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8 of the Funniest Jamaican Proverbs (and how to use them)

Funny Jamaican proverbs
Written by Delano George Bell

Jamaicans like every culture in the world has a collections of proverbs about how to live your life. Some of these proverbs are extremely funny, but effective. Here are 8 of the funniest Jamaican proverbs and how to use them.

1. “Play wid puppy dawg, puppy dawg lick yuh face. Play wid big dawg, big dawg bite yuh…”
Jamaican Cute Puppy Proverb

English translation: Play with a small dog and he will lick your face. Play with a big dog and he will bite you.

Proverb Meaning: 1. Familiarity breeds contempt, 2. If you play out of your league you may get a lesson you won’t forget.  3. You have to strike that even balance.

2. “Ben di tree while it young, cause when it old it a go bruk..”
Jamaican Bending Tree Proverb

English translation: Bend a tree while it is young, because when it is old it will break.

Proverb Meaning: Discipline your children and teach them the right way when they are young, because trying to do it when they are older might be too late for them and yourself.

3. “Ef fish deh a river bottom an tell yu seh alligator have gum boil, believe him!”
Jamaican Proverb On Fish And Alligator

English translation: If a fish at the bottom of a river tells you that an alligator has gum boil, believe the fish.

Proverb Meaning: Listen to the voice of experience

4. “Yuh a swap black dawg fi monkey..
Jamaican Proverb About Monkey and Dog

English translation: Are you swapping a black dog for a monkey

Proverb Meaning: To give up one bad situation for another, often used in relationships

5. “Nuh expect nuttin fram ah pig but ah grunt…”
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English translation: Don’t expect anything from a pig but a grunt

Proverb Meaning: Don’t expect class or grace from a pig. In other words if you know someone is an idiot, why be surprised or hurt when they act like one.

6. “Sake a mout fish get ketch.”
Jamaican Fish Mouth Proverb

English translation: Because it’s mouth the fish got caught

Proverb Meaning: Talking too much will get you in trouble.

7.”Nuh romp wid mawga cow, a cudda bull mumma!”
Jamaican Skinny Cow Proverb

English translation: Don’t play with a skinny cow it could be the bull’s mother.

Proverb Meaning: Don’t underestimate people who may seem weak and insignificant because you don’t know what kind of powerful and influential people they have in their corner.

8. “Sorry fi mawga dawg, mawga dawg tun roun’ bite yuh.”
Jamaican proverb on Angry Dog

English translation: Don’t feel sorry for the skinny dog as he could turn around and bit you.

Proverb Meaning: Sometimes it is the people we’ve helped the most who are the most ungrateful.

About the author

Delano George Bell