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Learning Dutch?
Now is the Best Time
Program 3
Hear Names
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Table of Contents
Describing People
Historical Quotes
Jobs, Work, Labor
Things People Say
Nonsense Statements
Words of Wisdom
Advice, Counsel,
Recommendations, Commands
Marco's Choice

Dutch Sayings and Standard Phrases

(Het) spreekwoord click to hear 2 - (de) uitdrukking click to hear 2 - (het) gezegde click to hear 'saying, standard phrase, proverb, idiom'
- 'gezegde' may also mean 'the predicate,' what is said in a sentence about the subject - hear Dutch grammar terms
standaarduitdrukkingen click to hear 2 standard, stock phrases

Scattered over my website is a large number of Dutch lines and phrases. Frederick Roberts of Lincoln, England suggested to bring together on one page the sayings and stock expressions, the phrases that often go beyond their literal meaning. These are the kind of lines that often come out funny in computer translations.

Most of these sayings are not basic conversation phrases. This is not a good page to start Learning Dutch - Program 3. But I do hope that those interested in the Dutch language will enjoy reading through the page, hearing the Dutch phrases and seeing what they mean. For a better understanding of the language, I provided the literal translation of some of the expressions.
This is also a good page to train your hearing, when you can understand written Dutch but have difficulty with spoken Dutch.
Maybe you'll someday impress your Dutch friends with an appropriate quote. Prêt à parler?

Of course the more than 250 sayings on this page are only a fraction of the many Dutch sayings - I will keep adding new phrases.

Some explanations of the sayings were found in Stoett Nederlandse Spreekwoorden en Gezegden (W.J. Thieme & Cie, Zutphen 1981)
Chris from Yorkshire suggested some of the English equivalents of the sayings.
Margreet Hirs told me the meaning of a saying and gave an explanation for it.

More Phrases: Basic - Older Versions: 1 - 2 (no complete overlap) - Speaking Dutch, Speaking about Dutch
Weather - Food and Drink - Sleep - Travel - The Senses
Jobs and Lines of Work - Time - Dutch Fun Phrases
Using Words - Likes and Loves
- The Small Change of Conversation
- Meet and Greet
- Commenting on Statements and Opinions
- Ziek - Talking about Not Feeling Well
- Talking about Time
- Chance, Luck, Outcomes and Risk
- Why? - Because - The Reason - Cause & Effect
- Expectations and What Happens
Conversations Template
Thesaurus Pages:  Time - Life - Change
The Alliterations Page also has many Dutch Phrases, nice to read and hear, but of a more limited use than the material on this page.

It is a long page - it may be better to read the page in installments, one or two chapters a day, not in one go. The table of contents links to the chapters, for your convenience when you return.

Describing People

Jan Jansen click to hear 'John Doe' - seen as the most common first and last names
Jan en Alleman click to hear 2 ['John and Everybody'] - 'Everybody' (somewhat negative)
Jan met de pet click to hear 2 ['John with the cap'] 'the man in the street' also:  de gewone man click to hear 2 3 'the common man'
De opstand van de gewone mensen click to hear 2 3 4 The uprising, revolt of the common people
Jan Salie click to hear 2 a person without initiative or energy - old-fashioned (salie = sage, a mild herb)
Jan Rap en z'n maat click to hear ['John "Wastewood" and his comrade'] 'Bad people, punks'
also: Tuig van de richel click to hear 2 'Bad people, scum'
Slapjanus click to hear a weak, cowardly person

Saaie Piet click to hear a bore
Zeurpiet click to hear a person who nags a lot, complains about everything
Zit niet zo te zeuren click to hear 2 'Now stop that nagging' Pietje-precies click to hear a person who pays much attention to details and perfection

Brave Hendrik click to hear 2 also: Een brave borst click to hear 2 'an obedient, harmless person' - said of husbands and men in general, and good dogs are also called 'braaf'
Brave hond! click to hear 2 3
Dutch braaf click to hear 2 / brave click to hear 2 (braaf / brave click to hear 2 3) is a false friend - it does NOT mean 'courageous' like in English.

Ware Jacob click to hear 2 'True, real Jacob' - 'Mr. Right'

Jarige Job click to hear the birthday boy
Jarige Jet click to hear the birthday girl - Dutch Birthday

Smeerkees click to hear 2 a person who carelessly gets dirty doing a job
also:  Smeerpoets click to hear 2 3 a generally dirty, unclean person
Mafkees click to hear a guy deliberately behaving in an odd way, a goofball

Ongelovige Thomas click to hear a disbelieving Thomas, a person of small faith (from John 20:28)

Vrolijke Frans click to hear 'Jolly Francis' - a cheerful person

Razende Roeltje click to hear 'Roaring Roland' - a very energetic, quick person

Magere Hein click to hear 'Skinny Henry' - the Grim Reaper

Klaas Vaak click to hear 2 The Sandman
Houten Klaas click to hear 'Wooden Charles' - an awkward person
Jan Klaassen en Katrijn click to hear 'Punch and Judy'
(de) poppenkast click to hear 'a Punch and Judy show'

nieuwsgierig Aagje click to hear A curious, inquisitive young girl

(de) lastpost click to hear slow  /  (het) lastpak click to hear 2 3 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
(het) broekje click to hear small pants // ladies' underpants // whippersnapper - young man without experience
(de) wijsneus click to hear 2 a person who thinks he's wise and intelligent (but who is not)
(de) minkukel click to hear a jerk
(het) misbaksel click to hear 2 3 [mis-bake] - miscreant
(het) mispunt click to hear 2 3 unpleasant person
(de) gehaktbal click to hear 2 3 is the real '(ground) meat ball' ‑>>
but 'een bal gehakt' click to hear is usually 'an unpleasant person,' somewhat like English 'meatball'
Similarly,  'een zak patat' click to hear is literally 'a bag of French fries' but it usually means 'an unpleasant person'
(de) domoor click to hear 2 3 stupid person (usually said to children)
('de' - an exception to the rule that the last part of a compound word determines  de/het)
(de) sufferd click to hear 2 a not very bright person, a muddlehead
(de) flapdrol click to hear [flopping turd] - a ridiculous person, male
(de) 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
(de) kwibus click to hear a weird, idiosyncratic person
- 'n rare kwibus click to hear 2
(de) nietsnut click to hear 2 a good-for-nothing, useless person
(de) slijmbal click to hear 2 3 'a slippery person trying to come into your favor by sweet-talking'
(de) gladjakker click to hear smooth talker who tells you what you want to hear
(de) slome duikelaar click to hear 2 ( 3 4 ) [turgid dreidel] a dull, boring, low-energy person
(de) ongelikte beer click to hear 2 ['unlicked bear'] a rude person, no manners
(de) onverlaat click to hear 2 miscreant, a person breaking laws or rules

(het) lachebekje click to hear 2 a person, usually a girl, with a quick laugh
(een) geestig iemand click to hear 2 3 a witty person, making clever jokes
(de) laatbloeier click to hear late-flowering plant - also said of people who only reach their full potential later in life
(de) huilebalk click to hear 2 3 crybaby
(de) pretletter click to hear 2 3 a cheerful, happy small child

Ze is niet op haar mondje gevallen click to hear 2 3
Hij is niet op z'n mondje gevallen click to hear 2 3 4 ['She/He didn't fall on his mouth']
They never hesitate to speak up, they're not shy to speak their mind
(It's more commonly said about females than about males)

Praten als Brugman click to hear 2 3 ['to speak like Brugman'] - speaking in very convincing way
Brugman click to hear 2 was an early 16th Century catholic monk and preacher

Hij zit te zwammen click to hear He's talking nonsense Hij is in een slecht humeur click to hear He is in a bad mood Hij is in de war click to hear slow He is very confused

Hij is van slag click to hear 2 'He's not his usual self' - also said of clocks that are not running properly De kippen zijn van de leg click to hear 'The chickens are not laying eggs regularly' van de kook click to hear 2 3 ['off the boil' - no longer boiling] - confused, not his/her usual self

Hij bakt ze bruin click to hear ['He's baking them brown'] - He's going to extremes, he's behaving badly

Hij neemt geen blad voor de mond click to hear 2 3 ['He doesn't put a leaf in front of his mouth'] He speaks his mind freely, doesn't mince his words

Hij heeft vaker met dat bijltje gehakt click to hear 2 3 ['he has wielded that (little) axe before'] - 'He has done that before, he has the experience' (usually in a somewhat unpleasant task)

Hij is van alle markten thuis click to hear 2 ['He's at home in all markets'] - said of a versatile, practical person

Hij is 't zonnetje in huis click to hear 2 3 4 He is the cheerful one in the house, trying to brighten everyone's life

Hij kent z'n Pappenheimers click to hear 2 'He knows the people he's dealing with'
I used to think 'Pappenheimers' were a type of potato (like 'Eigenheimers') but Stoett says the saying comes from the German author Schiller and refers to a regiment of soldiers from a count named Pappenheim

Hij was des duivels click to hear 2 ['He was like possessed by the devil'?] - 'He was very angry'
'Des' and the  S of  'duivels' are an old-fashioned possessive
also: Hij was razend click to hear 2 3 He was very angry

Hij laat er geen gras over groeien click to hear 2 3 ['He doesn't let (allow) grass grow over it'] - he's taking action immediately

Hij is lang van stof click to hear 2 [~'He talks at great length'] - 'His talking drags on and on'

Hij weet waar Abraham de mosterd haalt click to hear 2 'He knows where Abraham gets mustard' - said of a knowledgeable person, but it can also be said ironically of a not-too-bright person

Te dom om voor de duivel te dansen click to hear slow ['too stupid to dance for the devil'] - said of a not very bright person

Een aardje naar z'n vaartje click to hear 2 'a nature like his Dad' - he is like his Dad Hij gaat z'n vader achterna click to hear 2 3 4 He's taking after his dad, he's becoming like his dad Hij heeft 't niet van vreemden click to hear 2 3 4 5 [He doesn't have, get it from strangers] - He's like relatives, he takes after the family

Baas boven baas click to hear 2 ['boss over boss'] - 'There's always someone who can do it better' - said of someone who thinks too much of himself

Heer en meester click to hear 'Lord and master' - the ultimate authority, the person in power

Buiten z'n boekje click to hear 2 ['outside his little book'] - said of a person overstepping his authority

Anderhalve man en een paardenkop click to hear 2 ['one-and-a-half men and a horse's head'] - a disappointing turnout, low attendance, very few people present
Stoett (Nederlandse Spreekwoorden en Gezegden) says it's from
Tijl Uilenspiegel click to hear - home alone as a boy a horseman came by his house, and the horse stuck its head over the open top half of the double ('Dutch') door.

Recht door zee click to hear 2 3 [Straight through the sea] - said of a person who's honest and frank, a straight talker who doesn't sweet-talk

Een roepende in de woestijn click to hear 2 'A voice crying out in the wilderness' - from Mark 1:3, John the Baptist, a voice ignored, not heard
- in modern Dutch, (de) woestijn click to hear means 'desert'

Historical Quotes

Ik val aan - volg mij click to hear I am attacking - follow me.
Ascribed to Rear Admiral Karel Doorman click to hear at the Battle of the Java Sea, 1942, his last message - but it may have been just a flag signal

Als de dagen lengen, gaan de nachten strengen click to hear 'As the days get longer, the nights will get [stricter] more severe'
Often said when referring to Willem Barentsz, who ca. 1600 searching for the North-East Passage got stuck in the ice and wintered on Nova Zembla with his crew - they only left their shelter in June

Vreemdeling, vertel de Spartanen ... click to hear 'Stranger, tell the Spartans ...' (Thermopylae monument inscription)

Wat doe je, als je dingen ziet die niemand ooit heeft gezien? click to hear 2 'What do you do, when you see things no one has ever seen [before]?'
- something that could have been said by
Anthonie van Leeuwenhoek click to hear 2 3 4 - 17th Century Dutch scientist, inventor of the microscope ‑>>

Al wat groeit en bloeit en ons telkens weer boeit click to hear 2 All things that grow and flower and fascinate us time and again
title of the nature segment of a popular radio program by Dr. Fop I. Brouwer
boeien click to hear 2 is literally 'to shackle, to handcuff,' but often means 'to captivate, to be fascinating'
Het boeide me niet click to hear 'It was not really interesting, I was bored by it'

Beter langharig dan kortzichtig! click to hear 2 'Better long-haired than short-sighted'
Sixties slogan protesting school principals ordering long-haired boys to get a haircut

Dit is gekkenwerk! click to hear 2 3 4 'This is a crazy way of doing things'
said by  Freule Wttewaal van Stoetwegen click to hear during a chaotic session of the Dutch House of Representatives

Alles sal reg kom click to hear (South African) 'Everything will [turn out to be] be OK'
Ascribed to South-African General De Wet (Generaal De Wet click to hear 2)


Een appeltje voor de dorst click to hear 2 ['a small apple for the thirst'] - a nest egg, money put away for bad times

De kost gaat voor de baat uit click to hear 2 Cost comes before profit - first, you need to invest
I used to think this expression meant that when considering a cure, cost is the most important criterium, Dutch frugality, and I used to put the stress in a different place click to hear

't Mag geen geld kosten click to hear ['It can't cost any money'] - It cannot have a significant cost, we don't want to pay serious money for it.

Daar kun je je geen buil aan vallen click to hear
Je kunt je d'r geen buil aan vallen click to hear
['You're not going to fall and get a bump'] 'it's not a significant amount of money' - often said to people who are deliberating about a small expense

Zonde van 't geld click to hear 2 3 ['A pity about the money'] - 'A waste of money, something not worth the expense' Weggegooid geld click to hear 2 ['money thrown away'] - 'money wasted, pointless spending'

Er zit geen brood in click to hear ['there [sits] is no bread in it'] - 'You can't make a living from it, it doesn't generate much income'

't Is geen vetpot click to hear ['It's not a pot of grease'] - there is not much money to be made from it

De tering naar de nering zetten click to hear 'to bring spending in line with income'
By itself, (de) tering also used to mean 'tuberculosis;'
(de) spijsvertering click to hear ('food processing') 'digestion'

Van de hand in de tand leven click to hear 'Living on very little money, without a steady source of income' - 'hand to mouth'

Voor een dubbeltje op de eerste rang click to hear 2 3 4 'The best seats in the house for a dime' - said of people who expect the world for a small payment

Geen geld, geen Zwitsers click to hear 2 ['no money, no Swiss'] - lack of money means no Swiss soldiers (in European history, the Swiss were famous as mercenaries) - some things won't happen without money

Hij zit aan de grond click to hear 2 3 ['he sits, is at the ground' - 'he's stuck at the lowest level'] - 'he's down and out' - out of options because no money

Jobs, Work, Labor

Opgestroopte mouwen click to hear 2 'rolled-up sleeves'
In the rivalry between Amsterdam and Rotterdam, Rotterdam is seen as the city that works, where people work hard. It is said that when you buy a dress shirt in Rotterdam, it comes with the sleeves already rolled up

Alle begin is moeilijk click to hear 2 3 'Every start, beginning is difficult' Een goed begin is het halve werk click to hear 'A good start is half the work, with a good start you're already halfway the job' Goed gereedschap is het halve werk click to hear 2 good tools [are half the job] make a job much easier

De laatste loodjes wegen het zwaarst click to hear ['the final weights are the heaviest'] - the final stage of a job is the most difficult

De laatste hand leggen aan ... click to hear [Laying the last hand to ...] - 'Applying the final touch to ...'

Roeien met de riemen die je hebt click to hear 2 ['rowing with the oars you've got'] - 'make the best of it with the material (and people) at hand'
- another word for 'oar' is:
(de) roeispaan click to hear 2

De puntjes op de i zetten click to hear 2 "Dotting your i's (and crossing the t's)" - taking care of the final details

En klaar is Kees! click to hear ['... and Casey is done.'] - said when a job is done, a piece of work finished.

'n Fluitje van een cent click to hear 2 ['a penny whistle'] - 'a very easy piece of work, quickly done and no problem at all'

Van een leien dakje click to hear /
't Gaat van een leien dakje click to hear [Like a slate roof?] The job is going smoothly
(Maybe slate roofs were a radical improvement?)

't Geheim van de smid click to hear 2 ['the blacksmith's secret'] - a special way of doing something, a craftsman's special ability
also:   (de) slag click to hear 2 'knack'

(Not related) Aan de slag! click to hear 2 /or/ Aan 't werk! click to hear To work! Let's get started! Let's start working! More formal:  Laten we aan 't werk gaan. click to hear 2 Let's get to work, start working. -
More phrases with aan 't ‑>>

Hij gooit er met de pet naar click to hear 2 3 ['He's throwing his cap at it'] - 'He's not making a serious effort'

Op een laag pitje click to hear ['On a slow burner'] 'On the back burner' - something given low priority, not pursued vigorously

Al doende leert men click to hear 2 3 ['while doing, you learn'] - 'practice makes perfect' Jong geleerd, oud gedaan click to hear 2 3 4 ['learned young, still doing it at old age'] what's learned young will still be easy at old age

De wind in de zeilen hebben click to hear 2 '[Having] Catching the wind in the sails, going full sail' - making good progress, doing well in business 't Gaat me voor de wind click to hear 2 'It's like I have the wind in my back' - I'm doing very well (in business)

Ik werk me te pletter click to hear 2 ['I'm crushed by work'] - 'I'm working very hard' Ik werk me een ongeluk click to hear 2 3
Ik werk me 'n ongeluk click to hear 2 'I'm working ["myself an accident"] very hard'
Both expressions usually indicate a contrast, like that the hard work is no use or doesn't bring in much of an income, or that other people are taking it easy

Een handje helpen click to hear 'to give, lend a hand, to help, assist' Ik hielp hem een handje click to hear 'I gave him a hand, I helped him' But:  Een hand geven click to hear 2 'to shake hands Ik gaf hem een hand click to hear 2 'I shook hands with him'

Laat je handjes maar een wapperen click to hear 2 ['Make your (little) hands wave frantically, snap'] - Get active! Get cracking!

In de benen! click to hear 2 ['on your legs'] - Get on your feet and move, get active!

Liever lui dan moe click to hear 2 [Rather lazy than tired] - preferring not making an effort

We zullen dat varkentje wel even wassen click to hear 3 4 ['Believe me, we'll get that piglet washed'] - 'We'll take care of it, we'll fix it, we'll sure get that job done'

Hout sprokkelen click to hear 2 means 'to gather firewood in the wild' like in a forest, and it's a lot of work to get together a sufficient amount. Likewise, in a modern setting,
Bij elkaar sprokkelen click to hear 2 means a laborious gathering of small amounts or things from many places

Er zit de klad in click to hear 2 3 A problem has come up and the process is no longer advancing well

't Is voor de bakker click to hear 2 3 [It's for the baker] - It's ready, the work is done, the task is finished
The expression is from the time when common people didn't have ovens and would at home prepare goods to be baked and then bring them to a baker

Things People Say

Bij wijze van spreken click to hear 2 3 ['in a manner of speaking'] - "to use a figure of speech"

Onder ons gezegd en gezwegen ... click to hear 2 ['Spoken and silent between us'] 'Just between you and me ...'

... wat ik je brom click to hear 2 said after making a somewhat controversial statement, meaning 'it will turn out I was right about this'

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

't Is niet waar! click to hear ['It's not true!'] - ironic use, like 'You don't say!'

Maar niet heus! click to hear ['But not really'] 'NOT!'

Ik heb het met eigen ogen gezien click to hear 2 3 ['I've seen it with my own eyes'] - I witnessed it myself, personally

"Rij jij of rij ik?" click to hear 2 3 ['Are you driving or am I driving?'] - what an exasperated driver can say to passengers who criticize his or her driving.

De bliksem is zeker ingeslagen click to hear 2 3 'Lightning must have struck' - said when a traffic light takes long to change

Ga toch fietsen! click to hear 2 3 4 ['go ride a bike!'] - usually an exclamation of frustration with someone, like 'I don't believe you, stop bothering me, go take a hike'
Chris from Yorkshire suggests the British English equivalent 'On your bike!'
Wat heb ik nou aan m'n fiets hangen? click to hear 2 3 4 ['What do I have hanging on my bike, what's hanging from my bike?'] - expression of surprise at a weird, unexpected situation you find yourself in ... op die  fiets! click to hear 2 3 'oh, in  that way' gewoon doorfietsen! click to hear 2 3 'Just keep pedaling, bike on' (Eddie van Halen said, "if you make a mistake, do it twice, and smile - that way, people will think you meant to do it that way." He shared a Dutch phrase of his father's, also a musician - quoted in The Wall Street Journal)

Ben je gek geworden? click to hear 'Have you gone crazy, are you out of your mind?' Ben je helemaal gek geworden? click to hear 'Have you gone completely crazy, are you out of your mind? What's with you?'

Ben je gek! click to hear 2 3 4 'You must be kidding' - said to someone who gives a wrong (usually complicated) explanation of your actions or motivation

Ik word er gek van click to hear 'It's driving me crazy'

't Gaat je niet in de kouwe (koude) kleren zitten click to hear 2 ['It's not going to stay in your (cold) outer clothes' but will penetrate deeper] - it affects you, it has an impact on your mood

't Gaat me boven de pet click to hear 2 'It's over my [cap] head' - I don't understand it, it's too difficult for me

Breek me de bek niet open click to hear '[Don't force open my mouth] Don't get me started, I don't want to talk about it.'
- But with a strong undertone that the speaker would have a lot of negative things to say about it.

Ik weet er alles van click to hear 2 'I know all about it' - not boasting about academic knowledge but stating familiarity with misfortune and adversity.

Beter laat dan nooit click to hear 'Better late than never'

Langzaam maar zeker click to hear 2 3 'Slowly but steadily, slow but sure'

Je wordt geflest waar je bij staat click to hear ['You're being cheated as you're standing by'] 'Some people shamelessly, barefacedly swindle you in your presence'
Said for instance when you have booked a car or a hotel room in advance but when you get there extra charges come up.

't Is geen zuivere koffie click to hear 2 3 quick ['it's not pure coffee - there's something wrong with that coffee'] - 'there's something fishy going on' Er zit een luchtje aan click to hear 2 ['There's a funny smell to it'] - 'there's something fishy about it' -
Note that the T of 'luchtje' is dropped
Ik vertrouw 't niet helemaal click to hear 2 ['I do not completely trust it'] - 'there's something fishy about it'

In een kwade reuk staan click to hear 2 3 'to have a bad reputation' - So NOT the literal meaning 'being in a place of bad smell' Ik kan er niet bij click to hear 2 literally: 'I can't reach it,' but usually said as 'I don't understand, it's beyond me, I can't imagine what's in those people's minds' Wat bezielt die mensen? click to hear 'What's in those people's minds?'
(de) ziel click to hear 'soul'
Wat bezielt die mensen om dat te doen? click to hear 2 3 'What makes those people do that?' Wat beweegt die mensen? click to hear 2 3 [What 'moves' those people?] - What is their motivation? (to do something commonly considered unpleasant, horrible)

Ik sta nergens meer van te kijken click to hear 2 'Nothing surprises me anymore' - Thank you, Johan! 't Verbaast me niks click to hear 2 'I'm not surprised at all'

Ik kon m'n oren niet geloven click to hear 2 3 ['I couldn't believe my ears'] - Hearing something incredible or something you had not thought possible

Hij keek z'n ogen uit click to hear 2 3 He really enjoyed seeing it (something unexpected)

Hij had er wel oren naar click to hear 2 3 ['he had ears for it'] - he'd like to join in (an activity)

Laat me niet lachen click to hear 2 ['Don't (let) make me laugh'] - 'That's ridiculous'

Er is niks aan te doen click to hear
Niks aan te doen! click to hear 2 3 ['Nothing can be done about it'] - 'It can't be helped'

Ik kan niet heksen click to hear 2 3 [I cannot 'witch' - I don't have supernatural powers] 'I'm doing it as fast as I can'

Daar was ik al bang voor click to hear 2 'I was already afraid of that'

Ik ben het beu click to hear 'I'm sick of it, I can't stand it anymore' Wat sneu click to hear 2 'What a pity, I'm sorry it ended that way'

Ik baal als een stier click to hear 2 3 '[I'm annoyed like a bull'] - I am deeply annoyed
(de) baaldag click to hear a day that you call in sick because you're depressed or angry, 'a mental healh sick day' as a colleague used to say

Ik verveel me te pletter click to hear 2 3 [literally, something like 'I'm crushed by boredom'] - 'I am bored stiff'

Ik lap 't aan m'n laars click to hear 2 ['I'm sticking it to my boot'] I don't care about, I'm ignoring that comment or rule You can also say:
Ik trek me er niks van aan click to hear 2
or:  ik trek me d'r niks van aan click to hear 2 3
with a similar meaning

Ik werd er helemaal naar van click to hear ['It made me feel miserable all over'] - a horrible event or fear made me sick Ik sta te trillen op m'n benen click to hear 2 ['I'm shaking on my legs'] - 'I'm trembling with fear or from fatigue'

Ik word geleefd click to hear ['I am being lived'] - 'I have no life of my own' - duties, demands and obligations leave very little time for myself

Ik ben helemaal gaar click to hear ['I'm fully cooked'] - I've had it, I'm done for - I've worked on this, lived with this for too long

Om 't af te leren click to hear 2 3 'to unlearn it,' 'to break the habit' - said when you take one too many drinks or snacks

Door schade en schande wijs geworden click to hear 2 3
Door schade en schande click to hear '(educated) by damage and shame' - the school of hard knocks

Het leed is geleden click to hear 2 'The suffering is over'

Dat is verleden tijd click to hear 2 3 'That is past, that is over' - "That's history"

Oud nieuws click to hear 2 'old news'
Dat is oud nieuws click to hear 2 'That's old news'

Geen centje pijn click to hear ['Not a penny of pain/trouble'] - 'No sweat, it doesn't (or didn't) take any effort'

Als morgen de hemel valt hebben we allemaal een blauwe muts click to hear 2 3 'If the sky falls tomorrow we'll all have a blue cap' - said in annoyed reaction to someone bringing up unpleasant scenarios ('now if the train is late, and if there is no coffee on the train ...')

Dan is 't voorbij met de pret click to hear
Dan is 't uit met de pret click to hear 2
Dan is 't gedaan met de pret click to hear 2 3 ['(And) then it's done with the fun'] -'the fun is over' - said when things return to normal after a respite or go from normal to a much worse situation - a little stronger than 'the honeymoon is over'

't Komt niet zo nauw click to hear 2 'There is no need for much precision or strictness, there is a lot of leeway, a wide margin'

Opgeruimd staat netjes click to hear ['Cleared up, stored away looks neat'] 'Things out of the way looks good'

Wat de boer niet kent dat lust-ie niet click to hear 2 3 4 ['What the peasant doesn't know he doesn't like']
'The peasant doesn't like the unfamiliar'
- commenting on a reluctance to even taste unfamiliar food

Het oog is groter dan de maag click to hear 2 ['the eye is bigger than the stomach'] - said when you can't finish the food you put on your plate

Hij lust er wel pap van click to hear 2 3 ['~he would really like it as porridge' -> he would like it for dessert too, he likes it as much as the dessert]
- A food or pleasant activity he can't get enough of

Te veel van 't goede click to hear 2 'Too much of a good thing' (say, cherry juice)

Hoe groter geest, hoe groter beest click to hear 2 3 4 'The greater the mind, the more like a beast' - great intellects often behave badly

Waarin een klein land groot kan zijn click to hear 'Big things a small country can do, A small country can do big things'
Said when Holland is setting an example

Holland op z'n smalst click to hear 2 'Holland at its most narrow'
- in Dutch,
  'Holland' click to hear 2 means only a part of the country of The Netherlands. (more.) Before the great land reclamations, there used to be a narrow strip of land North-West of Amsterdam connecting two parts of 'Holland.' Later, the expression came to mean 'Dutchmen in their most narrow-minded attitude.'
(de) kneuterigheid click to hear 'Dutch small-mindedness, pettiness'
Generally, 'small minded, petty' is
kleinzielig click to hear
and  (de) kleinzieligheid click to hear is 'pettiness, small-mindedness'
- related: (de) betutteling click to hear 2 'bureacrats (or others in positions of power) treating people like children'

Verstand op nul click to hear 2 'I'm shutting down my brain'
- often combined with:
Blik op oneindig click to hear 2 3 'Set eye focus to infinity' - 'the thousand-mile stare'?
Said when starting a mindless job or when doing something you don't want to think about.

Niet voor herhaling vatbaar click to hear 2 3 [After a disappointment: 'not to be repeated'] - 'Let's not do (or have) that again'

Al is de leugen nog zo snel, de waarheid achterhaalt haar wel click to hear 2 3 4 ['However quick a lie may be, the truth will overtake it'] - Lies won't last, truth will come out eventually

De zoete inval click to hear 2 ['the sweet invasion'] - said when a large number of people unexpectedly gather at your house (also a name for cafés, restaurants)

't Zal me worst wezen click to hear 2 ['It will be sausage to me'] - 'I don't care at all'

Hij timmert aardig aan de weg click to hear 2 3 He is well-known for his activities, his activities have made him rather well-known

Samen uit, samen thuis click to hear ['Leaving together, going home together'] 'We're in this together'

Je moet de sokken d'rin zetten click to hear 2 3 ["You have to put the socks in it"] Zet de sokken erin! click to hear 2 ["Put the socks in it!"] - 'run faster,' 'speed up'

Je hebt 't rijk alleen click to hear 2 ['You have the realm to yourself'] - said when you leave one person by themselves in a house or an office

Hij heeft de smaak te pakken click to hear 2 [~He was captured by the taste] - he really likes it (a new activity)

Ik zag 't niet meer zitten click to hear ['I didn't see it sit anymore,' I didn't see things in place anymore] - I was depressed

Een huishouden van Jan Steen click to hear 2 3 4 A messy household - like in some Jan Steen paintings
Jan Steen click to hear 2 3 (1626-1679)

Je hebt er een handje van ... click to hear 2 3 4 'You tend to ..., it's a habit of yours to ...'

Dat zou zuur zijn click to hear 2 That would be sad, a disappointment

Niks mis mee click to hear 2 There's nothing wrong with that

Stank voor dank click to hear 2 3 [Stink as gratitude] - no gratitude, no appreciation, or even a hostile reaction to kindness

(de) kwaaie pier click to hear 2 3 the person or thing blamed for a problem Aquamacs is de kwaaie pier click to hear 2 3 Aquamacs is seen as the cause of the problem (de) boosdoener click to hear 2 3 the person or thing causing trouble, evildoer, villain

Voor spek en bonen click to hear 2 3 4 5 [for bacon and beans] - not being a full participant, joining as a non-competing participant

Nonsense Statements

De uitzondering die de regel bevestigt click to hear 2 'The exception that confirms the rule'
This is of course a nonsense remark. Logically, if there is an exception a rule is not valid. (Het) tegenvoorbeeld click to hear 2 'counter-example.' I read somewhere that the Latin original says something like 'the exception that tests the rule.'

Drie maal is scheepsrecht click to hear 2 '[three times is ship's law] - the third time is the charm'
'Third time lucky' in the UK
Number three is often found in old Western, Indo-European culture

Bitter in de mond maakt het hart gezond click to hear 2 'bitter in the mouth makes the heart healthy'
nonsense remark about the supposed health benefits of bitter-tasting medicine or food

Wat je ver haalt is lekker click to hear 2 ['What you get from far away tastes good'] 'Exotic food is always good'

Words of Wisdom

De mens lijdt het meest van het lijden dat-ie vreest click to hear 'Man suffers most from the suffering he fears' - a sentiment somewhat similar to President Roosevelt's 'The only thing we have to fear is fear itself' - FDR Angst en vrees click to hear 'fear and dread'
(de) vrees click to hear is when you know what you're afraid of,
(de) angst click to hear is an undefined fear

Doe maar normaal, dan doe je al gek genoeg click to hear 2 'Just do like you always do, that's enough craziness already'

De beste stuurlui staan aan wal click to hear 'The best ship officers are on the shore'
It's easy to criticize from a distance, when you're not involved

Elk vogeltje zingt zoals 't gebekt is click to hear ['Each bird sings as its beak is'] - 'You can't change a nature' - 'A leopard can't change its spots.'

Over smaak valt niet te twisten click to hear 2 '[You can't argue about taste] - There's no accounting for taste'  De gustibus non disputandum

't Is niet alles goud wat er blinkt click to hear 2 'It's not all gold that glitters / Not all shiny things are golden' - 'All that glitters is not gold.'

Hoge bomen vangen veel wind click to hear ['Tall trees catch much wind'] - The high, mighty and famous catch much flak, get a lot of criticism

Geduld is een schone zaak click to hear 'Patience is good (but difficult)' - 'Patience is a virtue'

Beter een goede buur dan een verre vriend click to hear 2 'a good neighbor is more useful ' than a faraway friend'

Velen worden geroepen, maar weinigen worden uitgekozen click to hear Many are called, but few are chosen

Honger maakt rauwe bonen zoet click to hear 2 ['hunger makes raw beans sweet'] - Want changes your perception

Uit het oog, uit het hart click to hear 2 3 4 ['out of eye, out of heart'] - 'out of sight, out of mind'

Alles grijpt in elkaar click to hear 2 'everything is connected, all things hang together'

Geen rozen zonder doornen click to hear ['No roses without thorns'] - 'Nice things always come with problematic attachments' - 'there is no rainbow without rain'

Onkruid vergaat niet click to hear 'Weeds can't be killed' - I used to think this meant that the nature of naughty boys can't be changed, but it seems to be more about the permanence of serious evil and profiteering.

Wie schrijft, die blijft click to hear ['he who writes, stays (in the game)'] - the player who records the scores will not let himself be eliminated

't IJzer smeden als 't heet is click to hear 2 3 '[Forge] Work the iron when it's hot' Je moet ijzer smeden als 't heet is click to hear 2 3 'You should work the iron when it's hot' - Do something at the right moment

Beidt Uw tijd click to hear 2 3 'Bide your time' - be patient, wait for the right moment

Wie niet waagt, die niet wint click to hear 2 ['He who doesn't take risks is not going to [win] gain'] - 'no risk, no gain'
The English equivalant is a positive statement: 'He who dares, wins'  (the motto of the British Army Special Forces unit SAS) - thank you Chris

Wie niet sterk is moet slim zijn click to hear ['Those who are not strong (powerful) ...'] - 'If you're not strong you have to be clever'

Alles met mate click to hear 'Be moderate in everything'

Beter ten halve gekeerd dan ten hele gedwaald click to hear 2 'It's better to [turn] change direction halfway than to be wrong all the way'

Gedane zaken nemen geen keer click to hear 2 3 'What's done is done' (You can't turn around what's done in the past)

Spreken is zilver, zwijgen is goud click to hear 2 ['speaking is silver, keeping silent is gold'] - speaking is good, but keeping silent is better
'Speech may be silver, but silence is golden'

Lachen is gezond click to hear 2 'to laugh is good for your health'

Als de vos de passie preekt ... click to hear 2 'When the fox preaches about Christ's suffering ...' (watch out for hypocrites)

Het bezit van de zaak is het eind van het vermaak click to hear 2 3 'Ownership is the end of pleasure' - probably meaning that working towards goals is the interesting part; having reached goals boredom may set in

Gedeelde smart is halve smart click to hear 'Shared grief is halved grief'

Vis moet zwemmen click to hear 2 3 4 'Fish has to swim, fish gotta swim' - drink well when you're eating fish

Verandering van spijs doet eten click to hear 2 [Change of food makes people eat] - Food variety helps the appetite
(de) spijs click to hear is an old-fashioned word for 'food' ‑>>

Wie met pek omgaat wordt ermee besmet click to hear 2 3 4 [He who handles, deals with pitch gets contaminated by it] - He who touches pitch will be defiled - dealing with evil will easily change you for the worse

De aanhouder wint click to hear He/she who perseveres will win, succeed

Waar een wil is, is een weg click to hear 2 3 Where there's a will, there's a way - determination will get you where you want to go - 'you can get it if you really want it'

Wie dan leeft, wie dan zorgt click to hear 2 3 He/She who then lives, can then deal with the problems - don't worry too much about the future

Geen rook zonder vuur click to hear [No smoke without (a) fire] - where there's smoke, there's fire

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

Goed voorbeeld doet volgen click to hear 2 3 Good example will be followed

Meten is weten click to hear 2 3 ['to measure is to know'] - measurements create, build knowledge - thank you, Gabriel


Ons koude kikkerland click to hear 2 3 'Our chilly frogs' country' - Holland: it's a wretched place but it's home

Hij sliep als een os click to hear 2 'He was sleeping like [an ox] a log' Ze sliep als een roos click to hear 2 3 'She was sleeping [like a rose, beautifully] ' comfortably'
So Dutch men are said to deep-sleep like oxen but Dutch females like roses.
Hij viel als een blok in slaap click to hear 2 3 'He fell asleep very quickly' ('like a log')

Zo dood als een pier click to hear dead like a [rainworm] doornail, dead like disco

Zo fris als een hoentje click to hear ['as fresh (new?) as a young chicken'] in very good shape, wide awake, well rested and feeling healthy - 'as fit as a fiddle' Ik voel me kiplekker click to hear 2 'I feel great, couldn't feel better'
kiplekker click to hear 2
it's a mystery to me why chickens are seen as paragons of health

Als er één schaap over de dam is ... click to hear 2 3 ['If one sheep has [crossed the dam] entered the meadow ... (more will follow)'] - an example will be followed

op 't nippertje click to hear 'in the nick of time, at the last moment, just in time' op de valreep click to hear 'at the last possible moment // while saying goodbye'

Uit de losse pols click to hear ['from the loose wrist'] - off the cuff, improvising, like for instance giving a very rough estimate

Zonder blikken of blozen click to hear 2 ['without batting an eye or blushing'] - shamelessly doing something questionable

't Is zwaar te verteren click to hear 2 3 It's [heavy] 'hard to digest' - usually said of unpleasant knowledge or things you just have to accept

Daar is de Engelse schroevendraaier gebruikt click to hear 'The English screwdriver was used there' - a screw was hammered in
In English there are many negative phrases with the word 'Dutch,' but in Dutch there are only a few negative mentions of English.
Chris from Yorkshire tells me there is the British expression 'a Birmingham screwdriver'  for this bad practice

Als mosterd na de maaltijd click to hear 2 'Like mustard after the meal' - something that comes in too late and is now useless

De hond in de pot vinden click to hear ['finding the dog in the cooking pot'] Dan vind je de hond in de pot click to hear 2 'Then you'll find the dog in the cooking pot'
- When you're very late for a meal, you may find the dog eating the leftovers - general meaning: coming late you may be left empty-handed

Roet in 't eten gooien click to hear 'throwing soot in the food' - ruining plans Je moet geen roet in 't eten gooien click to hear 'Don't ruin the plans'

In geuren en kleuren click to hear 2 (3) [in smells and colors] in full detail, an elaborate, lively description

Dat is een ander verhaal click to hear 2 'That's another story' 't Is maar een verhaaltje click to hear 'It's only a story'

De kat op het spek binden click to hear 2 ['tying the cat to the bacon'] - (to the speaker) 'a dangerous policy that sets up for failure'

De kat uit de boom kijken click to hear 2 ['looking the cat out of the tree'] - like a dog not climbing a tree after a cat, 'waiting to see how things develop, taking no action'

Ouwe koeien uit de sloot halen click to hear 2 [dredging up old cows from the ditch] pointless talk about foregone matters, flogging a dead horse

Tussen de wal en 't schip click to hear 2 ['(falling) between the quay and the ship'] - 'to fall between two stools'

met man en muis click to hear vergaan click to hear [to perish with man and mouse] - said of ships being lost completely, no survivors, nothing recovered

Achter 't net vissen click to hear 2 ['fishing behind the net'] - not catching anything, not getting what you want

Niet over één nacht ijs gaan click to hear 2 3 ['Not walking on ice of one night'] - 'to be careful, to proceed with much caution, not do risky things'

Een advies in de wind slaan click to hear 2 slow ['Throw an advice to the wind'] - ignoring sensible counsel

Kapers op de kust click to hear ['pirates on the coast'] - There are competitors about

Bij gebrek aan beter click to hear 'Lacking a better alternative'

Met alle mogelijke middelen click to hear 2 'With all possible means'

Vechten tegen de Bierkaai click to hear
't Is vechten tegen de Bierkaai click to hear 2 3 ['it's like fighting the Bierkaai'] ' - A hopeless struggle, a fight you can't possibly win'
'De Bierkaai' click to hear 2 ('Beer Quay'?) was a rowdy neighborhood in old Amsterdam

In de aap gelogeerd click to hear ['lodging at the Monkey's?'] - in trouble, not in a good place

Ik lachte me een kriek click to hear 'I laughed a lot' [so much that it hurt]

Een veer laten click to hear ['dropping a feather'] - accept a loss, make a concession

Water bij de wijn doen click to hear 2 3 'Mixing water into the wine' - going for a compromise Water bij de wijn click to hear 2

Hij houdt z'n poot stijf click to hear ['he's keeping his paw stiff'] - 'he's not giving in'

't Ligt voor de hand click to hear literally: 'it's close at hand,' but it usually means 'it's obvious'

Als een mes door de boter click to hear 'Like a knife [cutting] through butter' - very easily Een druppel op een gloeiende plaat click to hear 2 3 ['a drop of water on a red-hot surface'] - 'too little' - a totally ineffective remedy or an attempt to help that falls far short

Met de deur in huis vallen click to hear ['storming into the house, flattening the door'] - to come straight to the point, without delay or hesitation

Een heet hangijzer click to hear 2 A problem that's hard to handle and not going away

de hele santekraam click to hear 'the whole shebang, kit and kaboodle'

bepakt en bezakt click to hear ['packed and bagged, with packs and bags ready'] - ready for travel

Van de hak op de tak springen click to hear 2 3 'in conversation, frequently and (apparenty) at random changing the subject'

Dag in, dag uit click to hear 2 ['Day in, day out'] - Every day

Een dag als alle andere click to hear 2 3 ['a day like all others'] - 'Just another day'

Op een blauwe maandag click to hear ['On a blue monday'] For a short, insignificant time in the past

Met het oog op morgen click to hear 2 'With an eye on tomorrow' - taking the future into? consideration

Oog om oog, tand om tand click to hear 'An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth' - 'tit for tat' - archaic justice

De tijd vliegt click to hear 'time flies' - 'time passes quickly' Waar blijft de tijd? click to hear 2 3 4 5 'Where does the time go?' - sadly recalling good things that are past, forever gone Gezelligheid kent geen tijd click to hear 2 [Good times know of no clocks] - 'Time flies when you're having a good time with friends'

Gebed zonder end click to hear ['prayer without end'] something taking very long Er komt geen eind aan click to hear 2 'There is no end to it, it goes on for a very long time' 't Eind is zoek click to hear ['The end cannot be found'] - things are escalating, where will it end?

Vroeger was alles beter click to hear ['In the past everything was better'] 'Everything was better in the past'

Uit de oude doos click to hear 2 3 4 ['from the old box'] - 'something old, old-fashioned'
The common word for 'old-fashioned' is:
ouderwets click to hear
Dat is zo ouderwets! click to hear 'that's so old-fashioned!'

Zo oud als de weg naar Kralingen click to hear 2 3 ['As old as the road to Kralingen'] - old as the hills
An old saying that got a new life when the Dutch Woodstock was held in the village of
Kralingen click to hear (1970)

Je kunt er geen touw aan vastknopen click to hear 2 ['you can't tie a rope to it'] - 'it's incomprehensible'

De knoop doorhakken click to hear 2 'cutting (through) the knot' - taking a decision after long deliberations

Je kunt wel zien uit welke hoek de wind waait click to hear 2 ['You can see from which corner the wind is blowing'] - 'You can see where that's coming from, what's behind it'

Een oogje in het zeil houden click to hear 2 ['to keep an eye on the sail'] - to watch over something or someone Iemand die een oogje in het zeil houdt click to hear 2 Someone to watch over someone or something

(het) gat click to hear 'hole' - note vowel lengthening in the plural:  gaten click to hear 2 3 / gat/gaten click to hear ‑>>
- Stoett says  'gaten' in the next phrases probably means 'look-holes, eyes'
Hou(d) 't goed in de gaten click to hear 2 (saying) Keep it well in sight, watch it closely Je moet 't goed in de gaten houden click to hear 2 3 You have to watch it closely 't Loopt in de gaten click to hear 2 3 4 5 [It walks into the eyes] - It's attracting attention, it's becoming conspicuous

En dan komt de aap uit de mouw click to hear 2 3 4 ['And then the monkey comes out of the sleeve']
- the moment that the hidden motives come out, when it is revealed what's behind something

Raar maar waar click to hear Strange (weird) but true

'Zeer' click to hear 2 is an old-fashioned word that can mean 'very' and also 'hurt' (think of 'sore')
Zeer vereerd click to hear ['much honored'] - I'm honored oud zeer click to hear ['old hurt'] historical wrongs, unresolved issues from the past - a grudge? Tegen 't zere been click to hear 2 3 ['Against the sore leg'] - figuratively hitting someone in a sensitive, already sore spot, like pointing out an already acknowledged failure Doet 't zeer? click to hear 2 Does it hurt?

Tegen heug en meug click to hear 'Doing something under strong protest, like having to eat something you really don't like'

Een bittere pil click to hear 2 'a bitter pill' - Something unpleasant you have to get through or live with

(Het is click to hear) boter aan de galg click to hear ['It's butter on the gallows'] - something valuable wasted, a useless effort

Boter op z'n hoofd click to hear 2
Hij heeft boter op z'n hoofd click to hear 2 3 ['(he has) butter on his head'] - he should stay away from heat or it will melt - meaning: "he's criticizing others, but he's not innocent himself: he is a hypocrite"
- 'huichelaar' click to hear 2
schijnheilig click to hear 2 3 [seemingly holy] - pretending to be a good person 'Hij heeft' sometimes contracts to:  "hij'ft" -
Hij'ft boter op z'n hoofd click to hear

Een koekje van eigen deeg click to hear 2 ['a cookie of (your) own dough'] - 'a taste of your own medicine'
- you yourself getting the bad treatment you thought up for (or already meted out to) others

Een sigaar uit eigen doos click to hear 2 3 ['A cigar from your own box'] - Something is presented as a gift, but it turns out you have to pay for it

Je moet een gegeven paard niet in de bek kijken click to hear 2 3 'You shouldn't look into the mouth of a gift horse' - don't criticize a present

't Is een aflopende zaak click to hear 2 'it's going downhill, it's on its last legs'

Onder vier ogen click to hear 2 ['Under four eyes'] - 'in private, one-on-one conversation'

Gevoel van eigenwaarde click to hear ['sense of one's own worth'] - 'self-esteem'

De dorst naar kennis click to hear "the thirst for knowledge"

De klant is koning click to hear 'the customer is king' - the customer's opinion is the most important (we hope)

't Zit als gegoten click to hear ['It fits like it was cast'] - said of well-fitting clothes

In modern Dutch,  stout click to hear means 'naughty.' (Another word for 'naughty' is  'ondeugend' click to hear 2 3 4) In older Dutch,  'stout' meant 'bold, brave' like in the Burgundian Duke   Karel de Stoute click to hear 'Charles the Bold,' who actually was more reckless than brave. Sayings often retain the old meaning.
De stoute schoenen aantrekken click to hear 2 3 ['putting on the brave shoes'] - 'doing something bold' Trek de stoute schoenen aan click to hear 2 3 ['put on the brave shoes'] - 'be brave, do that bold thing'

Een ongeluk zit in een klein hoekje click to hear ['an accident is in a small corner'] - accidents can happen in unexpected places (and unexpectedly)

't Verdwijnt als sneeuw voor de zon click to hear 2 'It disappears like snow [before] in the sun'

't Regent pijpenstelen click to hear [The rain is coming down in trickles like pipe stems (those long, stone stems of old 'Gouda' pipes)] Very heavy rain 't Viel met bakken uit de hemel click to hear 2 3 It (rain) fell from the sky ['with' boxes] in buckets 't Valt met bakken uit de hemel click to hear 2 It (rain) is falling from the sky in buckets

Van 't kastje naar de muur click to hear 2 ['from the cabinet to the wall'] Van Pontius naar Pilatus click to hear ['from Pontius to Pilate']
both mean: sent on pointless errands, 'from pillar to post'

Ik zuig 't niet uit m'n duim click to hear 2 3 ['I'm not sucking it from my thumb'] - 'I'm not making it up' (it's true, I'm telling you what I heard, what I've seen)

Kind aan huis click to hear 2
Hij is er kind aan huis click to hear 2 3 ['He is like a child of that house'] - 'He often visits and acts as if he lives there'

Een kind kan de was doen click to hear 2 3 ['A child can do the laundry'] - It's a very easy job

Je hebt geen kind aan hem click to hear 2 3 ['He won't be like a child (to you)'] - He's very easy, no trouble at all, doesn't need special care

't Is allemaal één pot nat click to hear 2 3 ['It's all one jar of liquid'] - 'It's all the same, All those things are actually identical'

Dweilen met de kraan open click to hear 2 3 ['Mopping up while the faucet is running'] - doing something but not addressing the cause of the problem

Een gevoelige snaar raken click to hear 2 3 'touching a sensitive string' ~ touching a raw nerve
- Dutch
'(de) snaar' click to hear is a string of a musical instrument

Elkaar voor rotte vis uitmaken click to hear 2 3 4 'Calling each other spoiled (rotten) fish' - mutual insulting, 'calling each other names'

Als klap op de vuurpijl click to hear ['As a bang to the flare rocket'] - a grand ending

Iemand een hart onder de riem steken click to hear 2 3 ['Put a heart under someone's belt'] - to encourage, support a person (Stoett says the belt in the image is a soldier's diagonal shoulder strap)

't Heeft veel voeten in aarde click to hear 2 3 4 ['It has many feet in the soil'] - 'It's a very complicated process' (Stoett says the image is removing a tree with many roots)

Hij zag de bui al hangen click to hear 2 3 ['He had already seen the rainshower "hanging"'] - 'He understood trouble was brewing'

't Zal wel niet zo'n vaart lopen click to hear 2 3 4 ['It's not going to pick up speed'] - It won't happen soon (don't worry about it)

Uit 't diepst van m'n hart click to hear 2 'From the bottom of my heart'

Ik wil hem niet voor de voeten lopen click to hear 2 3 ['I don't want to walk in front of his feet'] - I don't want to be in his way (figuratively, hinder him) Iemand voor de voeten lopen click to hear 2 3 4 5 to be in someone's way (figuratively)

Knollen voor citroenen verkopen click to hear 2 [selling turnips as lemons] - 'fooling someone' - the common meaning is not the literal cheating in sales but making false promises, feeding impossible dreams etc. (The saying is from a time when lemons were expensive and in demand)

Ze kijken op ons neer click to hear They look down on us uit de hoogte click to hear 2 3 4 5 [from a height] - arrogantly, feeling superior (de) minachting click to hear 2 3 contempt

Met een schone lei beginnen click to hear 2 Starting with a clean slate (a new beginning without baggage)

(lopende band click to hear 2 3 [running belt] conveyor belt, assembly line) Aan de lopende band click to hear 2 'Like coming off a conveyor belt' - ceaselessly, continually (said for instance of someone producing an endless series of jokes)

Als een kip zonder kop click to hear 2 3 'Like a chicken without its head' - acting irrationally

Ze keek alsof ze 't in Keulen hoorde donderen click to hear 2 3 4 5 'She looked (the look on her face was) as if she heard [it thundering] thunder rumbling in Cologne' - great surprise at hearing something completely unexpected

We zijn niet van suikergoed click to hear 2 3 'We are not made of [confectionery] sugar' - we are not fragile, we can handle shocks, mishap and adversity also:  We kunnen tegen een stootje click to hear 2 3 4 [We can stand some pushing/poking]

Je hebt 't zelf in de hand click to hear 2 3 ['You have it in your hand yourself'] - It's in your own hands (you can take a decision, you can take action)

De vuile was buiten hangen click to hear 2 3 [hanging the dirty laundry outside] - 'airing the dirty laundry' - a public showing of private problems

iemand naar de mond praten click to hear 2 3 ['Speaking towards someone's mouth'] - Trying to get into a person's favor by saying what he wants to hear

Een vreemde eend in de bijt click to hear [a strange duck in the hole in the ice] - A stranger among us/you/them

een kunst en een kunde click to hear 2 'an art and a (learned) skill'
- some things are not just applying science

Een dubbeltje op z'n kant click to hear 2 [A dime on its edge] - the outcome is very uncertain

Met de Noorderzon vertrokken click to hear 2 [Departed at the North Sun hour] - 'Secretly disappeared at midnight' (leaving unfinished business and/or debts behind)

Hij is in z'n element click to hear 2 3 'He is in his element' - he's doing something he likes and that he does well

Door de zure appel heen bijten click to hear 2 3 ['Biting through the sour apple'] - an unpleasant task that needs to be performed, accepting something that can't be ignored or changed ~ 'swallow the pill'

Iets door de vingers zien click to hear 2 3 4 ['to see something through the fingers' - that is: not seeing some small things] - deliberately overlooking minor infractions, ignoring small mistakes and irregularities

Tussen de regels door lezen click to hear 2 3 'Reading between the lines' - to notice not just what's written but also what's implied and/or left out

Ik voel nattigheid click to hear 2 3 ['I feel wetness'] - There's something fishy (to it) - I don't trust it

Ik heb er een zwaar hoofd in click to hear 2 3 4 ['I have a heavy head about it'] - I'm not optimistic about it, I doubt that it's going to work or end well

Vel over been click to hear 2 3 4 ['skin covering bones'] - skin and bones - said of a very thin person
'(het) been' click to hear 2 3 is an old-fashioned word for 'bone.' The modern Dutch word for 'bone' is  (het) bot click to hear - '(het) been' nowadays means 'leg'

Ik hang 't niet aan de grote klok click to hear 2 ['I'm not hanging it on the big bell'] - I'm keeping quiet about it, ~I'm not shouting it from the rooftops

't Is koren op je molen click to hear 2 3 ['It's grain on (for) your mill' ]
- (het) koren click to hear 2 is 'grain, cereal,' not 'corn, maize'
- it confirms your (in the eyes of the speaker wrong) ideas - so it's not exactly equivalent to 'grist for the mill'

Neem niet teveel hooi op je vork click to hear 2 ['Don't put too much hay on your (hay)fork'] - Don't take on too heavy a burden, too big a task

Wachten tot je een ons weegt click to hear 2 3 4 ['waiting until you weigh 100 grams (~3 ounces)'] - a never-ending wait

Een kinderhand is gauw gevuld click to hear 2 3 ['A child's hand is quickly filled'] - children don't need much to be happy

Ze weten niet van ophouden click to hear 2 3 4 ['They don't know about stopping'] - They go on an on, they never stop Hij weet niet van ophouden click to hear 2 3

Hij sprong een gat in de lucht click to hear 2 3 4 ['He jumped a hole in the air'] - he was very happy, ~ he was over the moon (not necessarily jumping for joy)

Neem 't ter harte click to hear 2 [Take it to heart] - Take heed! Pay attention to it, act accordingly

(de) knauw click to hear 2 3 4 5 6 serious animal bite
Daar krijg je een knauw van click to hear 2 3 [That bites you] - That causes much damage to you (a setback in attitude, outlook) - 'It takes a big bite out of your self-confidence'

Iemand iets door de neus boren click to hear 2 3 4 [to drill something through someone's nose] - to deny someone something that he or she deserved to get or was very close to getting, someone else got it Stoett says it's from the painful insertion of a ring into a service animal's nose
De prijs werd hem door de neus geboord click to hear 2 3 4 He was denied the prize, he didn't get the award he deserved and was expecting (someone else got it)

Doen alsof je neus bloedt click to hear 2 3 4 Acting as if your nose is bleeding - pretending to attend to a nosebleed and not reacting to what's going on Moet ik dan maar doen alsof m'n neus bloedt? click to hear 2 3 4 Should I (then) just pretend to have a nosebleed and not pay attention and react to what's happpening around me?

We kunnen 't missen als kiespijn click to hear 2 3 We really don't need it, we can do without it like we can do without a toothache

in de kiem smoren click to hear 2 3 'to nip in the bud' - stop something in an early stage

Ik hou m'n hart vast click to hear 2 3 [I'm holding onto my heart] - I'm worried about someone doing something that could end badly

't Is een wassen neus click to hear 2 3 4 5 [It's a wax nose] - It's a meaningless, inconsequential formality

op eigen benen staan click to hear 2 3 4 5 standing on your own [legs] feet, being independent - note that Dutch has 'legs' instead of 'feet' and doesn't have 'your'

met twee maten meten click to hear 2 'Using two measuring systems (yardsticks)' - applying double standards, a biased approach

Van dik hout zaagt men planken click to hear 2 3 (saying) Boards are sawn from big, fat wood - said of a task perfromed very well and also royally, generously amply, with extras

een dikke huid hebben click to hear 2 3 (saying) [having a thick skin, being thick-skinned] - not very sensitive to criticism and insults

Misschien komt 't wel weer boven water click to hear 2 3 4 [Maybe it'll come above water again sometime] - only figuratively: Maybe it (an item that was lost, cannot be found) will turn up again

buiten westen click to hear ['out in the West'] - unconscious. Stoett says the expression is from the old days before compasses, clocks and sextants, Dutch sailors who lost sight of the coast in the East

met lege handen click to hear 2 3 4 'with hands empty,' not bringing anything or without results

natte-vingerwerk click to hear 2 3 ['wet-finger work' - like determining wind direction by lifting a wetted finger] - an imprecise, unscientific approach to taking measurements, or a clumsy method in general


aan de hand click to hear 2 ~going on Er is wat aan de hand click to hear 2 'There is something going on' Wat is er aan de hand? click to hear 'What's going on? What's happening?' Wat is hier aan de hand? click to hear 2 3 4 5 What's going on here? Wat is er hier aan de hand? click to hear 2 What's going on here? Er is niks aan de hand click to hear 2 'There's nothing (unusual) going on' Er is iets anders aan de hand click to hear 2 3 There's something else going on Wat is er eigenlijk aan de hand? click to hear 2 3 (So) what is really going on? Wat is er toch aan de hand? click to hear 2 3 What's going on? What is it? (Not getting answers, not understanding what's going on) Wat zou er aan de hand zijn? click to hear 2 3 What could be happening? (wondering about a distant sound or mystery)

't Loopt uit de hand click to hear 2 3 'It's getting out of hand, escalating, control is lost'

De teerling is geworpen click to hear 2 'the die is cast' - a risky venture has started, passed a point of no return
- Dutch teer click to hear (teder click to hear) means 'tender, fragile' - I used to think the literal meaning of the phrase was that something vulnerable had been exposed.

De bom is gebarsten click to hear 2 ['the bomb has burst, exploded'] 'The dreaded event has come to pass, things have escalated, come to a head'

Alle hens aan dek! click to hear 2 3 'All hands on deck'  Dutchified English phrase, 'All crew to stations'

Er zit geen schot in click to hear 2 3 4 5 'There is very little progress, things got stuck'

Je kunt er niet omheen click to hear 2 3 ['you can't pass around it'] 'You can't ignore it, you'll have to deal with it

Het gaat de mist in click to hear 2 ['It fades into the fog'] A performance doesn't work out, ends weak - "fades" Er gaat er wel eens een de mist in click to hear 2 Occasionally, a song or a piece fails

't Is een uitdaging click to hear 2 3 'It's a challenge'

In de piepzak zitten click to hear 'to be afraid'

Met de handen in het haar click to hear 2 ['With the hands in the hair'] - despairing, not knowing what to do

De stilte voor de storm click to hear The quiet before the storm, or figuratively: before a major event

Geen wolkje aan de lucht click to hear 2 [Not a cloud in the sky] - No problems are expected

Een geluk bij een ongeluk click to hear 2 ['a lucky coincidence with an accident'] - a bright, hopeful spot in a bad event (het) lichtpuntje click to hear ['point of light'] - a (small) hopeful sign in a mostly bad situation

't Kan vriezen en 't kan dooien click to hear [It may freeze or it may thaw] - Things can go either way

't Is hollen of stilstaan click to hear 2 3 4 ['It's either running or staying put'] - 'When it rains, it pours'

Als puntje bij paaltje komt click to hear 'When push comes to shove, at the moment of truth'

Dan zijn we nog verder van huis click to hear 2 3 ['Then we'll be even farther from home'] - Making an already bad situation worse

Van de regen in de drup click to hear 2 3 4 ['From the rain into a drip'] - 'From the frying pan into the fire'- a move that didn't improve your already bad situation

Maar wij zitten met de gebakken peren click to hear 2 3 ['But we are left with the baked pears'] - But we are the ones that have to pick up the pieces, or more precisely: we are left with an unwanted responsibility

De druppel die de emmer deed overlopen click to hear 2 3 '[The drop that caused the bucket to spill over] - The straw that broke the camel's back'

Laten we niet te hard van stapel lopen click to hear [Let's not launch too quickly] - Let's not go ahead too fast

Dan heb je de poppen aan het dansen click to hear 2 3 ['Then you'll have the puppets dancing' - the show will start] - 'then the fat is in the fire, all hell will break loose' Dan heb je 't gedonder in de glazen click to hear 2 3 4 [probably something like 'then your windows will rattle'] - 'then trouble begins, things will get lively'

Door de rooie gaan click to hear ['crossing the red one (red line)'] - 'to become irrational' (because of exhaustion or anger)
- in colloquial Dutch, the D of rode  often softens to a Dutch-J (English consonant-Y) sound: rooie - hear:
rood - rode - rooie click to hear 2

Over de schreef gaan click to hear 2 ['overstepping the "scratch mark," go beyond the pale'] - going too far, into indecent, unacceptable behavior

Met de ouderdom komen de gebreken click to hear 2 'With old age, defects appear' De dagen zat click to hear 2 ['I've had my fill of days'] - 'Tired of the days' - Usually: Oud en de dagen zat click to hear 2 3 'Old and tired of life' Het moede hoofd neerleggen click to hear 2 3 'laying down the weary head' - to die, after a life of much worry

De pijp aan Maarten geven click to hear 2 ['give] Hand the pipe to Maarten' - to pass away, die

Twee vliegen in één klap click to hear 2 3 '[two flies in one slam] - to kill two birds with one stone'
I guess the English expression is disappearing because we now frown on killing birds, but flies are still a nuisance.

Ze zijn aan het goede adres click to hear 2 ['They are at the right address'] - They came to the right place

Bij nader inzien click to hear ['Upon closer inspection'] - usually: 'after some reflection, having given it some thought ...'

Dan houdt alles op click to hear 2 ['Then everything ends'] - 'It's no use continuing after that' - often said in reaction to a trivial remark, but with a mock sense of 'that changes everything'

De vlucht naar voren click to hear 2 ['escaping forward'] - a government in trouble embarking on a risky but popular military adventure, like the Argentine Junta's attempt to occupy the Falkland Islands in the 1980s, or the capture of Western New Guinea by Indonesia in the 1960s. John le Carré, talking about the similar German expression  'Der Flucht nach Vorn' says there is no English equivalent.

Iets over het hoofd zien click to hear 2 3 4 'to overlook something, fail to notice something'

Je kunt door de bomen 't bos niet zien click to hear 2 3 ['Because of the trees you can't see the forest'] - 'You can't see the forest for the trees' - overattention to details makes you lose sight of the big picture

Er klopt iets niet click to hear 2 'There's something wrong, it doesn't add up, there is an inconsistency'

Wij hebben 't nakijken click to hear 2 3 [All we had was looking at it disappearing] - we are the losers

Sla je slag click to hear 2 3 4 Seize the opportunity, grab your chance Ergens een slaatje uit slaan click to hear 2 3 Taking advantage of an opportunity, making good use of something Je voordeel doen met click to hear 2 3 Doing something advantageous, seize an opportunity to your advantage Grijp je kans! click to hear 2 3 Grab your chance, make use of the opportunity ‑>>

Ik zet er een punt achter click to hear 2 3 4 ['I'm putting a period (dot) behind it'] - I'm putting a stop to it, ending my involvement in it Punt uit! click to hear 2 3 Period! (Finished! - End of discussion)

(Het) stuk click to hear 2 3 is 'piece' but  'stuk' click to hear 2 3 can also mean 'broken, defective'
't Kan niet meer stuk click to hear 3 4 [It cannot be broken anymore]
- We've had so much fun already that it's a great day, whatever happens next
- it's going so well, we're having so much success that setbacks won't matter

Advice, Counsel, Recommendations, Commands

Doe niet zo raar! click to hear 2 Don't be weird, get a grip on yourself, behave normally Doe niet zo stoer! click to hear ['Do not pretend to be that brave'] - behave normally, be modest

Schiet op! click to hear 2 'hurry up!'
- usually schieten click to hear 2 >> means 'to shoot' - like, a gun.

't Zekere voor 't onzekere nemen click to hear 2 3 '[to take the certain before the uncertain] - to stay on the safe side' - not taking risks

Voor alle zekerheid click to hear 2 to be on the safe side - taking extra precautions

Alle beetjes helpen click to hear '[All little bits help] - Every little bit helps'

Laat de boel de boel click to hear 'Leave things as they are' - stop worrying, take a break

Baat het niet, dan schaadt het niet click to hear 2 'If there is no benefit, there will no damage either'
I used to think this was a bit silly, for there are many harmful things around - but maybe it encourages experimentation with harmless medication or remedies

Dat kan geen kwaad click to hear 2 3 ['That's not going to do damage'] - 'It's something that can be tried without risk, worth a try'

Voetjes van de vloer! click to hear ['(Little) Feet off the floor'] - "Get dancing!"

Hou je hoofd erbij! click to hear 2 3 4 ['keep your head at it'] - 'stay on top of it, stay focused on the job in hand, don't get distracted'

Hou je gedeisd click to hear 'don't make a fuss, lay low, don't draw attention to yourself'  (from Portuguese deixar)

Geen woorden maar daden! click to hear 2 ['No words but deeds'] - We want action(s), not words

Met twee woorden spreken! click to hear 2 ['Use two words when you speak'] - telling children to speak politely, adding 'thank you' and 'please'

De kinderen achter het behang plakken click to hear 'glueing the children behind the wallpaper' - many an exasperated parent's secret wish

De morgenstond heeft goud in de mond click to hear 2 [The dawn hour has gold in its mouth] - The early bird gets the worm

Als je 't nu niet doet, wanneer dan wel? click to hear 2 ['If you don't do it now, when are you?'] - If not now, when?

Van uitstel komt afstel click to hear 2 3 'Postponement leads to cancellation'

Bezint eer ge begint click to hear 2 3 'Consider, think before you [start] act'

Haastige spoed is zelden goed click to hear slow '["Hasty speed, speedy haste ..."] - Hurry is rarely useful' Haast U als U de tijd heeft, dan heeft U de tijd als U haast heeft click to hear slow slow2 'Hurry when you have time, then you'll have time when you're in a hurry'

Wie zonder zonden is, werpe de eerste steen click to hear 'Let him or her who is without sin throw the first stone'
Jesus addressing the people who want to stone an adulterous woman - John 8:7 ('werpe'  is an old-fashioned imperative)

Na regen komt zonneschijn click to hear 2 3 4 [After rain the sun will come out] - Bad things don't last

Achter de wolken schijnt de zon click to hear 2 ['Behind the clouds, the sun is shining'] - 'Look further, wait awhile and you'll see things aren't all bad'

Niet bij de pakken neerzitten click to hear 2 ['Don't sit down with your burdens'] - Keep going, don't let misfortune get you down
Stoett says it's from the Bible, a packed donkey that lies down can't get up again.

Vraag niet waarom click to hear "Ask not why," - 'Do not ask why' Waarom? Daarom. click to hear 'Why? Because.' Waarom zijn de bananen krom? click to hear 'Why are bananas [crooked] not straight?' - rhetorical question, often said when there is no answer to another 'why?'

Wee je gebeente! click to hear 2 ['woe to your bones' (I'll break them all)] a warning, not really a threat Dan ben je nog niet jarig! click to hear 2 3 'It won't be (feel) like your birthday ...' - a warning, not really a threat - Birthday Dan moet je vroeger opstaan click to hear 2 3 'Then you'll have to get up earlier' - i.e. for that you'll have to be more alert and more active

Hou je gemak! click to hear 2 3 [Remain at ease] - Don't get excited, 'keep your shirt on'

't Is halen en brengen click to hear 2 3 [It's getting and bringing, collecting and delivering] - It keeps getting better but then getting worse again, on and off - a situation alternates between improving and deteriorating - said of weather and sickness You can also say, with a similar meaning:
't Gaat op en af click to hear 2 3 4 It's going up and down, getting better, then getting worse again Literally, in a physical sense, 'Up and down' is: 
Op en neer click to hear 2 3
opkomst en neergang click to hear 2 [coming up and going down] rise and fall


Schoon schip maken click to hear ['clean the ship'] - Removing old problems for a fresh start

De bakens verzetten click to hear 2 '[moving the beacons] - setting a new course' - figuratively: change to a new policy Het roer omgooien click to hear ['turning around the rudder'] - drastically changing course 't Over een andere boeg gooien click to hear 2 3 4 5 6 7 [to (throw) turn over to another bow = change your tack] - turning your ship in another direction, changing course - usually figuratively: a new course of action, adopting a new policy, changing the subject of a conversation

Water naar de zee dragen click to hear 2 ['Carrying water to the sea'] - 'Carrying coal to Newcastle' - engaging in a pointless act

Iemand een poets bakken click to hear 2 'to play a trick, a practical joke on someone'

Geen sjoege geven click to hear 2 'giving no reaction, showing no emotion' (from Yiddish ‑>>)

Stennis maken click to hear 2 'to cause a commotion, get rowdy, raise a stink' (from Yiddish ‑>>)

't Kaf van 't koren scheiden click to hear ['Separating the chaff from the wheat'] - Separating the useful from the useless, the men from the boys, the sheep from the goats

Praten over koetjes en kalfjes click to hear 2 ['Talking about (little) cows and calves, irrelevant things'] - To chat, make smalltalk

Pappen en nathouden click to hear 2 3 ['Apply paste and keep wet'] - applying and maintaining a wound dressing
- keep going in adverse circumstances, persevering in a less than ideal situation - but not looking for a radical solution

Een frisse neus halen click to hear '(going outside) to get [a fresh nose] some fresh air' also:  uitwaaien click to hear 2 3 4 going outdoors for a walk to get some fresh air (and clear the mind)

Ik ga even een blokje om click to hear 2 'I'll go for a short walk [around the block]'
even click to hear 2 'for a moment'

met man en macht click to hear click to hear [with man and power] - with all possible means, a great effort

met vereende krachten click to hear 2 ['with united [powers] forces'] - working together, a cooperative effort

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.

Marco's Choice

Oost west, thuis best click to hear 2 ['East, West - home is best'] - 'Home sweet home, there is no place like home'

Zoals 't klokje thuis tikt, tikt het nergens click to hear 2 3 4 5 ['There is no place where the clock ticks like at home'] - 'Home sweet home'

Ik ben een beetje een huismus click to hear 2 ['I have something of a house sparrow'] - 'I don't get out much'
(de) huismus click to hear 2 "house sparrow"

De macht der gewoonte click to hear 2 3 ['the power of habit'] - it's hard to break a routine
der click to hear is an old-fashioned form of 'van de' (of the)
(de) gewoontemens click to hear 2 3 'creature of habit'
De Macht van Het Kleine click to hear 2 ['The Power of The Little Thing'] - a charity that collects small donations, something like The March of Dimes

Tegen beter weten in click to hear 2 3 'Against my (or her or his) better judgement'

Teveel gedoe click to hear 'too much hassle' Dat is teveel gedoe click to hear 2 'that's too much hassle' Wat een gedoe! click to hear 2 'Such a hassle!' Veel gedoe om niks click to hear 'much ado about nothing'

Wat een onzin! click to hear 2 'Such nonsense!' Allemaal onzin! click to hear 2 3 All of that is nonsense!

't Is niet leuk meer click to hear 2 'It's not enjoyable anymore, the fun is gone'

Ben je helemaal geschuffeld? click to hear 2 'Are you crazy, are you out of your mind?'

See and hear also Dutch Fun Phrases - Talking about The Weather - Food and Drink - Sleep - Speaking Dutch, Speaking about Dutch
Conversations Template - Alliterations

email - Copyright © Marco Schuffelen 2012. 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