Why the Dutch language could leave you with an unfortunately peanutcheese feeling … ;)

The NetherlandsSome Dutch phrases and sayings can be very confusing and pretty hilarious when translated literally from Dutch to English (or any other language).

So better be prepared if you are ever planning to visit the Netherlands. It can be a difficult language to understand and learn with it’s many phrases, sayings, rules and exceptions.

Below you will find some funny and confusing examples.
Starting with the Dutch phrase or saying after it’s literally translated to English, followed by the original phrase in Dutch and it’s meaning.

Enjoy 😉


Unfortunately Peanutcheese?

Unfortunately peanutcheese (peanutbutter)
In Dutch: Helaas Pindakaas
Meaning: Too bad, a missed chance – an informal and jocular exclamation of regret

He is taking you by the nose
In Dutch: Hij neemt je bij de neus
Meaning: He’s fooling you

Now the monkey comes out of the sleeve
In Dutch: Nu komt de aap uit the mouw
Meaning: Now the truth is revealing itself

Forward with te goat
In Dutch: Vooruit met de geit
Meaning: Come on, get going

Make that the cat wise
In Dutch: Maak dat de kat wijs
Meaning: I don’t believe any of it

I shall let them smell a poopy
In Dutch: Ik zal ze een poepie laten ruiken
Meaning: I will show them how it’s done, to amaze or impress someone with your behavior

I fell with the door in the house
In Dutch: Ik viel met de deur in huis
Meaning: I came straight to the point

Let me crash right in with the door
In Dutch: Laat me gelijk met de deur in huis vallen
Meaning: Let me get straight to the point right away

I don’t understand a bag of it
In Dutch: Ik snap er geen zak van
Meaning: I have no clue what that is about

I can’t tie a rope to it
In Dutch: Ik kan er geen touw aan vastknopen
Meaning: By the lack of clearity not understanding what is said

dutch-girl-emoticonI laugh myself a little hat
In Dutch: Ik lach mezelf een hoedje
Meaning: I really have to laugh about this

I’m lying in a dent
In Dutch: Ik lig in een deuk
Meaning: I can’t stop laughing

I laugh myself an accindent
In Dutch: Ik lach mezelf een ongeluk
Meaning: Something is so funny that i just can’t stop laughing

It shall me a sausage be
In Dutch: Het zal me een worst wezen
Meaning: I really don’t care

It rains steel pipes, or, It’s raining pipe stems
In Dutch: Het regent pijpestelen
Meaning: It’s raining really hard

shirt-hollandThere is not a ball on TV
In Dutch: Er is geen bal op TV
Meaning: There’s nothing interesting on the television

There is nothing on the hand
In Dutch: Er is niks aan de hand
Meaning: There’s nothing going on, everything is okay

I am monkey proud of you
In Dutch: Ik ben apetrots op je
Meaning: I am so proud of you

molen-op-huis-delftsblauw-20-cm-delft-mill-with-kiscouple-and-flowers_019275You smell an hour in the wind
In Dutch: Je stinkt een uur in de wind
Meaning: You are smelling really bad

Dont look a given horse in the mouth
In Dutch: Kijk een gegeven paard niet in de mond
Meaning: Don’t be too critical and be grateful for a received gift

Letting them eat the cheese of your bread
In Dutch: Zich de kaas van het brood laten eten
Meaning: Letting them deprive your rights

Leaving the church before singing
In Dutch: Voor het zingen de kerk uit
Meaning: Coitus interruptus, leaving the vulva before ejaculation

Thunder up and leave me with rest
In Dutch: Donder op en laat me met rust
Meaning: Get the hell out of here and leave me alone

We laughed us rotten
In Dutch: We lachen ons rot
Meaning: We have to laugh really hard about something hillarious

I lost my key forrest
In Dutch: Ik ben mijn sleutelbos kwijt
Meaning: I lost my keys

Shave yourself away
In Dutch: Scheer je weg
Meaning: Better leave as fast as you can if you don’t want any trouble

If you burn your hole, you must sit on the blisters
In Dutch: Wie zijn gat verbrand moet op de blaren zitten
Meaning: If you have done something stupid you have to accept the consequenses

To sit on the front row for a dime
In Dutch: Voor een dubbeltje vooraan zitten
Meaning: When something doesn’t take much effort

I don’t trust you for a meter
In Dutch: Ik vertrouw je voor geen meter
Meaning: I don’t trust you at all, not even a bit

It walks in the soup
In Dutch: Het loopt in de soep
Meaning: Something doesn’t go as planned

I’m keeping you in the holes
In Dutch: Ik hou je in de gaten
Meaning: I’m keeping an eye on you

two-thumbs-up-vector_635960780Hats off
In Dutch: Petje af
Meaning: You have done a good job. An unqualified exclamation on a delivered performance.

To participate for bacon and beans
In Dutch: Meedoen voor spek en bonen
Meaning: Participating without expecting any personal gain in return

That’s like putting salt on a snail
In Dutch: Dat is als zout op een slak doen
Meaning: Commenting on every unimportant thing

Its dick black outside
In Ducth: Het is pik zwart buiten
Meaning: It’s really dark outside

cartoonGiving someone a cookie of their own dough
In Dutch: Iemand een koekje van eigen deeg geven
Meaning: An eye for an eye, a payback after you did the same thing to others

I can stick you behind the wallpaper
In Dutch: Ik kan je wel achter het behang plakken
Meaning: You are really annoying me

I’m lying completly dubble
In Dutch: Ik lig helemaal dubbel
Meaning: I can’t stop laughing

I will see it through the fingers
In Dutch: Ik zal het door de vingers zien
Meaning: I will let you get away with it this time

kaasThe morning stood has gold in the mouth
In Dutch: De ochtendstond heeft goud in de mond
Meaning: Getting up early will be more productive

Next time you will be the sigar
In Dutch: De volgende keer ben je de sigaar
Meaning: Next time you won’t get away with it

That’s asking for the known road
In Dutch: Dat is om de bekende weg vragen
Meaning: When you already know the answer to a question

dutch_vc016253As the clock ticks at home, it will tick nowhere
In Dutch: Zoals het klokje thuis tikt tikt het nergens
Meaning: There’s no better place than home

Standing with a mouth full of teeth
In Dutch: Met een mond vol tanden staan
Meaning: Not knowing what to say

We will get that piglet washed
In Dutch: We krijgen dat varkentje wel gewassen
Meaning: getting something fixed or done

I haven’t done a single bag this day
In Dutch: Ik heb vandaag geen zak gedaan
Meaning: I didn’t do anything productive today

I am completely cooked
In Dutch: Ik ben helemaal gaar
Meaning: I’m completely worn out

I am having it Spanish breathless
In Dutch: Ik heb het Spaans benauwd
Meaning: .. this refers to a state of fear or anxiety. The association with Spain goes back to the times when Spain was the oppressor during and prior to the eighty years of war.

Make that the cat wise
In Dutch: Maak dat de kat wijs
Meaning: Don’t try to convince me because it doesn’t sound very trustworthy

That’s not nothing
In Dutch: Dat is niet niks
Meaning: That’s a whole lot, or, that’s quite something

dropLike an angel pissing on your tongue
In Dutch: Als een engel die over je tong plast
Meaning: When something tasts extremely good

You are stabbing the dragon with that
In Dutch: Je steekt de draak ermee
Meaning: You are ridiculing something

You can go my back up
In Dutch: Je kunt mijn rug op
Meaning: I had enough, sort it out yourself

You can write that on your belly
In Dutch: Dat kun je op je buik schrijven
Meaning: Forget it, it’s not gonna happen

I slept like a rose
In Dutch: Ik sliep als een roos
Meaning: I have slept very comfortable and peaceful

Don’t bind the cat on the bacon
In Dutch: Bindt de kat niet op het spek
Meaning: Avoid the temptation

Taking someone in the maling
In Dutch: Iemand in de maling nemen
Meaning: Playing a joke on someone, making a fool of someone

dutch-wooden-shoesNow breaks my wooden shoe
In Dutch: Nou breekt me de klomp
Meaning: I’m stunned/surprised, that was unexpected

Getting the wind from the front
In Dutch: De wind van voren krijgen
Meaning: Getting a scolding

As clear as a cube
In Dutch: Zo klaar als een klontje
Meaning: When something is clear and done

1st of April, Frog in your butt
In Dutch: 1 April, kikker in je bil
Meaning: Gotcha! (after pulling a joke on April’s fools-day)

cowTalking about little cows and calves
In Dutch: Over koetjes en kalfjes praten
Meaning: Chit chat, small talk, talking without any specific subject of importance

Get now something
In Dutch: Krijg nou wat
Meaning: Really? Im stunned

You must scratch where it itches
In Dutch: Je moet krabben waar het jeukt
Meaning: You have to get to the point or the core of something

Give them from cotton
In Dutch: Geef ze van katoen
Meaning: Show them what you got

Don’t make yourself busy
In Dutch: Maak je niet druk
Meaning: Don’t worry too much

delft-plate_061246It is as if its printed
In Dutch: Het is alsof het gedrukt staat
Meaning: It’s hard to get around it, or it’s hard to dismiss

Take it with a crum of salt
In Dutch: Neem het met een korreltje zout
Meaning: Don’t take it too serious, don’t make too much out of it

Are you being snatched from the pot?
In Dutch: Ben je van de pot gerukt?
Meaning: Are you crazy!

Being an antfucker
In Dutch: Een mierenneuker zijn
Meaning: Someone who pays too much negative attention to small and meaningless things

It gave me chickenskin
In Dutch: Het gaf me kippevel
Meaning: It gave me goosebumps

tulpenOur little frogland

In Dutch: Ons kleine kikkerlandje
Meaning: How the Dutch call their country for it being so small

That’s another cookie
In Dutch: Dat is andere koek
Meaning: That’s something completely different

You did not have a cookie of that
In Dutch: Daar heb jij geen koek van gegeten
Meaning: You are too unexperienced to understand what it’s about

Sitting on dry seeds
In Dutch: Op droog zaad zitten
Meaning: Having no money

Im not crazy Henkie
In Dutch: Ik ben gekke Henkie niet
Meaning: Don’t try to fool me because i will see right through you

I’m taking the leggs-wagon
In Dutch: Ik neem de benenwagen
Meaning: Im gonna walk

Go your corridor
In Dutch: Ga je gang
Meaning: Do as you please

Me me me and the rest can suffocate
In Dutch: Ikke ikke ikke en de rest kan stikken
Meaning: Said when someone is being selfish, only thinks about themselves

Joost only knows
In Dutch: Joost mag het weten
Meaning: I have no idea / not a clue

sint-piet-paard1Dont get old cows out of the canals
In Dutch: Haal geen oude koeien uit de sloot
Meaning: Leave the past behind, don’t bring it up again

You have a plate before your head
In Dutch: Je hebt een plaat voor je hoofd
Meaning: Nothing comes through to you, You are not getting it

You act like a holy bean
In Dutch: Je gedraagt je als een heilig boontje
Meaning: You act like if you are innocent

Don’t laugh me out
In Dutch: Lach me niet uit
Meaning: Don’t make fun of me

dutch_trav0017Let’s set the flowers outside
In Dutch: Laten we de bloemetjes buitenzetten
Meaning: Let’s have fun, let’s party, let’s have a good time

Let’s not wind wipes around it
In Dutch: Laten we er geen doekjes omheen winden
Meaning: Let’s go straight to the point

You find yourself on slippery ice
In Dutch: Je begeeft je op glad ijs
Meaning: You are going where you shouldn’t go, setting yourself up for danger

Pietje exact
In Dutch: Pietje Precies
Meaning: An extremely accurate person

You need to look further then your nose is long
In Dutch: Je moet verder kijken dan je neus lang is
Meaning: You have to look beyond the horizon, the more you open your vision the more you will see

The apple does not fall far from the tree
In Dutch: De appel valt niet ver van de boom
Meaning: Children often are a lot like their parents

I’m totally going out of my roof
In Dutch: Ik ga totaal uit mijn dak
Meaning: Having extreme emotions

That doesn’t sound for a meter
In Dutch: Dat klinkt voor geen meter
Meaning: That doesn’t sound very well

Now we have the puppets dancing
In Dutch: Nu hebben we de poppen aan het dansen
Meaning: Now the argument / fight begins, or problems will start

We are dancing to their trousers
In Dutch: Wij dansen hen naar de pijpen
Meaning: We do everything they want/tell us to do

bitterballen-1When the cat is from home the mice will dance on the table
In Dutch: Als de kat van huis is dansen de muizen op tafel
Meaning: The things that happen without supervision

On the other side
In Dutch: Aan de andere kant
Meaning: On the other hand / when comparing possibillities

With plumbum in the shoes
In Dutch: Met lood in de schoenen
Meaning: When you don’t wanna do something

You are laughing like a farmer with tooth pain
In Dutch: Je lacht als een boer met kiespijn
Meaning: When someone is laughing without being amuzed and is only laughing because others are laughing

Speaking with a hot patato in your mouth
In Dutch: Spreken met een hete aardappel in je mond
Meaning: Speaking with a dialect

Its again the same song
In Dutch: Het is alweer hetzelfde liedje
Meaning: Repeating the same thing over and over again

Buying a cat in the bag
In Dutch: Een kat in de zak kopen
Meaning: Making a bad buy

You can climb my back up

In Dutch: Je kunt mijn rug op
Meaning: It’s not gonna happen

Falling with your nose in the butter
In Dutch: Met je neus in de boter vallen
Meaning: Being right time, right place, when something good happens, like winning a lottery

Three times is shipsright
In Dutch: Drie maal is scheepsrecht
Meaning: When it didn’t happen the first two times the third time it probably will

fietsersah, on that bicycle
In Dutch: Ah, op die fiets
Meaning: Ah, now i get what you mean

You see them flying sure?
In Dutch: Je ziet ze zeker vliegen?
Meaning: Suspecting someone of seeing things that are not there

I have an apple to peel with you
In Dutch: Ik heb een appeltje met je te schillen
Meaning: Having to resolve something negative with another person

Having a lot of notes on your sang
In Dutch: Veel noten op je zang hebben
Meaning: Someone who is verbally very demanding

Rowing with the rowings you have
In Dutch: Roeien met de riemen die je hebt
Meaning: Making use of the resources you have

It walks out of the hand
In Dutch: Het loopt uit de hand
Meaning: Things are getting out of control

Two hands one one belly
In Dutch: Twee handen op een buik
Meaning: When two people are like one, being like-minded and always having each others back

Putting the dots on the i

In Dutch: De puntjes op de “i” zetten
Meaning: Working out the details with accuracy

Mopping with the tap open
In Dutch: Dweilen met de kraan open
Meaning: Combatting symptoms without addressing the cause

Watching the cat out of the tree
In Dutch: De kat uit de boom kijken
Meaning: Having a ‘wait and see’ attitude

Getting on your thunder
In Dutch: Op je donder krijgen
Meaning: Getting lectured when you did something wrong

Having a finger in the porridge
In Dutch: Een vinger in de pap hebben
Meaning: Keeping an eye on something, having
control behind the scenes

abraham-sarah.pngNow you know where Abraham get’s the mustard from
In Dutch: Nu weet je waar Abraham de mosterd vandaan haalt
Meaning: When someone turns fifty, in Dutch tradition they are said to be either “seeing Abraham” or “seeing Sara” (Biblical reference). ‘To know where Abraham get’s the mustard from’ refers to wisdom comes with age/experience.

Pot Jan three dimes
In Dutch: Pot jan dubbeltjes
Meaning: A replacement saying for cursing

Having shit on something
In Dutch: Ergens schijt aan hebben
Meaning: Not caring about something

I see the trees for the forest anymore
In Dutch: Ik zie door de bomen het bos niet meer
Meaning: A loss of overview because of too much detail

You are defenitely the funniest at home
In Dutch: Jij bent zeker de leukste thuis
Meaning: Your jokes are not appreciated

Will you shoot up!
In Dutch: Wil je opschieten!
Meaning: hurry up!

I will put his nose on the facts
In Dutch: Ik druk hem met zijn neus op de feiten
Meaning: I will confront him with the facts

I won’t stick my hand in the fire for that 
In Dutch: Ik zal mijn hand daarvoor niet in het vuur steken
Meaning: I wouldn’t bet on it, too high of a risk

frikandellenLike the chickens in his
In Dutch: Er als de kippen bij zijn
Meaning: Being there as one of the first

You are a hero on socks
In Dutch: Je bent een held op sokken
Meaning: You have no guts at all

Buttocks cake
In Dutch: Billenkoek
Meaning: Spanking

Ant fucker
In Dutch: Mierenneuker
Meaning: Nitpicking, nagging about unimportant small things

hollandse-souvenirs-shop1-188x204Everything seems like cookie and egg again
In Dutch: Alles lijkt weer koek en ei
Meaning: It all fell on it’s place, everything seems to be okay again

All madness on a little stick
In Dutch: Alle gekheid op een stokje
Meaning: Time to put the craziness aside to focuss on serious things again


Louis-Van-GaalDutch football coach Louis van Gaal, currently coach of Manchester United, became an icon for this with his mispronunciations and literal translations of Dutch phrases to English and caused a stir with his unintended hilarious statements.

The British national daily newspaper ‘The Guardian’ even put a Louis van Gaal Phrase Generator online, with the statement :

louis v gaal“OK, Louis, you have won us over. With your confusing tactics and equally confusing linguistics we can’t get enough. So we created our very own LvG random phrase generator”

You can try it here >>

A few of his statements

I was twitching my ass
In Dutch: Ik kneep mijn billen samen
Meaning: the excitement was killing, or: i was holding my breath

It is again the same song
In Dutch: Het is alweer hetzelfde liedje
Meaning: it’s not the first time this happens

That’s another cookie
In Dutch: dat is andere koek
Meaning: that’s a different story

The three points are inside
In Dutch: De drie punten zijn binnen
Meaning: The three points are in our pocket, we’re gonna win this



vinnie-squareThis article was inspired by the stories of the South Korean Vinnie Ko who came to Groningen, the Netherlands, in 2009, for his study of mathematics.

He gasps herring, reads Jip and Janneke, represents classes in Emmen and wrote a winning story for a writing contest. Biweekly Vinnie writes columns about the successes and difficulties of his integration in the Netherlands. You can read his stories in the magazine ‘De Groene Amsterdammer (in Dutch)

Translate EN-NL

Why Dutch Shouldn't be translated to English | More examples

Why Dutch Shouldn’t be translated to English | More examples

More info on the Dutch language:
Learn Dutch Online for Free
Dutch phrases and standard sayings
Dutch I Tutorial: Basic Phrases, Vocabulary and Grammar

More about the Netherlands







If you know any more funny Dutch phrases or sayings, or like to share your own experiences with the Dutch language, don’t hesitate to leave them in a comment! 🙂





14 thoughts on “Why the Dutch language could leave you with an unfortunately peanutcheese feeling … ;)

  1. Dont look a given horse in the mouth
    In Dutch: Kijk een gegeven paard niet in de mond
    Meaning: Don’t be too critical and be grateful for a received gift

    Aka, ” Don’t look a gifted horse in the mouth” which does exist in English and other languages.


  2. I love your list, and it’s helpful too in understanding some of the Dutch expressions. Just one improvement though: “my eyes are bigger than my stomach” is a perfectly correct English expression (which was often used around our – Canadian – dinner table when I was a child).

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Instagram Crochet Party | maRRose CCC

  4. Ha, you should never translate any language this literally. I can probably translate all of them in a near-literal way that at least makes more sense. For example “zak” doesn’t mean “bag”, “zak” means more like “balls”. You would translate it with “I don’t understand the crap of it”, or if you want to stay more literal “I can’t understand my ball’s worth of it”. That’s more like what it means ;-). But I wanted to mention “to get a front-row seat for a dime”. It doesn’t mean “that something takes little effort”. It means someone is trying to be a cheap ass bastard and trying to get a deal out of you without not giving you anything. In return….. That’s the gist of it. We (the Dutch) use these expressions because they create a certain feeling and in our idiom that feeling is a 1000x more powerful than saying the same thing without that particular saying. You are much obligated to say it, much as you cannot say that thing I just said in English without the words “cheap ass bastard” or at least “cheap ass”. When they say “he wants to be on the first row for a dime’s worth” everyone knows exactly what is meant and in the right situation this means the cheapness is revealed. It means someone is trying to take advantage of you. Not pay anything, but get the whole lot back. That’s a pretty good deal for that sucker but not for you, so you tell him in no unclear terms that he can pack his bags or come back with a better offer. In any case, something like that.

    Seriously, many of the sayings you have not translated very well. There are better equivalents in English:

    Iemand in de maling nemen –> pulling someone’s leg.
    I won’t stick my hand in the fire for that –> I’m not gonna put my hand in the fire for that –> I’m
    not gonna put my …. on the line for that.
    Having shit on something -> Not giving a fuck.
    I will put his nose on the facts -> I will press his face into the real facts -> “I’m not gonna let him get away with avoiding the fact of the matter” (forcing someone out of denial mode).
    You see them flying sure? –> “I bet you see them flying?”. This one is hard to approach in English. You could creatively approach it with “You’re seeing bees and birds in front of your eyes, or what?” “What, no?” “But you lost it?”. “Noo!”. But it doesn’t mean the same thing. It’s funny because we have a very often used hand motion that goes with this saying. The things people ostensibly see flying are actually, most likely, those ‘stars’ you see in front of your vision when you’ve had like a smack to the head or you’re dizzy, and your vision is partly blanked out. It appears as though there is something out there in the air in front of you. I guess I don’t know the English equivalent of this. “Seeing stars” we call this. I guess it’s the same in English. You can “grasp” at those stars as if you can catch them even when they are not there. So someone who “sees them flying” is seeing things that aren’t there, e.g. or i.e. those illusory “stars”. When we make the motion of grasping one of those stars, we mean that the person in front of us, or the one we’re talking about, has lost it. We are dealing with a lunatic and we perform in the most performing way that thought that the person in front of us is completely cuckoo. Oh, by the way:

    Its dick black outside
    In Ducth: Het is pik zwart buiten
    Meaning: It’s really dark outside

    Pik in this case doesn’t mean dick or penis. It means pick. When you use a pick in a coal mine, it becomes utterly black. Pik comes from pikhouweel but it really just means pick.

    Okay here are a few bonuses: what do you suppose these mean?:

    – trying to pick a fight with the beer docks; or, fighting the beer docks.
    – taking eggs for your money
    – putting water with the wine
    – surrendering without swing or punch
    – he who’s born for a dime, will never be a quarter
    – the dogs won’t eat bread of that
    – the morning rise has golden teeth
    – one caught bird outweighs ten up in the air
    – /ammenooitniet/ (at my never not)
    – even if you give an ape a golden ring, it will always stay an ugly thing.
    – he’s trailing the facts.


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