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Jamaican Proverbs

(in Patois with English (or equivalent) translations)

as told by Nadica Williams, Grade 8

  1. Dance a yard before yu dance a board.
    Do things at home before you go other places to do them.
  2. Cow never know use of them tail before butcher cut it off.
    People never listen until they get in trouble.
  3. Wha sweet nanny goat gonna run him belly.
    Don't laugh at others because it could happen to you.
  4. When puss gone rat teck charge.
    When the cat's away the mice will play.
  5. Trouble no set like rain.
    When you see trouble you should walk away from it because trouble is like rain, it eventually falls.
from the Peace Corps Volunteer Publication, Kisko
  1. Too much callaloo meck peppa-pot soup bitter.
    Too much of a good thing can spoil everything.
  2. Marga cow a feil a bull mumma.
    Yuh shake man han, yu no shake him heart.
    Don't judge a book by its cover.
  3. Feel like gumbeh drum widdout a goat-skin.
    Feel out of place.
  4. When jackass smell corn im gallop.
    People respond to the right encouragement.
  5. Doah yuh cyaan stop flyin crow feader from drop, yuh can hinder crow from meck nes pon yuh head top. We run tings, tings no run we.
    Control your own destiny.
  6. Prett roses got macca jook.
    There are two sides to a coin.
  7. *No care how teacher cross, school boun fi gi recess.
    Every cloud has a silver lining.
  8. Every day bucket go a well, eventually bottom gwine drop out.
    Over use will cause it to break.
  9. No care how boar hag try fi hide under sheep wool, him grunt always betray him.
    You can't change the spots on a leopard.
  10. If yuh noh tie bad dawg strong, him get weh den go nyam yuh supper.
    Give them an inch, they will take a mile.