250 Dutch Proverbs – lesson 09

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Welcome to my video course “250 Dutch Proverbs”. I made a selection of proverbs and sayings that anyone who learns Dutch should know. The course consists of 25 lessons. In each lesson, I explain the meaning of 10 proverbs or sayings.

Subtitles are available for each lesson. You just push the CC button in YouTube. The transcript of the lesson you find on Learndutch.org.

Let’s start with lesson 9, containing proverbs 81-90.

Proverb 81“dat gaat van een leien dakje”

Literally: it goes from a slate roof. The meaning is that something goes very easily. Slate is usually slippery, especially when being wet. So, something comes down from a slate roof very easily, as it is slippery.

Proverb 82 “een ezel stoot zich geen tweemaal aan dezelfde steen”

Literally: a donkey doesn’t bump against the same stone twice. The meaning is that it would be very stupid to make twice the same mistake. A donkey is regarded not the smartest animal. So, if even a donkey doesn’t make mistakes twice, than you must be very stupid if you do.

Proverb 83 “daar kraait geen haan naar”

Literally: there’s no rooster crowing about it. The meaning is that no one would mention. You use it when you are violating some minor regulation, where is no control on and no one cares.

Proverb 84 “het kaf van het koren scheiden”

Literally: to separate chaff from wheat. This proverb is in English the same. We use it to express the initial phase in the process of selection, where you throw out what is clearly not useful. For example, on a certain job position there are 100’s of application letters. The recruiter will first do a quick selection, by screening the resumes. All resumes that clearly do not meet the requirements drop out. He will reduce it to 10-20 resumes to further work with. This, we could call: het kaf van het koren scheiden.

Proverb 85 “een kat in de zak kopen”

Literally: to buy a cat in a bag. The meaning is: a bad bargain. It is believed this expression comes from the time that cat fur was used for making coats. Now, the issue was, that only black fur was useful for this purpose. Some people tried to sell their cats (with an other colour) in a bag. They hoped the fur trader would not open the bag to check whether it was a black cat.

Proverb 86 “van een mug een olifant maken”

Literally: to make an elephant out of a mosquito. The meaning is to make a very large problem out of some minor issue. Extreme exaggeration.

Proverb 87 “iemands naam door het slijk halen”

Literally: to pull someone’s name through the mud. The meaning is to say very bad things about someone, with the goal of destroying this person’s reputation.

Proverb 88 “met de noorderzon vertrekken”

Literally: to leave with the North sun. An English expression, which is more or less similar, is to take a French leave. So the meaning is that you leave without announcing departure. There is a difference though. The English proverb is more related to leaving while not having permission (for example in the military). But the Dutch proverb is used when someone leaves while not fulfilling his duties, especially financially. For example escaping, while having debts or not having paid the rent. The word “noorderzon” (sun in the North) refers to midnight. So leaving in the dark when no one notices.

Proverb 89 “het gaat het ene oor in en het andere oor uit”

Literally: to go in one ear and out the other. Same as in English. So, the meaning is that someone heard it but was not paying attention.

Proverb 90 “onder de plak zitten bij iemand”

Literally: to be under the glue with someone. We use the expression usually for a male person who does everything what his girl friend says. I think that the English saying of “being treated like a doormat” comes close. So, if she is treating him like a doormat, we say: hij zit onder de plak bij haar.

That’s it for today. You now know 10 more Dutch proverbs.

Let’s do a small exercise. Please take 1 of the proverbs we dealt with today, and think of a situation in which you could use that proverb. Write down that situation and the proverb, in the comments-section that you see below the video, when you watch it in Youtube. And I will personally comment, wether it is used correctly or not.

I hope this course goes from a slate roof, and not: in one ear and out the other! Do not forget to share this video on social media, and to put thumbs up in YouTube.

See you back in lesson 10 of 250 Dutch Proverbs. Do not forget to subscribe to our youtube-channel. Just pust the button and you get new videos to learn Dutch every week. And of course visit our website where you can find much more course materials for learning Dutch and you also find there the transcripts of this lesson. See you next time !