Advanced Dutch



There is one missing:

Tut tut = please stop trying to impress me.
Pronounced as töt töt.


Can you share a similar set of Advanced Norwegian expressions with us?

Here you have a selection of Norwegian idioms FYE:

BTW; Not sure I agree with all the English translations and/or interpretations,

PS> I could also be that the use of these idioms have changed over the years.
(I notice that I have lost some changes in the language over the years).

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Apart from ‘zo zo’ there is another somewhat different version with quite a different meaning: ‘zozo’, written without a space between the words. The meaning is mediocre, very average.

Example: His math grades are excellent, but his French is just zozo.

Or, as we say in American English. . so so. . . . .

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And of course so-and-so…

I’ll add a couple:

Mar ja (emphasis on the last syllable) - literally “but yes”, idiomatically “Duh”.

Erg - literally “bad”, idiomatically “very”. “Erg erg” is not a common construct, but entertaining nonetheless.

There’s also the story of one of my most glorious wronglearnings:

At the pre-fluency stage, I learned Dutch from reading technical documents, equipment catalogs and most notably ER labels. There was a lonely switch on the forward bulkhead labeled “Afvoerwaterpomp”, and while moored in a fishing harbor in Brittany, I hit it to see what happened. Aha! In every other language I know we call that a waste water pump. “Afvoer” means “waste”, and hey presto, I had a whole new and slightly technical sounding word for garbage.

I liked my new word, especially since it seemed to make people smile, so I used it rather a lot, even after learning the much more colloquial “afvald”. Life went on until many years later, when I was having a surprisingly candid conversation with a Belgian party boy (een Gentse feestbeest), who was struggling for a word foul enough to describe people who undercut him in the cocaine trade. I helpfully suggested:

“Erg vuile afvoermensen?”
“Haha, no, that’s much too polite. Funny even.”
“Saying “garbage people” is polite?”
“Nono, afvoer doesn’t mean garbage. It’s a very polite way of saying ‘shit’. Like… I don’t know exactly in English”
“Like ‘fecal matter’?”
“Yes, exactly!”

He kept talking, but all I could hear was my ears ringing as the cogs started clicking in the back of my head. Afvoer. Avføring. Oh shit. So many past conversations suddenly started making sense. Like that time I’d called the fire department in Zaventem to report a large afvoerbak on fire behind a hotel, and the girl on the phone wanted to know what I’d been smoking. Or that time talking to the superintendent at the IDP shipyard in Oostende:

“Hi, what do I do with afvoer around here?”
“Excuse me?”
“I have a lot of afvoer I need to get rid of.”
“Oh I see, you need a pump-out.”
“No no, I just need to throw some afvoer
“Hmmm… This afvoer, how is it packaged?”
“I have several large plastic bags of it, all over the ship.”
“Err… I guess you can throw it in the skiff behind the B shed, and we’ll tell you if it gets too bad.”

P.S: In spellchecking this post, I learned that the correct translation is closer to “sewage”, still clearly etymologically related to avføring, but not quite as funny. For a while there, I believed that the Dutch actually call it a “fecal matter pump”, which would have been way cool.


Afvoer is a kind of special word with a lot of meanings. We don’t say afvoerbak for a waste container but afvalbak. Afval is the word for things you no longer need, can be disposed of. Afval in English is waste.

Afvoer for fluids is drain or drainage. You could translate afvoer as ‘carry away’ indicating that something is on the move, either a fluid, solid things or even persons. For instance: De gevangenen werden afgevoerd naar het kamp: The prisoners were taken to the camp.

Unlike in the English language we like to glue words together like afvoerwaterpomp. The word does not say what is pumped. It’s a fluid and can be anything. Mounted on a bulkhead it could be bilge water.

For a sewer we use the word riool or afvoerkanaal.

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It’s also “offal.”

That’s correct. Offal or afval: Late Middle English probably suggested by Middle Dutch afval , from af ‘off’ + vallen ‘to fall’. Originated from the 15 hundreds. The butchers then dropped the non usable parts of the slaughter from the workbench on the floor hence off fall that became offal.