Officially, the language of the dual-island nation of Trinidad and Tobago is English. But when it comes to everyday conversations on these two Caribbean islands, most people use an English-based creole that the locals call Trini. Trini speakers tend to shorten their sentences by getting rid of excess words to go straight to the point — they also speak at lightning speed! And, of course, like in every language worth its salt, Trini sayings, slang, and idioms have developed with time to make life a little more fun and colorful.
Below is a list of 19 Trini sayings and phrases we use all the time in Trinidad and Tobago. Whether you’re an out-of-towner who wants to understand the locals better or an expatriated Trinidadian or Tobagonian who is nostalgic for the language of their homeland, these Trinidadian sayings are sure to make you laugh.
Trini sayings that are all about food and eating
Better belly buss than good food waste
Trinis love to eat so much that they prefer to stuff themselves than throw out perfectly edible food.
Every bread have a cheese
Even the ugliest or most unattractive person is bound to find a soul mate.
Yuh cyah make love on hungry belly
Love doesn’t put food on the table. Before getting into a serious relationship or marriage, both partners should have money in the bank.
What sweet in goat mouth sour in he bam bam
Eating something that tastes great but then gives you a bad case of diarrhea is like doing something bad that feels good and facing the dire consequences afterwards.
To boil down like bhaji
Bhaji is a type of spinach found in Trinidad and Tobago that shrinks considerably when it’s cooked so the saying means to cool down abruptly after being explosively angry.
Trini phrases about watching out for the bad kind of people
All skin teeth eh laugh
When someone smiles at you, it doesn’t mean that that person is your friend or someone you can trust.
Cockroach have no right in fowl party
What happens if a cockroach enters a fowl coop? It gets eaten. In the same way, a person shouldn’t go where they are not wanted, especially if they’re not of a particular social class.
Higher monkey climb, the more he show he ass
The higher some people climb up the social ladder, the more ridiculous their behavior becomes.
Monkey know which tree to climb
People know exactly who to manipulate and who to take advantage of.
Playing dead to ketch corbeau alive.
In Trinidad and Tobago, a vulture is called a corbeau. If you pretend to be dead for a corbeau, it’s like pretending to be ignorant to catch someone in the act. It can also be used to refer to a person who pretends to be someone they are not.
Trinidadian sayings about behaviors and relationships
Yuh cyah play mas if yuh fraid powder
During Carnival, masqueraders dressed as sailors throw baby powder on spectators and other unsuspecting people in the band. This saying means not to get involved in something controversial if you can’t handle criticism.
When yuh neighbor house on fire, wet yours.
Don’t think that what happened to someone else will not happen to you. Take precautions and learn from other people’s mistakes.
When de mark buss
People say this when secrets are exposed and become public knowledge.
Crapaud smoke yuh pipe
When Kermit’s uncle smokes your pipe, you know you’re in big trouble.
Take in front before in front take yuh
To quickly ‘fess up when you do something wrong to avoid worse consequences.
Dog doh make cat
Children will behave just like their parents.
Funny Trini sayings
Yuh fadder is a glassmaker or wha?
This is what you say when someone blocks your view when you’re watching TV or an important cricket match.
I wasn’t invited to the wedding so doh invite me to the funeral
A bitter remark used by someone who feels slighted. They weren’t invited during the good times so don’t expect them to come to your rescue during the bad times.
Any time is Trinidad time
Commonly used as an excuse by Trinis who are late to a party or to the office.