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Haitian proverbs

A

  • “Men anpil, chay pa lou.”
  • Many hands [make] the load lighter.

  • “Anpil ti patat fè chay.”
  • A lot of small potatoes make a load.

  • “Aprè dans, tanbou toujou lou.”
  • After the dance, the drums are always heavy.

  • “Avan ou ri moun bwete, gade jan ou mache.”
  • Before you laugh at those who limp, check the way you walk.

  • “Avek pasyans, w’ap wè tete foumi.”
  • With patience, you will see an ant’s breasts.

  • “Ayisyen swiv kouran.”
  • Haitians follow the flow.

  • “Ayiti se tè glise.”
  • Haiti is a sliding land.

Wisler Skinny Zoe Geffrard wè de B li dwe konn se byen bon
Davidson se wa nan tout peyi yo
Cj ne jeneral koutol file pase manchet
Nana lel fenwa se le sal pral jou

B

  • “Bab pi long, men sousi pi vye.”
  • The beard is longer, but the Eyebrows are older.

  • “Baton ede pye.”
  • The stick helps the foot.

  • “Bay kou, blye; pote mak, sonje.”
  • [You] give a blow, [you] forget; [when you] bear marks, [you] remember.

  • “Bay piti pa chich.”
  • To give little is not [being] cheap.

  • “Bèf a-ke pa janbe dife.”
  • An ox with a tail does not walk over the fire.

  • “Bèf dèyè bwè pi bon dlo (si rete dlo).”
  • The ox that comes last drinks better water (if there is still water).

  • “Bèf pa di savann mèsi.”
  • The ox does not thank the field.

  • “Bèf san ke, Bondye pouse mouch pou yo.”
  • The ox with no tail, God will clear the flies for it.

  • “Bèl anfòm pa vle di la sante.”
  • Pretty and in shape do not mean health.

  • “”Bèl antèman pa vle di paradi.
  • A nice funeral does not mean the paradise.

  • “”Bèl cheve pa lajan.
  • Nice hair is not money.

  • “Bèl dan pa vle di zanmi: dan pa kè.”
  • Nice teeth do not mean friends: teeth are not the heart.

  • “Bo nan bouch, men pè dan.”
  • Kiss the mouth, but fear the teeth.

  • “Bondye pa bòpè.”
  • God is not a father-in-law.

  • “Bonjou se paspò ou.”
  • Hello is your passport.

  • “Bouch granmoun santi, sa’k ladan se rezon.”
  • The old’s mouth stink, what’s in there is wisdom.

  • “Bouch manje tout manje, men li pa pale tout pawòl.”
  • The mouth eats all food, but does not talk all words.

  • “Bourik fè pitit pou do-l ka poze.”
  • The donkey makes offspring so that its back may rest.

  • “Bourik toujou aji bourik.”
  • A donkey always acts like a donkey.

  • “Bout kouto miyò pase zong.”
  • A piece of a knife is better than nails.

  • “Bwè dlo nan vè: respekte vè.”
  • Drink water in a glass: respect the glass.

  • “Byen mal pa lanmò.”
  • Not well is not death.

  • “Byen prè pa lakay.”
  • Very close is not home yet.

  • “Byen prè pa rive.”
  • Very close is not there yet.

  • “Byen prese pa rive.”
  • In a hurry will not arrive.

C

  • “Chaj ou pa ka pòte, ou mete-l atè dousman.”
  • The load you cannot carry, you put it down carefully.

  • “Chak chen pipi jan li konnen.”
  • Every dog pisses his own way.

  • “Chak kochon gen samdi pa-l.”
  • Each pig gets his own Saturday.
  • (Pigs are usually slaughtered Saturdays)

  • “Chanje mèt, chanje metye.”
  • Trade the boss, trade the job.

  • “Chat mande swe, ou mete chen deyè-l.”
  • If the cat wants to sweat, you get the dog behind him.

  • “Chay sòti sou tèt, li tonbe sou zepòl.”
  • The load that you bear on your head falls on your shoulders.

  • “Chemen bezwen pa janm long.”
  • The road to need is never long.

  • “Chemen bouton se chemen maleng.”
  • The road to a stud is the road to sickness.

  • “Chemen lajan pa gen pikan.”
  • The money road has no thorns.

  • “Chemen long pa touye moun.”
  • A long road does not kill people.

  • “Chen gen kat pye, men li ka mache nan yon sèl chemen.”
  • A dog has four legs, but it walks in only one path.

  • “Chen grangou pa kouche.”
  • A starving dog does not lie down.

  • “Chen ki gen zo nan bouch li pa gen zanmi.”
  • A dog with a bone in his mouth has no friends.

  • “Chen ki jape pa mòde.”
  • The dog that barks does not bite.

  • “Chen ou fè byen, lè li anraje, se ou li mòde.”
  • The dog that you took care of will bite you when enraged.

  • “Chen vòle tabak menm si li pa fimen.”
  • The dog steals tobacco even if it does not smoke.

  • “Chodyè ou pa monte, ou pa desann li.”
  • The pot you did not put up, you do not put down.

  • “Chwal ki gen dis mèt mouri nan poto”
  • A horse with ten masters will die [tied] to its post.

  • “Chwal konn longè kòd li.”
  • The horse knows the length of its rope.

D

  • “Dan ri danje.”
  • The teeth laugh, beware.

  • “Dan se zo.”
  • Teeth are bones.

  • “De kòk kalite pa rete nan menm baskou.”
  • Two good cocks do not stay in the same farm-yard.

  • “De nèg pa fri.”
  • Two skinny people don’t fry. (Two poor people shouldn’t marry, for even together they won’t have enough to get by)

  • “De toro pa rete nan menm savann.”
  • Two bulls do not stay in the same field.

  • “Degaje pa peche.”
  • To get by is not a sin.

  • “Depi nan Ginen, nèg remen nèg.”
  • Since Africa, man love men.(because is by unity we take our liberty from france)

  • “Depi ou nan labatwa, fòk ou aksepte san vole sou ou.”
  • If you are in the slaughterhouse, you must accept to get blood on you.

  • “Dèyè mon gen mon.”
  • Behind the mountain, there are mountains.

  • “Djòl fè dèt, dèyè peye.”
  • The mouth makes debt, the behind pays back.

  • “Doktè pa janm trete tèt li.”
  • The doctor never treats his own head.

  • “Doktè pran swen ou, men li pa Bondye.”
  • The doctor takes care of you but he is not God.

  • “Dòmi se ti frè lanmò.”
  • Sleep is death’s little brother.

  • “Douz metye, trèz mizè.”
  • Twelve trades, thirteen misery.

  • “Dwèt ou santi, men ou pa koupe-l jete.”
  • Your finger may smell, but you do not cut it and throw it away.

E

  • “Evite miyò pase mande padon.”
  • To avoid is better than to ask forgiveness.

F

  • “Fanm se kajou: plis li vye, plis li bon.”
  • A woman is like mahogany: the older she is, the better she is.

  • “Fè zanmi ak kouto avan zabriko mi.”
  • Make friend with the knife before apricots are ripped.

  • “Fèy mapou sanble fèy manyòk.”
  • The ‘Mapou’ leaf looks like the manioc leaf.

  • “Fizi tire, nanpwen aranjman.”
  • [When] the guns fire, there is no [possible] agreement.

  • “Fòk de klòch sonnen pou konn verite-a.”
  • [You must hear] two bells ring to learn the truth.

  • “Fòk gen maladi pou gen lanmò.”
  • There must be illness so as to have death.

  • “Fòk ou bat tanbou-a pou tande son li.”
  • You must beat the drum to hear its sound.

  • “Fòk ou pèdi tan pou ou gen tan.”
  • You need to lose time in order to have time.

G

  • “Grangou se mizè, vant plen se traka.”
  • Hunger is misery; a full stomach is trouble.

I

  • “Ipokrit se kouto de bò.”
  • Hypocrites are two-edge knifes.

J

  • “Jan chat mache, se pa konsa li kenbe rat.”
  • The way the cat walks is not the way it holds the rat.

  • “Jan ou bat tanbou, se konsa nou danse.”
  • The way you beat the drum is how we dance.

  • “Jan ou ranje kabann ou, se jan ou kouche.”
  • The way you make your bed is the way you will lie on it.

  • “Jan ou vini se jan an yo resevwa ou.”
  • The way you come is the way people will receive you.

  • “Je wè, bouch pe.”
  • The eyes see, the mouth is shut(Not everything u see with ur eyes,ur mouth have to talk).

  • “Jijman Bondye vini sou bourik.”
  • God’s judgment comes on a donkey.( Truth always come,when u dont expect it)

  • “Joumou pa donnen kalbas.”
  • A pumpkin does not bear gourds.

  • “Jwe ak makak, men pa manyen ke-l.”
  • [You may] play with the monkey, but don’t play with its tail.

K

  • “Kalbas gran bouch pa kenbe dlo.”
  • A large-pot without cover does not hold water.(People who talk to much can keep secret)

  • “Kay piti, ou prann nat ou anba bra ou.”
  • [When] the house is small, you hold your bedding under your arm.

  • “Kòfrefò pa swiv kòbiya.”
  • The safe does not follow the hearse.

  • “Komansman chante se soufle.”
  • The first steps of singing are breath.

  • “Konmisyon pa chaj.”
  • Giving a news is not a load.

  • “Kote fil fini, se la kouti fini.”
  • Where the thread ends is where the seam ends.

  • “Kote ki gen grangou, kabrit pa mouri nan kòd.”
  • Where there is hunger, goats do not die tied to their ropes..

  • “Kote ki gen granmoun, kay pa boule.”
  • Where there are elders, the house do not burn.

  • “Kote ki gen kou pa gen chenn, kote ki gen chenn nanpwen kou.”
  • Where there are blows, there are no chains; where there are chains, there are no blows.

  • “Kote y’ap plimen kòdenn, poul pa ri.”
  • Where they pluck turkeys, chickens do not laugh.

  • “Koulèv ki vle gwo rete nan trou-l.”
  • snake that wants to get big stays in its hole.

  • “Kouto pa janm grate manch li.”
  • A knife never scrubs its own handle.

  • “Krapo fè kòlè, li mouri san dèyè.”
  • A toad gets angry, it dies without its buttock.

L

  • “Labou rete kouran.”
  • The mud stops the flow.

  • “Lafimen pa janm leve san dife.”
  • Smoke never rises without fire.

  • “Lajan al ka lajan.”
  • Money only goes to money.

  • “Lajan kase wòch.”
  • Money breaks rocks.

  • “Lamepriz vo mye ke larepons.”
  • Contempt is better than an answer.

  • “Lane pase toujou pi bon.”
  • ‘Last year’ is always better.

  • “Lang pa lanmè, men li ka neye-w.”
  • The tongue is not the sea, but it can drown you.

  • “Lè pyebwa jwe ak van, li pèdi fèy li.”
  • When the tree plays with the wind, it sheds its leaves.

  • “Lè setan ou echi (lè ou fin’ fè tan ou), se ale p’ou ale.”
  • When your seven years are over (when your time is done), you [must] go for good.

  • “Lè w’ap bwè nan yon sous, pa chye ladan.”
  • When you drink at a spring, do not shit in it.

  • “Lè w’ap neye, ou kenbe branch ou jwenn.”
  • When you are drowning, you hang to the branch you reach.

  • “Lè yon chodyè cho, ou pa desann li ak men.”
  • When a pot is hot, you do not take it down with your hands.

  • “Lespwa fè viv.”
  • Hope makes one live.

M

  • “M’pat manje pwa, m’pa ka poupou pwa.”
  • I did not eat beans, I cannot poop beans.

  • “Machann nan mache gen de mezi.”
  • The merchant at the market has to measures.

  • “Mache dousman, ou pòte bon nouvèl.”
  • Walk slowly [when] you bear good news.

  • “Madichon ou bay bèlmè ou se manman ou li rive.”
  • When you curse your stepmother, your mother will be the victim.

  • “Maladi pa konn vanyan.”
  • Illness does not know vaillant heart.

  • “Maladi veni sou ou a cheval, men li kite ou a pye.”
  • Illness comes at you as a horse, but leaves you by foot.

  • “Malè avèti pa touye kokobe.”
  • A foreseen disaster does not kill the handicapped.

  • “Malè pa gen klaksonn.”
  • Misfortune has no horn.

  • “Vye nèg pa vye chen.”
  • An old man is not an old dog.

  • “Manje kwit pa gen mèt.”
  • Cooked food has no master.

  • “Mapou tonbe, kabrit manje fèy li.”
  • When the ‘Mapou’ [huge tree] is down, the goats eat its leaves.

  • “Marengwen mòde-w sou nen, men ou pa ka ba-l kou fò.”
  • mosquito bites you on ur nose, but you cannot hit it hard.

  • “Memwa se paswa.”
  • Memory is a strainer.

  • “Men anpil, chay pa lou.”
  • Many hands make a load lighter.

  • “Menm nan lanfè gen mounpa.”
  • Even in hell, there are people from your clan.

  • “Mennen koulèv al lekòl pa anyen; se fè-l chita ki rèd.”
  • To take the snake to school is nothing; it is to make it sit that is tough.

  • “Merite pa mande.”
  • people in need, don’t ask.

  • “Mèt do pa grate do.”
  • You cannot scratch your own back.

  • “Mezire avan ou koupe.”
  • Measure before you cut.

  • “Mouch pa bezwen vyann, men li gate-l.”
  • fly does not need the meat, but they will spoil it.

  • “Moun ki bezwen deyò chache chemen pòt.”
  • He who must go out search for the door.

  • “Moun mouri pa konnen valè dra blan.”
  • The dead does not know the value of white sheets. (Funerals are for the living.)

  • “Moun mouri pa pè santi.”
  • The dead is not afraid to smell.

  • “Moun pa konn achte chat nan sak.”
  • People don’t buy a cat in a bag.

  • “Moun pa-w se dra.”
  • Your clan is sheets.

  • “Move zèb ka leve toupatou.”
  • Weeds grow anywhere.

N

nan pwen mouta jezi pa deplase
there is no mountain that jesus can not move

O

==P=
pa pale sa ou pa we ak prop zye ou
“”never talk about anything you don’t see with your own eyes”"

  • “Pise krapo ogmante larivyè.”
  • The frog’s pee adds to the river. (Every little counts.)

  • “Piti piti zwazo fè nich.”
  • Little by little the bird makes his nest.

  • “Pito ou mize ou nan wout, ou pote bon nouvèl.”
  • Better to take your time on the way, if you bring good news.

R

S

  • “Sak vid pa kanpe.”
  • An empty sack doesn’t stand up. (A hungry person cannot do anything.)

  • “Tan ale, li pa tounen.”
  • Time goes, [but] does not come back.

  • “Tande ak wè se de.”
  • To hear and to see are two [different] things.

  • “Tande pa di konprann pou sa.”
  • To hear does not mean to understand.

  • “Tete pa janm twò lou pou mèt li.”
  • Breasts are never heavy for their owner.

  • “Ti bwa ou pa wè, se li ka pete je-w.”
  • The small stick you do not see is the one that may puncture your eye.

  • “Ti chen gen fòs sèlman devan kay mèt li.”
  • A puppy is strong only before his master’s house.

  • “Ti kou ti kou bay lanmò.”
  • Light blows [again and again] bring death.

  • “Ti koulèv k’ap grandi se anba wòch ke li rete.”
  • Little snakes need to grow in hiding.

  • “Ti kouri kenbe tete; gwo kouri, lage tete.”
  • For a little run, hold your breast; for a big run, don’t hold your breast.

  • “”Ti mapou pa grandi anba gwo mapou.
  • Little ‘mapou’ [big tree highly respected in Haiti] do not grow at the foot of big ‘mapou’.

  • “Ti pil ti pil fè chaj.”
  • A little amount plus a little amount make a load.

  • “Toro ki begle pa gra.”
  • The bull that lows is not fat.

  • “Toujou gen retay kay tayè.”
  • [There are] always leftovers at the tailor’s house.

  • “Tout bèt jennen mòde.”
  • any strain Animals bite.

  • “Tout moun se moun, tout moun pa menm.”
  • All human being are the same, but all human being are different characteristic.

  • “Tro prese fè ou bo sou nen.”
  • Too much hurry makes you kiss the nose.

  • “Tro vit pa rive.”
  • Too fast does not arrive.

V

  • “”Vant plen pa gwòs; gwo tèt pa lespri.
  • A big belly does not mean pregnancy; a big head does not mean wits.

  • “”Volè pa janm renmen volè parey li.
  • A thief never likes a thief like him.

  • “”Vwazinaj se fanmi
  • Neighborhood is family.

W

  • “”Wè jodi-a, men sonje denmen.
  • See (live) today, but think about tomorrow.

  • “”Wè pa wè, lantèman pou katrè.
  • See [it] or not, the funeral is at four o’clock.

  • “”Wont pi lou pase sak sèl.
  • Shame is heavier than a bag of salt.

Y

  • “Yo pa achte chat nan sak.”
  • You don’t buy a cat in a bag. (Make sure you know what you are buying.)

  • “Yo pa voye wòch sou mango vèt.”
  • You don’t throw rocks at a green mango. (You wait until a mango is ripe before you try to knock it down from the tree.)

  • “”Yon bon zanmi pi bon pase frè.
  • A good friend is better than a brother.

Z

  • “Zafè kabrit pa zafè mouton.”
  • The goat’s business is not the sheep’s business.

  • “Zanmi prè se kouto de bo; zanmi lwen se lajan sere.”
  • Close friends are [like] a double-edge knife; far away friends are saved money.

  • “Zanno kase nan sak, grenn li pa pèdi.”
  • [When] the necklace [is] broken in a bag, its pieces are not lost.

  • “Ze ki kale tro bonè, ti poul la p’ap viv.”
  • [When] eggs hatch too early, chickens will not live.

Source: Wikiquote