Jamaican Proverbs on Character

Do you know what the proverb “Mi cum yah fi drink milk, mi nuh cum yah fi count cow” means? Learn its meaning in our Jamaican Proverbs on “Character.”

Mi cum yah fi drink milk, mi nuh cum yah fi count cow. 
TRANSLATION: I came here to drink milk not to count cow.
MEANINGS AND EXPLANATIONS: 1. I want all the benefits, but don’t want to work for them. 2. Don’t worry about things that don’t concern you.

Wha nuh ded nuh call it duppy. 
TRANSLATION: What’s not dead, do not call it a ghost.
MEANINGS AND EXPLANATIONS: 1. Don’t assume success is ensured until it actually happens. 2. Just because someone is down on their luck doesn’t mean they can’t stage a comeback.

Nuh care ow hog try fi hide unda sheep wool, im grunt let im down. 
TRANSLATION: It doesn’t matter how much a hog tries to hide under sheep’s wool his grunt will betray him.
MEANINGS AND EXPLANATIONS: A person’s true character will always be revealed.

Finger nebba seh “look ere,” im seh “look yander.” 
TRANSLATION: Finger never says “look here,” he says “look yonder.”
MEANINGS AND EXPLANATIONS: People never see or disclose their own faults and shortcomings.

Yuh cyaan teach ole dawg new trick. 
TRANSLATION: You cannot teach an old dog new tricks.
MEANINGS AND EXPLANATIONS: You can’t change the heart or mind of someone that’s set in their ways.

Yuh too big fi yuh  boots. 
TRANSLATION: You are too big for your boots.
MEANINGS AND EXPLANATIONS: A person who has an overinflated sense of themselves and abilities or us disrespectful.

Bud fly too fass pass im ness. 
TRANSLATION: A bird flies too fast and passes his nest.
MEANINGS AND EXPLANATIONS: 1. Someone that doesn’t pay attention to important details. 2. Someone that thinks the rules don’t apply to them.

Me neva bawn wen mi maddah guh a maaket. 
TRANSLATION: I was not born when my mother was gone to the market.
MEANINGS AND EXPLANATIONS: 1. I’m not naive, gullible, dumb, stupid, or easily deceived.

Gi di devil im due.
TRANSLATION: Give the devil his due.
MEANINGS AND EXPLANATIONS: Acknowledge a person’s good qualities, even if they’re unlikeable, unpleasant or disagreeable.

Dawg know who fi bite 
TRANSLATION: A dog knows who to bite
MEANINGS AND EXPLANATIONS: A bully always picks on who they perceive to be weak.

Def ayse gi liad chobble. 
TRANSLATION: Deaf ears give a liar trouble.
MEANINGS AND EXPLANATIONS: Don’t repeat things you hear or gossip. Wait for the facts.

Play fool fi ketch wise. 
TRANSLATION: Acting foolishly to catch the wise.
MEANINGS AND EXPLANATIONS: Deliberately playing uneducated or inexperienced to gain a personal advantage.

Umble calf suck di most milk. 
TRANSLATION: A humble calf sucks the most milk.
MEANINGS AND EXPLANATIONS: Those that are humble reap the greatest rewards.

Jack Mandora mi nuh choose none. 
TRANSLATION: Jack Mandora I did not choose any.
MEANINGS AND EXPLANATIONS: That’s just the way it happened and I had no influence on the outcome.

Play wid puppy, puppy lick yuh mout. 
TRANSLATION: Play with puppy, puppy will lick your mouth.
MEANINGS AND EXPLANATIONS: The people that know you best hold the power to embarrass or humiliate you the most.

Brite like four fiyah side. 
TRANSLATION: Bright like four fire sides.
MEANINGS AND EXPLANATIONS: 1. Refers to someone who likes attention and will find ways to get themselves noticed. 2. Someone who is brazen, shameless or a showoff.

Butta nuh melt eena im mout. 
TRANSLATION: Butter cannot melt in his mouth.
MEANINGS AND EXPLANATIONS: 1. Someone that’s guilty, but acts innocent. 2. Someone that acts cool under pressure.

Dawg hab money nyam cheese, wen im bruk im chaw ole rag. 
TRANSLATION: When a dog has money he eats cheese, when he is broke he chews old rags.
MEANINGS AND EXPLANATIONS: 1. You have to live within your financial means and adapt to your circumstances. 2. When a person has money, they spend it freely until it’s gone.

Dem jus like clothes pin, queese dem head, dem foot open up. 
TRANSLATION: They are just like clothes pins; squeeze their heads, and their legs open.
MEANINGS AND EXPLANATIONS: Used to describe someone who is promiscuous or act in a promiscuous way.

Gi ah man mi haas im waan di saddle to. 
TRANSLATION: Give a man my horse he wants a saddle as well.
MEANINGS AND EXPLANATIONS: Some people always want more and are never satisfied with what they have.

Hog a sweat but lang hair kibba eeh. 
TRANSLATION: Hog is sweating but its long hair covers it.
MEANINGS AND EXPLANATIONS: Someone that assumes a happy persona to mask what’s really happening and hide their real feelings.

lm don’t know im ayse fram im ass. 
TRANSLATION: He does not know his ears from his ass.
MEANINGS AND EXPLANATIONS: Someone that doesn’t understand what’s happening, is clueless, or can’t read situations and social clues.

lm wouda chat di tail affa cow. 
TRANSLATION: He would chat until the tail falls off a cow.
MEANINGS AND EXPLANATIONS: Someone that talks too much and doesn’t know when to be quiet and leave a conversation.

lm poor show ah great. 
TRANSLATION: He is poor but acts rich.
MEANINGS AND EXPLANATIONS: Someone that pretends or acts wealthy to impress others, but really isn’t.

Trow mi stone eena hag sty any hag bawl a im eeh IIck. 
TRANSLATION: Throw my stone in a pig sty, any pig cries he got hit.
MEANINGS AND EXPLANATIONS: People that react the most are probably guilty. 2. Someone that believes every observation or criticism is directed at them.

Di nearah di bone di sweeta di meat. 
TRANSLATION: The nearer the bone, the sweeter the meat.
MEANINGS AND EXPLANATIONS: 1. An adrenaline junky. 2. Someone that deliberately seeks dangerous situations. 3. The more difficult it is to attain something, the more it’s appreciated.

Dawg a dawg, puss a difahrent sinting. 
TRANSLATION: A dog is a dog, a cat (puss) is a different animal.
MEANINGS AND EXPLANATIONS: Just because a person or situation is similar doesn’t mean they’re the same.

Nevah tun duck outta ness. 
TRANSLATION: The duck will not leave the nest.
MEANINGS AND EXPLANATIONS: Someone who is lazy and expects things to come to them.

lm nebbah gi mi zinch. 
TRANSLATION: He did not give me zinc
MEANINGS AND EXPLANATIONS: 1. Someone that got nothing in return for something they did.

Di more yuh look, di less yuh si 
TRANSLATION: The more you look, the less you will see.
MEANINGS AND EXPLANATIONS: 1. Don’t overanalyze every situation. 2. It’s not possible to know every detail about everything. It is not possible to know every single detail about any subject. 3. The more you search for answers or solutions, the less you’ll discover that you actually know.

No matta oow Kakroach junk, im nuh waahk pass fowl yaawd 
TRANSLATION: No matter how drunk the cockroach becomes, he never makes the mistake of walking past the yard of the fowl.
MEANINGS AND EXPLANATIONS: People can naturally recognize dangerous situations and avoid them.

Hag nyam wha im mine gi im fah 
TRANSLATION: The hog/pig eats whatever its mind wants.
MEANINGS AND EXPLANATIONS: People will follow their own beliefs and inclinations, even if they’re proven to be in error.

Wen man belli full, im bruck pat 
TRANSLATION: When a man’s belly is filled, he breaks the pot.
MEANINGS AND EXPLANATIONS: 1. When people are doing well, they forget the hard times. 2. People become indifferent to the plight of others until they find themselves in the same situation. 3. Those that have everything they need today often fail to plan for the future.

Self-praise a nuh nuh recumendayshan 
TRANSLATION: Self-praise is no recommendation.
MEANINGS AND EXPLANATIONS: Praise that comes from you about yourself is of little or no value.