Dutch Language Blog

Spreekwoorden en Uitdrukkingen (Sayings and Expressions) 5 – Cats & Dogs I Posted by on Jan 24, 2017 in Culture, Dutch Language, Dutch Vocabulary

Welcome to another spreekwoorden en uitdrukkingen! Today, the theme is cats & dogs. This is the first part. Next week, we will have a look at two more related to katten en honden. Enjoy!

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

Blaffende honden bijten niet

Barking dogs do not bite

This saying was already used by the Romans: canis timidus vehementius latrat quam mordet. It appeared in the Netherlands in the 16th century in writings by Sartorius. So it is a very old spreekwoord that is also common in many other languages.

Blaffende honden bijten niet means that those that shout the loudest or make threats do not actually act much or are not dangerous.


Contrary to the expression below, you can use this spreekwoord in any setting where (you think) it applies.


Bart zei drie maanden geleden dat de directeur maar moest opstappen, en dat hij daar wel snel voor ging zorgen. Er is nog niets veranderd!

Blaffende honden bijten immers niet.

Three months ago, Bart said that the director should just resign, and that he would make sure of that very soon. Nothing has changed yet! After all, barking dogs don’t bite.



Iets de kat wijsmaken

To make the cat believe something

This uitdrukking means that you don’t believe a thing of what somebody tells you. It is just too ongeloofwaardig (unbelievable).

It is hard to say where it comes from. Why a cat? It might just mean “don’t tell me, tell the cat instead. It is bogus, so tell a pet, which does not understand you anyway.” You can find that kind of attitude all over the world, and cats as housepets as well. So having cats included here could make sense that way.


You tell somebody maak dat de kat wijs! if somebody tells you something that you don’t believe them. Be careful in which situations you use it though, it can have a rude undertone. So in a formal setting, it is better not to use this expression! With friends and family and in other informal ways, you can absolutely use it!


Dochter: Ik was gewoon thuis hoor, ik ben niet uit geweest!

Moeder: Maak dat de kat wijs!

Daugther: I was just at home, I did not go out!

Mother: I don’t believe a word of it!


I hope you enjoyed these two – look out for the next two next Monday!

Do you have these or comparable sayings or expressions in your language? What do you think about these two? Let me know in the comments below!


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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.