Idioms are words, phrases, or expressions that cannot be taken literally. In other words, when used in everyday language, they have a meaning other than the basic one you would find in the dictionary. Every language has its own idioms. Learning them makes understanding and using a language a lot easier and more fun!

Food-related expressions tell quite a bit about Dutch culture, which is why we find them so fascinating. Here is a series we are starting where we will add as many idioms we could think of, but this list is by no means exhaustive. Please feel free to send us your favorite idiom or proverb.

1. Zelfs in de lekkerste appeltaart zit wel een pit.

Literal translation: ‘There’s a pip in even the most perfect apple pie’.

Meaning: You can always find something negative if you look hard enough, i.e. ‘Nothing’s perfect’.

2. Een appeltje voor de dorst (bewaren).

Literal translation: ‘To keep an apple for the thirst’.

Meaning: Making provisions for later.

3. Hij is net zo geacht als de rotte appel bij de groenteboer.

Literal translation: ‘He is just as popular as a rotten apple at the greengrocer’s’.

Meaning: Used to describe a rather unpopular person.

4. Als je mijn appeltjes niet moet, moet je niet aan mijn boompje schudden.

Literal translation: ‘If you don’t want my apples, don’t shake my tree’.

Meaning: If you don’t want anything to do with me, don’t ask me for a favor.

5. Schone appels zijn ook zuur.

Literal translation: ‘Beautiful apples can be sour’.

Meaning: Physical beauty is not the only thing that counts, i.e. ‘Beauty is only skin deep’.

Source –, Wikipedia,