Wouldn’t it be great to use some of the most colourful Dutch phrases in English?

There are so many of them. My all time favourite is nu komt de aap uit de mouw– now the monkey comes out of the sleeve.

Another great one is laat de kaas niet van je brood eten– don’t let the cheese be eaten from your bread.

Dutch comedian and writer Paulien Cornelisse joins the latest  Here in Holland podcast to unpack some of the many wonderful Dutch expressions.

We find out what they mean and come up with the idea to launch a campaign to have the best expressions adopted into English.

“I can really imagine myself directly translating nu komt de aap uit de mouw into English and expecting people to know what it means,” says Paulien Cornelisse.

“It’s such a wonderful expression. What it actually refers to – as far as I know – is an old variety act like a magician.”

“We would also say and now the rabbit comes out of the hat – it’s a reveal. That’s what it is all about.”


Paulien Cornelisse is an expert on the Dutch language –  its quirks and traits form the backbone of her books, theatre shows, newspaper columns and podcasts.

“It’s not the Dutch language per se that I am fascinated by it’s language in general – I just happen to have been born here in the Netherlands,” she says.

Now the Monkey Comes out of the SleeveSo what about laat de kaas niet van je brood eten – what’s that one about?

“Well, it is about standing up for yourself – it kind of means ‘man up.’ ”

“Don’t let yourself be pushed around. It’s a good one to use if you want to be the Alpha person in a situation.”

“Literally it means don’t let someone eat the cheese from your bread.”

In the podcast Paulien reveals the mysteries behind a whole range of sayings.

There’s  ‘nu breekt mijn klomp’ – literally, now my clog breaks. This means you are flabbergasted.

And the fruity ‘op een oud fiets moet je het leren…” – you have to learn how to do it on an old bike.

There are many more great expressions in the podcast.

Here in Holland is the podcast in English about life with the Dutch – it’s produced by Andy Clark  – contact him via 
hereinholland@gmail.com or Facebook – website – you can subscribe to get all the podcasts in via your iPhone podcast app or your Android app of choice.  Or follow on Soundcloud

The podcast is now also available on Spotify