Jamaican Proverbs
and Sayings

There are many timeless Jamaican proverbs and Jamaican sayings that have been handed down through generations.
Here are some of the more popular proverbs, along with a few priceless, more obscure sayings. After each, I have attempted to give an equivalent English proverb, or an explanation.

Please forgive me if the translations sound clumsy - some things just can't be expressed in English!

Jamaican Proverbs

  • When trouble ketch yu pickney shut fit yu
    Any port in a storm

  • What a fi yu, cyaan be un fi yu
    What is yours will always be yours

  • Di higher monkey climb, di more him expose himself
    The higher your status, the more your vulnerabilities are exposed

  • When puss belly full im seh rat batty bitter
    People forget where they come from

  • If fish deh a river bottom an tell yu seh alligator have gum boil, believe him!
    Listen to the voice of experience

  • Cockroach nuh business inna fowl fight
    Don't meddle in things that don't concern you

  • Young bud nuh know storm
    Experience teaches wisdom

  • One one coco full basket
    Every little bit adds up

  • Wha sweet nanny goat a go run him belly
    You can have too much of a good thing

  • Play wid puppy, puppy lick yu mout
    Familiarity breeds contempt

  • Who born fi heng cyaan drown
    You can't control destiny

  • Man nuh dead nuh call dem duppy
    Never underestimate people

  • Every dawg have him day an every puss him 4 o'clock
    Every dog has his day

  • Dawg a sweat an long hair hide it
    All that glitters is not gold

  • Rock stone a river bottom cyaan know sun hot
    He who feels it knows it

  • Every hoe ha dem tick a bush
    There's that perfect someone for everyone

  • Puss and dawg nuh have di same luck
    Some people are luckier than others

  • Chicken merry, hawk deh near
    Danger is often looming when you're having fun

  • Duppy know who fi frighten
    People know who they can intimidate

  • Ole fire stick easy fi ketch
    It's easy to rekindle an old romance

For everday Jamaican words and their meanings, click here.

Return from Jamaican Proverbs to Real Jamaica Vacations

Other Great Pages

History of Jamaica

Christmas in Jamaica

Christmas in Jamaica

Jamaican Animals

Jamaican Animals

Jamaican People

Jamaica People

Jamaican Climate

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