GUYANESE PROVERBS


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The following is a compilation of a relatively short list of Guyanese proverbs and their approximate meanings. The proverbs are expressed in the Guyanese Creolese language.

Updated December 4th. 2005

PROVERBS MEANINGS
1. All cassava get same skin but all nah taste same way. Though people may look alike because of their mode of dress, they are different in their ways.
2. Baby who ah cry ah house and ah door ah same thing. The same manner in which you treats your child, you should treat another's.
3. Belly full behind drunk. After you have eaten and drunken much you tend to become lazy.
4. Big tree fall down, goat bite he leaf. When a great man falls, he is no longer feared and respected.
5. Bush get ears and dutty get tongue. Sometimes you think that what you do or say nobody sees or hears, but yet your secrets are known.
6. Cat foot soft but he ah scratch bad. Some people may seem friendly and understanding but to your surprise it is not really so.
7. Cuss when yuh ah guh, nah wheh yuh ah come out. You must not curse the place that you have come from, because sometime in the future you may have to return there.
8. Contrary breeze ah mek crow and eagle light on one line. When there is trouble, enemies are sometimes forced to get together to solve problems.
9. Cow deh a pasture he nah remember seh dog and butcher deh till he see am. Sometimes when you think you are safe, danger is lurking nearby.
10. Cat a ketch rat, but he a teef he massa fish. Good and evil come from the same source.
11. Clath ah easy fuh dutty but hard fuh wash. Having achieved a goal, it is difficult to retain it.
12. Dah mouth dat man tek fuh court woman, ah de same mouth he ah tek an put she ah door. When a man is courting a woman, he is very concerned, kind and considerate, but when the novelty of the relationship is over, he finds faults and is unkind.
13. Don't mind how bird vex, it can't vex with tree. It does not matter if you are annoyed with conditions at work, you have to return to your job. Similarly, although you may be frustrated with the situation in your homeland, you may still have to return to it.
14. Dog buy rum, cow drink am, hog in sty get drunk. A matter may not concern someone, yet he or she gets involved.
15. Every rope gat two ends. Every story has two sides.
16. Every fowl feed pon he own craw. Everybody has to learn and find out what is good for himself or herself.
17. Every best friend get a next best friend. Your secrets are spread from best friend to best friend to best friend.
18. Every bush a man night time. Things seem worse than they really are when we are afraid.
19. Fish ah deh ah watah but nah ah dam tap. There are places where you can play an important part, but here are other places where you can be insignificant.
20. Fish ah play ah sea, he nah know watah ah boil fuh am. Sometimes when you are enjoying yourself, unknown to you, trouble is brewing in the background.
21. Fish and cast-net nah friend. In life it is difficult for you to relate to someone who may be unfriendly or hostile.
22. Good gubby nah ah float ah tap. Good things do not come easily.
23. Hungry nah know bam-by. If you have a need, you grasp at everything that fulfills it.
24. If yuh finger get sore, nah tek am and throw way. A member of your family may turn delinquent but that does not mean that you must disown him or refuse to help him.
25. If yuh eye nah see, yuh mouth nah must talk. You must see for yourself before you talk.
26. If cow-man pass wild meat whah mek me must pick up am. You should not go against the decision or choice of a person you feel is qualified to make the right choice.
27. It nah good to shove yuh foot in every stocking. You should not try to position yourself everywhere or in everything.
28. If me bin know always deh behind de door. We are quick to use ignorance as an excuse for our mistakes.
29. If yuh nah get wing, nah ah guh a bird sport. If you feel that you do not belong somewhere you should not go there. Also, if you are unable to do something, you should not do it.
30. If dutty ah deh ah roof tap, yuh barrel ah catch am. Children learn bad habits from their parents.
31. If oil ah float watah deh ah battam. A little evidence can tell the whole story.
32. If yuh plant plantain yuh can't reap cassava. You reap what you sow.
33. If trousers say massah teef, yuh can't doubt am. If someone close to you says something about you it is most likely true.
34. Lil finger point to de big thumb and sey nah guh. Those who are leading can see the danger ahead and are in a position to give advice.
35. Lil boy nah climb ladder to turn big man. Only time can make you what you will be.
36. Lil ah sick, big a get better. When you are small you are insignificant, but when you become big you are strong and important.
37. Man strength deh ah he hand, woman strength deh a she mouth. It is assumed that a woman talks very much, but a man talks less and quickly resorts to violence.
38. Mouth cut trousers nah ah fit Massa. What you boast about yourself may not necessarily be true.
39. Macaw ask parrot if mango ripe, he say one, one. You should not tell everything. Room should be left to others to find out some things for themselves.
40. Moon ah run till daylight ketch am. You may think that you are getting away with your misdeeds, but one day you will be caught.
41. Nah all who guh a church house ah guh fuh pray. It is not everything you must take at face value.
42. Nah tek yuh mattie eye fuh see. See for yourself and form your own conclusions instead of relying on the reports of others.
43. Nah one time a fire mek peas boil. Some things take a long time to be completed.
44. Nah because dog ah play with yuh he nah bite yuh. Some people talk kindly to you but they are capable of hurting you.
45. Nah every crab hole get crab. Things do not always turn out to be what you expect them to be.
46. Nah every big head get sense. If a person's head is big it is not necessarily brainy.
47. Nah mind how pumpkin vine run, he must dry up one day. Every life comes to an end sooner or later.
48. Nah put all two foot in river if yuh want see how he deep. Do not jump into a venture before you make sure that it is worthy.
49. Nah everything scholar know he learn from teacher. In life you learn from everybody and everything in the environment in which you find yourself.
50. Never guh a store ah night fuh buy black cloth. You must attempt something only when all aspects seem clear.
51. No good carpenter does get good wuk bench. When you are good at a job you are expected to perform just as well without the necessary tools and support.
52. Nobody want dutty powder. People will not respect you if you have a bad reputation.
53. One man money mek too much man cry. Sometimes when a person dies others will cry not so much in sorrow but in joy for the expected inheritance.
54. One kiss nah done lips. A source of enjoyment is always available where it was once found.
55. Orange yellow but yuh nah know if he sweet. You cannot judge everything from the outside.
56. Only knife ah know whah in pumpkin belly. Only after experiencing trials and crises in life can a person's true self be known.
57. Rain ah fall ah roof yuh put barrel fuh ketch am. There is an opportunity for everyone and you must try to grasp it.
58. Shame face ah feel like cent ice. When you are made to feel ashamed, you wish you could disappear from the public's eye.
59. Some pork-knockers does only clear track fuh monkey run race. Some people do all the hard work but others benefit in the end.
60. Seven years nah too much fuh wash speck off ah bird neck. Some people will never change their ways and attitude.
61. Slow fire ah boil hard cow-heel. If you persevere you can make great accomplishments.
62. Tongue nah gat teeth but he ah bite fuh true. You can hurt a person by what you say as if you literally bite him.
63. Turtle can't walk if he nah push he head outa he shell. In life you cannot make any kind of progress if you do not take risks. Also, the first steps must be made.
64. Turtle nah want trouble mek he walk with he house pon he back. You should be always prepared for disappointment or trouble.
65. Too much sit down ah bruck trousers. Lazy people wear out their pants and get nothing done.
66. The looks ah de pudding is not de taste. You should not always take things by their looks.
67. Vice nah hurt but conscience ah hurt yuh. Although you tend to be ignored for the wrong things you do, you still have your conscience to deal with.
68. Vex nah gat plaster fuh passion. Vexation will cure a problematic situation.
69. Wasteful man money ah guh like butter in de sun. If you waste your money it would be finished very quickly.
70. When man mek heself sugar he mattie ah suck am. Sometimes when you make yourself too kind your friends and associates will take advantage.
71. When yuh buy ah dutty calico yuh gat fuh wear am till it tear. When you make a decision you must be prepared to abide with the consequences.
72. When yuh play out all yuh trump cards yuh gat to lose till game done. Giving up your advantages places you in a losing position.
73. When yuh dead yuh nah sabee, and when yuh sabee yuh dead. You spend a lifetime trying to acquire knowledge and understanding, and when it seems that all has been grasped, life ends.
74. When man done suck cane he dash peeling pan ground. Some people make use of things and people and then carelessly discard them.
75. When Mumma dead family done. When a mother is around, she keeps the family together, but when she dies the members of the family tend to scatter.
76. When dog hungry he ah nyam calabash. To fill a need you make do with anything at hand.
77. When gaulding see fish he forget seh gun deh. Sometimes when you are enjoying yourself, unknown to you, trouble is brewing in the background.
78. When yuh deh in bad luck wet paper self ah cut yuh. A spell of misfortune causes our whole outlook to be bleak. The smallest incident can cause us to feel hurt.
79. When water throw away ah ground yuh can't pick am up. It is no use crying over a mishap.
80. When coconut fall from tree he can't fasten back. Some happenings cannot be changed or reversed.
81. When two big bottle deh ah table lil one nah business deh. When two powerful people meet to discuss business, everybody else must know his place.
82. Whah hurt eye does mek nose run water. When one member of the family is hurt all others feel it.
83. When you want fuh swim river yuh gat fuh plunge inside fuss. You have to take risks when you attempt new ventures.
84. Yuh tel tara and tara tell tara. When you tell a friend a secret soon everyone knows because your friend will tell another friend.
85. Youth nah ah weary but he ah fall down. When you are young you carry much burden, but as you get old you can take on only little responsibility.
86. Yuh can't chew bone with gum. If you do not have the necessary expertise or tools for a job, it is better not to bother with it.
87. Yuh can't fatten cow fuh another man butcher. When you work hard and achieve something in life, you are not happy if it is taken away by others.
88. Yuh can't drink mauby and belch beer. If you put little effort in a task you can expect very little success.
89. Yuh can't suck cane and blow whistle. Do not try to carry out two tasks at the same time.
90. Yuh gat fuh blow yuh nose where yuh stump yuh toe. Some people take out their anger on those who are nearby but have nothing to do with it.
91. One, one dutty build dam. Every little bit adds up.
92. Dance a battam watch a tap While enjoying yourself look out for things that can threaten you.
93. Never cuss bridge that you cross Be grateful for favors from anyone because someday you may need another.
94. Monkey dress e pickney till he spoil. Don't try to over do something, keep it simple.
95. All skin teeth nah laugh Just because someone smiles with you doesn't mean that you are friends.