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https://www.duolingo.com/OtterBaskets

Typically Dutch idioms/expressions

Hello everyone!

I thought it would be fun to share some of my favourite Dutch idioms involving stereotypically 'Dutch' things:

-'Nu breekt mijn klomp!' (Now my clog breaks!) = Said when you are surprised by something. Nowadays it is not used a lot anymore, only jokingly.

-'Dat kan je op je klompen aanvoelen' (You can feel/sense that on your clogs) = Something is easy to sense, you can feel it very strongly ('Iets op je klompen aanvoelen' = to feel something in your bones)

-'Hij heeft een klap van de molen gehad' (He has had a hit from the windmill) = What you say about someone who is acting crazy/ weird.

-'Zoden aan de dijk zetten' (setting sods(?) to the dike) =Getting things done, contributing something useful. This originates from the middle ages when people needed to add 'zoden' (bits of grass/ground) to the dikes to reinforce them when they were about to break. So if the dike was about to break through, and you were not setting 'zoden aan de dijk', you were not being helpful.

-'Het water over de dijk laten lopen' (Letting the water run over the dike) = Crying.

-'Een scheve schaats rijden' (riding a crooked/skewed iceskate) = Doing something you shouldn't be doing/ is not allowed, making a mistake.

-'Wat heb ik nou aan mijn fiets hangen?' (What do I have hanging on my bike now?) = What kind of weird thing is happening now?

-'Oh, op die fiets' (Oh, on that bicycle) = Oh, in that way, now I get it.

-'Oude koeien uit de sloot halen' (taking old cows out of the ditch) = Bringing up half-forgotten, old stories again. Usually annoying or unpleasant stories that people don't feel like being reminded of, such as that one time they forgot to pick up the kids or that one time they lost your valuable ring.

'Ergens geen kaas van hebben gegeten' (Not having eaten cheese of something) = Not knowing anything about something, to not understand something.

Alright, that's about it for today! If you have any questions or you can think of any idioms which you think are 'typically Dutch', I'd love to hear them! :)

3 years ago

14 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/Susande
Susande
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I just wrote down a small story with 19 Dutch expressions about shipping, they are all common ones.

Laat ik van wal steken. Ze waren misschien het boegbeeld, maar we staken ze de loef af, waardoor we hen ook de wind uit de zeilen namen, het ging ons dus voor de wind. Door dit alles moesten ze overstag om vervolgens een nieuwe koers te varen en alle zeilen bij te moeten zetten. Ze waren nog lang niet in veilige haven. Dat bleek toen ze alsnog bakzeil haalden, waardoor het roer om moest en ze tussen wal en schip vielen. Ze voeren op de klippen, dus het was pompen of verzuipen en vervolgens vrouwen en kinderen eerst. Maar het was al te laat, ze konden het niet meer over een andere boeg gooien en ze vergingen met man en muis en ze gingen naar de haaien. Zo blijkt maar weer, de beste stuurlui staan aan wal.

Edit: I added two more. :) Edit: And another one. :)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Markmcopc
Markmcopc
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That's hilarious! It would be a real kick, Susande, if you would write a story like this one and post it to Immersion. Of course, since it's your ship and I'm on the shore, that puts me in a great position to tell you what you ought to do!

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Susande
Susande
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Good idea, but I guess we'll have to wait until the Dutch > English immersion is available. I can translate this story into English, but no way I can make it into a proper English story that can be translated into Dutch. :)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/mave94
mave94
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Geweldig!

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Hatboink

"Je kunt het op je buik schrijven." (You can write it on your belly.) = I think you can forget about that. (When someone wants something that's probably not going to happen)

"Vooruit met de geit!" (Forwards with the goat!) = Come on, let's do it! (When people are about to start with something.)

"We zullen ze een poepie laten ruiken." (We shall let them smell a little fart.) = We shall do something that will really amaze them.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Simius
Simius
Mod
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  • "Het zal me een worst wezen." (It will be a sausage to me) = I don't give a damn.

  • "De beste stuurlui staan aan wal." (The best steersmen are on the shore) = A sarcastic comment about how people who are not involved in something always think that they know better than those who are.

  • "Een oogje in het zeil houden" (To keep an eye on the sail) = To keep an eye out.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Markmcopc
Markmcopc
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These are interesting, and I haven't seen any of them before. Thank you!

Some time ago, I found a site called spreekwoord.nl. The explanations are briefer than yours though, and English equivalents are not usually provided.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Vosges
Vosges
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I am a native speaker and a only knew three of them :)

I guess that those idioms are rather said in Holland than in Flanders? My favourites are 'Maak dat de kat wijs', 'Niets aan de hand' and 'Een waarheid als een koe'.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/OtterBaskets

Well, to be fair some of these idioms are quite old-fashioned so I wouldn't really expect everyone to know them (I had to look them up myself, too). I would also expect Flanders to have less idioms related to clogs, for example, since they are quite stereotypical for the Netherlands ( or are they a thing in Flanders as well?). Which makes me wonder, do you know any idioms which are really typically Flemish/ Belgian?

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Vosges
Vosges
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To be honest, I have really no idea whether the idioms we say here are exclusively used in Flanders. The only example I know right now is 'Van alles is kloekestront', which is only said in "plat dialect" - no idea how to translate that in English, sorry - here in the Campine. It's used when someone answers the question 'What did you do today?' or something similar with 'Vanalles'. It means that you have to be a little more specific.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/OtterBaskets

Cool, I've indeed never heard of that one in the Netherlands. It reminds me a bit of a rhyme used by children:

'waarom, daarom, daarom is geen reden: als je van de trap af valt, ben je snel beneden.'

I don't know if you have it in Flanders too, and it does not make any sense, but it is used mainly when when a child asks their parent 'waarom' and the parent answers 'daarom'. So the child responds with the rhyme to tell them that they should give a proper answer.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Vosges
Vosges
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Actually, we do say that. But only the first part of it, without the "als je van de trap af valt, ben je snel beneden".

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/DogePamyuPamyu

Is this correct

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/OtterBaskets

haha, well to be honest 'het water over de dijk laten lopen' is a rather old expression, so to most people this would just seem strange :) It would be better for it to say ''huilt in het spaans''.

3 years ago