Jamaican Proverbs Sayings

“Mi come here fi drink milk, mi noh come here fi count cow”. A reminder to conduct business in a straightforward manner.

“The higher the monkey climbs the more him expose”. A truly comic image if you’ve ever been to the zoo, and comforting to any of us whose backs have been used as a stepping-stone for someone else’s success.

“A new broom sweeps clean, but an old broom knows every corner”. A profoundly witty statement that sums up any number of current situations, including the state of today’s music.

“Dry land tourist”. A Jamaican who’s never been off the island but still acts like a big shot.

“No one cyaan test”. No one can compete with.

“Mi a-go lef today”. “I am leaving today”

“Im too hard of Aise”. “He/She is too hard of ears”

“Him is badda than dem” “No badda mi”. “He is worse than they are” “Don’t bother me”

“Is bare dog down inna that yard”. “Is only dogs in that yard”

“No badda bawl im soon come back”. “Don’t bother crying he’ll soon be back”

“Dat is fe mi bredda”. “That is my brother”

“The chuck need tree new tyres”. “The truck will need three new tire”

“Cuyah, she gwan like she nice eee”. “Look at that, she acts like she is so nice”

“Choble nuh nice” “Yuh ina big choble”. “Trouble is not nice” “You are in big trouble”

“Did yuh see dat?” “A who dat?” “Did you see that” “Who is that”

” Yuh no dun yet?”. “You have not finished yet?”

” Is the dutty duppy man dweet”. “The dirty ghost do it”

“Ef yuh choble him ‘im me a-go hit yuh”. “If you trouble him I am going to hit you”

“All a dem a me fambly”. “All of them are my family”

” Yuh too fass and Facety”. “You are too inquisitive and fresh”

“Galang bout yuh business”. “Go along about you business”

“Mi back a hat mi”. “My back is hurting me”

“An a jus Lass nite mi dideh”. “And it was just last nigh I was there”

“Lef mi Nuh”. “Leave me alone.”

“Tek de neegle an sow de piece of clawt”. “Take the needle and sow the piece of cloth”

“How yuh nyam so much”. “How do you eat so much.”

“Is Mr Garden pickney dem”. “It is Mr. Gordon children.”

“Mi would rada you talk to mi” Translation : “I would rather you not talk to me”

“Tandy tink sey im a-go help you.” “Stand there thinking he is going to help you.”

“Tek you time an mine it bruk”. “Take your time, you might break it.”

“Wat a liiv an bambaie” Leftovers put aside to eat tomorrow (What is left for by-and by).

“gone a foreign” Gone abroad (from Jamaica).

“like mi a go maas” Chill out.

“gwaan go maas” Go cool yourself.

“mi a maas a money” (or item), it means you’re going to put it away or put it one side.

“Every hoe ha dem stick a bush.” The meaning of all that is “to each his own” It literally translates that for every size hoe there is a stick that size in the bush (or forest) for it. In Jamaica they use tools similar to a garden hoe. They use it to make a yam hill – we use it to make path. There are different sizes for different chores. So it can also mean that there is someone out there for everyone.

“tan so back” (stand so back) Laid back.

“a peer rumors ah gwan” “Its pure rumors that are going on” in other words “Its all only rumors that’s being spread”

“did deh deh” “I was there”

“Im sey dat yuh was to bring ting” “He or She said you were to bring the thing”

“Sumody tell mi sey yuh dida talk bout mi” “Somebody told me you were talking about me.”

“Unnu can come wid mi” “You all can come with me.”

“I dey ‘pon haste” – “I am in a hurry”

“Who colt de game” – it implies that someone made a wrong move, deliberately, to change the outcome of the plan. So who colt the game? Babylon! In other words… to prevent the Dread from succeeding, babylon colt the game, made a “wrong” move in regards to the dread.

“Why yu fe galang so”? – “why must you behave in such a manner?”

“Me come yah fi drink milk, me no come yah fi count cow!” (Deliver that which you promised, don’t just talk about it!)

“Carry Go Bring Come” (gossip)

“A so im tan” That is what he is like.

“tan deh!” or “yu tan deh!” Just you wait!

“Tan tedy”, Stand steady, means “hold still”.

Bunks Mi Res, Catch my rest, take a nap.

“yu dam Lagga head bud”, Stupid.

“What sweet nanny goat a go run him belly” is a cautionary Jamaican proverb which translated means:
What tastes good to a goat will ruin his belly. In other words – the things that seem good to you now,
can hurt you later…

“tek smadi mek poppy-show”, which means to make fun of someone or shame them, making them look ridiculous.

“You too red eye”, Meaning, you’re too envious.

Ya No See It?, You know?

“the gal come wine up on me,” It would mean that the girl came and was dancing up on me.

“Chicken merry; hawk deh (is) near”, It’s a Jamaican proverb which simply means, every silver lining has its dark cloud. Even in the happiest times one must still be watchful.

“Fire de a Mus Mus tail, him tink a cool breeze”. Set a Rat’s tail on fire and he’s thinks there’s a cool breeze. Used to describe someone or something (the system for example) that is clueless. This characterizes the delusional complacency of the upper classes.

“Me bleach hard lass night”, I partied straight through the night.

“coo pon dat bwoy”, “Look at that boy”

“I no come to hear about how horse dead an’ cow fat”, It’s like telling somebody to knock off with irrelevant details.

“Me throw me corne but me no call no fowl” It evokes the image of a farmer silently scattering who is
saying, in effect: “Don’t call yourself a chicken just because you eat my feed; I never said I was endeavoring to feed the chickens.” That is, “You are who you show yourself to be, not who you might say you are.”

“Sorry for maga dog, maga dog turn round bite you”. This metaphor extends very well to all manner and sort of do-gooding and should be considered before any hasty acts of charity!

“Mi throw mi corn, but me no call no fowl”. refers to the conversational technique of throwing out a provocative statement (throw corn) in an indirect manner, thus forestalling any accusations of personal insult.

“Sweet nanny goat have a running belly”. It’s a barnyard analogy akin to the grass is always greener, but much coarser, noting that the sweet foliage avidly sought out by the nanny goat gives it diarrhea (running belly). It’s a blunt way of warning someone off temptation.

“cock mouth kill cock” really can’t be expanded upon any further, nor can the similar “If a fish coulda keep him mout’ shut, him would neva get caught”.

“Everyting Crash”. The topic is social chaos. Also, “come bad in de morning can’t come good a evenin'”, and the even more pessimistic “every day bucket go a well, one day di bucket bottom mus drop out”.

“Wanti wanti can’t get it, getti getti no want it”, i.e., the Have-nots covet what the Haves take for granted.

“Trouble no set like rain”, that is, unlike bad weather, we are often not warned by dark clouds on the horizon.

Jamaican proverbs consistently counsel patience and forebearance, as in the beautiful image “time longer than rope”. The child must “creep before him walk”. And remember, “one one coco fill up a basket”, take it easy and fill up your shopping basket one item at a time.

“Every mikkle makes a muckle”, refers to thriftiness, similar to “a penny saved is a penny earned”.

“No cup no broke, no coffee no dash wey”. Even if disaster strikes your home it’s always possible that all may not be lost.

“Heart No Leap”, “See and Blind”. These sayings are similar to “hear no evil, see no evil”.

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One Response to Jamaican Proverbs Sayings

  1. Ilknur Akanlar says:

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    Hello there,

    I need to have the blow words’ English translation immediately. If you help me in this respect, I will appreciate your kind assistance and co-operation.

    Dat scurvy bobo be all up inne quashie’s face. Dat hard-eared swab gonnna get salt, mon… gonna get keelhauled and gonna be made into a duppy, mon.
    Now ye just be fass and facety, mon! Ye fixin’ fe vex me, ye maga dog blaggard.
    BG’waan den, ye lily-livered scallywag. Be seen ya first light!

    Thanks once again for your kind assistance.

    Best regards,

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