Trini sayings are a collection of idioms and Trini proverbs that has been passed down from generation to generation. Most of these were/are used in everyday language to impart wisdom or teach a life lesson. The beauty of these idioms or proverbs, to me as a Trinidadian, is the use of simple local analogies to convey deep philosophical meanings. Within this page you will find invaluable gems of knowledge that can last more than a lifetime.
A, B, C see for yuhself – You have to seek your own independence.
A, B, C ketch ah crab – Refers to 1st Year Infants Class.
After joy is sorrow – After partying and merriment, sorrow usually comes. Commonly told to children when they are romping recklessly, which usually ends up with one of them being hurt.
Ah Payap! – Similar to Oh gosh! or Well Yes! An exclamation of wonder or disbelief.
All crab find dey hole – Everyone finds their place. Everyone have to seek their own interests in life
All skin teeth eh laugh- Friendly appearances can be deceiving sometimes, or a person’s smile can be one of deception.
All tub sit on dey own bottom- Similar to “all crab find dey own hole.” You have to seek your own interests in life. No one else can do it for you!
Bachannal – Confusion.
Band yuh belly – To prepare for difficult times.
Bam ba yuh go see am – Wait and you will see.
Basket doh hold water – All threats and talk are idle: they mean nothing. Also could mean a statement is questionable…You are lying!
Beat de iron while it hot – Don’t waste time. Make use of the opportunities you have now
Beg water never boil cow-skin- You would never get too much from begging.
Behind back is ‘Dog’, before face is “Mr. Dog”- People will gossip about you when you’re not around and speak to you nicely when you’re in their company.
Behind God back – Used to refer to a very far place that is usually rural. Similar to Oheeoho e.g. “Boy, if yuh see whey he livin’. Is quite behind God back”.
Better belly buss, dan good food was’e- It is better to overeat than to let good food go to waste. An expression of greed.
Better yuh mine ol’ clothes dan people business – It is better you look after your own burdens rather than intrude in other people’s affairs.
Blood thicker dan water – Family ties are the stronger than that of close associates.
Bush have ears- Be careful how and where you gossip, someone may hear you and carry back the news.
Carry yuh own bag ah cocoa – Carry your own burdens/ troubles.
Cattle horn never too heavy for him to carry – Your troubles will never overburden you. You will always be able to carry your burdens in life.
Chop in water leave no mark – Doing something wrong and getting away with it. (Sometimes it refers to a man or woman getting away with adultery).
Cockroach eh have no right in fowl party – People should not involve themselves in matters where they’re not welcomed.
Cockroach eh have ah chance in front fowl – Same as above. Other than not being welcomed, you can also be made into the scape – goat instead.
Come see meh and come live wit meh is two different thing – When dating a person you may not see their true personality as opposed to when you’re living with them.
Common sense make before book sense – Not all knowledge and reasoning can be gained from a book: experience sometimes is the greatest teacher.
Conk out- When something stops working, such as an appliance or vehicle e.g. “De T.V conk out“.
Cook Up- Cooking different ingredients in a pot to make a dish like different meats, vegetables, coconut milk, etc. : a classic mixed rice dish.
Come hell or high waters – No matter what.
Commess- Similar to ‘bachannal’.
Corbeau doh eat sponge cake- People without class cannot appreciate the finer things in life.
Corbeau pee on meh - I am bad lucky. E.g.: “Boy ah cyah get a wuk, like corbeau pee on meh.”
Crapaud smoke yuh pipe – You’re in real trouble.
Cut eye doh kill- A menacing look does no physical harm.
De candle cost more dan de funeral – The little things in life, if left unattended, can lead to bigger problems…..Similar to losing the battle all for the want of a nail.
De mark buss – Two meanings: 1. Bush Whe Whe term for when the banker calls or reveals the mark (number) 2. Similar to what’s done in the dark soon comes to light. Everyone finds out about some surprising, juicy news or gossip. e.g. Boy! When de mark buss dey say dat she was friennin’ with de marrid man.
De change from de dollar does make de most noise – It takes two to quarrel.
De dog dat brings an egg, carries an egg – The person that gossips with you, also gossips about you. (Sometimes ‘bone’ is used instead of ‘egg”.)
De mango doh fall far from de tree – Chip off the old block. Child behaves like his or her parents
Dog doh make cat – Chip off the old block. Child behaves like parent
Doh drink tea to sweat nobody fever – Don’t be in enmity with someone you didn’t have a quarrel with. e.g. Your friend has a quarrel or fight with someone and you’re also angry with the person even though the quarrel had nothing to do with you.
Doh cut off yuh nose tuh spoil yuh face- Don’t try to please everyone at your expense.
Doh count egg in fowl bottom- Similar to “Don’t count your chickens before they are hatched”. Don’t make plans on things you are not certain of.
Doh hang yuh hat whey yuh han’ cyah reach- Never live a lifestyle you cannot afford. Don’t live beyond your means.
Doh let de lef’ hand know what de right hand doin’- You must never let people close to you know all your business.
Doh make track for ‘gouti to pass- Don’t make things easy for someone else to come and benefit more than you.
Doh put fowl to watch corn – This one is straightforward…you wouldn’t put a thief to watch your house.
Doh put de cart before de horse – What you’re supposed to do first you shouldn’t leave for last.
Doh sit on river stone an’ talk de river bad – Don’t bite the hand that feeds you. Do not speak ill of someone that has helped you.
Doh dam de bridge yuh have to cross – Similar to don’t burn your bridges. Don’t harm or end relationships (personal or otherwise ) unpleasantly or make decisions you cannot change. You may one day have to cross back that very bridge
Doh trouble trouble until trouble trouble yuh. – Don’t look for trouble until trouble comes looking for you. Plainly said: Don’t look for trouble!
Do so eh like so.- Similar to “Do unto others…” Don’t do something to someone you won’t like for yourself. You can give but you can’t take.
Eat de bread de devil Knead - You’re in real trouble.
Eat she white fowl - Refers to when someone is mad at you even though you are unaware of what you’ve done. e.g. How she vex wit meh so? Hm! Like ah eat she white fowl.
Eat parrot bottom - an expression for being talkative. e.g Shutup nah! Whapen like yuh eat parrot bottom today?
Empty vessels make de most noise – People that have little knowledge sometimes talk the most and make a fool of themselves in the process.
Every bread have he cheese – There is always someone out there for you despite your appearance. ….eharmony perhaps
Fadda chile in print – Child looks or behaves like his or her father. Chip off the old block.
Fish does rotten from de head – Corruption in any organisation starts at the top.
Fire de wuk - Quit a job.
Frien’ does carry yuh but doh bring yuh back- Be wary of who your friends are because they can lead you astray.
Goat doh make sheep – Similar to chip off the old block. Child behaves or have similar mannerisms as parent.
Gopaul luck eh Seepaul luck- Not everyone has the same opportunities in life.
He/she ain’t right here – A crazy person
He/She does touch – He/she is a thief.
He/she doh eat nice- An arrogant or formidable person
I dey – I’m fine
If yuh peein’ and yuh see somebody comin’; sit down on it – If you’re speaking and an eavesdropper passes, hush.
In cattle belly crossways – A really problematic and troublesome situation. (This analogy refers to a breach in a cow’s pregnancy) e.g. “Like you want to put me in cattle belly crossways wid dat person”
Jus’ come – A person who is naive
Laugh an’ cry does live in the same house – Same as “after joy is sorrow.”
Loll off – Relaxing when there is work to be done.
Long rope for magga goat- Sooner or later a person will experience the consequences of their ill deed. Too much freedom can lead to a person’s detriment.
Make haste while de sun shine – Make use of the time you have now.
Mango doh fall far from de tree – Similar to chip off the old block. Children sometimes behave like their parents.
Monkey doh see he own tail- People don’t see their own faults but are quick to point out the faults of others.
Monkey glands raise – Said when someone is playing the fool. “Wha wrong wit yuh? Like yuh monkey glands raise awa?”
Monkey know what tree to climb – People who are up to no good know who to interfere with and who to leave alone.
Monkey see monkey do – Senseless individuals tend to copy the ideas of other people.
Monkey say “cool breeze”- To act unaffected by something.
Moon does run until daylight catch up with him – Similar to”you can run but you can’t hide” and “one day one day congo tay” – when you do wrong you will, in time, meet your justice.
Never see come see – Someone who is unaccustomed or naive to certain things.
New broom does sweep clean, but old broom know all de corners – A young person may be adventurous and full of vigour but an older person always has the advantage of experience. (Commonly used to describe relationships where a man leaves his wife, with whom he has spent years in marriage, for a younger woman.)
Old firestick easy to ketch – Similar to an “old flame.” Old relationships are easily reestablished.
One day one day congo tay – Time will catch up with you. One day you will meet your justice.
One hand cyah clap – There are things one cannot do alone. This expression shows that in life we need each other.
Only who in de kitchen does feel de heat- Only those going through a tumultuous time in life know of their trials.
Pelting stone and hidin’ hand – Doing mischief. e.g. You cause a quarrel between two people then watch them have a go at each other while you standby and laugh.
Penny wise but pound foolish – Being wise when it comes to small matters, only to be foolish with more important ones.
Playing dead to ketch Corbeau alive – To act stealthily or pretend to be unaware of something in order to lure a person.
Pot cyah tell kettle he bottom black – Those who have faults mustn’t talk about the faults of others. Similar to the biblical “log” in your eye.
Same khaki pants – In the same situation as another person
Santimanitay (Sans Humanite) – Without humanity or mercy. Generally the ending used in “Extempo”.
Stone doh have eyes- Don’t throw stones; you could hurt someone.
Stone in water doh know when sun hot – The well off or “sheltered” person is often unaware of the reality of hardships.
Stone fall in your garden- Similar to “who the cap fits…” To be guilty about something.
Tail doh wag de dog - Don’t let your children control you.
Take in front before in front take yuh – Be prepared for anything. Plan ahead. Don’t wait for a problem to come upon you when it could have been prevented long beforehand.
Tanto tanto yuh go see – Similar to “one day one day congotay“. Just wait and see, time will catch up with you.
T’ief from t’ief does make God laugh – It is ironic to see a thief being stolen from
Time longer dan twine – Life’s tribulations usually come to an end sometime. Nothing lasts forever; only time!
To dig horrors- To become upset or emotional over something.
To get horrors- Same as above.
To take basket – To be manipulated into doing something
To take chain up – To be manipulated into doing something
Trouble make monkey eat pepper – Same as “curiosity killed the cat“. Being too inquisitive can often lead to harm.
Two bo rat cyah live in de same hole – Two headstrong or strongly opinionated persons cannot live together.
Two bad jumbie nevah walk fuh long- Same as above
Wash yuh foot before yuh get in de dance – Assess a situation carefully before getting yourself involved in it.
Water more dan flour – Refers to an overwhelming situation.
Went to school in August – An expression of someone’s stupidity…e.g. “Wha wrong wit he like he went to school in August awa ….and he favourite subjects was recess and lunch lol!”
Wey horse reach jackass does reach… and pass.- You can beat the odds, and be more successful than someone who has an advantage over you.
What de eye doh see, de heart doh grieve – Things you are unaware of, can do you no harm.
What doh kill does fatten – Any experience that doesn’t destroy you, will make you stronger to take on more difficult challenges in life. Also a phrase used by someone when their food falls on the ground and they dust it off, then proceed to eat it.
What eh meet yuh eh pass yuh – There are experiences in life everyone will ultimately have to face.
What is joke for you is death for crapo (crapaud) – What may be funny for you, may be a serious issue for others.
What yuh pass in de day yuh musn’t take flabeau tuh look for in de night - Don’t wait until your problems gets overwhelming before you tackle them.
What sweet in goat mouth does sour in he bam bam- Even though a situation may seem nice, sweet as it is, you will have to pay the dire consequences for it later. The result of pleasure is sometimes pain.
When cock have teet’- Similar to “when hell freezes over”. It will never happen!
When yuh have cocoa in de sun look out for rain – When you have done wrong, you must expect the unexpected.
When yuh in galvanize house, carat house does make yuh sign. Sometimes when you’re in too much comfort you always seem to make yourself uncomfortable and find yourself in trouble.
When yuh neighbour house on fire, throw water on yours – When trouble looms, protect yourself.
Who doh hear does feel – Those who don’t pay attention to wise words and advice, feel the consequences for their actions and learn the hard way.
Who have teet’ to eat meat does want to eat bone – The lure of the other side, eventually can lead you from a place of comfort to hardship.
Wukin for Corbeau jawbone – Working for little or no pay.
You cyah play sailor and ‘fraid’ powder – You must face the consequences of your actions.
Yuh cyah make love on ah hungry belly - The reality of poverty can quench the love a couple have for each other.
Yuh cyah stop river from running – You can’t stop people from talking or gossiping.
You could lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink - You cannot force someone to do something if they don’t want to.
Yuh doh ketch fly wit vinegar - Entrapment is better done with gentle words than criticism.
Yuh eh have a pot tuh piss in or a window tuh throw it out off – Usually said in reference to someone who has no worthy possessions or responsibilities. Similar to “not even a parrot on a stick”
Yuh fadder is ah glassmaker? – You are blocking my view
Yuh have guts like calabash – You have the ability to stand great trials and overcome them.
Yuh only spinnin’ roun’ like ah mama poule – You are wasting time.
Yuh see de animal but yuh doh see de beast - Appearance is deceptive.
Yuh spinnin’ top in mud – You are wasting time.
Here ends my list of Trini Sayings.