Dutch Language Blog

Spreekwoorden en Uitdrukkingen (Sayings and Expressions) 12 – Halloween Special Posted by on Oct 17, 2019 in Culture, Dutch Language, Dutch Vocabulary

Halloween is coming up! The pumpkin-carving fest is celebrated more and more in the flat country I call my home. So the appropriate spreekwoord (saying) and uitdrukking (expression) can’t be missing. While we don’t have spreekwoorden or uitdrukkingen that are directly about Halloween, we have a few fitting ones. Let’s dive in spreekwoord first!

For other sayings and expressions in this series, click here.

Wie bang leeft, gaat ook bang dood

Image by Photo by Scott Rodgerson at Unsplash.com

Literally: Those who live in fear also die in fear

This one is pretty straightforward in its meaning. You’ll die like you lived. And if that was in fear, you will die in fear, fearing death, instead of coming to vrede (peace) with it. From a Christian perspective, which is the backbone to many spreekwoorden, this could be related to living a Christian life. If you were a good Christian, you’ll go to the Hemel (Heaven). If you were not, you should fear the Duivel (devil) and the Hel (Hell).

But I think it is perhaps more indicative of Kierkegaard’s existentialism. Geert Jan Blanken writes about this1Blanken, Kierkegaard: Een inleiding in zijn leven en werk, Ambro/Anthos B.V., 2012:

De dood, de angst voor de dood, kan ons voortdurend leren alles los the laten. Ons laten ontdekken dat er na dat loslaten geen stilstand volgt, maar leven.

(Death, the fear of death, can teach us constantly to let everything go. To let us discover that after letting go, it is not idleness that follows, but life.”)

Whatever the exact origin, Halloween is a good time perhaps to let go of that fear, as it plays with the idea of death in a humorous way, doesn’t it? Let’s see some example uses of this spreekwoord.

Waarom maak je je toch zulke zorgen, Wil?

– Ach, ik ben gewoon bang dat het morgen allemaal over kan zijn.

Maak je toch niet zo druk! Wie bang leeft, gaat ook bang dood.

(Why do you worry so much, Wil?

– Oh, I am just scared that it could all be over tomorrow.

Don’t wind yourself up so much! Those who live in fear also die in fear.)

On to the uitdrukking.

Zich een hoedje schrikken

Image by author based on image by Clem Onojeghuo at Unsplash.com

Literally: to scare yourself a hat

To jump out of one’s skin

This is a weird one. You jump – and *poof*, hat appears. Yet, there’s no clear oorsprong (origin) to find of this interesting uitdrukking. Most likely, hoedje is simply a euphemism for ik schrik me een aap (“I scare myself a monkey”), ik schrik me dood (“I scare myself to death”). But it’s cute, no? Especially during a eng (scary) night like Halloween!


– Thomas! Ik schrik me een hoedje! Jouw pompoenkostuum is echt angstaanjagend!


– Thomas! I’m jumping out of my skin! Your pumpkin costume is really terrifying!)


Have you heard or used these before? Do you have Halloween-related spreekwoorden and uitdrukkingen in your language? Let me know in the comments below!

  • 1
    Blanken, Kierkegaard: Een inleiding in zijn leven en werk, Ambro/Anthos B.V., 2012
Tags: , , , ,
Keep learning Dutch with us!

Build vocabulary, practice pronunciation, and more with Transparent Language Online. Available anytime, anywhere, on any device.

Try it Free Find it at your Library
Share this:
Pin it

About the Author: Sten

Hi! I am Sten, both Dutch and German. For many years, I've written for the German and the Dutch blogs with a passion for everything related to language and culture. It's fascinating to reflect on my own culture, and in the process allow our readers to learn more about it! Besides blogging, I am a German-Dutch-English translator, animator and filmmaker.