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.
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.
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.
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.
Translation : Take the lead
Meaning : Succeed, become popular.
Rache zeb anba pye
Translation : Cut the grass under the foot
Meaning : Prevent someone from succeeding.
Translation : Head of man
Meaning : Something expensive.
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.