Proverbs & sayingsAs wooden shoes act an important part in Dutch history, it will be no surprise that the term has a place in our speech too. As a matter of fact, the Dutch language bears various proverbs and sayings in which wooden shoes make their mark.

“Nou breekt mijn klomp!”

Literal translation:  Now my wooden shoe breaks!
Meaning: This is said, when a sudden event or announcement occurs. It signifies a notable astonishment.
English equivalent: Well, I never! Or: Well, I’ll be damned / darned!

“Iets op de klompen (kunnen) aanvoelen”

Literal translation:  (Being able) To feel something on wooden shoes.
Meaning:  Something being obvious.
English equivalent: Feel it in your bones. Or: Getting knowledge from intuition.

“De klompen aan de wilgen hangen”

Literal translation:  Hanging the wooden shoes to the willows.
Meaning:  To stop what one has been doing.
English equivalent: To throw the helve after the hatchet. Or: Call it a day.

“Met de klompen op het ijs komen” Or:
“Met de klompen in ’t gelag komen”

Literal translation: Setting foot on ice with wooden shoes on. Or: Attending bacchanal with wooden shoes on.
Meaning: Both: Acting carelessly. Treading areas where one does not belong. Making a slip of the tongue.
English equivalent: Go beyond one’s depth.

“Op de klomp spelen”

Literal translation:  Playing the wooden shoe (as in: playing the violin).
Meaning:  Being abusive.
English equivalent: Fly off the handle.

“Hij staat op zijn woord als een boer op zijn klompen”
(Hij stiet op zien woord as een boer in zien klompen)

Literal translation:  Standing on his word as a farmer on his wooden shoes.
Meaning:  Remaining firm in one’s conviction, even if others disagree.
English equivalent: Stick to one’s guns.

“Op een klomp en een slof lopen”

Literal translation: Walking on a wooden shoe and a slipper.
Meaning:  Being poor, needy.
English equivalent: Not have two pennies to rub together.

“Boter karnen in een oude klomp”

Literal translation: Churning butter in an old wooden shoe.
Meaning:  Being stingy.
English equivalent: Being a cheapskate, penny pincher.

“Klompen uit dezelfde wilgen dragen”

Literal translation: Wearing wooden shoes made out of the same willows.
Meaning:  Getting along; getting on well with a person.
English equivalent: To be on a friendly footing with someone.

“Iemand (van) klompzak geven”

Literal translation: Give someone klompzak (There is not an English equivalent for this word).
Meaning:  Give someone a whipping.
English equivalent: Beat someone up. Or: Hit (up)on someone.