Community Post: 29 African-American Proverbs That You Grew Up Hearing

This hilarious Tumblr reminds us of the words we lived by.

1. “I am blessed and highly favored.”

NBC / Via

Used to signify that the Lord has been very good to you.

2. “Girl, hold on…”

NBC / Via

Proverb indicating someone is about to get a tongue lashing or ass whooping.

3. “I’m a little sick, so bear with me as I sing this song…”

Generally said before someone takes the mic and sings like Aretha.

4. “You got ____ money?”

NBC / Via

Also see: “You got McDonald’s money?” or “You got gas money?” or “Let me hold $20 real quick.”

5. “It’s about that time…”

Used to politely tell someone to get the fuck out of your house, apartment, room, presence, etc.

6. “No shade, but…”

Used in a way so that you can say something offensive to someone without getting called out for. Similar to “No offense.”

7. “Now, if you knew that homework like you know those song lyrics, you would get straight A’s.”


Used by parents when you come home with anything other than A’s.

8. “Girl, have several seats.”

Proverb synonymous with “please stop.”

9. “You better go on somewhere with that!”


Also see: “I ain’t here for that.”

10. “So that’s how you gonna do me?”


Usually followed by an “all right, then, be like that” or “I see how you are.”

11. “Swerve.”

NBC / Via

Also see: “Money talks, bullshit walks.”

12. “Black don’t crack, and brown don’t frown.”


See: Tina Turner, Stacey Dash, Halle Berry, Will and Jada Smith, Denzel Washington, Cicely Tyson, Nia Long, Angela Basset, etc.

13. “Where they do that at?”

Typical response to something unfamiliar.

14. “This ain’t that.”

Proverb informing you that a) your grasp of the situation at hand is false, or b) the speaker does not approve of the situation in question.

15. “What y’all cooking/eating over there?”

Usually said by a freeloading family member or close friend that loves to eat.

16. “Man, you play too much!”


Usually said when the joke has been taken way too far.

17. “LAWD! Here he go!”

Used when someone comes spouting the same old nonsense or acting like a fool like they usually do.

18. “All shut eyes ain’t sleep.”

Just because someone is or appears to be sleeping (literally or figuratively) doesn’t mean they’ve stopped listening or paying attention to what’s going around them.

19. “You better eat while we’re here, ‘cause I’m not cooking when we get home.”

NBC / Via

Common saying among black parents at social gatherings, e.g., barbecues, picnics, church functions.

20. “You stay mad.”


You are constantly irritated by things that should not be irritating you. Relax.

21. “Lemme holla at you for a minute!”

The pickup line heard around the world.

22. “I love me some big/fat Luther.”


Usually said by an older African-American woman in reference to the late Luther Vandross.

23. “Hell yeah, it’s real. Real expensive.”

Also see: “It cost way too damn much.”

24. “That ain’t nothing but the devil.”

NBC / Via

Usually meant to discredit negative diagnoses, verdicts, gossip, new technology, or music/other forms of entertainment considered distasteful.

25. “Don’t do me!”


Often said after an attempt or attempts to make a joke and/or provoke someone with something they may be sensitive about.

26. “You like it, I love it.”


A statement used to describe acceptance of one’s life choices.

27. “Get your life!”

NBC / Via

Contextual. See: “Check yourself before you wreck yourself” or “YASSSSSSSSSSSSSS!”

28. “You’re tryin’ it.”

Also see: “She’s going for it.”

29. “We family.”

NBC / Via

Proverb indicating a bond that can’t be broken.

Check out the African-American Proverb Tumblr for more!

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