BARBADOS: Bajan Proverbs


A

A pint pot can hold a gill, but a gill can’t hold a pint pot:
Not all situations are reversible.
A eyeful en’ a bellyful. 
Seeing is one thing, having it in your possession is another thing. This has sexual overtones. 

B

Bucket gine up and down in well evah day, de bottom boun’ tuh drop out:
Sustained pressure and exertion will eventually lead to a breakdown. 
Better fish in de sea dan wha’ ketch:
There is always someone that will make a better lover than the current one. 

C

Coward dog keep whole bone. 
Avoiding confrontation can keep you out of trouble. 
Crow does fly high, but when ‘e come down, de ants does still eat out ‘e eye. 
Some people may enjoy great prosperity and be excessively proud of it, but should bad luck surface, they may endure disgrace equal to or greater than the wealth they once possessed. 
Cut pumpkin can’ keep. 
Used in a sexual context, this means that once virginity is lost it is impossible to abstain thereafter. 
Crave all, get none at all. 
A warning against covetousness. 
Cheap tings nuh good. 
Beware when things come too easy. 
Cat luck en’ dog luck 
What one person may get away may cause problems for another. 
Common dog does bark in church. 
Uncivilized individuals will conduct themselves in an uncouth manner irrespective of the situation. 

D

Dead man can’t run from ‘e coffin:
It is impossible to run from your responsibilities
De tongue dat does buy yuh does sell yuh:
The same person, who talks nicely to you, will betray you later.
De sea ain’t got nuh back door:
The sea is not that safe a place; take every precaution necessary.
Don’t tek a six for a nine:
Do not misunderstand a person’s real intentions.
Don’t rush de brush and throw away de paint:
Do not allow haste to create problems for you.
De berry don’ drop too far from de tree:
Children inherit traits and attitudes from their parents.
De dog dat bring a bone will kaah one. 
The very person who gossips with you about other persons may also gossip with them about you too. 
De higher de monkey climb, de more ‘e show ‘e tail. 
The more you show off, the more your faults are brought to the open. 
De las’ calf kill de cow. 
Attempting to repeat the same action too often may result in disaster. 
Donkey got long ear, but ‘e don’ like to hear ‘e own story. 
People do not like to hear or accept their own faults. 
Don’ wait till de horse get out de stable to shut de door. 
Don’t wait until the situation gets out of control then to take corrective action. 
De devil does find work fuh idle hands to do. 
People with nothing to do, get themselves into mischief. 
De more yuh peep, de less yuh sih. 
Spying on others is a waste of time, as they will soon devise ways to out maneuver the spy. 
Dirty water does cool hot iron. 
Once aroused, almost any woman, whether good or bad, can quench a man’s lust. 
Don’t heng yuh hat wih yuh hand can’ reach. 
Don’t strive for positions that are beyond your reach. 
Don’ rush de brush and trow ‘way de paint. 
Don’t let haste create problems for you. 
Don’ ship all yuh sugar in one vessel. 
Do not risk all your resources in a single venture. 
Don’ leh nuhbody rub shit in yuh mout and tell yuh it is pudding. 
Don’t let anyone do or say anything harmful or insulting, under the guise that they are being nice. 
De same mout dat court yuh, don’ marry yuh. 
He who encourages you to do certain things is, never around when you desperately need their help. 
De tongue dat buy yuh does sell yuh. 
The one who flatters you now, may deceive you later. 
Don’ court Robin fuh ‘e rags. 
Don’t encourage a friendship only for what you can get out of it. 
De blacker de berry, de sweeter de juice. 
The darker the woman, the more sexually exciting she is. 
De closer de bone, de sweeter de meat. 
Thinner women make better lovers. 

E

Every fool got ‘e sense:
No matter how dull and ignorant, everybody is knowledgeable in one area or the other.
Every man yuh see in a shirt and pants en’ neider man:
Do not expect all men to act responsibly.
Eat soldier food, tek soldier blows:
If you share in the benefits you should be prepared to share in the problems.
Egg ain’tgot no right ay rock-stone dance:
You should avoid situations which can be harmful to you.
Every bush is a man:
Be careful how you talk about people because you never know who might be eavesdropping.
Evah bush is a man. 
Be careful how you talk, as you never know who may be listening. 
Eat soldier food, tek soldier blows. 
Do not expect to share in the benefits only, but be prepared to share in the problems as well. 
Ef yuh wuking wid paint you got tuh get daub (dirty). 
If you are working in a particular situation, at some point you will become affected. 
Evah pig got a Saturday. 
Everyone will pay for his deeds at some point. 
Evah fool got ‘e sense. 
Everybody is knowledgeable in one area or the other, no matter how dull and ignorant they may seem. 
Evah skin-teet en’ a laugh. 
Not all outward signs of friendliness should be taken as genuine. 

F

Fus trick en’ nuh trick:
Having fool somebody once does not mean you can fool that person again.
Fisherman nevah say dat ‘e fish stink. 
A person will never give a bad report about himself. 
Force ripe fruit don’ got nuh taste. 
This is used metaphorically to show disapproval of clever behaviour in children. 
Force medicine good fuh mad horse. 
Nothing, even if it is helpful, should be forced upon anyone. 
A
God Don’t like ugly:
Disapproval of injustice.
Give jack ‘e jacket:
Give credit where credit is due.
Good looks can’ kaah tuh de shop. 
Having physical beauty in itself does not offer any practical benefits. 
Gold teet don’ suit hog mout. 
Elegant accessories are inappropriate when used or worn by those who are not accustomed to such. 

H

Hard ears yuh won’t hear, by and by you gine feel:
If you do not take heed to good advice, you will feel the negative effect of it.
Head en’ brain:
Not everybody is wise.
High wind know where ole house live:
Advantage is often taken of those who are weak.
Hurry-hurry never done:
Do not do things in a hurry; you may have to re-do it all.
Home drum beat first. 
Before taking on someone else’s problems, you should first look after your family interest. 
Hungry mek cat eat salt. 
Necessity often causes people to act contrary to their regular way of life. 
Halfway en’ nuh warning. 
It’s no use warning a person to be careful without telling him what it is he should be careful about. 
Hold de light fuh de devil tuh sih, and when yuh get a chance, blow it out in ‘e face. 
When you know that somebody has bad intentions but is pretending they mean well, you should play along with them until the opportunity comes when you can foil their plans. 
Hurry-hurry nevah dun (done). 
Anything done in a hurry is never done properly. 

I

If greedy wait, hot will cool:
Your patience in a situation will be rewarded.
If you didn’t at de christening, yuh shouldn’t be at the wedding:
Do not get involved in something if you do not know how it started.
If black bird fly wid pigeon ‘e will get shoot:
If you associate with the wrong people you will get the same treatment that they do.
If rain water en’ full yuh barrel, dew water can’ full it. 
If you did not successfully convert the opportunities offered in your life, it is unlikely that when there are less or no opportunities available, that you will find success. 
It en’ de gun dat does kill yuh, it is de shot. 
It is usually the small problems, not the big ones that cause the most difficulty. 
It don’t tek a big axe tuh cut down a big tree. 
Size, or lack of it, does not limit capabilities. 
If greedy wait, hot wud (would) cool. 
Patience will be rewarded. 
If crab don’ walk ’bout ‘e won’t get fat. 
You accomplish nothing by staying at home. 
It en’ fuh lack o’ tongue dat horse can’ talk. 
You must learn to control what you say. 
It does tek one hand tuh feel a lice, but two tuh tek it out. 
Co-operation is essential if anything worthwhile is to be achieved. 
“If ah did know…” does come too late. 
It is better to think before taking unwise or rash action, which you will later regret. 
If yuh can’ beat a man yuh got tuh ‘gree wid ‘e. 
If you can’t beat them, join them. 

L

Lime juice can’ spoil vinegar. 
An individual can’t be corrupted by another who is less corrupt. 
Loose goat don’t know wha’ tie goat sih (see). 
One has to be in someone else’s shoes in order to understand what he is going through. 

M

Mek sure better than cock-sure. 
It is better to make absolutely sure that everything is all right rather than assume that all is well. 
Monkey sih, monkey do. 
A mild reprimand for imitating the behaviour of others. 

N

News don’ lack a carrier. 
There is always someone ready to spread anything newsworthy, especially if it’s gossip. 
Nuh name, nuh blame, nuh lock up. 
If no names are called, no one can be accused. 
Never eat and forget:
Do not show ingratitude by forgetting the hand that feed you.
Nuh name nuh blame:
If no names are called nobody can be accused.
Night talk and day talk should ‘gree wid Christian. 
Christians or self-respecting persons should show consistent behaviour. 
Never wuk (work) ground fuh monkey run pon (on). 
You should not exert great energy on a venture knowing that some unworthy person will benefit. 

O

One smart dead at two smart door:
There’s always someone ahead of you in the game.
One hand can’t clap:
Team-spirit and co-operation is required.
One-one blow does kill ole cow: 
What may seem like a trivial irritation may create a catastrophe if repeated often enough. 
Only a dog does return to ‘e vomit:
Once free of an offensive situation, you should avoid returning to it. 
Ole coachman nevah forget de snap o’ de whip. 
You rarely forget a skill which you have learnt and practised for a long time. 
Ole stick a fire don’ tek long tuh ketch back up. 
Once two people have been lovers, it takes very little for them to become lovers again. 
One smart dead at two smart door. 
No matter how smart you think you are, there is somebody smarter than you. 

P

Pretty things does fool little children:
Only naive people are impressed by mere show.
Play wid puppy an’ ‘e lick yuh mout. 
To be overly familiar with those of a lower status creates an atmosphere for them to treat you with scant respect.

R

Rat mout’ does sell ‘e head:
Careless talk can be dangerous.
Respect due to a dog:
Respect others regardless of their race, gender, religion or status.
Rat mout does sell ‘e head. 
A loose tongue can be dangerous.

S

Small pitcher got wide ear hole. 
Be careful what is said in front of children who might understand far more than you think. 

T

Tekking time en’ laziness. 
By taking your time, you can achieve a lot. 
Tongue and teet does got words. 
The most loving couples may quarrel on occasions, so don’t be overly upset by a little spat. 
Two poor cow does mek good dung. 
A couple can overcome their poverty by pooling their resources together. 
Two smart rat can’ live in de same hole. 
Two tricksters can’t get along with each other. 
Talk does mek talk:
When somebody tries to pick a quarrel, it is best to remain silent.

W

Who de cap fit, leh he draw de string:
The person who knows he is guilty about something will react accordingly.
When a bird fly too fast he does fly pas? ‘e nest:
It is never wise to be overly ambitious.
Wuhever pun de ground is fuh de cat and de dog:
Finders keepers.
Whoever got clothes hand out does look for rain:
When people get defensive, it usually means that they have something to hide.
Water does run, but blood does clot:
Relatives should take care of each other.
When yuh en’ got horse, ride cow: 
Utilize whatever resources you have available. 
When yuh keep company wid fowls and dey shit pon yuh table, it is hell to get out de stain:
Associating with undesirable people can bring you trouble which could prove difficult to resolve. 
White mout fowl does eat and den wipe ‘e mout in de grass 
Some people don’t show gratitude. 
Wait til yuh trough put an’ bubble in it. 
This is a veritable insult meaning mind your own business. 
Wha’ yuh do in de dark does come out in de light. 
It is impossible to hide all of your actions. 
Whoever got clothes heng out does look fuh rain. 
Whenever people go on the defensive, it means they have something to defend. 
Wha’ yuh eye en’ sih, yuh stomach will tek. 
What you don’t know won’t hurt you. 
When yuh pick corn pon more dan one row, yuh don’ know wih yuh get yuh bag full up. 
If a woman has relations with several men, she will not be sure which one got her pregnant. 
Wha’ hurt turkey don’ hurt duck. 
What may pose a problem for one person may not have that effect on another. 
Wha’ sweeten goat mout does bun ‘e tail. 
A source of great pleasure may turn out to be a problem later on. 
When a dog does suck egg, ‘e does get blame fuh evah ting. 
Once a person has committed an offensive act, they are automatically blamed when that offence has been committed again.
Who help yuh buy a big guts mule don’ help yuh feed it. 
The person who leads you into trouble is never around to help you get back out. 
Wha’ mout she, han’ can’ do. 
It is not always easy to back up your boast with the appropriate action. 
When yuh see a man fishing in a dry pond, Don’t call ‘e a fool:
Do not scoff at someone’s actions if you do not know what he is doing.

Y

Yuh can’ plant yam and reap eddoe. 
You are rewarded or punished for your actions. 
Yuh can’ stop yuh ear from hearing but yuh can stop yuh mout from talking. 
A warning against repeating what one has heard. 
Yuh got more tricks dan a monkey. 
You are very clever. 
Yuh got plaster fuh evah sore. 
You have an answer for everything. 
Yuh don’ buy cow when yuh can get free milk. 
Why bother to get married when you are already enjoying the privileges of married life. 
Yuh got tuh christen yuh own child before yuh can len’ out de christening clothes. 
You must solve your own problems before trying to solve someone else’s. 
Yuh can’ be in de church an’ de chapel too. 
You can’t be in more than one place at the same time, so you can’t know everything. It usually implies that you should mind your own business. 
Yuh can’ want it in de glass and de bottle too. 
You can’t have it both ways. 
Yuh can’ put mangoose tuh watch chicken. 
Never trust people with things which will be a great temptation to them. 
Yuh head ain’t mek fuh hat alone:
You should always use your common sense.
Yuh can’t be in de church and de chapel too:
You can’t be in more than one place at a time.
Yuh can’t want it in de glass and in de bottle too:
You just can’t have it both ways.
Yuh does rust out before yuh wuck out:
Hard work can’t kill you.
Yuh could hide and buy ground but yuh can’t hide and wuk it:
It is impossible to hide your actions all the time.

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