Haitian creole is a language rich in nuances and has a wide variety of popular expressions that reflect the dynamics of its language.

Some expressions in creole are more well known than others and these are the ones will be covered by this article.

Also, the majority of these expressions are “idiomatic expressions”: this means that they are expressions that come from the country’s oral tradition and that they have been transmitted through time by the native speakers of haitian creole.

It should be noted that the majority of these expressions must be understood in their figurative and non-literal sense. These are pictorial expressions, not to be taken literally!

That being said, let’s get on to it!

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Here is a list of Haitian Creole expressions :

W ap kon joj

Translation : You’ll know George

Meaning : To say this to someone is to warn them that if they continue like this, they will suffer the negative consequences of their actions / words. It’s pretty much like saying : “You’ll see …”

Lè poul a gen dan

Translation : When the chicken will have teeth

Meaning : It’s an informal way of saying “never”, since chicken will never have teeth.

Se lave men, siye l atè

Translation : It’s washing your hands and wiping them on the floor

Meaning : It was a useless effort.

Kreyol pale, kreyol konprann

Translation : Speak Creole, understand Creole

Meaning : Do not try to complicate things, go straight to the point.

Bouche nen ou pou bwè dlo santi

Translation : Pinch your nose to drink the stinky water

Meaning : Sometimes you have to make some concessions to get what you want.

San pran souf

Translation : Without taking a breath

Meaning : Doing something in one take, without stopping.

Piti piti zwazo fè nich li

Translation : Little by little the bird makes its nest

Meaning : Little by little, you can progress in life.

Gate san

Translation : Rotten blood

Meaning : We say this when we are angry and is similar to the expression “it makes my blood boil”

Sou de chèz

Translation : On two chairs

Meaning : In detail, in depth.

Chape poul

Translation : Escape his chicken

Meaning : To escape or flee.

Al bwa chat

Translation : Become a wooden cat

Meaning : To die (because a dead cat is often stiff like wood)

Ale nan peyi san chapo

Translation : Go to the country without hats

Meaning : To die.

Achte figi

Translation : Buy the face

Meaning : Flatter someone, try to have someone’s favors.

Met dlo nan diven

Translation : Put water in his wine

Meaning : To calm down, to not make a big deal out of a situation.

Pran nan twa wa

Translation : Take on three kings

Meaning : Being in trouble, having problems, being in a stalemate.

Pran fil

Translation : Take the lead

Meaning : Succeed, become popular.

Rache zeb anba pye

Translation : Cut the grass under the foot

Meaning : Prevent someone from succeeding.

Tet neg

Translation : Head of man

Meaning : Something expensive.

Bat laponyet

Translation : Beat the wrist

Meaning : Male “solitary pleasure”

Ret nan wol ou

Translation : Stay in your role

Meaning : Take care of your own things.

Li Pa gen nen nan figi li

Translation : He does not have a nose to his face

Meaning : An naive person

W ap voye flè

Translation : You send flowers

Meaning : You say silly things, you’re not serious about what you’re saying.

Ti Mari p ap monte, Ti Mari p ap desann

Translation : Little Marie will not go up, little Marie will not come down

Meaning : Things will stay the same.

Abraham di sètase

Translation : Abraham says it’s enough

Meaning : Enough is enough, I have enough

Pwoblèm p ap fini

Translation : The problems will not end

Meaning : To say when problems seem to accumulate.

Ban m zorey mwen

Translation : Give me my ear

Meaning : (Exclamation) Be quiet! Shut up!

Tann jis nou tounen pwa tann

Translation : Wait until you get some beans

Meaning : Wait a long time.

Yon vyewo li ye wi

Translation : This is an old man

Meaning : He’s a “know-it-all”, he’s a person with experience.

Mande mwen yon ti kou ankò ma di ou

Translation : Ask me a little later and I’ll tell you

Meaning : Usually, it means “I don’t know,” in response to an impossible question.

M ap degaje mwen kom Mèt Jean-Jacques

Translation : I’ll get out of it like master Jean-Jacques

Meaning : I will do my best to get out of it.