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Caribbean Proverbs

Proverbs of Antigua & Barbuda

“Moon run faas but day ketch im.”
Your actions and misdeeds will eventually have consequences.
“Dutty water cool hot iron.”
Everything has its use.
“A no wantin tongue mek cattle can't talk.”
It’s sometimes wisest to keep one's mouth shut.
“A word betta dan a wink fo a bline horse.”
Use the right motivation for each person.
“Poun o fretment nu pay fo gill o debtment.”
Worrying does not improve a bad situation.

Proverbs of the Bahamas

“Wha sweeten yu mouth goin bitter yu tail.”
That which causes merriment and pleasure now will cause grief and sorrow later.
“Hand go, hand come.”
As you give, so shall you receive.
“Fisherman never smell he own basket.”
People are oblivious to their own faults and flaws.
“Hog know where to rub he skin.”
Bullies know exactly who they can abuse.
“Fattening frog for snake.”
Taking care of a woman only for a next man to enjoy her.

Barbadian Proverbs

“Mek sure betta dan cock sure.”
It is better to verify than to assume.
“Yu can' plant yam and reap eddoe.”
Your reward or punishment is in line with your actions.
“If blackbird fly wid pigeon he will get shoot.”
You are judged by the company you keep.
“Hungry mek cat eat salt.”
Necessity or hard times forces people to do strange things.
“De las' calf kill di cow.” (The final straw breaks the camel's back.)
Doing something once too many can cause disaster.
“Two poor cow does make good dung.”
People of limited means can improve themselves by working together and combining resources.
“One blow does kill ole cow.”
Simple or minor annoyances may build up to cause major damage.
“Rat mout does sell he head.”
Talking too much gets one in trouble.
“Donkey got long ear but he don' like to hear he own story.”
People don't like to take criticism.
“De higher de monkey climb de more he show he tail.”
The more one shows off, the more one is vulnerable to ridicule and criticism.
“Yuh caan stan in de road an sih de leak in somebody else house.”
Unless you're close to someone you don't know the true nature of their problems.
“De dog dat bring a bone will caah one.”
The person that gossips to you will gossip about you.
“Crave all, get none at all.”
Excessive greed puts one in danger of losing everything.
“Crow does fly high, but when e come down, de ants does still eat out e eye.”
When the mighty fall on hard times, they are disrespected by all.
“Better fish in di sea dan wha get ketch.”
There's always a better lover than your current one.
“A eyeful en a bellyful.”
Seeing is different from having.
“White mout fowl does eat and den wipe he mout in grass.”
Some people will never show gratitude.
“When yuh en got horse, ride cow.”
Use the resources available to you.

Proverbs of Guyana

“Every rope gat two ends.”
Every story has two sides.
“Cat a ketch rat, but he a teef he massa fish.”
Good and evil often come from the same source.
“Big tree fall down, goat bite he leaf.”
When the mighty fall on hard times, they are disrespected by all.
“All cassava get same skin but all nah taste same way.”
People may look alike, but all act differently.

Proverbs of Haiti

“Byen prè pa lakay.”
Very close is not home yet. A miss by an inch is the same as a miss by a mile.
“Lafimen pa janm leve san dife.”
There's no smoke without fire. Rumors always have a grain of truth.
“Zafè kabrit pa zafè mouton.”
The goat's business is not the sheep's business. Focus on your own affairs instead of the affairs of others.
“Nan tan grangou patat pa gen po.”
In times of famine and hardships potatoes have no skin.
“Makak pa janm kwe petit-li led.” (A monkey never thinks her baby's ugly.)
People never see their own faults.
“Sel pa vante tèt li di li sale.”
Salt doesn't brag that it is salty.
“Sa k rive koukouloulou a, ka rive kakalanga tou.”
What happens to the turkey can happen to the rooster too.
“Kay koule twompe soley soley men li pa twompe lapil.”
A leaky house can fool the sun, but it can't fool the rain.
“Men anpil chay pa lou.”
Many hands lighten the load.
“Rayi chyen di dan’l blan.” (Hate the dog, but admit its teeth are white.)
Give the devil his due; even those you dislike may have good qualities.
“Bel anteman pa di paradi.”
A beautiful funeral is no guarantee of entry into heaven.
“Apre dans tanbou lou.” (After the dance, the drums are heavy.)
It's not all fun and good times when the party ends. Sometimes there's hard work.
“Chak jou pa dimanch.”
Every day is not Sunday. You can't rest all the time, sometimes you have to work.

Jamaican Proverbs

”Hungry mek monkey blow fire.”
People are forced to become innovative and resourceful under harsh conditions.
”A nu same day leaf drop it rotten.”
One bit of misfortune does not mean total destruction.
”Fowl gwine fat im begin fram him toe.”
Adult behaviors begin in childhood.
”When bull foot bruk, im nyam wid monkey.”
Misfortune or harsh time creates unlikely companionships.
”Play fool fi ketch wise.”
Feign ignorance to one's advantage.
”Tank yu' nu buy half bit bread.”
Payment is more useful than expressions of gratitude.
”When cloud shado come, sun nu set.”
One rough time does not mean all hope is lost.
”Anyting stay too long serve two masta.”
Take advantage of what you have before someone else takes it away from you.
”If yu fraid a yeye yu cyaa nyam head.”
One must be willing to put up with unpleasant things in order to be successful.
”Di man mek outa honey, fly wi nyam him.”
People take advantage of the good-natured.
”Nu jus one way fi heng dog.”
There is more than one way to accomplish a goal.
”Bit bit mek poun.”
Small amounts will eventually add up.
”Bud fly too faas, pass him nes.”
Excessive ambition puts one in danger of missing their goals.
”Yu neva si pop gun kill alligator.”
Don't expect success if you set someone a task that is beyond their ability.
”Quattie bread full monkey belly.”
The poor or disadvantaged are easily satisfied.
”Cyaa bury a man an lef out him foot.”
Be sure to properly complete the task at hand.
”If you bawn fi heng, yu cyaa drown.”
Your destiny will be fulfilled.
”If yu cyaa walk faas, tek time run.”
Master the basics before you attempt more difficult activities.
”If yu cyaa walk faas, tek time run.”
Master the basics before you attempt more difficult activities.
”Di olda di moon di brighta it shine.”
Age brings wisdom.
”Di hotta di battle, di sweeta di victory.”
Success is more rewarding after hard work and struggle.
”Every day devil help teef. One day god wi help watchman.”
Good people should not be discouraged by the successes of unscrupulous people.
”Peel neck fowl bawl fi life, im nu bawl fi fedda.”
Outward beauty isn't the most important thing.
”Tek kin teet kibba heart bun.”
Laughter is the best medicine.
”Nu cuss alligator long mout til yu cross di riva.”
Don't provoke people while they are in a position to retaliate.
”Di house whe shelta yu when a rain, look fi it when sun hot.”
When you become successful, look out for those that helped you during your hard times.
”Humble calf suck di most milk.”
Humility is more rewarding that arrogance.
”Nubady neva kick dead dawg.”
The successful are criticized.
”Nu dash whe stick before yu done cross riva.”
Don't be too quick to discard or reject things because you may need them in the future.
”Annu every kin teet a laugh.”
Someone who smiles to your face does not necessarily mean you well.
”Mawga cow a bull mumma.”
Someone who appears weak or vulnerable may have powerful allies.
”Dawg say 'if im ave money', im woulda buy flea.”
Some people spend money on useless or necessary things.
”When coco ripe it mus bus.”
All will be revealed when the time is right.
”Yu cyaa ride cow an cuss cow kin.”
You shouldn't criticize those on whom you depend.
”Willin pickny belly full, unwillin pickny belly empty.”
Children who are helpful and willing are better rewarded.
”Every day yu goad donkey, one day him gwine kick yu.”
Everyone has their limits.
”Teef Teef from feef, God laugh.”
God laughs at poetic justice.
”Day longa dan rope.”
Time will right or avenge all wrongs.
”Wise monkey know wha tree fi climb.”
Choose your goals or battles carefully.
”Rain a fall but dutty tough.”
Income is coming in, but not enough to meet all needs.
”Duppy know who fi frighten.”
Bullies know exactly who they can abuse.
”Hang yu basket whe yu can reach it.”
Keep your goals within your abilities and means.
”Tumuch callaloo mek peppa pot bitta.”
There can be too much of a good thing.
”Nu betta herrin, nu betta barrel.”
Don't expect children to be better than, or different from, their parents.
”Trouble nu set like rain.”
Problems often arrive without warning.
”Clear conscience sleep a tunda.”
Those with a clear conscience can sleep well through the stormiest nights.
”Good friend betta dan pocket money.”
True friends are better than money.
”Haad ears pickny nyam rockstone.”
Disobedient children often learn the hard way.
”One finga cyaa ketch lice.”
Sometimes it is necessary to cooperate in order to achieve a goal.
”Bucket go well every day, one day di bottom ago drop out.”
If you repeatedly take the same risks, eventually it will end in disaster.
”Craven choke puppy.”
Greed will hurt you.
”Nyam some, lef some.”
Plan for tomorrow; Don't consume everything all at once.
”Def ears gi liad trouble.”
Be certain of what you have heard before you choose to repeat it.
”Teef neva love fi si teef wid long bag.”
Unscrupulous people begrudge the successes of other unscrupulous people.
”Poun a fret cyaa pay ounce a debt.”
Worrying doesn't solve problems.
”Pudd'n cyaa bake widout fyah.”
You need the right tools for each job.
”Parson christ'n him pickny fus.”
People look out for themselves before others.
”Saltfish de pan counta a wait pan bread an butta.”
Lazy people wait for rewards instead of working for them.
”Victory nu come fram lie dung inna bead.”
Success requires hard work.
”Ben di tree when it young, when it ole it wi bruk.”
It is easier to train children when they are young than when they are older.
”Nu tek ugly mek laugh.”
Don't laugh at the misfortunes of others.
”Pick an pick until yu pick shit.”
The excessively picky end up making poor choices.
”All mout nu set fi tell di same lie.”
If everyone says the same thing, there may be truth behind it.
”A faas mek anansi de a house top.”
It is dangerous to meddle in the affairs of others.
”Anansi rope tie him maasa.”
Be careful that you are not caught in the traps you set for others.
”Wen yu gwine knock anansi memba di wall.”
When you try to hurt another be sure you aren't hurting yourself.
”If yu mash ants yu fine im guts.”
People reveal their true colors when faced with pressure or hard times.
”Ants follow fat, fat drown im.”
Excessive greed will hurt you.
”Cockroach neva right before chicken.”
One will never be judged fairly by one's enemies.
”Black bud say fi im pickny fus.”
Attend to your own affairs before the affairs of others.
”Play stone kill bud.”
One person's fun and games may have serious consequences for another.
”Duck nu lay egg before fowl.”
You can achieve success regardless of your origin or background.
”If yu cuss Johncrow peel head turky wi bex.”
People resent when you criticise others that are similar to them.
”Belly full, pitata ave kin.”
Contented people can afford to be choosy.
”If yu see everybody a run tek time.”
Don't be too eager to follow others.
”Gi a man a haas him want saggle to.”
Help someone once and they'll always want more.
”Yu nu know how parson get him gown.”
Don't envy the success of others when you don't know what it cost.
”Before dawg go widout suppa, im nyam cockroach.”
Make do with what is available to you.
”Crab say im nu trus nu shadow afta dark.”
Don't make assumptions in uncertain situations.
”If speech wort shillin, silence worth pound .”
Sometimes it is better to keep your mouth shut. Silence is golden.
”Cause parrot mek noise, dem say a him one nyam banana.”
The loudest and most obvious always gets blamed.
”If yu nu go unda fowl coob, fowl cyaa shit pan yu.”
People abuse you or take advantage of you unless you put yourself in a position for them to do so.
”Nutt'n beat a trial but a failure.“
You can't succeed if you don't try.
”Dance a yard before yu dance abroad.”
Practice good behavior at home before you go outside.
”If yu waa good, yu nose affi run.”
Success requires hard work.
”People nuh stone mango tree when it naw bear.”
People attack you for your successes.
”Man nu dead, nu call dem duppy.”
Don't underestimate people.
”Dawg a sweat and long hair hide it.”
Things are not always as they seem.
”Thief neva like fi see thief with long bag.”
Those who prosper by illegal or crooked means dislike those who are more successful than themselves via the same means.
”Betta belly buss dan good food waste.”
It is better to overeat than to waste great food.
”Jackass seh di worl nu level.”
Life isn't fair.
”Fyah de a mus mus tail, him tink a cool breeze.”
Some people are happily oblivious to the trouble or dangers hanging over them.
”Fowl whe feed a yard nu hard fi ketch.”
It is easy to catch up to someone who is avoiding or running away from you when that person depends on you for something essential.
”Igle jackass follow cane trash go a poun.”
People who have nothing to do, or are bored do stupid things to kill time.
”Fus laaf anno laaf.”
He who laughs last, laughs best.
”Before monkey buy trousers, him affi know whe fi put him tail.”
Make sure the fashions of others suit you before you rush to adopt them.
”Di ola di moon di brighta di shine.”
Age brings wisdom.
”Sick nu care, doctor worst.”
If you don't care about your own problems, don't expect anyone else to care.
”Every mickle mek a muckle.”
Every little bit adds up.
”If yu want half a bread beg it, if yu want one, buy it yuself.”
If you want a job done right, do it yourself.
”Puss belly full him say rat batty stink.”
Only contented people can afford to be choosy.
”When jackass smell corn him gallop.”
Use the appropriate encouragement for each person.
”Sorry fi mawga daag dem tun roun bite you.”
No good deed goes unpunished.
”Crab walk too much lose him claw.”
If you overuse a thing you will break or lose it.
”When rat like ramp roun puss jaw, one day him gwine en up in puss craw.”
If you continually flirt with danger you will eventually get hurt.
”Nu matta how boar hog hide unda sheep wool, him grunt betray him.”
People's true colours will always come to the surface.
”Yu shake man han, yu nu shake him heart.”
Appearances can be deceiving.
”Alligator lay egg, but him nu fowl.”
Things are not always as they seem.
”Pepper bun hot but it good fi curry.”
Harsh advice may be good for you.
”Young bud nu know storm.”
The young and inexperienced don't understand true troubles or hardships.
”Rockstone a riva bottom nu know sun hot.”
Sheltered persons don't know true hardship or troubles.
”Bucket wid hole a battam nu have no business a riverside.”
Don't criticise others when you have faults of your own.
”Hog say the fus water im ketch im walla.”
Take advantage of the first opportunity.
”Wha nu kill fatten.”
That which does not destroy you makes you stronger.
”Howdy an tenk yu nu bruk no square.”
It never costs anything to be polite.
” Empty bag cyaa stan up.”
A hungry person cannot work.
”Want all, lose all.”
Excessive greed puts one in danger of losing everything.
”Mischief come by di poun and go by di ounce.”
It only takes a little effort or few words to start a lot of trouble.
”Poun a fret cyaa pay ounce a debt.”
Worrying does not improve a bad situation.
”If yu cyaa get turkey, satisfy wid John Crow.”
Make the best of a bad situation and be content with what you have.
”Ole fyah stick easy fi ketch.”
It's easier to rekindle a romantic relationship than to start a new one with someone new.
”Cock mout kill cock.”
Choose your words with care lest you draw unpleasant or unwanted attention to yourself.
”Peacock hide him foot when him hear 'bout him tail.”
A proud person hides his weaknesses when praised.
”Finger neba say look ya, him say look yonda.”
People never point out their own faults.
”So much mout cyaa set fi tell di same lie.”
If everybody makes the same accusation then there must be some truth in it.
”Every tub affi sit on it own bottom.”
Every person will have to take responsibility for his own life and actions.
”One one coco full basket.”
Little by little the task will be completed.
”Chicken merry, hawk de near.”
Danger lurks wherever there is too much merriment and excitement.
”Alligator shouldn't call hog long mout.”
You shouldn't belittle or criticise others when you have the same faults.
”Likkle alligator tun big alligator.”
Children invariably adopt all the bad attributes of their parents.

Virgin Island Proverbs

“Studyation betta dan education.”
Common sense is better than formal education or learning.
“Dutty water will out fyah.”
Everything has its use.
“Dutty han mek greasy mout.”
Work hard and you will eat well and enjoy the fruits of life.
“All fish does bite but shark does get di blame.”
Those with a history of bad behavior are always the first ones accused.

Somali Afrikan Proverb
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