saying it is, in every rumour there is an ounce of truth

 

12. Bud cyaan fly pon one wing
English: A bird cannot fly with one wing
Meaning: There is no good without a bad

 

13. Blood follow vein
English: Blood follows vein
Meaning: Family members should stick together

 

14. Caan tek cow tail fry cow kin
English: One cannot take a cow's tail to fry its own skin
Meaning: One cannot use the faults of someone to judge others

 

15. High seat kill Miss Thomas puss
English: High seat kills Miss Thomas'  puss (cat)
Meaning: People who fight for positions for which they are not qualified will face embarrassment

16. Bad luck wus dan obeah
English: Bad luck is worse than obeah
Meaning: To meet with some type of misfortunes is worse than an evil spell

17. Weh nuh ded nuh dash weh
English: What is not dead, do not throw it away
Meaning: Do not give up hope when  you still have life

18. Dog nyam dog
English: Dog eats dog
Meaning: People destroy each other for their own benefit

19. Cock (rooster) mout kill cock
English: Cock mouth kills cock
Meaning: You may fall in the same trap you set for others

20. Time longa than rope
English: Time is longer than rope
Meaning: Time is the master

 

21. Ah fass mek Anancy deh ah house tap
English: It's because Anancy (spider) is inquisitive why he is living in the ceiling
Meaning: Mind your own business or you could find yourself in trouble or isolated

 

22. Ah noh ebery rainfall mus wet yuh
English: It is not every rainfall that should wet you
Meaning: You don't have to be a part of everything; let some things go by

 

23. Ah noh everything good fi eat good fi talk
English: It is not everything that is good to eat is also good to discuss
Meaning: Some things are better left unspoken; don't repeat everything you hear!

 

24. Alligetta shouden call hog lang mouth
English: An alligator should not refer to a hog as "long mouth"
Meaning: Be careful not to ridicule or belittle someone who has similar characteristics to you

 

25. A tayla nebber av a good suit
English: A tailor never owns an expensive suit
Meaning: People should practise what they preach and lead by example

 

26. Ax me no question ah tell you no lie
English: Ask me no question, I will tell you no lie
Meaning: Avoid asking excessive questioning, lest you receive false information

 

27. Behind dawg ah dawg, in front ah dawg ah missa dawg
English: Behind dog is dog, in front of dog is Mr Dog
Meaning: People disrespect you in your absence but not generally in your presence

 

27. Bline man see im neighba fault
English: A blind man sees his neighbour's faults
Meaning: Too often we are blind to our own shortcomings but quick to point out those of others.

 

28. Black fowl noh fi yuh, yu call im jankro (vulture)
English: If a black fowl is not yours, you will call him a vulture
Meaning: People tend to think that what they have is better than those of others even when it is clear that they are exactly the same

 

29. Cackroach noh business inna fowl fight
English: A cockroach has no business in a fowl fight
Meaning: Keep out of other people's business

 

30. Cap noh fit yu noh tek ih up
English: If a cap doesn't fit you, leave it alone
Meaning: Keep out of issues that don't concern you!

 

31. Cow noh hab noh business inna hawse-play
English: Cows have no business in horse-play
Meaning: People should mind their own business

 

32. Drunk man talk di truth
English: A drunken man speaks the truth
Meaning: People are under the influence of alcohol; they invariably speak the truth

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