Jamaican Proverbs

A proverb can be regarded as a way of say­ing some­thing and hid­ing its mean­ing. Jamaican proverbs are oldtra­di­tional say­ings which dates back to the early 16th cen­tury. As a way of for­mu­lat­ing their thoughts, our ances­tors have used their his­tory to char­ac­ter­ize this old tra­di­tion. Jamaican proverbs high­light humor and aspi­ra­tions as a source of warn­ing and advice. For nearly every impor­tant occur­rence in Jamaican daily life there is a rel­e­vant proverb.

It is in the realm of the proverb also that we see clearly the inter-mixture of African and Euro­pean influ­ences pro­duc­ing the char­ac­ter­is­tics which are essen­tially Jamaican. In addi­tion, the proverbs reveal much of the coun­try and the char­ac­ter­is­tics of the people.

Jamaican proverbs can be put into cat­e­gories. There are those of African ori­gin, such as “craven choke puppy” which means “you’ve taken on more than you can han­dle”. Next, there are those proverbs orig­i­nat­ing in the West Indies. Then, there are those proverbs adopted from a European influ­ence expressed in local idiom.

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