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Haitian Proverbs and Idioms (Pwovèb ak Idyòm Ayisyen) - Learn Haitian Creole | Aprann Kreyòl Ayisyen |

haitian proverbs

Haitian Proverbs and Idioms (Pwovèb ak Idyòm Ayisyen)

This post covers Haitian proverbs and Idioms. In this post, you will find that some of the idioms used in Haiti are quite similar to those in the United States and others are very different. As always, feel free to ask questions and leave me comments. Also, if you haven’t visit my author website and check out my children’s book which will be released on November 2, 2020. Please check out our website for more resources such as games, texts, videos, etc…


Pa Manje Anyen Frèt: This translates to “don’t eat anything cold” meaning someone who “doesn’t play around and does not put up with nonsense. They are not someone to mess with”.

Tèt Nèg : This translates to “man’s head” which really means “expensive”

Ban m Tèt Mwen: This translates to “give me my head” which really means “stop making noise”. So this can be used if a child is crying, talking too much, or whining.

M ap manje ou: This translates to “I will eat you” which really means “I will kill you” (voodoo related).

Yon Bòy K ap mennen yon avèg: This translates to “A one-eyed person guiding a blind person” which really means “two dumb people but one is dumber”

Sa ou swete pou bèl mè w, se manman w l ap rive: This translates to “what you wish for your stepmother or mother-in-law will happen to your mother” which really means “don’t wish bad things for others because it could happen to you”

Se lè pa itil pa la, pou ou wè si pa itil pa t itil vre: This translates to “it is when not useful is no longer around for you to see if not useful was really not useful” which really means “we don’t know the value of something until it’s gone”

Dèyè mòn gen mòn: This translates to “behind a mountain is another mountain”  which really means “you may think you’re strong but there will always be one stronger than you”

Tout otan ou gen tèt, ou ka mete chapo: This translates to “as long as you have a head you can wear a hat” which really means “as long as you’re alive you can accomplish anything”

Men anpil chay pa lou: This translates to “many hands and the stuff you’re carrying won’t be as heavy “ which means exactly what it says. “If we all pitch in, things will be easier

Wòsh nan dlo pa konn mizè wòsh nan solèy: This translates to “a rock in water doesn’t know the pain of a rock in the sun” which really means “people who are comfortable don’t understand the pain of someone who is struggling. Pretty much the rich don’t understand what the poor go through”

Chat ki boule nan dlo cho pè dlo frèt: This translates to “a cat that gets burned in hot water is afraid of cold water“ which really means “people who have been hurt are usually afraid of getting hurt again”

Dan pouri gen fòs sou bannann mi: This translates to “rotten teeth have power over ripe plantains“ which really means “people who are weak have power over those who are weaker”

Tout chen jennen mòde: This translates to “all dogs that are cornered bite“ which really means “if you bother someone long enough they will fight back”

Ou konn kouri ou pa konn kache: This translates to “you know how to run but you don’t know how to hide” which really means “you only want contact when you want something but you don’t think about later or the next time”

Ou ka fè bourik janbe dlo ou pa ka fè l bwè dlo: This translates to “you can make a donkey cross the water but you cannot make it drink the water” which really means “You can’t make people do whatever you want”

Pitit tig se tig: This translates to “a tiger’s child is a tiger” which really means “if someone is mean their kids are likely to be mean”

Piti piti zwazo fè nich li: This translates to “little by little, the bird build its nest” which really means “take your time, don’t be in a hurry to get things done. Do things correctly even if it takes longer”

Kreyòl pale, kreyòl konprann: This translates to “creole is spoken, creole is understood” which really means “what you heard is exactly what the person meant, don’t look too much into it”

Se lave men siye atè: This translates to “ it’s washing hands and wiping them on the floor or ground” which really means “it’s a waste of time”

Lè ti poul fè dan: This translates to “when chicks grow teeth” which really means “never because chicks will never grow teeth”

Santi bon koute chè: This translates to “smelling good is expensive” which really means “work hard for what you want because good things cost a lot of money”

Sa ki pa touye ou ap angrese ou: This translates to “what does not kill you will make you fat (gain weight)” which really means “if it doesn’t kill you, it will make you stronger”

Bouche nen ou pou bwè dlo santi: This translates to “cover your nose to drink stinky water” which really means “do what it takes to get what you want even when it’s not the best situation, don’t quit. Pretty much don’t focus so much on the bad so you can succeed”

Pousyè mache pi bon pase pousyè chita: This translates to “dust from walking is better than dust from sitting” which really means “don’t sit around and do nothing, get up and find something to do”

Sak vid pa kanpe: This translates to “what’s empty does not stand” which really means “hungry people can’t do much”

Bay kou bliye, pote mak sonje: This translates to “hit and forget, carry a mark and remember” which really means “you may hurt someone and forget but the person you hurt will never forget”

Gate san: This translates to “making blood go bad” which really means “to be angry or upset”

Bwè dlo nan vè , respekte vè : This translates to “drink water from a glass, respect the glass” which really means “respect the people you deal with, respect people”

Ale nan peyi san chapo: This translates to “go to a country without a hat” which really means “to die”

Sa ou plante se sa ou rekòlte: This translates to “you reap what you sow” which really means just that

Se mèt kò ki veye kò: This translates to “it’s the dead body’s owner that watches the dead body” which really means “you are responsible for your own life and your own stuff”

Chak jou pa dimanch: This translates to “everyday is not Sunday” which really means “expect things to go wrong sometimes, you may not get the same results all the time. Don’t keep breaking the rules and expect no consequences”

Ban m zòrèy mwen: This translates to “give me my ears” which really means “stop making noise or stop talking”

Pa jete chodyè ize pou chodyè nèf: This translates to “don’t throw away an old pot for a new pot” which really means “don’t get rid of old friends for new ones”

Pa gen nen nan figi: This translates to “do not have a nose on the face” which really means “having no shame”

Tout lapriyè gen amen: This translates to “all prayers have an amen” which really means “all beginnings have an end”

Kay koule twonpe solèy, men li pa twonpe lapli: This translates to “a house that leaks tricks the sun but it does not trick the rain” which really means “you can’t trick everyone or hide all your mistakes at least not forever”

Se rat kay, k ap manje pay kay: This translates to “it’s the house’s rat that’s eating the house’s hay” which really means “whatever is going wrong is usually being done by someone on the inside (someone close to us)”

Ou ap konn (konn is short for konnen) jòj: This translates to “you’ll know George” which really means “you’ll know what’s up or you’ll see what will happen”

Mete dlo nan diven ou: This translates to “put water in your wine” which really means “calm down”

Ou ap kouri pou lapli, ou al tonbe nan gran rivyè : This translates to “you’re running from the rain and you end up falling in a big river” which really means “you are running from something bad that’s small and then get into something much bigger or dangerous”

Veye zo ou: This translates to “watch your bones” which really means “be careful or watch your back”

Yon sèl dwèt pa manje kalalou: This translates to “one finger cannot eat okra” which really means “one person cannot do everything, work together”

Pa Pete nan koton bay santi: This translates to “Not fart in a cotton for someone to smell” which really means “to ignore someone”

Malè avèti pa tiye kokobe: This translates to “a warning for danger won’t kill the crippled” which really means “be careful, it’s a warning, there will be danger, stay away so you don’t get hurt”

Bat chen an tann mèt li: This translates to “beat the dog and wait for the owner” which really means “be careful, if you hurt someone, someone else close to them will come after you”

Jou fèy la tonbe nan dlo a se pa jou sa li pouri: This translates to “the day the leaf falls in the water is not the same day it goes bad” which really means “Be patient, no matter what you do the results will come”

Menm baton ki bat chen nwa, se li ki bat chen blan: This translates to “the same stick that beats the black dog is the same stick that beats the white dog which really means “what goes around comes around”

Renmen tout, pèdi tout: This translates to “wanting everything and lose everything” which really means “Don’t be greedy. If you want everything for yourself you will end up losing everything.”

Remèsi chen se kout baton: This translates to “thank a dog by beating him” which really means “a good deed that’s not appreciated. You may do something good for someone and they turn around and hurt you.”

Pa fè bouch mwen long: This translates to “don’t make my mouth long” which really means “don’t make me talk too much.”

M ap ba ou sa sou de chèz: This translates to “I will give it to you on two chairs” which really means “I will give you all the details, I have the knowledge or all the information, or I will do the job perfect”

Tann jis nou tounen pwa tann: This translates to “wait until we turn into green beans” which really means “to wait forever.”

Abraham di sètase: This translates to “Abraham says enough” which really means “enough, no more”

Ti mari p ap monte ti mari p ap desann: This translates to “Ti mari will not go up, ti mari will not go down” which really means “nothing will happen, nothing will change. Things will stay the same”

Ou ap voye flè: This translates to “you’re throwing flowers” which really means “you’re messing around, screwing up, acting up, not taking life seriously”

Ret nan wòl ou: This translates to “stay in your role” which really means “leave me alone”

Bat lestomak ou twa fwa: This translates to “beat your chest three times” which really means “don’t go there (in your words or thought), usually used when one makes a threat or makes a negative statement, the person should have never said the statement because it’s too negative”

Pran fil: This translates to “take threat” which really means “moving forward in life, to become better in life, maybe you were poor but now have money”

Pran nan twa wa: This translates to “caught in three kings” which really means “in trouble”

Achte figi: This translates to “buy face” which really means “kissing butts.”

Chita pa bay: This translates to “sitting doesn’t give” which really means “don’t be lazy, get up and do something (work)”

Lenj sal lave an fanmi: This translates to “dirty cloth pads are washed within the family” which really means “don’t put your business out there”

Bay piti pa chich: This translates to “give small doesn’t mean one does not like to share” which really means “it’s ok to share even if it’s small, it’s the act that counts”

Fòk ou konn la pou ou al (al is short for ale) la: This translates to “you have to know there to go there” which really means “ to have experience on the matter, to have knowledge”

Pito nou lèd nou la: This translates to “it’s better for us to be ugly but alive” which really means “glad to be alive”

Sa blan di la?: This translates to “what did white (person) say?” which really means “what is she/she talking about? What did he/she say? What are you talking about?”

Watch the YouTube video for pronunciations


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