Whether you’re born and raised in Trinidad & Tobago, or you live abroad and was raised by Trinidadian parent(s), you’re going to know at least half of these sayings. These Trinbagonian idioms and analogies, proverbs if you may, have been passed from generation to generation, imparting the wisdom of the ages. It’s clear to see that wit and whimsicality has always been a part of the Trini experience.
1. “Playing dead to ketch Corbeau alive”
To pretend to be unaware of something in order to bait a person.
2. “All crab find dey hole”
Everyone will always find their place in life.
3. “All skin teeth eh laugh”
Not all friendly appearances are genuine, some smiling face may be deceptive.
4. “Beat de iron while it hot”
Don’t waste time, seize your opportunities now.
5. “Doh let de lef’ hand know what de right hand doing”
Never let the people close to you know all your business.
6. “Better belly buss dan good food waste”
It’s better to overeat than let good food go to waste.
7. “Better yuh mine ol’ clothes dan people business”
Look after yourself instead of getting involved in other people’s lives.
8. “Cattle horn never too heavy for him to carry”
Your troubles in life will never be too much to handle.
9. “Common sense make before book sense”
You can’t learn everything from book, experience is sometimes the best teacher.
10. “Crapaud smoke yuh pipe”
You’re in trouble.
11. “Cut eye doh kill”
A nasty look won’t hurt you.
12. “De candle cost more dan de funeral”
The little things in life if left unattended can lead to bigger problems.
13. “Dog doh make cat”
Children behave like their parents.
14. “Band yuh belly”
Prepare for difficult times.
15. “Doh cut off yuh nose tuh spoil yuh face”
Don’t try to please everyone at your own expense.
16. “Doh hang yuh hat whey yuh han’ cyah reach”
Don’t live beyond your means.
17. “Doh bite de hand that feed you”
Don’t speak ill of someone that has helped you.
18. “One hand cyah clap”
There are things one cannot do alone.
19. “Doh dam de bridge yuh have to cross”
Don’t end relationships on bad terms, you don’t know what the future holds, and you may need that person.
20. “Come see meh and come live with meh is two different thing”
You will not see the true personality of the person you’re dating until you live with them.
21. “Doh trouble trouble until trouble trouble yuh”
Avoid trouble when you can.
22. “Gopaul luck eh Seepaul luck”
Everyone’s luck is not the same, we all don’t get the same opportunities.
23. “Laugh an’ cry does live in the same house”
The thing that makes you happy, can also hurt you.
24. “Frien’ does carry yuh but doh bring yuh back”
Be mindful of the company you keep; friends can easily lead you astray.
25. “Long rope for magga goat”
Too much freedom can lead to a person’s detriment, they will eventually suffer the consequences of their ill deed(s).
26. “Monkey doh see he own tail”
People don’t see their own faults, only the faults of others.
27. “Monkey gland raise”
When someone is acting like a fool.
28. “New broom does sweep clean, but old broom know all de corners”
A young person may be adventurous and full of vigor but an older person always has the advantage of experience.
29. “Old firestick easy to ketch”
An old flame/old relationships are easily reestablished.
30. “Penny wise but pound foolish”
Being wise in trivial matters, only to be foolish with more important ones.
31. “Take in front before in front take yuh”
32. “Wa de eye doh see, de heart doh grieve”
Things you are unaware of cannot trouble you – ignorance is bliss.
33. “What eh meet yuh eh pass yuh”
There are experiences in life everyone will ultimately have to face.
34. “Doh drink tea to sweat nobody fever”
Don’t make enemies with someone when the argument does not involve you, i.e. your friend’s enemy isn’t your enemy.
35. “Who doh hear does feel”
Those who don’t heed words of advice, feel the consequences of their actions.