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Weird Dutch & Frisian Words

Date:08 January 2021
Author:Sinead Walsh
Weird Dutch & Frisian Words
Weird Dutch & Frisian Words

Living in a country or working in an environment in which you constantly interact with people through both Dutch and English you can often come across some strange or funny translations. It often happens to me that when I’m talking to someone they would directly translate some phrase from their own language into English. Sometimes these translations work well and it’s the exact same but often these translations are funny and don’t always fit quite right. 

Chicken Skin 

This is one that I first heard from a Dutch colleague. One day we were very cold, and she said; “Look! I have chicken skin” - to which my response was “you have what?”. She pointed to her arm and the goosebumps on it. In my head I was like “ahhhh, of course, chicken skin; when your skin looks like a chicken's skin”.



Directly translated this is hand shoes, however, it is the Dutch word for gloves. I’m not sure why, but I find this one very cute. Gloves are like little shoes for your hands!



I think this is one of my favourite Dutch words. It directly translates to Peanut Cheese - who wouldn’t want some of that on their sandwich? 



When I first heard this one I was ultra confused. What do a meal from a kebab shop and a hair salon have in common? Not much apparently, except for their name. “Would you like some fries with your hairdresser?” because I sure would!



If you’re a “lucky guy” you may well get called a “happy bag”! Gelukzak can also translate to “lucky sack”. I don’t know about you but I feel like a very lucky sack today.



If you read my other blog on ten signs its autumn then you’ll have heard me mention “oliebollen” before. These are translated as “oil balls” but they taste much better than they sound, I promise. Oliebollen are traditional Dutch deep-fried doughnuts that are mainly eaten at Christmastime.

Me when I discover the Oliebollen truck is back 



This is the word for the “@” symbol, but it directly translates into “little monkey tail”. Probably one of the cutest phrases so far! What’s even better is that many other languages have fascinating translations for it too. For example, in Russia it’s called  “puppy”, and in Danish it’s an “elephant’s trunk”. I must say, not much is better than a little monkey's tail though 



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

One of these bad boys can be used for anything from moving house to picking up your kids from school. Who knew bikes could be so versatile?


This is a Frisian word for a parachute. It may not seem unusual but when directly translated into English is a “falling down towel”. 

Leech by de grûn frette

This one may look strange but don’t worry, the translation is even stranger! This is the word for a Picnic which directly translated to “low to the  ground eating” .

Me arriving with my falling down towel to my socially distanced low to the ground eating be like …


About the author

Sinead Walsh
Hey there! My name is Sinead Walsh. I grew up in Ireland and I'm in the process of figuring out life as an international student in the Netherlands. Aside from an interest in politics and the environment, I am currently studying an MSc in Sustainable Entrepreneurship at Campus Fryslân. You'll see me around the campus almost daily so don't be afraid to come up for a chat any time!