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Barbadian proverbs and sayings.

A selection of Barbadian proverbs with correspondeces from other countries. This is the final segment of proverbs that I started in Volume 14, number 1. I received some feedback from readers who noted that I should have explained their meanings. That is not the purpose of the collection. I just wanted to share with you the reader a passion of mine, collecting proverbs as they are used by native speakers. I leave that other aspect to researchers who will follow.


155. Little children shouldn't play wid sharp-edged tools.

156. Little children and sharp-edged tools ent no friends.

157. Little pitcher got wide ear hole.

158. Little with contenment is great gain.

159. Lime juice neva spoil vinegar.

160. Licky-lacky spell Dutch and P R Y spell particular.

161. Let sleeping dogs lie.(British) a) Don't kick a sleeping dog. (Madagascar)


162. Money mek de mare fly. (British variant)

163. Money and frien'ship doan 'gree. a) Money done, frien' done. (Guyana) b) Lending money and loaning things (Kill (s) friendship.


164. Mout' doan speak evat'ing eye see.

165. More in de mortar beside de pestle.

166. Monkey see, monkey do. (British) a.) Only a monkey understands a monkey. (Sierre Leone) b) Copying everybody else all the time, the monkey one day cut his throat. (Zululand)

167. Money will serve any master.

168. Misery loves company.


169. Night does run 'till day ketch um. a) No matter how long night, the day is sure to come. (Cameroun)

170. Never cut de limb yuh sitting on.

171. Never bite de han' dat feed yuh.

172. Neva seh neva.

173. No one know wha' tomorrow gine bring.

174. News doan lack fuh a carrier. a) News is like a bird, it flies quickly. (Ashanti)


175. Once bitten twice shy. (British)

176. One-smart dead (live) at two-smart door.

177. One one blows does kill ol' cow.

178. One han' cahn clap.

179. Opportunity lost can never be recalled. a) Opportunity lost is never regained. (Fante)

180. One man's curse is another man's blessing.

181. One man's lost is another man's gain.

182. Out of sight, out of mind. a) Long absent, soon forgotten. (Roumanian)


183. Penny wise and pound foolish. (British)

184. Parents eat sour grapes an' de children teet edge.

185. Pick on someone yuh own size.

186. Procrastination is the thief of time. (British Variant)


187. Rain fallin' bucket a drop.

188. Right or wrong, correct.

189. Respect is due a dog.


190. Seeing is believing. (British)

191. Some days soft; some days hard.

192. She playin' de tune dat de ol' cow dead 'pon.

193. Sense before learning.

194. Shut mout' doan ketch fly.

195. She near and far.

196. Scornful dog nyam shit. a) Scornful daag nyam dutty pudding. (Jamaica)

197. Self pity ain't no pity.

198. Spare the rod and spoil the child. (Bible)

199. Sorry killed Ory.

200. Self-help ain't no help.

201. Self-pity ain't no pity.

202. Small pigeon got wide earhole.

203. Speak of de devil an' 'e appears. (Italian)

204. Scratch by back and I'll scratch yours. (American) a) A word of peace redeems a crime. (Ovambo)


206. The longest day got its night.

207. There is trick in trade.

208. Trouble doan set up like rain. a) If you trouble trouble, trouble will trouble you.

(Also Jamaica)

209. The dog's bark is worse than its bite. (British) a) The dog's bark is not might, but right. (Madagascar)

210. Two poor cow does mek up good dung.

211. Tekking time ain't laziness. (British variant) a) To try and fail, is not laziness. (Sierre Leone)

212. Two smart rats cahn live in de same hole.

213. Tummuch of nothing ain't no good. (British variant)

214. Talk cheap but um tek money fuh buy whisky.

215. Today is a funny night. (Associated with 1937 riots in Barbados.)

216. To offer up a child. (The reverend (minister) comes home to Christen a child who is sick)

217. Two wrongs doan mek a right. (British variant)

218. The spoken word can never be recalled. (British) a) A word uttered cannot be taken back. (Zululand) b) Quarrels end, but words once spoken never die. (Sierre Leone)

219. Tongue and teeth will have words.

220. There is strength in numbers. (Also Ghana)

221. The fool sehs in his heart there is no God.

222. The blin' leadin' the blin'.

223. The monkey doan know the whiff of 'e arse till 'e swallow a plum seed.

224. Today fuh you, tomorrow fuh me.

225. Two man rat cahn live in de same hole.

226. The best armor is self-defence.

The best armor is to keep out of range. (Italian)

227. Turning back is bad luck.

228. This is neither fish nor fowl.


229. Uh livin' off de fat o' de lan'.


230. Water does run, but blood does clot.

231. When de master away, de servant tek over. (British variant)

a). When the master is absent, the frogs hop into house house. (Buganda)

232. Wha' eye ain't see, stomach will tek.

(British variant)

233. Wha' yuh sow, yuh does reap. (Bible)

234. Where there's tummuch good, bad near at hand.

235. When yuh see rain clouds set up look fuh trouble.

236. When it doan rain, it does pour. a) It never rains but it pours. (Jamaica)

237. When hog dance, rain fall. a) Hog commence fe dance, rain soon come. (Jamaica)

238. Whoever de cap fit draw de string.

239. Who help yuh fuh buy a big gut horse doan help yuh fuh feed 'e.

240. Wha' go up mus' come down.

241. What goes around must come around.

242. Wha' ain't ketch yuh ain't pass yuh.

243. Wha' in de ol' goat in de kiddy.

244. Wha' doan kill does fatten.

245. When Mamie/Daddy come home, yuh gwine be in hot water.

246. When the cat is away, the rat tek possession. (British variant)

247. Waste not, want not. (British)

248. Wha' yuh doan like, doan give to someone else.

249. Wha' yuh eye doan see. yuh stomach would tek.

250. Wha' yuh ain't know doan hurt yuh.

251. When yuh got out clothes yuh does look fuh rain.

252. When yuh see tummuch good, bad near at hand.

253. Where there is life, there is hope.

254. Wha' is one man's rubbish is another man's gold.

254. Wha' is one man's rubbish is another man's gold.

255. When there's too much good, bad is near at hand.

256. When you have a full basket, you must not settle for an empty loaf. (Trinidad)


257. Yuh cahn teach an old dog new tricks. (British)

258. Yuh burnin' de candle from both ends. a) Candle no bu'n top an' bottom .(Jamaica)

259. Yuh got fuh creep before yuh walk. a) Before you walk you hab fe creep. (Jamaica)

260. Yuh tek a six fuh a nine.

261. Yuh doan put a rat fuh watch cheese, a) Yuh doan put a mongoose in de hen house, b) Yuh doan throw a sprat to ketch a whale.

262. Yuh dancing to a different tune. a) De tune you playing no de one I dancing. (Jamaica)

263. Yuh got fuh tek de good wid de bad.

264. Yuh cahn plant corn and reap cane.

265. Yuh gine bring yuh pigs to fine market.

266. Yuh bring yuh hard corn to carry 'way muh soft dumpling.

267. Yuh got wha' yuh ask for. a) A me come to dis a me beg fe it. (Jamaica)

268. Yuh cut out yuh nose an' spoil yuh features.

269. Yuh heng yuh hat wey yuh cahn reach um. a) You hang you' basket whe' you' han' can reach it. (Jamaica

270. Yuh t'ink I is a hegamaid. (handmaiden)

271. Yuh t'ink I want ol' tot fuh set rat poison.

272. Yuh tek needle an' thread to court an' yuh win de case.

273. Yuh knock down de fowl cub to get at de chicken.

274. Yuh got fuh hol' de light fuh de devil to pass.

275. Yuh in kiddie kingdom an' goat heaven.

276. Yuh can carry a horse to de pond, but you cahn mek 'e drink.

277. Yuh muddy up yuh own water.

278. Yuh shoes too big fuh yuh foot.

279. Yuh wukking like a Jo heat mare.

280. Yuh live in puckatory. (Purgatory)

281. Yuh got fuh play dead fuh de kubba to ketch yuh alive.

(Also Guyanese)

282. Yuh socks want pulling up.

283. Yuh look like yuh force ripe.

284. Yuh breakin' corn 'pon two hedgerow.

285. Yuh levelling groun' fuh monkey run 'pon.

286. Yuh can hide an' buy groun', but yuh cahn hide an' wuk um.

287. Yuh cahn gi' wha' yuh doan have.

288. Yuh look like yuh livin' at yuh aunt.

289. Yuh got a plaster fuh eva sore.

290. Yuh got more tricks than a monkey.


291. Yuh doan gi' way yuh behind and shit through yuh ribs.

292. Yuh cahn be in town an' country too.

293. Yuh doan have fuh read an' spell fuh me.

294. Yuh either fuh muh or 'gainst muh. (British variant)

295. Yuh got clothes heng out so look fuh rain.

296. Yuh t'ink you's a force-riped man/woman.

297. Yuh t'ink you's a man 'cause yuh piss frothing.

298. Yuh smellin' yuh piss.

299. Yuh's a bag-blin' chile.

300. Yuh got fuh eat de cou cou fuh de sake o' de sauce.

301. Yuh t'ink you's a gully-boar.

302. Yuh cahn be in Church an' Chapel.

303. Yuh doan push yuh head wey yuh body cahn reach.

304. Yuh ain't see a star pitch yet.

305. Yuh neva miss de water 'till de well run dry. We never know the worth of water till the well is dry. (French)

306. Yuh does dead longer than yuh live. Be happy while you're living, for you're long time dead. (Scottish)

307. Yuh can put that in yuh pipe and smoke it.

308. Yuh cahn play de same trick on me twice.

309. Yuh best frien' is yuh worse enemy. a) A powerful friend becomes a powerful enemy. (Amharic)

310. Yuh livin' far from de pot.

Words and SAYINGS

311. Bad sick (Any STD's or consumption)

312. Bad-minded (Jamaica)

313. Bassa-bassa (Fight)

314. Brek fuh yuself. (Look out for yourself; defend yourself)

315. Buckra Johnny\ Backra Johnny\Poor Backra (Poor whites) mbukara (Ibo---Nigeria) also referred to as the red legs in Barbados.

316. Cry-cry baby (a person who cries a lot; complainer) (Also Jamaica)

317. Cat piss and pepper (Trouble, noisy street scene i.e. a fight)

318. Cock-crow (Early morning)

319. Cock-eye (unfocused, crooked) (Jamaica)

320. Coffee tea\Cocoa tea (any hot drink that is brewed or steeped is referred to as tea by the natives)

321. 'Ceitful, e.g., Dem people too 'ceitful (two-faced). (Jamaica)

322. Coconut water, coconut jelly, water coconut

323. Corn pone, corn pap (made from the flour of the corn). (Jamaica)

324. Conary (pottery jars made of clay and baked in a kiln; used for brining meat)

325. Crack-pot (crazy person) Jamaica.

326. Clucking hen/Sitting fowl (miserable, vicious; a derogatory term used usually for females e.g. She like a sitting fowl today).

327. Doctor booby\Doctor bird (humming bird) (Jamaica)

328. Dead flesh\proud flesh (tissue on a sore or wound)

329. Fingle/Finger (handle or fondle) Sexual connotation of foreplay in the vaginal area. (Jamaica)

330. Fini-fini (awkward, clumsy, disabled)e.g. She got a fini foot.

331. Fee-fee (womanish, homosexual) Jamaica--whistle.

332. Floops (quickly, as in passing waste quickly due to diarrhoea) (Flups--Jamaica)

333. Grudgeful or grudgeful-minded e.g. He real grudgeful so. (selfish) (Jamaica)

334. Jail bird--Dodd's boy (A boy or young man who was in juvenile detention)

335. Kill and cure.

336. Monkey (clay container used for keeping water cool) (Jamaica)

337. Massa cow, massa bull.

338. Maulsprig (Whip, lash severely)

339. Moutta man (talkative; all talk and no action in sexual sense).

340. Mash up (smash, break up) (Jamaica)

341. Nayga (Black people) (Jamaica)

342. Nyam e.g Go nyam yuh bittle. (eat) a) Nyam-nyam (food, Jamaica) a derivative from Twi.

343. Poor great (Posh- one from humble birth who has rise to great social heights through education, wealth or marriage)

344. Pot gut (big belly) (Jamaica)

345. Poor man pork (broad-leaf thyme, Spanish thyme)

346. Pip (growth on a chicken or turkey's tongue) (Jamica).

347. Pooka-pooka (Old car or van)

348. Pimploe (any plant bearing spines e.g. cactus) (Jamaica)

349. Suckles calf (A calf that is weaned by bottle feeding; Child that sucks its fingers)

350. She-she (effeminate male, homosexual)

351. Sugar ants/running ants (ants that are attracted to sweet things like sugar, honey or condensed milk kept opened in a larder) (Jamaica)

352. Tie-tongue (unable to speak properly becauseof buck teeth or a heavy tongue) (Jamaica)

353. << Upsy Bamsy. >> (Expression used when throwing an infant into the air)

354. Unconscionable (unreasonable. extravagant)(Jamaica)

355. Whizzy-whizzying (whispering, gossiping in low tones)

356. Wee-wee (for little children--piss, urinate) (very small, Jamaican)

357. Wishy-washy (unsound, unclear)

358. Willy nilly (matter of fact, without purpose or direction)

359. Easy come, easy go.

360. Wham bam! Thank you mam! (To do something hurriedly)

Horace I. Goddard is a Montreal writer. His most recently published work is Paradise Revisited, a novel, published by Winston-Derek Ltd, 1997.
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Author:Goddard, Horace I.
Date:Sep 22, 2003
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