Europe Travel

11 Crazy and Funny Dutch Proverbs

We have a lot of proverbs in the Dutch language. You can translate them two different ways, and I will do them both for you.

The real translation: The saying in English, if it is there, or the one that comes close. IF there is a version, it will be there like this

The literal translation: The funny one. I will translate it exactly, word for word. So most of them won’t make a lot of sense, but you will get what kind of funny things we say in Dutch. The translation will be in bold under the Dutch one.

Of course, I will also explain what it means and when we say it. 

So enjoy some funny Dutch proverbs, prepare for your trip to Amsterdam and learn some Dutch!

Nu komt de aap uit de mouw

Now comes the monkey out of the sleeve. 

Finally, it shows the real meaning of something. 

We use this if we discover the real meaning of something. Like when someone you do not like is suddenly very nice to you. You know there is something behind this, but you do not know what. When that person finally asks the favor they need, we say ‘Nu komt de aap uit de mouw.’

Van een mug een olifant maken

Make a mountain out of a molehill
Make an elephant out of a mosquito.

Making something a bigger deal than it is. 

This one is very close to my heart because I can not stop doing this. If someone is exaggerating, we say this. Everyone has this sometimes I think. You hear something and you will make it way bigger than it is. 

Over koetjes en kalfjes praten

Talking about cows and veals 

Just chit-chatting

Talking about everything and nothing, because why not? Just enjoy the company and talk. 

Al draagt een aap een gouden ring, het is en blijft een lelijk ding. 

You cannot make a silk purse from a sow’s ear
Even if a monkey wears a golden ring, it is and will be an ugly thing. 

I do not agree with this one, but I really like monkeys. But alright, we just say this if something is really ugly. With making something beautiful, it does not make up for their bad personality. 

Lachen als een boer met kiespijn

Smiling as a farmer with a toothache

A very very clear fake laugh. Just because you have to act it is funny. But the laugh it not even looking real. 

Het regent pijpenstelen

It is raining cats and dogs
It is raining pipes

It is raining very hard. Very common in Holland, so they use this a lot. 

Als de kat van huis is, dansen de muizen op tafel

When the cat’s away, the mice will play
When the cat is not home, the mice are dancing on the table.

When the boss is not home, we behave differently than when he is there. The same with your parents. You know: Do not eat candy, but when they are not there. Why not eat all the candy?

Als er een schaap over de dam is volgen er meer

If one sheep goes to the other side of the dam, more will follow.

If one person tries something new and shows the courage, more will try it. This is basically how new trends get big. 

Een kat in de zak kopen

to buy a pig in a poke
buying a cat in a sack

making a bad bargain. Paying way to much for something.

Beter een goede buur dan een verre vriend

Better a good neighbor than a friend far away.

It is better to have a good neighbor, who can help you when you need it. Then a good friend, who is far away and can not do anything for you. 

Sometimes you just need your cup of sugar and you will not have anything with a good friend that is far far away. A neighbor who is just nice is worth more in cases like this. 

Een ezel stoot zich niet twee keer aan dezelfde steen

Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me
A donkey does not hit itself against the same boulder twice

If you make the same mistake twice, you are a fool. Once can happen, twice is just stupid. 

Crazy Dutch Proverbs

These are just a few of the crazy proverbs. We also have a lot of crazy sayings! If you are interested in those, please let me know!

Use these Dutch proverbs while you are visiting the Netherlands or just to make fun of your friends. 

What is a crazy proverb in your language?

Dutch Proverbs
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