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Jamaican Proverbs – General

Proverb: “Wah di use yuh dah shawl up when yuh characta gone?”

Meaning: It is no use pretending to be something you are not as the true you will always show.

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Proverb: “Fe walk fe nuttin’ bettah dan fe si’ dung fe nuttin’.”

Meaning:  Go in search of what you need instead of sitting and hoping for it to come to you.

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Proverb: “Cap nuh fit yuh, nuh tek i up.”

Meaning: Why get involved in matters that are of no concern to you?

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Proverb: “Wah man nuh know a good fi know.”

Meaning: Knowledge is power.

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Proverb: “Every lang lane ave a turning”

Meaning: Nothing lasts forever.

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Proverb: “Yuh cyaan carry two face undah one hat.”

Meaning: Practice what you preach.

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Proverb: “Ef yuh cyaan tan bun, cut an run.”

Meaning: Get out of any situation in which you feel threatened or pressured into doing anything against your will.

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Proverb: “Fe see mi is one ting, fe come live wid mi is anodda.”

Meaning: You will never really get to know someone just from casual acquaintances alone. Take time to get to know someone.

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Proverb: “Dere is reason fe roas egg as well as fe bwoil dem.”

Meaning: There is a reason for every action.

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Proverb: “Ef yuh nuh go a man fiyahside, yuh nuh know ow much fiyah stick bwoil im pot.”

Meaning: If you do not extend yourself you will not gain knowledge about anything, either about another person or a subject matter.

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Proverb: “Yuh neva see empty bag tan up.”

Meaning: You cannot accomplish anything if you are hungry. Feed the body, feed the mind, then tackle the physical.

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Proverb: “Yes yes’ neva carry man ova mountain.”

Meaning: Words are never enough to get through difficult situations. Offer practical solutions and not just mere talk.

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Proverb: “Kreeshie mannahs before yuh linen yellow.”

Meaning: Make good manners an indispensable part of your life.

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Proverb: “Ef yuh cyaan maintain, doan entertain.”

Meaning: Do not start something you cannot finish. You’ll only make yourself frustrated.

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Proverb: “Doan listen to di naise, watch di sale.”

Meaning: Do not be misled by others’ excitement; use the facts to judge something for yourself.

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Proverb: “Too much explanation bring exposure.”

Meaning: Be specific in your conversations with others and do not give more information than is absolutely necessary.

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Proverb: “When yuh go a shet yeye man country, shet fi yuh yeye to.”

Meaning: When in new surroundings make it a habit to observe the customs of those around you before doing anything that will make you look foolish. As the popular saying goes: “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”

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Proverb: “Marriage a nuh food truck.”

Meaning: Do not rush into a marriage, or any intimate relationship, but wait until the time is right. After all, “marriage ‘ave teet’ an’ bite hot!”

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Proverb: “One bungle a shingle cyaan shingle more dan wah one bungle a shingle can shingle.”

Meaning: Make do with what you have.

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Proverb: “Fus time fall dung a mistake, second time fall dung a purpose.”

Meaning:  Learn from your past mistakes to avoid making those same mistakes in the future.

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Proverb: “Nuh all foot inna boot a good foot.”

Meaning: Never judge by outward appearances alone.

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Proverb: “Fingah nevah say “look ‘ere,” ‘im seh “look deh”.”

Meaning: People tend to point out the faults in others than their own.

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Proverb: “Back nuh know wah ol’ shut a do fe i’ ‘till i’ tear off.”

Meaning: We often do not realise how valuable persons are in our lives until we lose them.

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Proverb: “Salt nevah seh ‘imself sweet.”

Meaning: Self-praise is never good recommendation.

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Proverb: “Dry ‘tump a cane-piece nuh fi laugh when cane-piece ketch a fyah.”

Meaning: Do not take pleasure in the misfortunes of others as the same could happen to you.

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Proverb: “Too-much-hurry get deh tomorrow, tek-time get deh today.”

Meaning: It never hurts to take the time necessary to get something done properly.

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Proverb: “No cup nuh bruk, no coffee nuh dash weh.”

Meaning: Even in times of disaster all may not be lost; there is still hope.

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Proverb: “When yuh have plenty begin fe bwoil pot full.”

Meaning: In times of plenty always make provisions for the future.

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Proverb: “All head a head, but all luck nuh luck.”

Meaning: It will be more profitable to use your brain than to depend on luck to achieve things in life.

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Proverb: “Heel nevah go before toe.”

Meaning: Deal with important matters first.

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Proverb: “If yuh wan’ fi lean, nuh lean pon withe.”

Meaning: If you have to rely on others, make sure that they can be trusted.

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Proverb: “Somet’ing pwoil ah mornin’ can nevah tu’n good by night.”

Meaning: What has gone wrong to begin with can never be put to right in the end.

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Proverb: “Nonsense man eat soup wid fork, eat rice wid pin, eat parch’ carn an’ lick him fingah.”

Meaning: It is foolish to give yourself over to unnecessary labour.

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Proverb: “If yuh get hol’ a di blade, min’ how yuh draw.”

Meaning: Be extremely cautious when caught in difficult situations.

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Proverb: “Nuh wait till drum beat before yuh grin’ yuh axe.”

Meaning: Be prepared for all eventualities; do not wait until it is too late.

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Proverb: “Nuh everyting you yearry good fe talk.” (yearry = hear)

Meaning: Be discreet in what you communicate to others.

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