Here are some of Haiti's most popular proverbs...Of all the Languages of this world, Haitian Creole
perhaps the one that relies the most on proverbs, metaphors,
great imagery. Surely, without proverbs, Creole would still
as a language; however, the language owes its musicality and
its cadence and strength to its proverbs. It must be
that we are not talking of the Creole being spoken in
Port-au-Prince. That Creole has been altered by too many
influences and is replete with French and English expressions.
are rather referring to a somewhat purer version of the
one that is spoken in the still mostly unadulterated rural
to some degree by members of the older generations.
About 50% of the Materials used in this page are from discoverhaiti.com
If you ever take a trip in the countryside, and engage some
the locals in conversation, you will notice how those Haitians
in riddles and images that capture the strength of any idea or
morals pertaining to their lives. Even to the urban or young
it is sometimes difficult to comprehend the real meaning of
expressions. That beautiful form of expression is menaced and
bound to disappear though, through the effects of urbanization
foreign culture and as the younger generations are turning
backs on that way of speaking. Here on DiscoverHaiti, we have
to feature some of the most beautiful of those proverbs and
you with their literal and real meaning.
- If you’re
we hope that you will rediscover them and enjoy once again
- If you’re of Haitian descent, this is an
to rediscover an essential part of your identity by
- And finally, of course, all non-Haitians are
welcome to appreciate these delights of the Creole language.
good manners and good
breeding----------------------Mapou mouri, kabrit manje fey
the mapou (oak-like tree) dies, goats would eat its
Meaning: This proverb is said in Creole to
the scene of old age. It is also said to compare the prime and
declining days as well as abundance and poverty. If a
been disrespectful to an old man who is past his prime, that proverb would be an
Note: the mapou
special meaning in Haitian culture. It is a sacred tree for
believers of Vaudou.
pa janm mode
li jouk nan zo:
A mother never bites
Meaning: The equivalent of this proverb in the
English language would be “there is nothing like a
Haiti, this proverb is used to show or recall the goodness of
mother to her children. Even when she is inflicting the worst
punishment on her children she is not doing it out of hate or
deliberately hurt her progenies but to discipline them
Moun pa se
like a cloak
Meaning: This proverb is used when
encounters difficulties or is in an embarrassing position and
friend or a protector comes along and saves the day.
Nan tan grangou patat pa gen
In times of famine, sweet potatoes have no
This is a proverb said in times of disaster or great
It means that when one is starving to death, they will eat
thus “patat pa gen po”: even the skin of a potato
would be eaten.
Ou konn kouri, ou pa
You know how to run, but you
know how to
Meaning: It is said of someone who leaves a
impression behind him after a bad deed or a crime.
Pise gaye pa
Spread piss doesn’t
rolling stone gathers no moss. For Haitians this proverb
question of unity and disunion in accomplishing a goal. Is
of people squandering their money on many worthless ventures:
will ever be successful.
Sel pa vante tet li di li
Salt doesn’t boast that it is
Similar in meaning to the French saying "A bon vin, point
d’enseigne" (good wine needs no advertising). Let others
good you are. Said to ridicule someone who speaks hightly of
himself, who praises himself.
Se bon ke krapo ki fe
It is because the toad is too
he has no intelligence. Meaning: Said of a person who
someone’s help and becomes victim of the helped. Said of
was formerlyvery rich and who becomes poor because he is too
tenderhearted and gave his whole fortune away.
Se nan chimen jennen yo
if you want to catch a wild
horse, find a
Meaning: One says that about a person who
escapes embarassment but who will eventually fall into a more
Sonje lapli ki leve mayi
Remember the rain that made your
Meaning: One says that to remind someone that he
show gratitude to God or to someone who did him good.
Tanbou prete pa janm
A borrowed drum never makes good
Meaning: Said when one uses something
before finishing with it the owner comes to take it.
is not comfortable with a borrowed object.
Ti chen gen fos devan kay
a little dog is really brave in
front of his
Meaning: The meaning of this
that a weak person doesn’t attack away from his home but
himself as a lion against everybody in his territory. Also
poltrons and weak persons who will become lions in defending
interests or when they have the backup of someone stronger.
Ti moun fwonte grandi devan
Litterally: An impudent child
Baron's eyes( Baron Samdi is the guardian of the
cemetery in the Vaudou religion)
Meaning: Said of an
impudent, insolent child, meaning that they won’t live
because of their insolence.
Regarding Tact- Cleverness -
Ravet pa janm gen rezon douvan poul:
Roaches are never right when
facing chickens (Chickens would pursue any roach in
Meaning: Whenever there are disagreements
two parties, Justice will always be on the side with the
Bouch pale sa jieux woue:
The mouth speaks what the eyes see
Meaning: It means that one only speaks base on the observation around
Jieux we bouch pe:
The English equivalent to this proverb will be "you see nothing you know
Meaning: if you witness something you not suppose to you are ought
remain silence or else.
Roche nan dlo pa kon doule roch nan soleil:
The wealthy is never aware of the hardships of the poor.
Meaning: This proverb is used to see the distinction between the
Moun ki di men koulev la se li ki tue'l:
The first one to say look! a snake is the killer even if some one else
comes and kill it.
Meaning: The best example of this proverb is when a when a
executed because a witness testified against him or her. Eventhought it is
the justice system's final decision to inflict the death penalty to the
is because of the witness testimony.
Les yo pa vle we'ou yo ba'ou panye pou'al prand dlo.
Meaning: When you are dislike by others they will create difilculties
Tro prese pa fe jou l'ouvri.
One shouldn't be in a hurry in life because that will not make the days go
faster to bring you fast success without a cause.
Mache cheche pam jam domi san soupe:
This proverb is the same as "you will get what you deserve."
Meaning: if a person is always looking for trouble he will always meet
or her match.
Toute anmerdan gen ti nat yo:
Every pest has its resting place.
Mean: If one enjoys bothering others one day he or she will get it.
Mouin piti mouin pa pitimi san grado:
I may be tiny but I'm not weak and vulnerable.
This proverb is used to warn others who may want to take advantage of you
because of your smaller size.
Pitit tig se tig:
A tiger's cub is also a tiger.
Meaning: One's behavior is only a reffelction of those who breed it.
Another similar one is: Joumou pas grandi calbas.
Se an jouet yo abillei jwif:
It is also by joking around one takes the opportunity to speak his or her
Meaning: Some times a person want to find a way to speak his or her
out to another. That opportunity may come for instance when everyone is in
a group joking and laughing around. There he or she would speak his or her
mind of to the other without the other realizing the real meaning of the