Proverbs and expressions(2)

  • Een appeltje voor de dorst
    • Literal Translation: "A little apple for the thirst."
    • Meaning: "Something you save for a time when you really need it."
    • English equivalent: "Save (something) for a rainy day."
  • Een beschuitje met iemand willen eten
    • Literal Translation: "Wanting to eat a crispbake with someone"
    • Meaning: "Feeling attracted to someone / Having sexual feelings for someone"
  • Een brutaal mens heeft de halve wereld
    • Literal Translation: "A cheeky person owns half the world"
    • Meaning: "A cheeky person has more opportunities"
  • Een ezel stoot zich (in 't algemeen) geen twee maal aan dezelfde steen.
    • Literal Translation: "(Generally) A donkey does not bump into the same stone twice."
    • Meaning: "One who makes the same mistake twice is a fool."
  • Een goed begin is het halve werk.
    • Literal Translation: "A good start is half the job done."
    • Meaning: "If you start something off well, you're already half on your way."
  • Een goede raad is goud waard / "goede raad is duur"
    • Literal translation: "Good advice is worth gold" / good advice is expensive
    • Meaning: not to find; not knowing what to do
    • Source: Dutch dictionary
  • Een goed verstaander heeft maar een half woord nodig
    • Literal translation: "An understanding person needs only half a word".
    • Meaning: "Someone that listens carefully, won't have to ask for it twice".
  • Een half ei is beter dan een lege dop.
    • Literal translation: "Half an egg is better than an empty shell".
    • Meaning: "Be glad with what you get".
  • Een kat in de zak kopen
    • Literal Translation: "Buying a cat in a bag"
    • Meaning: "Buying something that is not as useful as you thought it was"
    • English equivalent: "Buying a pig in a poke"
  • Een lange neus maken
    • Literal Translation: "Making a long nose"
    • Meaning: "Going your own way without being disturbed by other's objections"
  • Een oogje in het zeil houden
    • Literal Translation: "Keeping an eye on the sail"
    • Meaning: "Continuously checking the state of a project or thing"
    • English: "To keep an eye on something"
  • Een open deur intrappen.
    • Literal Translation: "Kicking in an open door"
    • Meaning: "Stating the obvious".
  • Een steekje laten vallen
    • Literal Translation: "Dropping a stitch"
    • Meaning: "Making a mistake"
  • Een vlag op een modderschuit
    • Literal Translation: "A flag on a mud barge"
    • Meaning: "Excessive decoration of a common thing or trying to make the ugly beautiful"
  • Eén zwaluw maakt nog geen zomer
    • Literal Translation: "One swallow doesn't make summer"
    • Meaning: "One needs more than one indication to draw a conclusion"
  • Eieren voor je geld kiezen
    • Literal Translation: "Choosing eggs for your money"
    • Meaning: "Taking the easiest and safest way out"
  • Er met de pet naar gooien
    • Literal Translation: "Throwing the hat at it"
    • Meaning: "Not doing your best"
  • Er met de pet niet bijkunnen
    • Literal Translation: "Not being able to reach it with your hat"
    • Meaning: "Not understanding something"
  • Er geen doekjes om winden
    • Literal Translation: "Not wrapping it in cloth"
    • Meaning: "Saying it exactly like it is, using no euphemisms"
    • Meaning: "Not beating around the bush"
  • Er zit bij hem een steekje los
    • Literal Translation: "There is a stitch loose with him"
    • Meaning: "He is a brick short of a full load".
    • English equivalent: "He has got a screw loose"


  • Gedane zaken nemen geen keer
    • Literal Translation: A done deal cannot be reversed.
    • Meaning: "You can't undo your actions "
    • English equivalent: "Don't cry over spilt milk"
  • Gedeelde smart is halve smart
    • Literal Translation: "Shared grief is half grief"
    • Meaning: "Having someone who shares your feelings can make them bearable"
    • English equivalent: "A problem shared is a problem halved"
  • Geen geld, geen Zwitsers.
    • Literal Translation: "No money, no Swiss."
    • Meaning: "Don't expect something for nothing." (Refers to the frequent use by the Dutch army of Swiss mercenaries.).
  • Geen hoge pet ophebben van iemand.
    • Literal Translation: "Not wearing a high cap of someone."
    • Meaning: "Not liking someones character or attitude."
  • Geen slapende honden wakker maken".
    • Literal translation: "Do not wake sleeping dogs".
    • Meaning: "Do not inform anyone that does not know yet of a somewhat negative item".
    • English equivalent: "Let sleeping dogs lie."
  • Geen nieuws is goed nieuws.
    • Literal translation: "No news is good news."
    • Meaning: Bad news has wings, so if nothing bad has been heard, nothing bad has happened.
  • Goed begonnen is half gewonnen.
    • Literal Translation: "Well started is half won."
    • Meaning: "If you start something off well, you're already half way."
  • Gooi het maar in mijn pet, dan zoek ik het morgen wel uit.
    • Literal Translation: "Just toss it in my hat and I'll sort it out tomorrow."
    • Meaning: "That is too much for me to understand so quickly."


  • Haastige spoed is zelden goed
    • Literal translation: "Hasty speed is rarely good"
    • Meaning: "Doing something fast does not mean it is done well"
    • English equivalent: Haste makes waste.
  • Het aan zijn water voelen
    • Literal Translation: "Feeling it from his water."
    • Meaning: "Getting knowledge from intuition."
  • Het bloed kruipt waar het niet gaan kan.
    • Literal Translation: "The blood creeps where it can't go."
    • Meaning: "The true character of somebody will always show up."
    • English equivalent: "Blood will tell."
  • Het lid op de neus krijgen
    • Literal Translation: "To get the lid on the nose"
    • Meaning: "When being too greedy one should expect to be punished"
  • Het doel heiligt de middelen.
    • Literal translation: "The purpose sanctifies the means."
    • Meaning: "Anything goes if you really want to get something done."
    • Meaning: "If you want something, everything is allowed."
    • English equivalent: "The end justifies the means."
  • Het leven gaat niet altijd over rozen.
    • Literal Translation: "Life is not always about roses."
    • Meaning: "Life is not always easy."
    • English equivalent: "Life isn't always a bed of roses."
  • Het onderste uit de pot willen
    • Literal Translation: "To want the last from the pot"
    • Meaning: "To want the ultimate profitability from something"
  • Het op de klompen kunnen aanvoelen
    • Literal Translation: "Being able to feel it on wooden shoes."
    • Meaning: "It's obvious."
  • Het paard achter de wagen spannen"
    • Literal translation: "To put the horse behind the cart."
    • Meaning: "Trying to solve a problem in the wrong way (a counter productive solution)."
  • Het regent pijpestelen
    • Literal translation: "It's raining pipestems"
    • Meaning: "Heavy rain"
    • English: "It's raining cats and dogs"
  • Het ijzer smeden als het heet is."
    • Literal translation: "Casting the iron whilst it is hot."
    • Meaning: "Seize your opportunity."
    • English equivalent: "Make hay while the sun shines; strike while the iron is hot."
  • Het zwarte schaap van de familie.
    • Literal Translation/English equivalent: "The black sheep in the family."
    • Meaning: "Someone notorious for being "bad" or a misfit (out of a group of people)"
  • Het zijn niet alleen koks die lange messen dragen."
    • Literal translations: "It's not only cooks that wear long knives."
    • Meaning: "Don't jump to conclusions on the basis of appearances."
    • English equivalent: "Don't judge a book by its cover."
  • Hij heeft de klok wel horen luiden maar weet niet waar de klepel hangt.
    • Literal Translation: "He did hear the sound of the bell, but doesn't know where the clapper hangs."
    • Meaning: "He thinks he knows the subject, but the essence eludes him."
  • Hij voelt zich als een kat in een vreemd pakhuis.
    • Literal Translation: "He feels like a cat in an strange warehouse."
    • Meaning: "He feels out of place, not at home."
  • Hoge bomen vangen veel wind"
    • Literal Translation: "High trees catch lots of wind."
    • Meaning: "The more important the person the more criticism they get."
    • English equivalent: "Heavy is the head that wears the crown."
  • Holle vaten klinken het hardst
    • Literal Translation "Hollow barrels sound loudest"
    • Meaning: "The louder a person shouts, the less he knows"
    • English equivalent": "The empty vessel makes the greatest sound."

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