Dutch Quirk #108: Have half of their language consist of idioms 

HomeUltimate List of Dutch QuirksDutch Quirk #108: Have half of their language consist of idioms 

Let’s get straight to the point, or as the Dutch would say: Met de deur in huis vallen (falling with the door into the house). 🧐

The Dutch and their idioms, eh? They’re commonly used in conversation but aren’t really that straightforward. Finally one thing the Dutch aren’t direct with. 😉   

So, get your peanut cheese (pindakaas) and butter ham (boterham) because it’s time to learn about Dutch expressions! 🇳🇱

What is it?

The Dutch language offers so many idioms to choose from that there’s one for almost any situation you can possibly find yourself in. Many idioms are also related to Dutch culture. 

For example, there are six ways to say it’s raining in the Netherlands: 💦 

  • Het regent koeienstaarten (It’s raining cow tails!)
  • Het regent pijpenstelen (It’s raining pipe steels!) 
  • Het regent bakstenen (It’s raining bricks!)
  • Het regent scheermessen (It’s raining razors!)
  • Het regent telegraafdraden (It’s raining telegraph wires!)
  • Het regent kopjes en schoteltjes (It’s raining cups and saucers!)

The Dutch also use idioms when reflecting on past events.

They don’t say “in hindsight”, but instead: “Achteraf kijk je een koe in z’n kont” (It’s easier to look the cow in the ass). Very elegant, right? 🐄

Why do they do it?

Just like every language, idioms are a figurative and fun way of saying something. ✨ 

Though, the Dutch use their idioms more than most because it’s a way of turning any situation into a more positive one. 🙌🏼

It’s also an easy way to combine being vulgar and being funny by saying something quite typical, but then using expressions that are anything but normal. 

Why is it quirky? 

While it’s true that only some idioms in the Netherlands relate specifically to Dutch culture, there are also quite a few weird idioms, 🤨 which are way, way too specific. Take this one: 

Wie kent mijn kont in Keulen? (Who knows my ass in Keulen?)

Dutch people would say this if they don’t care about what they look like while they’re visiting their hometown. What a unique expression… 

Another weird expression would be: Alsof er een engeltje over je tong piest (as if an angel is peeing on your tongue).

The Dutch really know how to give their compliments to the chef. 👩🏼‍🍳

Should you join in? 

Absolutely! Dutch idioms can be very fun to use in everyday conversation. But, using idioms the right way may take some time for non-natives to master. 🤓 

The Dutch have so many idioms for so many different situations so it can be quite difficult to memorise all of them! 

And if you’re struggling, a Dutch person will assure you that it’s okay by saying: Het zit wel snor (it sits like a moustache). 

What is your favourite Dutch idiom? Have you ever used it? Tell us in the comments below!

Feature Image:Depositphotos
Lea Shamaa 🇺🇸🇱🇧
Lea Shamaa 🇺🇸🇱🇧
Lea has a passion for writing and sharing new ideas with the world. She enjoys film photography, Wes Anderson movies, fictional books and jazz music. She came to the Netherlands in 2019 for her media studies and has fallen in love with the country and its culture ever since. She loves to ride her bicycle in the city but also feels the need to overtake everyone on the bike lane (she's working on it).


  1. I wonder why you only highlighted the rather rude ones? There are many typical Dutch idioms that can be used in polite conversation like spijkers op laag water zoeken (search for nails at low tide – search for little details but in a negative way. Alternatively muggenziften or mierenneuken) or over de brug komen (you have to come over the bridge – one very typical for our poldermodel… be willing to find compromise)


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