Saturday 5 December, 2020

When Caymanian and Jamaican sayings "buck up"

As a “Yardie Inna Cayman” I am constantly on a quest to discover Cayman and Jamaica’s cultural and culinary connections… and while travelling along this road, I have learnt a few Caymanian proverbs.

I have not been surprised to learn that while some of our wise old sayings are almost identical, many share the same meaning but use completely different words and references.

For example, I know I was not the only Jamaican child who asked, “Who is Whoppy and why did he or she killed Phillup?” “Whoppy” and “Phillup” are central characters to the old Jamaican saying “From when whoppy Kill Phillup” which means, an event that has taken place a very long time ago.

Caymanians have their own proverb with the same meaning,  “from time hatchet wah hamma.” Creatively replacing the names of people with work tools. 

Here are a few other Caymanian and Jamaican proverbs with the same meanings.


Trouble Don’t Blow Shell (Cayman)

Trouble nuh set like rain (Jamaica)

Meaning: Unfortunate events can happen without warning


Greedy choke duppy (Cayman)

If yuh licky licky, pot bun yuh finga (Jamaica)

Meaning: Taking more than your fair share will have consequences


If you can’t get Harry, you take his jacket (Cayman)

If yuh cyan ketch kwaku, yuh ketch him shut (Jamaica)

Meaning: If you don’t get your first choice, settle for the next best thing


He don’t have his head for his hat alone (Cayman)

Tom drunk but tom nuh fool (Jamaica)

Meaning: People are wiser than they look


From time hatchet wah hamma (Cayman)

From when Whoppy kill Phillup (Jamaica)

Meaning: Events happening a very long time ago


Donkey doon belong in horse race (Cayman)

Cockroach don't business inna fowl fight (Jamaica)

Meaning: Mind your own business


Folla fashion monkey bring bruk neck (Cayman)

Folla Fashion monkey neva boil good soup (Jamaica)

Meaning: being original will yield better results than copying


Every pot knows its own bottom (Cayman)

Every tub siddung pon dem own bottom (Jamaica)

Meaning: Take responsibility for your own action

These proverbs are a small representation of the vast collection of Caymanian proverbs. Please comment and share with us other proverbs that you might have grown up with or else “is your cup a bitter tea.”

Get the latest local and international news straight to your mobile phone for free: