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.



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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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