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A taste of Dutch: Idioms & Expressions
24 July 2012, by Catalina Barzescu
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The "flavour" of a language often lies in idiomatic sayings and
expressions which make no sense if you translate them literally, but may
sound hilarious if you do so. Idioms are developed over time, deep within
a language, their true meaning often reserved for the natives, and their
origins relevant to the culture they belong to.So let’s take a look at a
couple of such idioms, with both their literal and figurative meanings, in
the language that surrounds us: Dutch.› Over koetjes en kalfjes
praten(talk about little cows and little calves)This expression basically
means small talk, dealing with unimportant subjects. The Dutch refer to
animals in many of their idioms. No surprise then that a misfit in a group
can be described as a vreemde eend in de bijt (a strange duck in the
pack).› Nu komt de aap uit de mouw(now comes the monkey out of
the sleeve)To continue for a while in the animal vein, the Dutch use this
saying when the true meaning of a situation or the character of a person
comes to the surface. The saying apparently has its origins in magic
tricks during which a monkey popped out of the magician's long sleeves.
› Iemand met apenmunt betalenSo fond are the Dutch of monkey
idioms, you can even pay someone with monkey coins, which means fool

which entered the language after a 2005 commercial for insurance services and has come to signify exaggerated bureaucracy. out of respect. Along with op zijn tandvlees lopen (to walk on one’s gums). The origin of this expression is not completely clear. but dictionaries suggest it refers to distributing fabric with the meaning of assigning work. so when an enemy did not subscribe to this unspoken agreement.someone with nice words. the churches were spared the shooting.› Weten waar Abraham de mosterd haalt(to know where Abraham gets the mustard from)The saying basically means to be informed. A rather ironic saying. replacing "fietst" with the childish funny word "piest" while preserving its meaning.› Alsof er een engeltje over je tong piest(as if an angel pisses on your tongue)One way to say the food tastes great. two expressions whose origins I’ve yet . a word which evolved over time into the similarly pronounced mosterd. known as mustaards.› Paarse krokodil(purple crocodile)A more recent expression.For example. and. The expression first suggested dominating an opponent in a fight. References to money may refer to the Dutch trade and merchant past. Photo by Flickr user where are the joneses › Iets onder de knie hebben(to have something under the knee)To have thorough knowledge of something. up-to-date on a particular issue.› Het Spaans benauwd krijgen(become Spanish breathless)The idiom refers to a state of fear or anxiety.› De kogel is door de kerk(the bullet is through the church)This is the Dutch way to say that. meaning to be exhausted. and therefore being in charge. Other opinions simply attribute this expression to the nice alliteration. as it refers to making-do with little money. Associating this with Spain takes us back to the times when Spain was the oppressor.› Een appeltje met iemand te schillen hebben(to have a little apple to peel with someone)The expression means to be angry at someone and wish to pay him / her back. it is also not unusual to say someone is as healthy as a fish (zo gezond als een vis). The expression evolved from an angel that fietst (bikes) on your tongue.› Als haringen in een ton zitten(to sit like herrings in a barrel)This is a way to suggest people crowding. a decision has been made. During past battles. since preparing to eat something with a person one is upset with is no pleasant affair. its meaning extended to things one can learn.› De lakens uitdelen(to distribute the sheets)To run the show. similar to "having a bone to pick with someone" in English. namely the chapter when Abraham prepares for the sacrifice of his son by gathering firewood.› Ieder dubbeltje omdraaien(to turn every dime)This is perhaps a reflection of the Dutch's thrifty ways. The herring in particular is a traditional food and its capturing is a joyful annual event. it meant that he was capable of commiting any evil in the battle. in time. for example in a means of public transport. after long deliberation.› Met de mond vol tanden staan(to sit with the mouth full of teeth)Meaning to be speechless. The meaning is supposed to originate in the Old Testament. to master it. It is no surprise that fish are part of numerous Dutch idioms. during and prior to the Eighty Years War.

The list goes on and on.to discover. expressions and proverbs have a look at:› Onzetaal› DBNL. For more idioms.org› WikipediaAlso read › Newest articles on IamExpat› Latest news in the Netherlands ..