The Netherlands

The top 25 funniest Dutch expressions and idioms ever!

I will just fall with the door into the house, because I currently feel chickendelicious. Huh confused? We’re just getting started! We all know some weird phrases we use in our home countries that have unusual meanings. The Dutch love expressions and will litter their everyday conversations with them. I was recently talking with a friend about these phrases and thought it would be fun to introduce some of these phrases to you in a blog post. Here are my 25 favorite Dutch expressions and idioms:

1. To fall with the door into the house.

Dutch translation: Met de deur in huis vallen.

Meaning: To get straight to the point.

Photo by Eduard Militaru on Unsplash

2. To glue someone behind the wallpaper.

Dutch translation: Iemand achter het behang plakken.

Meaning: To find someone very annoying, which makes you prefer not to have anything to do with him or her anymore.

3. To step out of bed with the wrong leg.

Dutch translation: Met het verkeerde been uit bed gestapt.

Meaning: Waking up in a bad mood.

4. Unfortunately, peanut butter.

Dutch translation: Helaas, pindakaas.

Meaning: Too bad.

5. It’s raining pipe-stems.

Dutch translation: Het regent pijpenstelen.

Meaning: To rain extremely hard, or to pour (‘to rain cats and dogs’).

Photo by Lola Guti on Unsplash

6.To sit with your mouth full of teeth.

Dutch translation: Met de mond vol tanden staan.

Meaning: To be speechless.

7. Now the monkey comes out of the sleeve.

Dutch translation: Nu komt de aap uit de mouw.

Meaning: The moment that a hidden motive or the truth behind something is revealed (‘to let the cat out of the bag’).

8. To have chickenskin.

Dutch translation: Kippenvel hebben.

Meaning: To get goosebumps.

9. Now my clog is breaking.

Dutch translation: Nu breekt mijn klomp.

Meaning: To be totally amazed or not expect something.

Photo by silvia trigo on Unsplash

10. To have something under the knee.

Dutch translation: Iets onder de knie hebben.

Meaning: To possess in-depth knowledge of something, to master it.

11. To be a party nose.

Dutch translation: Een feestneus zijn.

Meaning: To be a party animal.

12. Talking about little cows and little calves.

Dutch translation: Praten over koetjes en kalfjes.

Meaning: Meaning that you are chatting about nothing of importance or nothing in particular.

13. We will certainly get that piglet washed.

Dutch translation: We zullen dat varkentje wel even wassen.

Meaning: That you will take care of something, fix something or get the job done.

Photo by Forest Simon on Unsplash

14. A whistle of a cent.

Dutch translation: Een fluitje van een cent.

Meaning: Something that can be done with very little effort.

15. There is nothing on the hand.

Dutch translation: Er is niets aan de hand.

Meaning: Everything is fine. It’s going to be alright.

16. As if an angel is peeing on your tongue.

Dutch translation: Alsof er een engeltje over je tong piest.

Meaning: Someone who is really enjoying their meal.

17. To buy something for an apple and an egg.

Dutch translation: Iets voor een appel en een ei kopen.

Meaning: To buy something very cheaply.

Photo by Jen Theodore on Unsplash

18. To be the outside leg.

Dutch translation: Het buitenbeentje zijn.

Meaning: Someone who deviates from his environment, in particular from his family, in his behavior, ideas or appearance. To be the misfit in a group.

19. To buy a cat in the bag.

Dutch translation: Een kat in de zak kopen.

Meaning: To have been duped into buying something without inspecting it properly.

20. What have I got hanging on my bike now?

Dutch translation: Wat heb ik nou aan mijn fiets hangen?

Meaning: This expression is said when something weird happens. It is a way of saying ‘What’s going on now?’ or ‘What do I have to deal with now?’

21. To feel chickendelicious.

Dutch translation: Kiplekker voelen.

Meaning: To feel great.

Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash

22. To fall with your nose in the butter.

Dutch translation: Met zijn neus in de boter vallen.

Meaning: To be at the right place at the right time.

23. Doing something with the French whiplash.

Dutch translation: Iets met de Franse slag doen.

Meaning: Doing something half-baked or hastily.

24. We will make them smell a little poo!

Dutch translation: We zullen ze eens een poepie laten ruiken!

Meaning: To surprise or impress someone with your behavior.

25. When you burn your butt, you have to sit on the blisters.

Dutch translation: Wie zijn billen brandt, moet op de blaren zitten.

Meaning: If you do something foolish, you must acknowledge the consequences.

Photo by Michael Fousert on Unsplash

So when one of your dinner guest tells you an ‘angel peed on their tongue’, you should take it as a Dutch compliment and not as an insult! I hope these Dutch expressions, phrases and idioms can help you to avoid any miscommunications or very awkward situations when traveling in The Netherlands.

Do you know any other fun Dutch expressions or idioms? Please share them in a comment!

Author: Daphne

Pin this post if you’re traveling to The Netherlands!


  • Paul

    The english translation #25 is not correct. I’d propose:
    “When you burn your butt, you have to sit on the blisters.”
    It fits the Dutch version better, and also makes more sense.

    • Girlswanderlust

      Hi Leonie,

      We have 2 proverbs with flour. The literal translations:

      With flour in your mouth, you shouldn’t blow.
      Don’t do two things at once.

      Blow and still keep the flour in the mouth.
      Talk a lot without making the intention clear.

  • Val Seppä

    This is absolutely hilarious. I am a native Dutchman, and I have heard most of these in use, but I can honestly say that I have never used any of these in my life. They are very common, and that is great.

    Btw, some small suggestions for changes in the translation:

    “Klomp” in English is “Clog” or “Klomp”. “Wooden Shoe” is too descriptive and doesn’t flow neatly.

    “Poepie” in English would be more like “Little poo” rather than “Fart”, but could be interpreted both ways.

  • Bernard

    That was an enjoyable review of typical Dutch expressions that when literally translated into English (or another language) can be a source of confusion, misunderstandings… And jokes. To add a few, these expressions that flashed into my mind:
    ‘Hij is van de trap gevallen’ , literally ‘he fell down the stairs’ . Actual meaning: ‘He has had a haircut’.
    ‘Eieren voor zijn geld kiezen’ (To choose eggs for money). Actual meaning : ‘to settle for less’.
    ‘Ga je gang’ which my father-in-law jokingly used to translate for me into French as ‘ Allez votre corridor’.
    ‘Gang’ is in French ‘corridor’ or ‘couloir’, in English a hall, so literally it says something like ‘go your hall’,which is of course nonsense. The actual meaning is ‘Go ahead’ or ‘have it your way’.
    Due to my background, you won’t be surprised I have some trouble with the expression ‘Met de Franse slag’ that to me sounds pretty derogatory.

    • Girlswanderlust

      Hi Bernard, thanks for sharing some more Dutch expressions! I understand your feelings regarding the expression ‘ Met de Franse Slag’. Let’s keep in mind that the expresion just means ‘doing half the work or not paying full attention to something’ and has luckily nothing to do with nationality. Have a great day!

    • Girlswanderlust

      Hi Manuel. Thank you for your nice comment! Please note that they speak Dutch in the Netherlands and German (Deutsch) in Germany. Of course you can always easily combine a visit to Germany with the Netherlands as it are neighbouring countries! =)

      • Tessa

        German (Deutsch) and Dutch have some words that are the same. if you already speak dutch or german the other language is a bit easier to understand and learn.
        from a native dutchman

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