“Mooie dag!” Lotte said, stretching in front of a window bathed with sunshine. She ate her breakfast of brood met hagelslag, and hopped effortlessly on her bike. By the time she arrived at work, she was drenched.
“Niets zo veranderlijk als het weer,” she said, followed by a particularly unladylike word we’re not allowed to publish.
“Nothing changes as fast as the weather,” Lotte had sworn. That’s right Lotte, the Dutch climate is famous for changing quickly, often showing off all four seasons in one day!
But don’t worry — with this guide learning these words will be as easy as riding your bike with the wind in your back — in fact, that’s something they like to say! Met de wind in de rug!
Words to put away for a rainy day
If you haven’t ridden your bike while the sky unleashes gallons of water directly down your back collar it’s hard to believe you’ve ever lived here. While the Netherlands is not statistically the wettest place on Earth, it’s a worthy setting of a teen vampire novel filled with angst — and a great conversation starter.
But did you know the Dutch distinguish between every type of rain?
Here’s seven of the most popular Dutch words for rain — now you’ll have no excuse but to use them all correctly!
Sounding a lot like “miserable” (which is really quite accurate), miezeren is a light rain, making you feel sad because it’s wet, but not stay-inside-with-a-hot-chocolate-while-you-read-a-good-book-wet.
Moth-rain. Why? Regen = rain, mot = moth. This is a light rain that tickles you like a moth’s wings. (WTF Dutch?)
Remember that time you thought the rain had stopped so you hopped on your bike, but then in a cruel twist of the universe (that was perhaps intentional?), it started again solely for the duration of your bike ride, and then stopped again when you were safely inside? Meet buien.
Previously mentioned, you can remember this one by the big raindrops that splash on top of your head making the sound “PLENS, PLENS, PLENS.” If this kind of rain appears you can even say “het regent pijpenstelen”, literally: it’s raining smoking pipes.
When the rain is hozen you better get go-zen because it is raining hard.
You’ve met buien, now meet stort-buien — it is translatable to BIG SHOWERS. Like if a giant took a shower above you and the rest of the water was DUMPED ON YOUR HEAD.
Straight out of a horror movie, those grey clouds that hover menacingly in the distance can spell impending doom for your bike ride home. Watch out for wind when crossing canals, and pray your bike isn’t an easy target for lightning. But it’s okay, just remember no matter how hard the rain is je ben niet van suiker (you’re not made out of sugar!)
Our top tip: the proper Dutch etiquette before heading outdoors is to check the rain app Buienalarm — perhaps the most useful app in the Netherlands, and will help you from melting in case you ARE made out of sugar.
Dutch sayings about the weather in the Netherlands
(The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow)
But, of course, the Dutch weather is famous for going hollen of stilstaan — from one extreme to the other. On the rare occasion the sun does shine, make your coworkers smile with a sneaky “lekker weertje, he,” (“good weather, right?”)
Or, for nights when the wind is softly rocking the canal houses to sleep (seriously, some look pretty unsteady), “Hoor de wind waait door de bomen” (“hear the wind blowing through the trees.”)
And finally, you know the Netherlands is coming into warmer weather when you see girls wearing skirts — the Dutch even have a name for it: rokjesdag, literally, “skirt day.” There’s no official date, but when the bare legs are out you know spring has arrived!
Well, people don’t move to the Netherlands for sunshine. Read more to find out why the Dutch are so happy (regardless of the Netherlands weather.)
What’s your favourite Dutch expression for the weather? Tell us in the comments below!
Feature Image: Tim Goedhart/Unsplash