Amsterdam Europe The Netherlands

“Now breaks my wooden shoe!” – 9 typical Dutch expressions

I once wrote an article about funny expressions in Australia, but did you know us Dutchies also have some hilarious, typical Dutch sayings? In this article I listed the craziest/funniest/weirdest/Dutchest expressions for you. Yup, the Dutch are as crazy as a door!

1. Daar komt de aap uit de mouw
EN: There comes the monkey out of the sleeve
“Ahh, so that’s why you wanted to go to the pub tonight! There comes the monkey out of the sleeve!”
↳ Meaning: something you say when someone’s intentions get clear or when you find out the reason behind something

This is probably one of the funniest and weirdest Dutch expressions ever. Actually, me and my friends often jokingly use it in English as it makes even less sense that way. It’s origin? It is said this saying dates back to the time where artists used to hide monkeys up their sleeve, which they had to pull out at unexpected moments…

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2. Nou 
breekt mijn klomp!
EN: Now breaks my wooden shoe!
“So you’re saying you actually like Brussel Sprouts? Now breaks my wooden shoe!”
↳ Meaning: When something unexpected happens or is being said

Can an expression get any more Dutch than this? 🙂 Wooden shoes are very firm and strong, and don’t break easily, so the news to actually break the wooden shoe must be very extremely unexpected!

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3. Hij heeft een klap van de molen gehad
EN: He got hit by a (wind) mill
“He’s crazy. He must have been hit by the wind mill.”
↳ Meaning: when someone is a little weird, not quite right in the head.

Many, many years ago windmills were used in The Netherlands to mill flour, to cut wood or to pump water. Although I couldn’t find much information on the exact origin of this saying, I’m pretty sure it’s been around for a long long time.

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4. Het zal me worst wezen
EN: It shall me be sausage!
“I don’t care what they say. It shall me be sausage!”
↳ Meaning: I couldn’t care less!

Hahahaha… say whaaaat? When you say something will be sausage to you, you simply say you couldn’t care less. It is said that the Dutch took over this expression from the German “Das ist mir Wurst“. But still, where this expression comes from and why we use the word sausage to say we don’t care about something will remain a mystery until this very day…

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5. Al draagt een aap een gouden ring, het is en blijft een lelijk ding
EN: Even if a monkey wears a golden ring, it is still an ugly thing
“She can put on the prettiest dress she can find – it won’t matter. Even if a monkey wears a golden ring, it is still an ugly thing.
↳ Meaning: it doesn’t matter how pretty or fancy someone dresses up. They’re still ugly.

Wow! Actually this is a really mean saying, isn’t it? In Rotterdam (South Holland) they even say “You can paint a pile of shit purple, but it’ll still be a pile of shit”. Hahaha!

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6. Niet geschoten is altijd mis
EN: If you don’t shoot you’ll miss anyway
“Just try and ask him out. Maybe he’ll say no, but if you don’t shoot you’ll miss anyway”
↳ Meaning: if you don’t try you’ll never know – or – if you don’t try you’ll never succeed

Even though this saying isn’t necessarily very Dutch, I find myself using this one a lot – even when translating it into English 🙂 It’s just such a positive way of looking at things. Another equivalent of this saying is “You already have no. You can still get yes”.

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7. Nu zijn de rapen gaar!
EN: Now the turnips are ready (to eat).
“She just found out he cheated on her. Now the turnips are ready!”
↳ Meaning: there’s going to be trouble

Back in the days turnip was one of the main ingredients of a Dutch meal. Up until this day it is still not exactly clear why the Dutch use it to point out there’s trouble on the way… Ohhh sense, where art tho? 😉

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8. Met de gebakken peren zitten
EN: Sitting with the fried pears
“She decided not to finish her school. Now she’s sitting with the fried pears!”
↳ Meaning: having to deal with the consequences of an earlier decision

In the old days fried pears were a delicacy in The Netherlands. This saying refers to someone who prepared a delicious dinner for their guests, fried pears, but the guests didn’t show up. So they literally leave them with the fried pears… Well, I can think of worse things ;D

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9. Zo gek als een deur!
EN: As crazy as a door
“Have you met Annie? She’s hilarious and as crazy as a door!”
↳ Meaning: someone who is very, very crazy.

This last saying probably make the least sense of them all. I mean, how crazy are doors anyway? Haha! It is said that the Dutch word ‘”deur” once used to refer to a “dwaas” (fool). Many Dutchies (including me up until now) don’t know this and are under the impression the saying refers to an actually door.

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I hope you enjoyed this list of typical Dutch sayings and that you’ll start to use some of them in your every day life 😉 If there are any sayings in your language that are very typical and funny as well then I’d love to hear them! 🙂

❤ Eef

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