There are many timeless Jamaican proverbs and Jamaican sayings that have been handed down through generations. Here you will find 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 well in standard English!
When trouble ketch yu pickney shut fit yu
Any port in a storm. A person in trouble will undertake menial actions that he/she would not do otherwiseWhat a fi yu, cyaan be un fi yu
What is meant to be yours will always be yoursDi higher monkey climb, di more him expose
The higher your status, the more your vulnerabilities are exposedWhen puss belly full him seh rat batty bitter
When people rise in status they often forget their humble backgroundsIf fish deh a river bottom an tell yu seh alligator have gum boil, believe him!
Listen to the voice of experienceCockroach nuh business inna fowl fight
Don't meddle in things that don't concern youYoung bud nuh know storm
Experience teaches wisdomOne one coco full basket
Every little bit adds up to a whole lotWha sweet nanny goat a go run him belly
You can have too much of a good thing
Play wid puppy, puppy lick yu mout/nose
Familiarity breeds contemptWho born fi heng cyaan drown
You can't escape or control destinyMan nuh dead nuh call dem duppy
Never underestimate people, even when they are downEvery dawg have him day an every puss him 4 o'clock
Every dog has his dayDawg a sweat an long hair hide it
All that glitters is not gold. You can't judge someone's troubles by her/his positive appearance.Rock stone a river bottom cyaan know sun hot
Who feels it knows itEvery hoe ha dem tick a bush
There's a perfect mate out there for everyone, even the most unlikely personPuss and dawg nuh have di same luck
Some people are luckier than othersChicken merry, hawk deh near
Danger is often looming when you're having funDuppy know who fi frighten
People tend to take advantage of those who will allow itOle fire stick easy fi ketch
It's easy to rekindle an old romance
This list of proverbs is just a drop in the bucket. Rest assured we have one to fit nearly every situation! If you want to get up to date on the latest in Jamaican talk, check out our page on Jamaican Slang.
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