Proverbs Quotes

41 Meaningful Dutch Proverbs & Sayings

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41 Mind Blowing Dutch Proverbs

“Like a chicken without [a] head”
Meaning – “To act like a fool”

“The pen is mightier than the sword”.
Meaning – Words are more powerful than violent acts.
Note : English equivalent: “The pen is mightier than the sword”

“Giviing the Pipe to Maarten”.
Meaning – Giving up. Also: dying.

“The pot accuses the kettle of looking black/blackened.”
Meaning – Someone accusing someone else of a thing that he himself is guilty of in the first place.

“Putting the dots on the i’s”
Meaning – “Finishing off the last details”
Note : English equivalent: “Dot your i’s and cross your t’s”

“To hit the nail on the head”
Meaning – “To get something exactly right”
Note : English equivalent: “To hit the nail on the head”

“Keeping the finger on the pulse.” or “Keeping (track of) the pulse.” Note: pols also means wrist.
Meaning – “Staying in control of a project or thing.”
Note : English equivalent: “Keep your finger on the pulse.”

“The road to hell is paved with good intentions”.
Meaning – Good intentions could turn out to be evil in the end, or good intentions could be impossible to implement and could only lead to suffering.
Note : English equivalent: “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

“Desire is the father of thought.”
Meaning – “What you think is inspired by desire.”
Note : English equivalent: “That’s wishful thinking.

“When the water level decreases, the ice will crack.”
Meaning – “A Logical Cause-and-Effect”

Popular Dutch Proverbs

“If you must, you can [do] a lot.”
Meaning – When forced to, you can do more than you think.
Note : English equivalent: “Necessity is the mother of invention.”

“When two dogs fight over a bone, the third one carries it away.”
Meaning – “Quibbling (or worse) between two parties, leads to opportunities for a third party.”

“Like a little angel cycling on your tongue.”
Meaning – “It tastes extremely good”

“Like a snail on a barrel of tar.”
Meaning – Very slow indeed.
Note : English equivalent: “Slower than molasses in January.”

“Better a good neighbour than a distant friend”
Meaning – It is better to be friendly with people you know, than having a friend who is too far away to be there for you.

“Better late than never”
Meaning – It’s better to arrive late than never.
Note : English equivalent: “Better late than never”

“It’s better to turn around halfway, then to get lost completely”
Meaning – It’s better to correct one’s mistakes than to persevere stubbornly.

“Think before you begin”
Meaning – Think before you act.
Note : Alliterative English equivalent: “Look before you leap”.

“Barking dogs don’t bite”.
Meaning – If people have a big mouth doesn’t mean they’re a threat.
Note : English equivalent: “His bark is worse than his bite.”

“Butter with the fish”
Meaning – “Reacting without delay in an appropriate way”, more specifically:”Payment at time of purchase”

: English equivalent: “Cash down”

Famous Dutch Proverbs

“Sitting down beside the boxes” / “Throwing the towel in the ring.”
Meaning – “Giving up, being discouraged”
Note : English equivalent: “Throwing in the towel”

“That cannot bear the daylight.”
Meaning – This is unethical/illegal.
Note : English Equivalent: “This couldn’t stand the light of day.”

“That would be a sausage to me.”
Meaning – I couldn’t care less.

“The devil always shits on the biggest pile.”
Meaning – Rich people always get the most.

“That strikes like a pair of tongs on a pig”
Meaning – “It makes no sense at all.”

“The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”
Meaning – Offspring behaves like (one of) the parents.
Note : English equivalent: “A chip off the old block”

“The best helmsmen stand on shore”
Meaning – “The watchers always know better than the doers”
Note : English equivalent: “Bachelors’ wives and maidens’ children are well taught.”

“The shore will stop the ship.”
Meaning – The course of things will take a different turn automatically.

“The drop that floods the bucket”
Meaning – “The last (tiny) thing that makes you snap”
Note : English equivalent: “The straw that broke the camel’s back”

Fantastic Dutch Proverbs

“One person’s death is another’s bread”.
Meaning – “The disadvantage of someone is the advantage of another”.

“The first strike is worth a thaler.”
Meaning – “A good start makes the work easier.”

“To hold your jacket in front of the dog.”
Meaning – “Giving someone false hope to something unreachable.”

“To find the dog in the pot”
Meaning – “Being too late for your treat”
Note : English: “Go without one’s dinner.” or “Dining with Duke Humphrey.”

“To hang the sail-covers to the wind”
Meaning – To adapt one’s behaviour to circumstances

“Cost goes before the profit”
Meaning – You have to invest time, effort or money before you can expect anything

“he last pieces of lead are heaviest”
Meaning – The last few things are the most difficult ones
Note : English equivalent: “It is the last straw that breaks the camel’s back.”

“Leave thinking to a horse, it has a bigger head.”
Meaning – Don’t think about things too much – act instead.

“Man thinks out, but God determines”
Meaning – Man proposes, God disposes

“Putting the flowers outside.”
Meaning – “Going out (to the party).” or “Behaving in a celebrating, hedonistic manner.”

“(That is) requesting (from) the gods.”
Meaning – “Causing predictable problems.”

“Tying the cat to the bacon.”
Meaning – “Causing predictable problems by (unknowingly) creating a tempting situation for someone.”

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