Foreigners may find it challenging to learn Dutch. Mostly because the Dutch use a lot of slang. Here are some of the most regularly used expressions in the Netherlands. If you use a handful of them, you’ll sound exactly like an Old Dutchman.
“Doe even normaal” – Dutch Slang
- Literal translation: Just do normal
- What it means: Get a grip
Even if you’re unhappy, it’s crucial to remain collected in the Netherlands and never make a big spectacle. So don’t be upset. Just act normally.
“TYFUS! TERING! GOT VERDORIE!!!”
- Literal translation: Typhus, tuberculosis, gosh darnit!
- What it means: Curse words shouted in extreme frustration
When my boyfriend plays video games, I’ve discovered that unless he’s cursing at the screen, he’s not having fun. And swearing entails crying out the names of illnesses, particularly those that people no longer contract as a result of immunizations. Tyfus (typhus) and tering (tuberculosis) are frequently yelled, generally followed by Got Verdorie!!! (gosh darnit).
“Maar ik zit lekker…” – Dutch Slang
- Literal translation: But I’m sitting delicious(ly)
- What it means: I’m sitting comfortably
Lekker means “delicious” in Dutch. However, it is not only used to describe food. People sometimes sit deliciously: I zit lekker. This suggests that their chair is incredibly warm and comfortable, and they don’t want to move. You can add lekker to any activity in Dutch to underline how pleasant it is. I’m going for a lovely walk, a good swim, etc.
“De aap komt uit de mouw”
- Literal translation: The monkey comes out of the sleeve
- What it means: Now we know the truth
The Dutch, in general, are straightforward people. If you ask for their opinion, they will give it to you truthfully. For foreigners, this is difficult to adjust to because most western societies ask others’ thoughts only when it is expected that the other person will agree with them. If a Dutch person is dishonest and another person discovers it, “the monkey has come out of the sleeve” or “De aap is uit de mouw gekomen.”
“Vallen me je neus in de boter…”
- Literal translation: Falling with your nose in the butter
- What it means: You lucked out
To express everyday circumstances, the Dutch have several unique and occasionally cryptic sayings or “uitdrukkingen.” When someone gets lucky without doing anything, they are said to have “fell with their nose in the butter” or “viel met zijn neus in de boter.”
“Dat was geen gesneden koek” – Dutch Slang
- Literal translation: That was no sliced cake
- What it means: That sure wasn’t easy
The Dutch have a few expressions for how simple things are. A Dutch person may say, “That was a cat in a basket” if something was easier than expected. “It was cat in a bag” or “that was sliced cake” “That was a sneden koek.” It was “geen gesneden koek” if it wasn’t easy.
“Tot op de Dag van Vandaag…”
- Literal translation: Until the day of today
- What it means: Until the present day
The Dutch enjoy their fries with mayonnaise, and you can purchase it at the snackbar. Some snack shops are family businesses that have been in operation for generations. “My father used to come here when he was a boy,” my boyfriend remarked as we passed an ancient snackbar from the 1960s. “And it is still standing to this day!” or verbatum: “On the day of today, this snackbar is still open.” (Yes, they do use the English term snackbar.)
You are now aware of some of the slang often used in the Netherlands. Now you may sit in your chair and be regular, just like the Dutch.