Trinidad Folklore Douen

Trini Folklore: Douen

  • Douen, Duende, Douaine, Doune, Dwen, Duegne (n): A Folklore character, the spirit of a child who died before baptism.  Douens wear large hats, have backwards-pointing feet, utter a soft hooting cry, and often lead children to wander off.  <Spanish duende ‘goblin’>
    • Nex’ ting you know douen hauntin’ TTT, an’ we seein’ all dem programmes runnin’ backwards instead of upside-down as dey does run sometimes. (Keens-Douglas 1984:3)


I remember growing up in Mayaro and my grand father Papa John telling us grand kids stories about the creatures of the night. This was a simple but useful tactic used by adults to keep children in their place and from wandering the streets at night.

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Source: Dictionary of the English/Creole of Trinidad & Tobago by Lise Winer

Featured Image by KongQueror.

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Trinidad folklore Papa Bois

Trini Folklore: Papa Bois

  • Papa Bois (n):  A folklore character, usually depicted as having a man’s head, chest and arms, with goat-horns on the head, and the lower body of a goat or similar animal. He is the protector of animals in the forests and can change himself into animal forms to lead hunters away. <French Creole Papa ‘father’ + French Bois ‘woods; forest’>
    • The African legend of Papa Bois mixing with the European tales of werewolves – our lou’ gahou’ the Anansi stories of the Ashanti people of the Gold Coast.

Trini Folklore: Soucouyant

  • Soucouyant (n): A person, usually an old woman, who sheds her skin, travels as a ball of fire and sucks people’s blood, leaving a blue mark. Soucouyans, have an unnatural and indelicate propensity for casting off their skin, which they usually conceal in or under a chocolate mortar.  There are two plans: one is to sprinkle salt upon the cast off skin, should you meet it (there’s the rub); or when you are expecting a visit from the ‘thing,’ strew the floor around your bed with rice.  This the Soucouyan, by some mysterious law, will be compelled to pick up grain by grain, thereby affording you an opportunity for slaying or otherwise disposing of the monstrosity.
    • Yesterday day night soucouyant suck me farder…On he leg an he han. It was looking blue blue.

Leave us a comment below of Trini phrases you have heard.

Source: Dictionary of the English/Creole of Trinidad & Tobago by Lise Winer

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La Jahbess from Trinidad folklore

Trini Folklore: La Jabless

  • Lajablesse, La Jabless, La Diablesse (n):  A folklore character, a beautiful woman in a long dress who has one foot like a cow’s; she entices men astray at night in the forest or on lonely roads.  < French la ‘the’ + diablesse ‘female devil’>
    • [The] diabless…is a she-devil, one of whose foot end in a cloven hoof, who frequents cemeteries and crossroads….she is particularly fond of attending belle air dances, and after the festivities, young males would make advanced to her and she would encourage her victim to follow her home….then as she leads him to a precipice she would suddenly transform herself into a huge hog…If however, the young swain knows the ropes he would pick two sticks and make a cross at which time she would also disappear.

Leave us a comment below of Trini phrases you have heard.

Source: Dictionary of the English/Creole of Trinidad & Tobago by Lise Winer

Featured Image by KongQueror.