Proverbs and expressions(1)

  • Aan iemands lippen hangen
    • Literal Translation: Clinging onto someone’s lips
    • Meaning: Being very attentive to someone’s storytelling
  • Aan lager wal raken
    • Literal Translation: To arrive on the downwind side of the lake
    • Meaning: To fall into poverty
    • English equivalent: “To go downhill, to be thrown on one’s beam-ends.”
  • Achter het net vissen
    • Literal Translation: “To fish behind the net”
    • Meaning: “to be too late for having success, doing things without result”
  • Als de kat van huis is, dansen de muizen (op tafel).
    • Literal Translation: “When the cat is away from home, the mice dance (on the table)”
    • Meaning: “Grabbing the opportunity when nobody watches”.
    • English equivalent: “While the cat’s away, the mice will play”.
  • Als een kip zonder kop.
    • Literal Translation: “Like a chicken without a head”
    • Meaning: “To act like a fool”
  • Beter één vogel in de hand dan tien in de lucht
    • Literal Translation: “Better one bird in the hand than ten in the sky”
    • English equivalent: “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”.
  • Beter een goede buur dan een verre vriend
    • Literal Translation: “Better a good neighbour than a distant friend”
    • Meaning: It is better to be friendly with a neighbour, than having a friend who is too far away to be there for you”
  • Beter laat dan nooit.
    • Literal translation: “Better late than never”
    • Meaning: It’s better to arrive late than never.
    • English equivalent: “Better late than never”
  • Beter ten halve gekeerd dan ten volle gedwaald.
    • Literal translation: “It’s better to turn around halfway, than to get lost completely”
    • Meaning: It’s better to correct ones mistakes than to persevere stubbornly.
  • Bezint eer gij begint.
    • Literal translation: “Think before you begin”
    • Meaning: Think before you act.
    • Alliterative English equivalent: “Look before you leap”.
  • Blaffende honden bijten niet
    • Literal Translation: “Barking dogs don’t bite”.
    • Meaning: If people have a big mouth doesn’t mean they’re a threat.
    • English equivalent: “His bark is worse than his bite.”
  • Dat kan het daglicht niet verdragen.
    • Literal Translation: “That cannot bear the daylight.”
    • Meaning: This is unethical/illegal.
    • English Equivalent: “This couldn’t stand the light of day.”
  • Dat slaat als een tang op een varken
    • Literal Translation: “It hits like a grip on a pig”
    • Meaning: “It makes no sense at all.
  • De appel valt niet ver van de boom
    • Literal Translation: “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”
    • Meaning: Offspring behaves like (one of) the parents.
    • English equivalent: “A chip off the old block”
  • De beste stuurlui staan aan wal
    • Literal Translation: “The best helmsmen stand on shore”
    • Meaning: “The watchers always know better than the doers”
    • English equivalent: “Bachelors’ wives and maidens’ children are well taught.”
  • De wal zal het schip keren
    • Literal Translation: “The shore will stop the ship.”
    • Meaning: The course of things will take a different turn automatically.
  • De druppel die de emmer doet overlopen
    • Literal translation: “The drop that floods the bucket”
    • Meaning: “The last (tiny) thing that makes you snap”
    • English equivalent: “The straw that broke the camel’s back”
  • De een z’n dood is de ander z’n brood”.
    • Literal translation: “One person’s death is another’s bread”.
    • Meaning: “The disadvantage of someone is the advantage of another”.
  • De hond in de pot vinden
    • Literal Translation: “To find the dog in the jar”
    • Meaning: “Being too late for your treat”
    • English: “Go without one’s dinner.” or “Dining with Duke Humphrey.”
  • De huik naar de wind hangen
    • Literal Translation: To hang the sail-covers to the wind
    • Meaning: To adapt ones behavior to circumstances
  • De kost gaat voor de baat uit
    • Literal Translation: Cost goes before the profit
    • Meaning: You have to invest time, effort or money before you can expect anything
  • De laatste loodjes wegen het zwaarst
    • Literal Translation: The last pieces of lead are heaviest
    • Meaning: The last few things are the most difficult ones
  • De ochtendstond heeft goud in de mond
    • Literal translation: The sunrise hour has gold in its mouth
    • Meaning: When getting out of bed early, you have more time to do things
      • Scottish version: Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.

Source: http://en.wikiquote.org/

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