30 Amusing Dutch Words

Learning a new language can be hard, frustrating even… but it can also be fun. You just have to know where to look.

Luckily for me, you don’t have to look too far to find funny sounding words and phrases in Dutch. Here are some I’ve learnt so far…

1. Apetrots 

My first Dutch WTF moment was watching a film with subtitles when the screen flashed up “Ik ben apetrots op je” literally meaning “I am monkey proud on you.” (The correct translation in English is “I’m really proud of you”.) A brilliant Dutchism… and it’s now one of my favourite Dutch sayings 😀

2. Boterham

Boterham, courtesy of Laura Frame Illustration

Boterham, courtesy of Laura Frame Illustration

Literally translated as “butter ham” – it actually means sandwich or a slice of bread.

3. Eekhoorntjesbrood

While we’re on the food theme… let’s go with the word for Porcini mushrooms, which literally translates as “little squirrels’ bread”.

4. Eekhoorn

Sounds like “acorn”… it actually means squirrel! (And what’s acorn I hear you ask? Why that’s “eikel” – which can also mean jerk/asshole/dickhead!!)

5. Spiegelei

Literally translated as “mirror egg” – this is what you need to order if you want a fried egg – sunny side up!

6. Klokhuis

Klokhuis, courtesty of Laura Frame Illustration

Klokhuis, courtesy of Laura Frame Illustration

“Clock house” meaning apple core.

7.  Pindakaas

Meaning peanut butter it literally translates as “peanut cheese”.

8. Patatje oorlog

Literally “war fries” (chips in the UK!) this means french fries served with peanut sauce, mayonnaise and finely diced raw onion… Depending on which region of the Netherlands you live in!!

9. Oorlog

We just learnt that oorlog means war, but oor means ear and log is cumbersome… So cumbersome ear!

10. Oorbellen

“Ear bells” or earrings as we like to call them. Super cute, huh?!

11. Kapsalon

This can mean hairdresser OR tasty Dutch kebab with chips, cheese and salad! Try not to get them confused 😉

12. Oliebollen

Or “oil balls” – a festive dough-based treat, traditionally eaten at New Year. (They’re basically doughnuts… but the Dutchies won’t have it.)

13. Tandpasta 

Tandpasta, courtesy of Laura Frame Illustration

Tandpasta, courtesy of Laura Frame Illustration

Tand is tooth and you can guess what pasta means… This is the Dutch word for toothpaste! (Thanks to the party poopers who pointed out that pasta can also mean paste!)

14. Handschoenen

Yup, the Dutch word for gloves is “hand shoes” tee hee hee!

15. Monster

Think your Dutch friend has mental issues when they say they’ve got a monster at home? Don’t fret,  it means “sample”.

16. Schoonmoeder

Meaning mother-in-law. (With thanks to Cinder for this prompt!) To top it off, my “clean mother” is called Willy!! True story, bro.

17. Bakfiets

“Bak” has a whole heap of meanings in Dutch, but I’m gonna go with “bin bike” or “fry bike”. It’s actually a traditional Dutch tricycle with a large box for transporting cargo e.g. – children!

18. Gelukzak

If you’re a “lucky guy” you may well get called a “happy bag”!

[Edit: gelukzak can also mean “lucky sack”. Alternatives include: Geluksvogel meaning “lucky bird”.]

19. Ziekenauto

That’s a “sick car” man. The cool kids don’t say that here – it’s an ambulance.

20. Muilpeer

Muilpeer, courtesy of Laura Frame Illustration

Muilpeer, courtesy of Laura Frame Illustration

Meaning “slap in the face” – the direct translation is “mouth pear”.

21. Toiletbril

The word for toilet seat can be literally interpreted as “toilet glasses”… 😛

22. Kangoeroewoning

Another cute one… granny flat’s literal translation is “kangaroo house”.

23. Mierenneuker

I’m (monkey) proud to have learnt this word today! Meaning “ant fucker” – it describes someone who frets and fusses over completely insignificant and minor details. Like “nit picker” I guess.

24. Kikker

Sounds like kicker. Means frog. Awesomeness!

25. Windhond

Windhond, courtesy of Laura Frame Illustration

Windhond, courtesy of Laura Frame Illustration

Greyhound is literally translated in Dutch as “wind dog”.

26. Zeewolf

“Sea wolf” – meaning catfish! [Edit… Ok, about a million Dutch people told me that catfish is meerval. Mijn excuses!] Damn you, Google translate!!

27. IJsbeer

Known for their logic, the direct Dutch translation for polar bear is “ice bear”. (IJs can also mean ice cream! Even better!)

28. Vleermuis

“Wing mouse” – uh huh, you got it… bat!

29. Wasbeer

Wasbeer, courtesy of Laura Frame Illustration

Wasbeer, courtesy of Laura Frame Illustration

My favourite pic of the series! The literal translation for “raccoon” is “wash bear”.

Massive thanks to Laura Frame for the amazing illustrations! For more Amusing Dutch words, expertly illustrated – head over to Laura’s Facebook page!

30. You tell me! 

So Dutchies / wannabe Dutchies – what else you got for me? 😀 Please feel free to comment below!

Hayley x

Ps – for bonus points, ask a Dutch person to say “crunchy nut” (in English). Kills me every time.

You might also like: 20 More Amusing Dutch Words


    1. The word ‘kruimeldief’ is only applied for small hand vacuums, with which you’d vaccuum tabletops or smaller areas on your furniture. An actual vacuum to vacume the ground with would be a ‘stofzuiger’ or ‘dust sucker’. But ‘Kruimeldief’ still is a funny word!


  1. Zakkewasser another word for Jerk/Moron/Idiot/Jackass (we have a lot of those, almost think dutch has the most words meaning all the same thing). Literally translates to: One that washes sacks.


  2. Toothpaste: if you literally translate paste into Dutch it is pasta. So pasta in Dutch has two meanings: the Italian food like spaghetti and ravioli, and the substance as toothpaste. Just like chocolatespread, it is ‘chocoladepasta’. A salve-like substance so to speak. So tandpasta is the literal translation of the English toothpaste. But I agree it could sound strange for English speaking people.


    1. Luipaard=lazy horse= leopord.
      Kikker erwt= frog pwie
      Kat in de zak kopen=buying a cat in the bag = you buy something bad.
      Ik kan niet alles ruiken= I can’t smell everything= how must i know that?.


  3. Native dutch speaker here: I like your blog, I had fun reading. I wanna use this comment to give a shout out to all the dutch, of whom many foreigners say that they are so well versed in English, for being so good in English.

    Do other language speakers realise how hard it is for us dutch speaking people to see a picture of a wasbeer and instantly now that in English it is called a raccoon.

    There are no ezelsbruggetjes for that, We just need to memorize it. Woot Woot, go dutchies


  4. Imho, oorlog is not a good example here. I understand you can split the word by saying oor=ear and log=cumbersome, but thats like saying police consists of the words pol and ice, both of which are separate english words. It’s just a word, oorlog=war, it has nothing to do with cumbersome ears, just like police are not cold politicians.


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