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Jamaican proverbs and meanings

Updated on March 20, 2011
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Jamaican proverbs translation and meanings

These are famous sayings that are used by Jamaicans. It's a part of the folklore culture and holds great meaning. Many Jamaicans especially of generation X does not understand some of these proverbs that are often used by their parents and grandparents. Some proverbs evokes great laughter whilst some expresses pain and dissappointment that a person might be facing.

A nuh evry ting good fi eat, good fi talk. Meaning: It is not every thing that you hear or know you should repeat

Evryday buckit a guh a well, one day, di battam mus drop out. (Everyday a bucket is being descended into a well to get water, overtime time the bottom will give way) Meaning: Every day one keeps on doing wrong in secret, one day the truth will be revealed.

Pig ask him madda why him mout suh long, him madda seh, yuh a gro' cum, yuh wi si.(The Piglet asked his mom why his snout was so long, his mother's reply was that he is growing up so he will soon discover) Meaning: Young people often ask why things are, the way the are, but the older folks know that they are growing older and will soon discover.

Young bud nuh kno starm. (A young bird has never experienced a storm) Meaning: Young people do not know the dangers that are lurking out there.

Evry hoe hav dem 'tick a bush. (Every hoe has its stick somewhere) Meaning: No matter how unattractive one might be, there is someone special out there for that person.

One one cocoa full basket. Meaning: Don't ignore small amounts, because everything adds up to much.

Lang run, short ketch. Meaning: the longer you keep running from someone or something the sooner you will become exhausted, and be caught sooner than you expected.

Rain a fall, but dutty tuff. (Its raining , however the ground remains hard and dry) Meaning: On the surface evrything seems okay, but in reality life is very hard

Today fi yuh, tomorrow fi mi. (Today is for you, tomorrow is for me) Meaning: today everything might be great with you while i'm having a hard time but the tables will soon turn.

Di same knife weh stick goat, stick sheep. Meaning: Don't gloat over someone else's misfortune, because the same bad thing that happens to me today can happen to you tomorrow.

Silent rivva' (river) run deep. This proverb has two meanings: 1. The stream/river that is not moving, tends to have great depth. 2. A person that is reserved and quiet isn't as simple as they appear.

Nuh thro weh yuh tick before yuh done cross di rivva' (Do not throw away your stick before you are through crossing the river) Meaning: On your way to success never forget about your friends and those that have helped you, you may need them later in life.

Every weh yuh tun, macka juk yuh. (You are being stuck by prick at every turn) Meaning: This proverb is used when someone is getting constant disappointments at everything they attempt in life

A nuh same day, leaf drop a wata battom it rotten ( Its not the same day that a leaf falls into the water, that it begins to rot) Meaning: Not everything that one does (especially bad things) will be revealed immediately.

Sarry fi mawga dawg, mawga dawg tun 'round bite yuh (Having pity on a scrawny dog results in a bite from it) Meaning: this refers to a person showing sympathy to someone who is very unfortunate, but instead of being grateful, the receiver later hurts his or her saviour without remorse.

Howdy and tenky nuh bruk nuh square- Meaning: Saying hello(howdy)  and thank you (tenky)  doesn't hurt any one

Puss belly full, ratta batty stink  ( when the cat is well fed, the rat that he normally eats isn't all that attractive anymore) Meaning: Most times it is used to rebuke someone who complains about how a meal is cooked, what the person is saying is,  you are not hungry, that is why you are finding so much fault with the meal.

I truly enjoyed writing this piece, i hope you find it enjoyable also!!


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    • David Morrison profile image

      davidas 2 years ago from Far, Far Away

      Mi ah Jamaican and mi neva know dem proverbs deh. A mussi chue mi a youngian. Tanks fi di education. Here's a website that translates popular Jamaican phrases.

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      kimone stone 2 years ago

      it bad on top real

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      kimone 2 years ago

      Jamaica proverds are the best

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      PWEEDY BAE LEAH 2 years ago


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      Y.3.Davidson 2 years ago

      If mi no lay dung a ground dog can't piss pon mi.

      Meaning: if you feel unwanted people will take advantage of you.

      Y.3.D 16.06.2015

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      Larry 3 years ago

      This collection of Jamaican proverbs are really good, they evoke a stronge feeling of happiness at one point then sadness at another time.. very good slecetion...

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      kaydeen saunders 3 years ago

      I love this it's interesting

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      Palak 5 years ago

      where good

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      Alhaji M. Kamara 5 years ago

      I love jamaican proverbs

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      shadae 6 years ago

      this is very nice u should ave more though