Dutch Language Blog

Sayings in Dutch Posted by on Nov 23, 2016 in Culture, Dutch Language

I was recently at a quiz night and one extra round of questions consisted of finding sayings in a drawing. As most of you can imagine, I was very much useless for my team in this exercise. However, the drawing ended up being useful for me to start learning some Dutch sayings.

Sayings in Dutch (personal photograph)

Sayings in Dutch (personal photograph)

There are more than twenty sayings depicted in this drawing. How many can you spot?

  • Na regen komt zonneschijn.

After the rain comes the sun. This saying is pretty self explanatory and I dare say we all know some version of it in another language.

  • De appel valt niet ver van de boom.

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. This is something similar to “like father like son” or in Spanish “de tal palo, tal astilla.”

  • De kat uit the boom kijken.

I am looking at the cat until it is out of the tree. This means that you are being careful or withdrawn. You are not jumping into action, but rather evaluating the situation.

  • Water bij de wijn doen.

To put water with the wine. This means that you are compromising (watering down the wine) with something important.

  • De koe bij de horens vatten.

Grab the cow by the horns. This means to immediately get started with something like a task or a job.

  • Het varkentje wassen.

To wash the pig. This means to quickly do a job.

  • De knoop doorhakken.

To chop through a knot. This means to make a decision.

  • Het hoofd boven water houden.

To keep your head above water. This means that when you are in a difficult situation, you are barely surviving.

The following video explains more Dutch sayings. Which ones can you spot on the picture or which ones do you know that we haven’t mentioned?

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About the Author: Karoly Molina

Since I was a little girl, I was fascinated with languages and writing. I speak English, Spanish, Italian, Dutch and a little bit of French. I am a writer, reader, language teacher, traveler, and a food lover! I now live in The Netherlands with my husband Riccardo, our cat Mona, and our dog Lisa, and the experience has been phenomenal. The Dutch culture is an exciting sometimes topsy-turvy world that I am happily exploring!


  1. Frances:

    Oh this is fantastic! i would like to print this out but the resolution is rather small. Any idea where I can find a better image of this? Thanks!