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For Laughs - Dutch Fun Phrases

Basic Phrases - Conversations: Words / Phrases - Sayings - Weather - Food and Drink - Words

Dutchmen will not expect the words and phrases on this page from a foreigner, so it may cause merriment. But:
Lachen is gezond click to hear 2 [to laugh is healthy] laughter is good for your health (de) kwinkslag click to hear funny remark
We hadden ouderwets plezier click to hear 2 3 We had (good) old-fashioned fun, we had fun like in the old days (looking back to when we thought things were less bleak and complicated) Vroeger was alles beter click to hear 'Everything was better in the past' "Vroeger was geluk heel gewoon" click to hear 2 'Happiness used to be quite common, happiness was nothing special in the past'

"grapje!" click to hear 2 - just kidding! just joking!
"foutje!" click to hear 2 3 - Oops! I made a mistake

For 'lunch,' most people in Holland will use the English word.
If it's a hot meal, you could say middageten click to hear ('afternoon meal.')
For laughs, you could use the almost Medieval word het noenmaal click to hear ('the noon meal') - no Dutchman would say that, but it will be understood. (It's a standard example at school, a word that's similar to the English word but that disappeared from Dutch.)

In a restaurant, (de) spijskaart click to hear is an old-fashioned word for the bill of fare. The modern word is (het) menu click to hear
Asking for the bill in a restaurant, you could say:
Hoeveel is de schade? click to hear which is literally,
'what's the damage?' like, 'How far does that set me back?'
The correct phrase is Mag ik de rekening? click to hear 2 3 ('Can I have the bill, please.)

Zullen we de zitting opheffen? click to hear 2 'Shall we terminate the session?'
- bureaucratic phrase, but also said to end a sit-down meal

A fun word for piepschuim click to hear ('squeak-foam' = polystyrene, styrofoam) is polypiep click to hear ('poly-squeak')

The small 'Do Not Eat' paper packets that you find for instance in shoe boxes contain a drying agent that has almost the same name in Dutch as in English: silicagel click to hear - but in Dutch it's often humorously mispronounced as silikachel click to hear 2 (Dutch (de) kachel click to hear is a stove, a heater.)

Ben je van de trap gevallen? click to hear 2 ('Did you fall down the stairs?') - asked of a person who has had a radical haircut. Kort koppie! click to hear 2 ('short hair')

A common deli meat ('sandwich filling'?) is the cervelaatworst click to hear - a kind of mild salami. The name is often corrupted to the soundalike sterf-op-straat worst click to hear 2 3 - literally: 'die-in-the-street' sausage

Om 't af te leren click to hear 2 3 - 'to unlearn it' - said in jest when taking one more drink or unwholesome snack - 'to break the habit'

[some pieces of styrofoam, polystyrene]
polypiep click to hear
[me with a short haircut]
Ben je van de trap gevallen? click to hear 2
[a mild salami]
sterf-op-straat worst click to hear 2 3

An extremely formal way of asking someone's name is:
Met wie heb ik het genoegen? click to hear
('Who is it that I have the pleasure [to meet]')

A polite way to ask if you have met someone before is:
Kan het zijn dat ik U ken? click to hear
(['Could it be that I know you?] - have we met before?')
If you're very brave you could try the 'uneducated' version:
Ken 't zijn dat ik U kan? click to hear (A and E are switched)
For a previous generation, these phrases were part of a joke about the low level of education of the collaborators with the Germans in WWII:
Before the War, mayors would say to each other on meeting 'Kan het zijn dat ik U ken?' - but during the War, mayors would say: 'Ken 't zijn dat ik U kan?'

An extremely formal phrase for offering someone a drink is:
Mag ik U een verfrissing aanbieden? click to hear
('May I offer you a refreshment?') - but it's more often said in jest, when opening a window or door in a stuffy room.

For 'excuse me' we usually say the French-derived pardon click to hear but there's also the more formal, elaborate Neemt U mij niet kwalijk click to hear 2
To apologize for a minor mistake, use the English sorry click to hear - note the Dutch R in how I say it
or: Het spijt me click to hear 2 ('I am sorry')

Referring to yourself, like for instance when naming the members of your team, you could say
ondergetekende click to hear 2 - literally, 'the undersigned' but very much like some people say in English 'Yours Truly.'
Even funnier but more daring is: Ik, zei de gek click to hear 2 3 ("Me, the crazy man said")
Describing People

Riding a tandem bicycle in Holland, I would often get the same comment, like:
Die achterop doet er niks aan click to hear 2 3 ('The one in back is [not doing anything about it] not helping.') But one time a guy had a comment I thought really funny:
Heb je alweer een andere vrouw? click to hear 2 3 ('Again another woman?') - very limited use of course.

[a picture of me on a tandem bicycle, waiting under a sign  
    'No Tandem Parking'] [Every Day I'm Shufflin']

Having a hand in your pocket doesn't look good. A jokey comment could be:
Die man gaat verhuizen click to hear 2 ('That guy is going to move [house]')
Hij heeft z'n hand al ingepakt click to hear ('He's already packed his hand')
In speaking, hij heeft is sometimes run together as hijft:
'Hijft' z'n hand al ingepakt click to hear 2 3

dinges click to hear - used when you don't know the word for a thing or the name of a person

Welkom in mijn nederige stulp click to hear 2 ('welcome to my humble dwelling')

(het) rotklusje click to hear 2 ('a miserable small piece of work to do')
(de) krullenbol click to hear 2 ('Curly') - the N is very, very faint
belachelijk click to hear 2 ('ridiculous')
(de) lastpost click to hear ('a person who is a nuisance, a pain in the neck')
(de) snotneus click to hear 2 3 (4) [snotty nose] 'whippersnapper' a guy too young for his position
- See also: Describing People

(Het) ros click to hear (related to 'horse') is a bit old-fashioned, meaning 'trusted but aging horse.' Jocularly, you could refer to a solid bicycle as your ijzeren ros click to hear.

In an office, it may be funny to (occasionally) say Nou, welterusten click to hear 2 ('sleep well - happy dreams') when you meet colleagues before you go to your desk, or to ask Heb je lekker geslapen? click to hear 2 ('did you sleep well?') later in the day.

In modern Dutch, schoon click to hear means 'clean,' but in older Dutch it meant 'beautiful' and it still has that meaning in the South of The Netherlands and in Belgium. (De) schoonheid click to hear 2 kept the older meaning and is still 'beauty.'
So it's kind of funny to say Hallo schoonheid click to hear 2 3 'hello clean-beauty' to a partner emerging from the shower

When you enter a shop, café or public office and don't see any staff around for service like taking your order or answering your questions, you can call out "volluk!" click to hear 2 3 ('volk' - 'people.') The proper pronunciation of (het) volk click to hear 2 ('people, nation') doesn't have a second syllable.

Een woordenboek is een leugenboek click to hear A [words-book] dictionary is a book fulll of lies

A fun expression of amazement:
Nou breekt m'n klomp. click to hear ('That takes the cake/biscuit.' - Literally:
'Now that breaks my clog, Now that makes my wooden shoe fall apart.')
Other mild expressions of amazement:
Grote grutten click to hear 2 (something like 'good grief!')
alsjemenou click to hear 2 (something like 'holy cow!')
Lieve hemel! click to hear ('good heavens!')
Goeje gunst! click to hear 2 ('good grief!')
Ook dat nog! click to hear 2 ('another problem!')

Very mild curses, no-one should be offended by them:
Deksels! click to hear 'lids of pots & pans.'
Drommels! click to hear - I guess it has to do with donder click to hear ('thunder.')
Bliksems click to hear 2 3 ('bolts of lightning.')
Verrek! click to hear 2 3 (from verrekken click to hear 2 3 'to overstretch' - thank you Maria Anzaldua for reminding me)
Jeetje! click to hear 2 3 Jeez! (a bit childish.)
mild disappointment: click to hear heg click to hear
mild surprise: Gôh click to hear 2
See also: Dutch Accent for the Stage

Ik ben een eenvoudig iemand. click to hear ("I'm a plain and simple man (or woman)" - iemand click to hear is 'a person,' man or woman)
een gewone jongen click to hear ('a regular guy')

Ik heb al verkering click to hear ('I am already in a steady relationship' - said as an excuse for not caring much about your appearance, not spending money on a stylish haircut or fashionable clothes.)

Je kunt niet alles weten. click to hear 2 ('[You can't] It is not possible to know everything.')

't Blijft tobben. click to hear ('There's always something, things never go entirely right.')
When you're not feeling great, you could answer the question
Hoe gaat 't? click to hear ('How are you?') with belabberd click to hear 2 ('pretty bad, miserable') - or:
Men sleept zich voort click to hear 2 3 ('Struggling ... just hanging in there')

Vrijheid blijheid click to hear 2 ('Freedom brings along happiness')

De bliksem is zeker ingeslagen click to hear 2 3 ('lightning must have hit' - said when a traffic light takes long to change)

Rij jij of rij ik? click to hear 2 3 ('Are you driving or am I driving?' - said by the driver when passengers ('backseat drivers') criticize his driving)

Alle gekheid op een stokje click to hear 2 ('[All the silliness on a stick] - joking aside,' now let's stop the joking and get down to business.)

flauwekul! click to hear 2 ('nonsense!') - kletskoek! click to hear 2 3 ('nonsense!' [chat-cake, something thought up by a chatterbox])
Wat een onzin! click to hear 2 ('such nonsense!')
't Is allemaal onzin! click to hear 2 (['It's all nonsense'] - 'it's pure nonsense')
Zwammen click to hear is 'to talk nonsense' - hij zit te zwammen click to hear ('he's talking nonsense')

grappenmaker click to hear ('maker of jokes, joker') - praatjesmaker click to hear ('talker, bigmouth')

'Brommen' click to hear 2 usually means something like 'to growl' or 'to grumble' though it can also mean 'to ride a small motorcycle' (brommer click to hear 2 / bromfiets click to hear 2) and it's a slang word for 'doing time in prison.'
'Wat ik je brom' click to hear 2 is something Dutchmen can say in conclusion of a statement about how an event or situation will develop or what's behind a mystery, like 'It will happen or turn out as I said, I will be right.' It would be funny to hear the Dutch phrase from a foreign speaker.

Daar kun je donder op zeggen! click to hear 2 3 It will be like that, Absolutely! (That statement is absolutely correct)

'Ik ga liever gewoon dood' click to hear 2 3 4
'I'd rather die in the regular way'
- said when mock-protesting or trying to refuse something slightly risky, but more commonly commenting on an unpleasant task or given food you really don't like

More serious conversation lines and Sayings and Idiom

[a lizard]
hagedis click to hear (lizard) /or/ salamander click to hear (salamander)

Mild Slang

nassen click to hear 2 ('to eat') - I think it's only used in the infinitive.
Is er wat te nassen? click to hear ('Is there something [good] to eat?')
(American English has 'to nosh' from Yiddish - but it is from a German, not a Hebrew root.)

matten click to hear 2 ('to fight,' like a fistfight) - also only used in the infinitive.
matten met de politie click to hear ('fighting with the police')

't Most niet magge click to hear 2 ('[it shouldn't be allowed] it's an outrage, how does the Lord allow?' - humorous)
In more proper Dutch it would be something like " 't Zou niet moeten mogen," but nobody says that.

Je hebt z'n rooie kop click to hear 2 3 ['you have such a red head'] 'you're red in the face' (usually from exercise or the sun)

mokkel click to hear 2 ('an attractive young woman,' like a trophy wife)
stuk click to hear 2 ('an attractive young woman') - plural: stukken click to hear
minkukel click to hear ('a jerk') - flapdrol click to hear ('[flopping turd] - a ridiculous person, male')
oen click to hear 2 ('a stupid guy, a person who habitually acts in a stupid way') - hij is een oen click to hear ('he is stupid.')
kwibus click to hear ('a weird, idiosyncratic person') - 'n rare kwibus click to hear 2
mafkees click to hear ('a guy deliberately behaving in an odd way, a goofball')

Dat lust ik niet click to hear or, talking rough, drop T's: da lus' ik nie click to hear
('I don't like the taste of that, I don't want to eat it') - but even properly pronounced it's not a polite thing to say.

een bakje troost click to hear 2 ('a cup of coffee' - "Joe") - 'n bakkie troost click to hear 2
Proper Dutch is een kopje koffie click to hear - suiker click to hear ('sugar') - melk click to hear ('cream') - slagroom click to hear ('whipped cream') >>

sjiek (chique) click to hear 2 ('classy') - een sjieke tent click to hear ('a classy, expensive restaurant') - regular Dutch: een duur restaurant click to hear 2

Je ouwelui click to hear 2 ['your olds folks'] 'your parents'

(De) mop click to hear 2 / (het) mopje click to hear - 'joke,' a funny, very short story told for laughs
(De) grap click to hear / (het) grapje click to hear 2 3 - 'joke' (both told and practical)
1-april grap click to hear 2 3 April 1st joke
grappig click to hear 2 3 (grappig / grappige click to hear) - 'entertaining, funny,' makes you laugh or smile
(De) grappenmaker click to hear / (de) grapjas click to hear 2 - 'joker'
geestig click to hear 2 - 'witty,' clever and funny
geestig iemand click to hear 2 - witty person - een geestig iemand click to hear - a witty person
(De) humor click to hear 2 - 'humor'
komisch click to hear 2 (komisch / komische click to hear) - 'comical'
See also: lachen click to hear 2 'to laugh'

Hij vertelde ons snel een paar mopjes click to hear 2 He quickly told us a few jokes
Wie weet er nog een mop? click to hear [Who knows a joke?] Anybody has a joke to tell?
Wie weet er nòg een mop? click to hear 2 Who still [knows] has another joke to tell? (people have been telling jokes for a while)
Een mopje dat ik kan begrijpen click to hear 2 3 A joke that I can understand
Je vindt mijn mopjes niet leuk click to hear 2 3 You don't like my jokes
Niemand lachte om mijn mopjes/grapjes click to hear 2 3 4 5 Nobody laughed at my jokes - more lachen
Daar kun je geen grapjes over maken click to hear 2 3 [You can make no jokes ...] - You can't joke about that
Hij probeert grappig te zijn click to hear 2 He's trying to be funny (and failing)
't Hoeft niet grappig te zijn click to hear 2 3 4 It doesn't have to be funny
Dat is grappig click to hear 2 3 That's funny

(Het) zweet click to hear 2 'sweat' - zweten click to hear 2 ('to sweat') - zweterig click to hear 'sweaty.' My mother always said not to use those words but say instead: transpireren click to hear ('to sweat') and (de) transpiratie click to hear 2 ('sweat.')
Je bent bezweet click to hear 2 You are sweaty
Je hebt gezweet click to hear 2 [You have sweated] - You worked up a sweat, you have made an effort, exerted yourself
In het zweet des aanschijns ... click to hear 2 3 ['By the sweat of your brow' (Genesis 3:19) - 'In the sweat on your face'] - With sweat on your face (you'll have to work hard)

De hele santekraam click to hear 'the whole shebang'

in 'n zucht en 'n scheet click to hear 2 ['in a sigh and a fart'] - without paying much attention, without much effort

See and hear also Hebrew and Yiddish Words in Dutch

[I'm smiling]
ik glimlach click to hear
[I'm laughing]
ik lach click to hear

More Phrases:
The Most Basic Phrases - Weather - Food and Drink - Travel - Sleep - Various

Time - Life - Change

Jobs and Lines of Work - The Senses - Using Words - 'What I Want' - Speaking Dutch, Speaking about Dutch - Sayings and Idiom

Further Study:
Basic Dutch Words - Pictures Dictionary - Easy Dutch - Lessons - Pronunciation - Listening - Reading - Grammar

email - Copyright © Marco Schuffelen 2008. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, redistributed, or hotlinked to.
Don't be a dief (thief) / dievegge (female thief) - diefstal (theft) - stelen (to steal) - heler (dealer in stolen goods) - hear Dutch - 2