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Created: April 08, 2017
Check out our alphabetical listing of Jamaican proverbs and take heed, learn, and also crack a smile!
“Proverbs serve an educational and social function; they are used to teach, inspiring caution, courage and (common) sense. Jamaica’s proverbs reflect the innate wit and wisdom of the Jamaican people, as well as the colour and vitality of Jamaican Patois itself.” ~ Olive Senior [Quoted from A-Z of Jamaican Heritage, Olive Senior, Heinemann Educational Books (Caribbean) Limited 1983].
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*Go to our Links to sites with explanations for some Jamaican proverbs which are found at the bottom of this post.
A di quiet cow di butcher kill.
A boasty an fastness mek Anansi affi tan a house top.
A faas mek anansi de a house top.
A faitful pramise mek fool glad.
A good conscience is better than a big wage.
A greedy mek fly follow coffin go a hole.
A lawyer looks at you with one eye, but he looks at your pocket with two.
A little axe can cut down a big tree.
A little pepper burns a big man’s mouth.
A man with trousers that are too short should wear long suspenders.
A nuh all bush hate rabbit.
A nuh all roof a shelta.
A nuh de same day fowl nyam cockroach ‘im fat.
A nuh every chain you hear is rollin’ calf.
A nuh every day a Christmas.
A nuh every day rain come light.
A nuh every fish a sea a shark.
A nuh every green grass cow see ‘im graze.
A nuh every kin teet a laugh.
A nuh every mango got maggige.
A nuh every rainfall mus wet yuh.
A nuh everyting good fi eat, good fi talk.
A nuh everyting kum fram abuv a blessin.
A nuh everyting soak up waata a sponge.
A nuh everyting that have sugar sweet.
A nuh fi di want a tongue mek cow nuh talk.
A nuh lack a tung mek cow nuh talk.
A nuh one day dawg have heart bun.
A nuh one day monkey waan wife.
A nuh same day leaf drop a river bottom it rotten.
A nuh want a fat mek nightingale foot stan’ so.
A pound a fret can’t pay an ounce a debt.
A tayla nebber av a good suit.
Ackee love fat, okra love salt.
All ducks no dabble inna one hole.
All fish bite but shark get de blame.
All head a head, but all luck nuh luck.
All kind of fish eat man, only shark get blame.
All mout nu set fi tell di same lie.
Alligator lay egg, but him not fowl!
Alligator nuh fi call hog long mout.
An old debt is better than an old grudge.
Anansi rope tie anansi.
Anansi rope tie him maasa.
Ants follow fat, an’ bees follow honey.
Ants follow fat, fat drown ‘im.
Ants follow fat, woman follow man.
Anansi give ‘im wife name “Tomorrow Dey”
Any dutty wata can cool hot iron.
Anything inna dark mus come a light.
Anything tan too lang serve nedda masta.
Anyting stay too long serve two masta.
Anywey it mawga it bruck.
As boastful as a cock-chicken.
Ask me no question, me tell yuh no lie.
Ask paas yu cyaanh laas paas.
Back a dawg, a dawg; in front a dawg, a Missa Dawg.
Bad fam’ly beta dan empty pig sty.
Bad luck worse dan Obeah.
Bad name never kill dawg
Bad pickney an young mule a one.
Bad tings nuh ave no owner.
Bad word an’ ears-hole nver agree.
Bakra wuk neva done.
Barking saves biting.
Be ready wid yuh hat but slow wid yuh money.
Beat Quaco, but gi’ ‘im ‘im quattie.
Beautiful rose got macca fi juck yuh.
Beautiful woman, beautiful trouble.
Beauty widout grace like rose widout smell.
Beetle never right before hen.
Before dawg go widout suppa, im nyam cockroach.
Before face an behind back a nuh one.
Before good food spwile, mek belly bus.
Before mi tumble dung, mi hol’ macca.
Before monkey buy trousers, him affi know whe fi put him tail.
Before you married keep you two eye open; after you married, shut one.
Beg waata cyaan bwile cow ‘kin.
Beggar beg from beggar him neva get rich.
Behind the dog it is ‘dog’, in front of dog, it’s ‘mister dog’.
Belly full, pitata ave kin.
Ben di tree wen it young, wen it old, it wi bruk.
Betta belly buss dan good food waste.
Betta fi keep one puss than fifty mus-mus.
Betta fi lion-hearted than pig-headed.
Betta fi ride donkey wha carry yuh than hawse dat throw yuh.
Betta half a knife ketch fire than whole house bun dung.
Betta sleep hungry than play wid bwoy pickney.
Big blanket mek man sleep late.
Bird seed don’t make John crow sing.
Bit bit mek poun.
Black bud lef fi ‘im ticks fi pick, fi go pick cow own.
Black bud say fi im pickny fus.
Black fowl ah noh fi yuh, you call him John crow.
Black fowl can lay white egg.
Blind man see im neighba fault.
Blood follow vein.
Blood ticka dan waata.
Boastin’ man brudder a de liar.
Boasty not a cock-chicken.
Book learnin a nuh intelligence.
Bowl bruk but gourdy come
Bowl go, packy come.
Brite like four fiyah side.
Brown man wife nyam cockroach a corner, save money fi buy silk dress.
Bucket guh well evryday wan day di battam mus drap out.
Bucket wid hole a battam ave no business a rivaside.
Bud a one fedder flock together.
Bud cyaan fly pon one wing.
Bud sing sweet fi ‘im own nest.
Bud fly too fass pass im ness.
Bull buck and duppy conqueror.
Bull foot bruk, ‘im feed a fence.
Bull horn never too heavy fi bull head.
Bull ole, junjo grow pon ‘im back.
Bush ave ears, an wall ave eye.
But it be hawk an patu race.
Butta nuh melt eena im mout.
Calabash never bear pumpkin.
Candle nuh bun tap an bottam.
Cap no fit you, you no tek i’ up.
Carry go bring come.
Cashew never bear guava.
Cattle a gallop a pasture sey ‘im will hurt cattle bwoy, but ‘im hurt ‘imself.
Cause parrot mek noise, dem say a him one nyam banana.
Chair drop a grung an bench git up.
Chatty chatty pickney pay im pupa debt.
Chicken merry, hawk deh near.
Chiga toe ‘fraid a gravel.
Chink never run till ‘im see crowd.
Chip never fly far from de block.
Clean wash better than dirty wipe.
Clear conscience sleep a tunda.
Clothes nuh cover up character.
Cock cyaa ride pon hawse back ‘though ‘im have spur.
Cock mout kill cock.
Cock nuh know how fi mine chicken but ‘im know how fi nyam corn.
Cock-a-benny tun yellow-tail!
Cockroach neva lick tun stick.
Cockroach neva right before chicken.
Cockroach nuh business inna fowl fight.
Come see me a nothing, come live wid me is another.
Come see me an come live wid me a two different thing.
Consequential mek crab no have head.
Constant sprinkle betta dan sudden showas.
Cotton tree fall dung nanny goat jump ovah it.
Cotton tree fall dung ram goat jump ovah it.
Count likka Jew, agree likka bredda.
Cow dead, but ‘im lef ‘im skin fi stink.
Cow dead, ‘im lef trouble gi cow skin.
Cow dead, mule laugh.
Cow nuh have noh business inna hawse-play.
Cow nuh kno di use ah im tail til it cut off.
Cow cyaa wear ‘im tail inna pasture fi yuh.
Cow know weak fence fi jump over.
Cow read dem law inna dem self.
Cow sey ‘backra work neva dun’; mule sey ‘it must dun’.
Cow sey ‘im belly big enough fi bear anything.
Coward man kip soun’ bone.
Cows ave no business in horseplay.
Crab cyaa hold inna lobster shell.
Crab inna barrel climb pon wan aneda.
Crab know sey ‘im back no strong, ‘im no dig ‘ole.
Crab nuh walk nuh get fat; walk too much ‘im lose ‘im claw.
Crab sey ‘im nu trus nu shadow afta dark.
Crab walk too much lose ‘im claw.
Craven choke puppy.
Crooked stick mek fair-play lick.
Cry-cry pickney never ave him right.
Cunning better than strong.
Cunning cow nyam peas, lef leaf.
Cuss cuss noh bore hole a mi skin.
Cuss dawg but nuh tell ‘im bout ‘im teeth nuh white.
Cyaa bury a man an lef out him foot.
Cyaan tek cow tail fry cow ‘kin.
Dawg a dawg, puss a difahrent sinting.
Dawg a sweat an long hair hide it.
Dawg among doctor, cockroach among shaver.
Dawg bark never fright moon.
Dawg dead, fly walk over ‘im.
Dawg drink water ‘fi yuh, fi yuh.’
Dawg ever so old ‘im no feget sidung.
Dawg flea tell him pickeny him mustn’t say him dead till him ketch pon finger nail.
Dawg foot bruk, ‘im find ‘im massa yaard (doorway).
Dawg hate fi min’ owner ‘im sleep widout supper.
Dawg have four foot but ‘im cyaa walk four different pass.
Dawg have liberty to watch govenor.
Dawg have long tail cyaa jump over fire.
Dawg have money ‘im buy cheese, lose ‘im money, ‘im beg di cloth.
Dawg have money nyam cheese, wen im bruk im chaw ole rag.
Dawg have shine teet laaf afta butcha.
Dawg have too much yawd guh a bed without suppa.
Dawg hold hog, ‘im sey, “A wi pay yuh.”
Dawg know who fi bite
Dawg live well, ‘im trouble cow a pass.
Dawg massa gi ‘im money fi buy bench, dawg tek it buy bone an sey “Big Massa neva ben mek ‘im fi sidung pon bench.”
Dawg mawga but im head big.
Dawg neva see egg before, ‘im see egg shell ‘im sey a egg.
Dawg neva see egg before, ‘im see white stone ‘im sey a egg.
Dawg nuh howl if ‘im ha bone.
Dawg nyam dawg.
Dawg nyam yuh suppa.
Dawg see bone an cyaa reach it, ‘im mouth run water.
Dawg sey ‘im won’t work, ‘im will siddung an look fa ‘im must get a living.
Dawg sey ‘if im ave money’, im would buy hiim own fleas.
Dawg wake a mawning an sey im prayer an sey today either blow or bone.
Dawg wid to much massa sleep widout suppa.
Day langa dan rope.
Daylight sho t’rough lilly keyhole.
Dead cow cyaa buy estate.
Dead hog nuh fraid fi bwiling water.
Def ears gi liad trouble.
Dem come in like black crab inna barrel.
Dem give yu basket fi carry water.
Dem short fe singer when dem put peacock in a choir.
Di bass sen monkey, monkey sen im tail.
Di bes’ a field mus hav weed.
Di bigger di fish, di more butta ‘im tek.
Di bud dem a fire afta di gun.
Di bud wha sing di best no mek di best nest.
Di darkest part a di night, a when day soon light.
Di dawg wha tek a bone will carry one.
Di fus time dawg taste fowl egg ‘im nyam di shell an all.
Di higher monkey climb, di more ‘im expose.
Di hotta di battle, di sweeta di victory.
Di house whe shelta yu when a rain, look fi it when sun hot.
Di hungry fowl wakes early.
Di man mek outa honey, fly wi nyam him.
Di more yuh look, di less yuh si.
Di nearah di bone, di sweeta di meat.
Di olda di bull, di stiffer di horn.
Di olda di clock, de faster it wine.
Di olda di moon, de brigher it shine.
Di reason crab nuh have head because ‘im have too good a stomach.
Di tune you playing no di one I dancing.
Di umbrella was made for rainy days, di white man use it fi di sun.
Di wise monkey know wha tree fi clime.
Di wisest man sometime tun fool.
Di yeye of di massa fatten di ears.
Dis cyaa pay red herring taxes.
Disobedient pickney nyam rockstone.
Do little betta than point finga.
Donkey batty round but ‘im shit square.
Donkey gallop soon over.
Donkey sey dis yah world nuh level, hill an gully yah so, hill an gully deh so.
Don’t be inna hurry fe ketch a flea or it will get wey from yuh.
Don’t draw mi tongue.
Don’t mek goat watchman fi breadfruit tree.
Don’t mek yuh lef han’ know wha yuh right han’ know.
Don’t throw stone if yuh have sash-window.
Driver fum ‘im wife fus.
Drought time hard pon mawga cane, but it never too late fi a shower a rain.
Drunk man talk di truth.
Dry drink betta than sermon.
Duck and fowl feed together, but dem nuh roost together.
Duck nuh lay egg before fowl.
Duppy know who fi frighten.
Dutty water can put out fire.
Ears hard pickney bun a sun hot.
Eat fam’bly bittle but no cut fam’bly ‘tory.
Eat with the devil but give him a long spoon.
Empty bag cyaa stan’ up, full bag cyaa bend.
Empty barrel mek de most noise.
Empty kerosene tin mek most noise.
Empty yuh purse inna yuh head.
Empty pot will neva bwile over.
Even di best a field mus have weed.
Every bess friend have a bess friend.
Every cave-hole have him own duppy.
Every dawg have im day, an every puss im 4 o’clock.
Every day a fishing-day, but no every day fe ketch fish.
Every day devil help thief, one day God will help watchman.
Every day yuh beat donkey, one day ‘im gwine kick yuh.
Every day yuh goad donkey, one day ‘im gwine kick yuh.
Every dog knows his dinnertime.
Every foot feel ‘im own pinching.
Every haul a di net nuh ketch June fish.
Every herring heng by ‘im own head.
Every hoe has its thicket of bushes.
Every hoe have im stick a bush.
Every house have ‘im dutty corner.
Every jackass seh ‘im cubby a race hass.
Every John crow tink him pickney white.
Every man honest till de day him ketch.
Every man know whe him own house de leak.
Every mickle mek a muckle.
Every stinking fish have ‘im buyer.
Every sun hot have shady tree.
Every sup fowl tek, ‘im thank God.
Every time fowl lay egg, ‘im try fe tell de whole world.
Every tub affi sit on it own bottom.
Eyebrow older than beard.
Faith dare everyting an love bear everyting.
Far pass mek ockra pwoil.
Far weh fowl have fine fedda.
Farthing pocket an’ pound a chest.
Farm fowl ave size, comman fowl ave taste.
Fast asleep yet broad awake, yuh hear di bells a heav’n strike.
Fat nuh feel.
Feast today, famine tomorrow.
Feel before yuh mount.
Feel like Gumbeh drum widout a goat-skin.
Fi di licking a di spoon yuh lose di spoonful.
Fill your basket one item at a time.
Finger never sey ’look here’, it say ‘look yonder’.
Finger nuh sey look ya, it only sey look dey.
Finger stink you caan cut it off an thro it weh.
Fire deh a mus-mus tail him tink a cool breeze.
Fish a deep wata don’t know how fish a riverside feel.
Fish bone no lodge(stick) inna pickney troat alone.
Flea sey ‘im rather man wid two eye a ketch ‘im than blind man.
Follow fashion Juba neva bwile good soup.
Fool mi one time shame on you, fool me two times, shame on me!
Fool-fool pickney mek fowl get away from him two time.
Fowl agree fe hatch duck egg but ‘im nuh agree fe teach duck pickney fe swim.
Fowl can’t hear sheee, fowl hear bam!
Fowl dream sey ‘im have gout a ‘im foot; when ‘im wake a nuothing but dirt.
Fowl drink water but fowl nuh pee.
Fowl drink water but ‘im nuh pee-pee. Rabbit nuh drink water but ‘im pee-pee.
Fowl fedda nuh hit dawg too hard.
Fowl feed a hand easy fe ketch.
Fowl gwine fat im begin fram him toe.
Fowl only sweat under ‘im fedda.
Fowl nyam done wipe mouth a grung.
Fowl sey ‘im nuh business inna mongoose politics, for ‘im nuh member a mongoose parliament.
Fowl scratch up too much dirt find ‘im granny skeleton.
Fowl weary, hawk catch im chicken.
Fowl weh nyam out a han ezzi fi ketch.
Fowl whe feed a yard nu hard fi ketch.
Fowl will swear fe ‘im egg but ‘im cyaa swear fe ‘im pickney.
Fram mi eye deh a mi knee.
Fram saltfish deh shingle house.
Frog never gargle him troat till him tas’e fresh water.
Fry de bigh fish fust, te lilly one after.
Full bag never bend.
Fus hen cackle, a ‘im lay.
Fus laaf anno laaf.
Fus water hog ketch ‘im wash.
Fus word go a law.
Galloping horse can’t hear the sound of his own backfoot.
Gi a man a horse ‘im want saddle to.
Gi di devil im due.
Gi-me-me-bit sey im a fly up a God, ‘im tumble dung, cayaa get up again.
Gi mi basket fi carry wata.
Gi mi di thick as well as di thin.
Gi yuh a inch yuh a ell; gi yuh a ole gray horse, yuh ride ‘im dung a hell.
Go a bush yuh see coot a ride guava tree.
Go in a johnnycake an’ come out a dumpling.
Go tell cow mawning.
God Almighty know why ‘im bruk fowl wing.
God Almighty mek man straight, a rum mek him can’t ‘tan’ up.
Going to bed without dinner is better than waking up in debt.
Good fowl sey ‘im a guh a market, sensay sey ‘im a guh tu.
Good frien’ betta dan packet money.
Great good neva get by little pain.
Half a foot fowl walk with crutch.
Half a fumble betta than burying ground.
Half a knife neva good till yuh lose it.
Han’ a bowl, knife a throat.
Han’ full come, han’ full go.
Han’ go, paki come.
Hang yu basket whe yu can reach it.
Han’some face and good luck don’ travel de same pass.
Han’some face and good luch nuh one.
Hard ears pickney bun inna sun hot.
Hard ears pickney guh to market two time.
Hard ears pickney nyam rockstone.
Hat needle bun tred.
Head want handkerchief so foot have it, a stupid.
Heel neva go before toe.
Hell an powda house bruk loose.
Hen neva mash ‘im chicken too hard.
High seat, kill Miss Thomas puss.
Hog a sweat but lang hair kibba eeh.
Hog nyam wha im mind gi im fah.
Hog pikney ask im mumma, ‘wah mek yuh mouth so lang?’ Mumma seh, ‘Nuh mine mi pickney, yuh a grow yuh wi know.’
Hog run fi him life, dawg run fi him character.
Hog seh di fus dutty water him ketch, him walla.
Horse dead and cow fat.
Horse cart an poverty-truck a nuh one.
Horse draw well when ‘im memba corn.
Horse have no business a cow fight,
How wata waak go inna pumpkin gut?
Howdy an’ tenk yu, nuh brok nuh square.
Howdy come fram outside a door.
Humble calf suck di most milk.
Hungry dawg nyam roast corn.
Hungry fowl wake soon.
Hungry hungry and full full no travel same pass.
Hungry mek monkey blow fire.
Hurry fi ask nuh mek people give.
Hurry fly drop inna hot sauce.
‘Im don’t know im ears fram im ass.
‘Im nah cough but yuh a vomit.
‘Im never gi mi zinch.
‘Im wouda chat di tail affa cow.
Idle jackass follow cane trash go a poun.
If a flea had money, it would buy its own dog.
If alligator seh fish mout tink, believe im.
If bee didn’t have sting im wouldn’t keep ‘im honey.
If big breeze blow wey anchor, wha fi sey fowl feather?
If chickens were judges, cockroaches would be sentenced.
If cow did know how him batty part, him wouldn’t chance pear seed.
If cow did know how him throat hole tan, him wouldn’t chance pear seed.
If cow nuh dead him wi shake him tail.
If dawg nuh fi yuh, nuh cut ‘im ears.
If donkey bray after yuh, nuh bray after ‘im.
If ears grow ever so big they can’t pass head.
If fi him stomach no sick, wha’ you deh vomit fah?
If fish deh a river bottom an tell yu seh alligator have gum boil, believe him!
If flea bite yuh, yuh nuh must scratch?
If goat woulda know di size a im batty hole im wouln’t eat mango seed.
If grunt nuh ben dey, belly woulda bust.
If a don’t ketch yuh a moonshine, a will ketch yuh a dark nite.
If ‘How are you?’ cost a cent, few would hear it.
If new hoe want fi know how grung tough, mek im ask ole hoe.
If speech wort shillin, silence worth pound.
If stars were loaves, many people would sleep out.
If trouble ketch dawg, monkey britches fit ‘im.
If wind nuh blow, fowl batty nuh show.
If yuh bawn fi heng yuh cyaan drown.
If yuh cuss John crow, peel head turky wi bex.
If yuh cyaa dance, yuh will say the drumming is poor.
If yuh cyaa ketch Kwako, yuh ketch im shut.
If yuh cyaa tek di heat, get out a di kitchen.
If yuh cyaa walk faas, tek time run.
If yuh cyaan git turkey, yuh haffi satisfy wid John crow.
If yuh crape gourdy, you fin’ worm-hole.
If yuh de shit, an’ si certain people a come; sidong inna it.
If yuh don’t take it, yuh don’t have it.
If yuh fling stone inna hog pen, the one who squeal, is him it lick.
If yuh fly wid John crow, yuh wi nyam dead meat.
If yuh follow a fool, yuh a fool yourself.
If yuh fraid a yeye, yu cyaa nyam head.
If yuh fraid fi frog you run from crab.
If yuh get yuh hand inside a lion mouth, tek time tek it out.
If yuh go a tump-a-foot dance, yuh must dance tump-a-foot.
If yuh hang clothes pon line, yuh no haffi look fi rain.
If yuh have little, put little inna di pot; if yuh have plenty, put plenty.
If yuh hear di devil a come, clear de way.
If yuh lie wid dawg, yuh wi get up wid fleas.
If yuh love di cow, yuh mus love di calf.
If yuh love licky-licky, pot wi bun yuh finga.
If yuh mek yu sail too big fi yu boat, yu sail wi capsize yu.
If yuh nuh done climb hill, no throw wey yuh stick.
If yuh nuh go unda fowl coob, fowl cyaa shit pan yu.
If yuh nuh have good fe sey, nuh sey nuh bad.
If yuh nuh have horn, yuh fi keep outta bull fight.
If yuh nuh mash ants, yuh nuh fin’ ‘im guts.
If yuh nuh mash ants, yuh nuh see ‘im guts. But tek time mash ants, yuh find ‘im guts.
If yuh nuh unda fowl coob, fowl cyaa shit pon yuh.
If yuh nuh walk a night yuh nuh hear crab cough.
If yuh ride di horse, yuh mus pay fi shoe ‘im.
If yuh saw what the river carried, yuh would never drink the water.
If yuh see everybody a run tek time.
If yuh sleep wid dawg yuh ketch ‘im flea.
If yuh still deh grow, don’t cuss tall man ‘long’.
If yuh waan good yuh nose haffi run.
If yuh want half a bread, beg summady buy it but if yuh want a whole one, buy it yourself.
If yuh want to know if mawga dawg have teeth, draw ‘im tail.
If yuh want to know who your friends are, lie by the roadside and pretend to be drunk.
In every pound a lie there is a ounce a truth.
Independent John crow fly high
Iron cut iron; dutty water out fire.
Is not fe the want a time mek senseh-fowl nuh grow fedda.
It’s better fi lose yu time dan yu character.
It’s hard fi get butter outa dawg throat.
Jackass nyam grass till im ketch inna poun.
Jackass sey di world nuh level.
Jack Mandora mi nuh choose none.
John crow a roast plantain fi yuh.
John crow always tink ‘im pickney pretty.
John crow never make house till rain come.
John crow seh him a dandy man but same time him hab so-so feather.
John crow tink him own pickney white.
Keep clear a ole house lest it fall dung pon yuh.
Keep your secret in your own gourdy.
Keep your shop and your shop will keep you.
Kibba yuh mout.
Kitchen claat tun table claat.
Laaffy laaffy , love lay down.
Lang run, shaat ketch.
Learn fi creep before yuh walk.
Learn fi dance a yaad before yuh dance abraad.
Lickle alligator tun big alligator.
Lickle as dawg flea be, ‘im mek big man jump.
Lickle axe can cut down big tree.
Lickle bit a brains can gi big mouth trouble.
Lickle bit a ram goat have beard an big bull noh have none.
Lickle crab ‘ole spoil big race horse.
Lickle pig ave big ears.
Lie wuss than sore.
Lies go pon foot, scandal have wings.
Lightning nuh strike di same place twice.
Lip kiss nuh touch di heart.
Lizard never know whe’ him deh till him find himself in a puss mout.
Make a friend when you don’t need one.
Man dat carry straw nuh fi fool wid fire.
Man have cow, ‘im look fi milk.
Man nuh ‘ave gourdy, him satisfy wid bottle.
Man nuh dead, nuh call him duppy.
Man nuh done climb hill noh trow wey yuh stick.
Man nuh done cross riva, noh fi cuss alligator long mout.
Manage good, betta than big wage.
Manners mek di man.
Manners tek yu thru di world.
Market house a woman court house.
Marriage have teeth and bite hot.
Marry fi love, work fi money.
Mawga dawg shake ‘im tail according to ‘im size.
Meat that the cat brings in never gets to your plate.
Mek haste fi listen, but slow fi talk.
Mek one jackass bray!
Mi come yah fi drink milk, mi nuh come yah fi count cow.
Mi eye a mi market, yuh a mi coco basket
Mi nah buy no puss inna bag.
Mi neva bawn wen mi maddah guh a maaket.
Mi no call you no come.
Mi nuh come yah fi hear horse dead an cow fat.
Mi nuh have big pot fi bwile Bella gut.
Mi old, but mi nuh cold.
Mi throw mi corn, but me no call no fowl.
Mi throw mi stone inna pig pen, the one what squeal, a im it lick.
Mi yeye a mi market, mi look inna any coco cutacoo.
Mischief come by di poun and go by di ounce.
Monkey mus know weh im gwine put im tail, before im order trousiz.
Monkey sey ‘wha in yuh belly fi yuh, wha in yuh mouth nuh fi yuh.’
Monkey sey ‘wha in yuh mout not fi yuh’.
Mouth have nothing fi do, ‘im sey anansi grow ‘ though a same way anansi tan fram’ im born.
Nanny goat never scratch him back till him see wall.
Nearly never kill di bud.
Negah sey, if sinting nuh go suh, eh nearly go suh.
Neva si, come si.
Nevah tun duck outta ness.
Never mek you sail too big fe you ship.
New broom sweep clean, but ole broom kno di canah.
No betta herrin, no betta barrel.
No matta how boar hog hide unda sheep wool ‘im grunt betray ‘im.
No matta how cockroach drunk, him nuh walk pass fowl yaad.
No matter if yuh stark bawn naked, as long as yuh ring fat.
No mug no bruk, no coffee nuh dash wey.
Nobady neva kick dead dawg.
Nuh all foot inna boot a good foot.
Nuh all foot inna boot a sound foot.
Nuh bite di han weh feed yu.
Nuh buy puss inna bag.
Nuh buy rancid butta to feed tom-cat.
Nuh call alligator long mouth till you pass him.
Nuh care how boar hog try fi hide under sheep wool, ‘im grunt always betray ‘im.
Nuh care how cockroach drunk ‘im never cross fowl yard.
Nuh care how tree big woodpecker know wha fi do wid it.
Nuh count yu chicken ‘fore dem hatch.
Nuh cuss alligator long mout til yuh cross di riva.
Nuh dash weh yu tick ‘fore yu cross di riva.
Nuh draw chokie mek bud see yuh.
Nuh draw mi tongue.
Nuh drive fly from another man cow skin.
Nuh everyting dat ave sugar sweet.
Nuh everyting yuh hear is good for conversation.
Nuh expect nuttin fram ah pig but ah grunt.
Nuh fatten cockroach fi fowl.
Nuh hang you clothes all pon one nail.
Nuh heng yuh hat higher than yuh can reach it.
Nuh hide yuh ‘tick an lick a man.
Nuh jus one way fi heng dog.Nuh mek one donkey choke you.
Nuh let mudfish tail touch wata.
Nuh mek yuh lef han kno wha yuh right han a do.
Nuh mine how teacha crass im mus gi recess.
Nuh nyam yuh name pon bulla.
Nuh one way deh fi heng dawg.
Nuh pull out you inside gi’ stranger, tek trash stuff yourself.
Nuh put fowl fe mind corn.
Nuh put yuh cap whe’ yu cant reach it.
Nuh put yuh self in a barrel when match box can hol you.
Nuh romp wid mawga cow, a cudda bull mumma.
Nuh set hungry duck fe watch corn.
Nuh stone mango tree when it naw bear.
Nuh swap black dog fi monkey.
Nuh tek another s’mady yeye fi sleep.
Nuh tek shame mek yuh friend pickney spoil yuh beaver.
Nuh tek ugly mek laugh.
Nuh thro wey yuh ‘tick before yuh dun cross di riva.
Nuh trouble trouble, til trouble trouble yuh.
Nuh trust di mawga cow whe yuh see a pasture; ‘im might be bull mumma.
Nuh wait till drum beat before yuh grine yuh axe.
Nuh wash pickney belly, wash dem back.
Nuh waste powder pon black bud.
Nuh watch di noise a di market, watch fi yuh correct change.
Nutt’n beat a trial but a failure.
Nutt’n neva come before the time.
Nyam nyam will full belly, but breeze no full gut.
Nyam some, lef some.
Oily tung nuh mus tell di truth.
Ole cock crow, young want learn.
Ole fiddle play new tune.
Ole file cyaan shaap’n new machete.
Ole fire stick easy fi ketch.
Ole grudge, fus lick.
Ole woman deh swear fi nyam callaloo an’ callaloo deh swear fi run im gut.
One bird in the springe better than one hundred in the bush.
One chop never finish plantain walk.
One day bellyful nuh fatten hog.
One eye man a king in blind man country.
One finga cyaa ketch louse.
One finga cyaa kill lice.
One foot lay cloth, di other foot call company.
One han wash di oddah.
One hand can’t clap.
One one coco full basket.
One time a mistake, two time a purpose.
One time fall dung a accident, two time fall dung a purpose.
One time fool no fool, two time fool im dey fool.
Only traveller learn sey crab ketch cold.
Ooman luck deh a dungle heap, fowl cratch eeh out.
Parson christen him own pickney first.
Patient dawg nyam ‘im massa bone.
Patient man ride dankey.
Pay the doctor, praise the Lord.
Peacock hide im foot wen im ear bout im tail.
Peel neck fowl bawl fi life, im nu bawl fi fedda.
People nuh stone mango tree when it naw bear.
Peppa bu’n hot, but ih good fi curry.
Pick an pick until yu pick shit.
Plantain whe ripe can’t green again.
Play fool fi ketch wise.
Play stone kill bud.
Play with puppy, puppy lick yu mouth/nose.
Poun a fret cyaa pay ounce a debt.
Prayer from de mout’ alone is no prayer.
Pretty roses gat macca fi juck yu.
Pudd’n cyaa bake widout fyah.
Puss and dawg noh ha di same luck.
Puss belly full ‘im sey rat batty stink.
Puss belly full, rat bitter.
Puss bruk coconut in a yuh eye.
Puss gone, rat tek charge/house.
Puss no ave hand, im use im foot wipe im face.
Puss nuh business inna dawg fight.
Quatti buy trouble, hundred poun caan pay fi it.
Quattie bread full monkey belly.
Rain a fall, but dutty tuff.
Rain never fall a one man door.
Rat belly full, potato have skin.
Ratta never mek noise inna puss ears.
Rock stone a riva battam noh kno’ sun hot.
Run from jumby an meet pon di coffin.
S’mody bawn whe seabreeze nuh blow nuh have sense.
Sake a mout fish get ketch.
Saltfish de pan counta a wait pan bread an butta.
Same bird whe carry news come, a de same bird tek eh back.
Same knife tick di sheep tick di goat.
Sarry fi mawga dawg, mawga dawg tun roun bite yuh.
Satan trouble we, when we trouble ‘im.
Saucy cow draw di wain tongue.
Save money and money will save you.
Scawnful dawg nyam dutty pudd’n.
Scratch an old woman’s back and she will let yuh taste her pepper pot.
Scratch an’ rub cyaa cure cocobeh.
See and blind, hear and deaf.
See mi a one thing, come live with me another.
See mi an come live with mi a two different thing.
See di candle light before yuh blow out the matches.
Self praise a nuh nuh recommendation.
Sensay fowl no want fedder, but him want carn.
Seven year never too long fe wash ‘peckle off a guinea hen back.
Sheep tell ‘im young one ‘nyam all around, nyam all around.’
Shoes alone know if stocking ave hole.
Short cut draw blood. Long road draw sweat.
Show off brings disgrace.
Shut mout no catch fly.
Sick nu care, doctor worst.
Silent river run deep.
Silver dollar betta than family.
Sitting hen neva fat.
Skin fit closer than shirt.
Sleep has no master.
Sleepy turtle never catch up with the sunrise.
Slip a di tongue nuh juggle di head.
Small bud carry seeds very far.
Snake bite you, you see groun lizard yuh run.
So cow dey grow, so ‘im nose dey open.
So de heat, so de weather, so de road bad, cooey donkey cooey.
So much mout cyaa set fi tell di same lie.
Some a dem come in like snake under grass.
Some people clean a tap an dutty underneath.
Sometimes you haffi suck salt through wooden spoon.
Sorry fi mawga dog, mawga dog wi tun round and bite you.
Spit inna de sky, it fall inna yuh eye.
Spread yuh bed haad, lie dung pan eh haad.
Stiff starch an dutty blue.
Stranger no know where de deep water in de pass.
Studyration beat education.
Suck salt outa wooden spoon.
Sun bun washer woman, but it dry her wet clothes.
Swap black dawg fe monkey.
Sweet-mouth fly follow coffin go a grave.
Sweet tongue hide bad heart.
Tablecoth an’ dishcloth nuh wrap up inna di same cutacoo.
Talk and taste your tongue.
Tan an si, nuh pwile di dance.
‘Tank yu’ nu buy half bit bread.
Teeth and tongue mus meet.
Tek bad tings mek laugh
Tek insult fi invitation.
Tek kin teet kibba heart bun.
Tek time mash ant yuh find ‘im belly.
Tek whe yuh get till yu get whe yu want.
‘Thank yu’ nuh buy half bit bread.
That which you do not know is older than you.
The hungry fowl wakes early.
The nearer the bone, the sweeter the meat.
The olda di moon, di brighta it shine.
The spider and the fly can’t make a deal.
The Stone that the builder refuse, will be the head corner stone.
There are many ways fi heng a dawg widout putting string round ‘im neck.
There is a chance fi bud as well as fi gun.
Thief neva like fi see thief with long bag.
Thief, thief from thief, God laugh.
Those who can’t dance say the music is no good.
Time langa dan rope.
Tired foot always sey pass long.
To eat an egg, you must break the shell.
Today can’t catch tomorrow.
Today fi yuh, tomorrow fi me.
Too much a one ting is good fi nutt’n
Too much callaloo mek peppa-pot soup taste bitter.
Too much hurry, get dey tomorrow; tek time, get dey today.
Too much iron a fire, some will bun.
Too much ratta neva dig a good hole.
Too much sidung bruk breeches.
Too ole hampa spill grandpuppa.
Trouble deh a bush Anancy carri cum a yawd.
Trouble mek ole woman trot.
Trouble never blow shell.
Trouble nuh blow shell when ‘im dey come.
Trouble nuh set like rain.
Truth an’ oil never drown.
Tung an teeth meet.
Two bull cyaan reign inna one pen.
Two bull cyaan rule inna one pen.
Two dawg fe one bone, two woman fe one house, never agree long.
Two head betta than one, even if one a coco-head.
Victory nu come fram lie dung inna bed
Virtue never goes far without the company of idleness.
Walk better dan si-dun.
Want all, lose all.
Wanti wanti cyaan getti, an getti getti noh wanti.
Warn jackass before yuh lick im.
Wash yuh neighbour pickney but nuh wash behind ‘im ears.
Wat doan kill will fatten.
Wata more than flour.
Wata throw whe cyaa pick up.
We run t’ings, t’ings noh run we.
Wha a joke to yuh, a death to mi.
Wha costs nutting give good weight.
Wha di goat do, di kid fallah.
Wha dog see an bark all night, ramgoat see an it no trouble im.
Wha drap affah head drap pan shoulda.
Wha eye nuh see, heart nuh leap.
Wha eye nuh see, mouth cyaa talk.
Wha gone bad a mawning, cyaa come good a evening.
Wha nuh dead nuh call it duppy.
Wha nuh dead, nuh dash wey.
Wha nuh kill fatten.
Wha nuh poison, fatten.
Wha sweet nanny goat a go run him belly.
Wha sweet a mouth hot belly
Wha sweet to the mouth is bitter to the belly.
Wha yuh lose in di jig, yuh gain in di reel.
Wha yuh nuh know olda dan yuh.
What a fi yu, cyaan be un fi yu.
What de good a education if him got no sense?
What maggot do befo’ dog get sore yeye?
Whatever come light, cure round brick.
When ashes cole darg sleep in dey.
When bull begin fi dig grung, yuh betta look fi tree.
When bull foot bruk, im nyam wid monkey.
When bull ole ‘im feed a fence side.
When bull ole ‘im horn bend.
When bull ole, dem tek plantain bark tie him.
When bull ole yuh tek ‘hog meat’ fi tie ‘im.
When bull ole, yuh tek string tie im.
When chicken tie up, cockroach want explanation.
When cloud shadow come, sun nuh set.
When cock have teeth.
When cockroach get in a trouble, him well glad fi run go hide inna fowl house.
When cockroach give party, ‘im no ask fowl.
When cockroach mek dance im no ask fowl.
When coco ripe it mus bus.
When cow can’t get wata fe wash im pickney face, im tek im tongue.
When cow tail cut off, God A-mighty brush fly.
When crab nuh have hole, ‘im neva get fat.
When crab walk too much, im lose im claw.
When dawg live well ‘im trouble cow, cow kick ‘im.
When dawg mawga ‘im head big.
When dawg mawga ‘im yeye red.
When dawg have money ‘im buy cheese.
When dawg nyam egg ‘im neva stop.
When dresser fall dung mawga dawg laugh.
When eye meet eye, man fraid.
When fire an wata mek fren’ anybody can lib.
When fish come outa sea and tell yuh alligator have fever, believe ‘im.
When flea go foraging ‘im tell ‘im granny fe lef dinna fe ‘im even though she hear sey two finga-nail ketch ‘im.
When fool man teach wise man sense, cunny man live hard.
When fowl have teeth.
When fowl merry ‘im head inna pot.
When fowl scratch, she use two feet fi tell the chicken ‘If yuh no find it yah, yuh find it yonder.’
When fowl scratch gravel pon ‘im pickney ‘im no ask hawk fe pick ‘im pickney up.
When goat laugh, everybody find out sey ‘im nuh got no teeth.
When guinea hen wing bruk, ‘im flock wid fowl.
When han’ full ‘im have plenty company.
When head part stunted, kibba mouth.
When herring mawga him bone show.
When horse dead, cow fat; when cow dead, mule laugh.
When jackass back strong, dem overload im hamper.
When jackass smell corn, im gallop.
When kitchen dresser tumble dung, maaga dog laugh.
When lie teck plane and gone, truth a walk a come.
When man belly full, him bruck pot.
When man dead lie down pon ‘im back dem put ‘pwoil milk over ‘im head.
When man mek himself like suga everybody use ‘im.
When man live well, im tell cow ‘howdy’.
When mawga plantin want fi dead, im shoot.
When plantain wan’ dead, ‘im shoot.
When poor ah git up, im tun trouble to di world.
When puss belly full, him sey rat belly bitter.
When puss dead ratta tek ‘im skin fi mek bag.
When puss lay eggs
When rat ketch eena trap im part wid im tail.
When rat like fi romp ‘roun puss jaw, one day im gwine en up inna puss craw.
When service over di church door shut
When six eye meet story dun.
When tiger get ole, every dog bark a’ter him.
When towel tun tablecloth dere’s no bearin wid it.
When trouble tek yuh, pickney shut fit yuh.
When two dwag fight over one bone, another dawg run whe wid it.
When visitors come a wi fireside, wi mek wi pot smell sweet.
When water trow weh i’ cyaa pick up.
When yuh a dig hole, dig two.
When yuh buy beef/meat, you get bones; when yuh buy land, yuh get rocks.
When yuh cyaa get dawg fe bark, yuh must tek sheep.
When yuh go a donkey house nuh talk about ears.
When yuh go a fireside an see food, eat half an lef half.
When yuh go a jackass yard, you nuh fi chat bout big ears.
When yuh gwine knock anansi memba di wall.
When yuh kill yuh own hog, you get more meat.
When yuh own funeral is approaching, yuh don’t pick and choose your grave diggers.
When yuh point your finger at someone, look where the other fingers point.
When yuh see carrion, crow deh deh.
Wherever there are bones, there are dogs.
White cockroach think ‘im a backra, little time ‘im have fi change ‘im skin.
Who beg shan’t get, who don’t beg don’t want.
Who born fi heng cyaan drown.
Who filth a pass no memba, but a who clean it.
Who ha’ fingernail no ha’ itch, and who ha’ itch no ha’ fingernail.
Who have teet’ fi nyam corn, it nuh grow a dem door.
Willful waste bring woeful want.
Willing pickny belly full, unwillin pickny belly empty.
Willing pickney belly high, unwilling pickney belly empty.
Willing pickney have high belly, unwilling pickney belly flat.
Wise monkey know wha tree fi climb.
Woman cow ole, yuh tell ‘im whoa, ‘im stan up mek yuh milk ‘im.
Woman luck deh a dungle heap, fowl cratch eeh out.
Woman mout’ an fowl a one.
Words die and men keep on living.
Words in mouth, no load upon head.
Work nuh evil, except inna di eye a di coward.
Young bud nuh know breeze blow.
Young bud nuh know hard time.
Young bud nuh know storm.
Young bud nuh know when berry ripe a mountain side.
Young cock crow afta de old.
Yuh a swap black dawg fi monkey.
Yuh bes friend a yuh wuss enemy.
Yuh can bruk colt but nuh ole horse.
Yuh can say anything to a man with a full stomach.
Yuh care fi mawga cow, a yuh im buck.
Yuh cyaa drown fish.
Yuh cyaa expect anything fram hog but grunt.
Yuh cyaa have two faces under one hat.
Yuh cyaa plant corn and expect peas fi grow.
Yuh cyaa ride cow an cuss cow kin.
Yuh cyaa sidung pon cow back an cuss cow skin.
Yuh cyaa sow corn and expect fi reap peas.
Yuh cyaa stop bud from fly over yuh head but yuh can stop ‘im from making nest in deh.
Yuh cyaa stop crow from flying, but yuh can stop ‘im from flying ‘pon yuh head.
Yuh cyaa tan so far an thro salt inna pot.
Yuh cyaa tap crow fedah fram drap pan yuh but yuh can hinda im fram mek nes pan yuh head.
Yuh cyaa teach ole dawg new trick.
Yuh cyaa tek mout-water so out fire.
Yuh cyaa tek the milk back from the coffee.
Yuh cyaa tie up a dog with a chain of sausages.
Yuh cyaa use fire fi out fire
Yuh cyaa waste shot pan blackbud, it cyaa eat.
Yuh fraid fi eye, yuh never nyam head.
Yuh get inna dawg corn piece.
Yuh life lang but yuh cayliss wid it.
Yuh likka cow wha give a pail of milk an kick it over.
Yuh must creep before yuh walk.
Yuh neva know de use a dag till im dead.
Yuh neva see empty bag stan up.
Yuh neva see kicking cow widout kicking calf.
Yuh neva see pop gun kill alligator.
Yuh neva see smoke widout fiyah.
Yuh nuh fi eat hot rice.
Yuh nuh know ‘A’ from bullfoot.
Yuh nuh know how parson get him gown.
Yuh nuh hear a yuh ears, yuh wi hear a yuh skin.
Yuh nuh see fowl batty ’till breeze-blow come.
Yuh nuh wear boot fe ketch house fowl.
Yuh promise senseh-fowl anything, ‘im a look fe it.
Yuh see everybody a jump pon half a foot, jump yuhself.
Yuh see house stand up yuh nuh go inside, yuh nuh know how it tan.
Yuh see today, yuh nuh see tomorrow.
Yuh see truppence, yuh know how dollar mek.
Yuh shake man han’, yuh noh shake ‘im heart.
Yuh too big fi yuh boots.
Main sources and links to sites with explanations for some Jamaican proverbs:
- From Google Books: Jamaican Sayings: With Notes on Folklore, Aesthetics, and Social Control by G. Llewellyn Watson (Sample view with given explanations)
- From National Library of Jamaica: Jamaican Proverbs (with explanations)
- Jamaican Sayings, Proverbs and Quotations (with explanations)
- Wise Jamaican Proverbs (in categories & with explanations)
- Jamaican Proverbs in Jamaican Patois (with explanations)
- From JIS Media: Proverbs Meet Their Match (PDF with explanations)