20 Funny Proverbs from Holland about Drinking

Drinking has always been an important part of every day life in Holland. No wonder the Dutch language knows many funny proverbs about booze.

The Dutch language is full of funny proverbs. Many of them sound quite ridiculous when translated literally into English. For example when somebody gets a nasty surprise in Holland “the monkey is coming out of the sleeve”. Or when somebody is trying to hide being upset he is “laughing like a farmer with a toothache”. But in this post we will take a look at some of the proverbs the Dutchies have about drinking and booze. As the habitants of this small country through the ages showed to be quite fond of the sauce this also shows in their language. Please enjoy our top-20 of funny Dutch proberbs about alcohol.

1. Bij het eerste glas een lam, bij het tweede een leeuw, bij het derde een zwijn (At the first glass a lamb, at the second a lion, at the third a pig)
Booze can turn a soft or kind person into a barbaric brute.

2. Op één been kun je niet lopen (You can’t walk on one leg)
After the first drink always go for a second.

3. Beter natte voeten, dan een droge keel (Rather wet feet than a dry throat)
When someone is willing to sell all his posessions as long as he can drink.

4. Hij lijdt aan natte armoede (He suffers from wet poverty)
He got poor because he drinks a lot.

5. Zijn laatste knoop verzuipen (To drown his last button)
When someone spends his last money on booze.

6. Hij is een broeder van de natte gemeenschap (He’s a brother of the wet community)
He is addicted to alcohol.

7. Het is voor de varkens gebrouwen (It was brewed for the pigs)
The booze tastes horrible.

8. Wie zijn zorgen probeert te verdrinken, merkt dat ze goed kunnen zwemmen (Who tries to drown his sorrows, notices they can swim well)
Alcohol does not fix your problems.

9. Als de drank zinkt, stijgen de woorden naar boven (If the booze sinks, the words float to the surface)
Alcohol can make you say weird stuff.

10. Er verdrinken meer mensen in een glas dan op zee (More people drown in a glass than at sea)
Drinking can be dangerous.

11. Het is beter gedronken en bedorven, dan niet gedrinken en toch gestorven (It’s better drank and rotten than not drink and die anyway)
Better enjoy life and ignore those who say drinking isn’t good.

12. Iemand onder tafel drinken (Drink someone under the table)
To outdrink your company

13. Drank is de kurk waarop hij drijft (Booze is the cork on which he floats)
He lives for alcoholic drinks.

14. Men moet niet scheiden als heidenen en Turken (One shouldn’t part like heathens or Turks)
You can take a drink before you leave.

15. Het is alsof een engeltje over je tong pist (It’s like an angel is pissing on your tongue)
When a drink tastes delicious.

16. Het is sterk als pompwater (It’s strong as water from the pump)
The booze is not strong enough or not very tasty.

17. Die kastelein schrijft met een riek (The innkeeper writes with a pitchfork)
The guy behind the bar writes down more drinks than you actually consumed.

18. Van een olievat zal men geen wijn tappen (One wouldn’t pour wine from an oil barrel)
You can’t expect much good from bad people.

19. Hij heeft de fles de nek gebroken (He broke the bottle’s neck)
He drank quite a lot of alcohol.

20. Een glas op zijn tijd houdt de mot uit de maag (A glass now and then keeps the moth out of the stomach)
It’s healthy to drink from time to time.

Micky Bumbar

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12 thoughts on “20 Funny Proverbs from Holland about Drinking

    • Haha yeah it’s actually a pretty common phrase, which is also used to describe the taste of food. So whenever someone from Holland invites you for dinner, you know what to say.

      LikeLiked by 1 person

    • Ah yeah! Great addition to the list indeed. Maybe there should have been more proverbs in which drinking or alcohol is used as a metaphor for other stuff.
      I have another example: “Dat is oude wijn in nieuwe zakken” (That’s old wine in new bags) – It’s the same old shit they try to sell with a new twist.

      LikeLiked by 1 person

      • I think you could easily make a list of 100 🙂

        e.g. “Vechten tegen de bierkaai” (fight against the beer quay) – a (non physical) fight you can’t win.

        LikeLiked by 1 person

      • Haha I think you’re right. It shows what was important in Dutch society back in the days. 😀


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