35 best Afrikaans idioms and proverbs with English meanings

35 best Afrikaans idioms and proverbs with English meanings

Every culture has its proverbs and sayings, and South Africans are no different. These interesting Afrikaans idioms will teach you a thing or two about life. After all, a wise saying sometimes drives the message home better than any other lecture form.

Afrikaans idioms
A photo of a man in traditional wear. Photo: @magdaehlers (modified by author)
Source: UGC

It is easier sometimes to communicate with people in a language they understand best. What better way than to do this in their native language? Using idioms and proverbs sometimes provides an avenue of saying so much using very few words. Check out these very enriching and encouraging messages. Whether the meaning is figurative or literal, you can be sure that you will have something to think about.

Afrikaans idioms translated to English

These Afrikaans idioms will make you look at the other side of the coin. You will learn to consider different perspectives, not just what you have always used to. They will make you laugh and give you something to think about.

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1. Moenie die hoender ruk nie

  • Translation: Do not shake the chicken.
  • Meaning: Do not overdo it.

2. Alle grappies op ‘n stokkie.

  • Translation: All jokes on a stick.
  • Meaning: On a more serious note.

3. So ń bek moet jem kry.

  • Translation: That mouth should get jam.
  • Meaning: Sharing something spot-on good.

4. As die hemel val is ons almal dood.

  • Translation: If heaven falls, we’re all dead.
  • Meaning: To complain less; let’s not always think about what could go wrong.

5. Dis ń feit soos n koei.

  • Translation: A fact like a cow.
  • Meaning: An concept you cannot disagree with.

6. Wors in die hondestal soek.

  • Translation: Searching for sausage in a dog stable.
  • Meaning: To look for a thing that you cannot find.

7. Die aap uit die mou laat.

  • Translation: Let the monkey out of the sleeve.
  • Meaning: Spill the beans.

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Funny Afrikaans sayings

funny Afrikaans sayings
A black and gray monkey. Photo: @simon (modified by author)
Source: UGC

Afrikaans is a language that is full of idioms and emotions. Here are some funny sayings whose translations will make you laugh.

1. Iemand heuning om die mond smeer.

  • Translation: Rub honey around someone’s mouth.
  • Meaning: To woo or butter someone up with flattery.

2. Jakkals trou met wolf se vrou.

  • Translation: The jackal is marrying the wolf’s wife.
  • Meaning: Used when it’s raining and the sun shines simultaneously.

3. Nes ń aap op ń stokkie.

  • Translation: Like a monkey on a stick.
  • Meaning: To look perplexed.

4. ń Aap in die mou hê.

  • Translation: Have a monkey up your sleeve.
  • Meaning: To hide mischievous plans.

5. Alle grappies op ń stokkie.

  • Translation: All jokes on a stick.
  • Meaning: All joking aside.

6. Moenie die hoender ruk nie.

  • Translation: Don’t shake the chicken.
  • Meaning: Don’t overdo it.

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7. Jy krap met ń kort stokkie aan ń groot leeu se bal.

  • Translation: Scratch a lion’s ball with a short stick.
  • Meaning: Being arrogant or pushing one’s luck.

Afrikaans metaphors

Afrikaans metaphors
Portrait of a lion. Photo: pexels.com, @pixabay(modified by author)
Source: UGC

Because of its grammar and vocabulary, Afrikaans has traditionally been regarded as one of the easiest languages to learn. Here are some well-chosen metaphors, along with their meanings.

1. Die poppe gaan dans.

  • Translation: The dolls will dance.
  • Meaning: There’s trouble in the world, or something bad will happen.

2. Lepel in die dak steek.

  • Translation: Stick a spoon in the roof.
  • Meaning: Euphemism for someone dying.

3. Die geel baadjie aan hê.

  • Translation: Wearing a yellow jacket.
  • Meaning: To say that one is jealous.

4. Iemand ń gat in die kop praat.

  • Translation: Talking a hole in someone’s head.
  • Meaning: To persuade someone.

5. Die doodskleed het geen sakke nie.

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  • Translation: The robe of the dead has no pockets.
  • Meaning: Your possessions mean nothing once you are dead.

6. Die bobbejaan agter die bult te gaan haal.

  • Translation: Fetch a baboon from behind the hill.
  • Meaning: To think or talk about problems that haven’t happened yet and thus possibly make them happen.

7. Dis die klein jakkalsies wat die wingerde verniel.

  • Translation: The little foxes ruined the vineyards.
  • Meaning: Small mistakes cause too many troubles.

Thoughtful Afrikaans proverbs

Afrikaans idiome
View of an elephant. Photo: @pixabay (modified by author)
Source: UGC

Proverbs are a collection of figurative words with a hidden meanings. May these Afrikaans proverbs inspire you never to give up and to keep striving for your dreams.

1. Die appel val nie ver van die boom af nie.

  • Translation: The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
  • Meaning: It states that family members tend to share the exact basic nature and traits.

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2. ‘n Voël verander van kleur maar nie van veer.

  • Translation: A leopard doesn’t change its spots.
  • Meaning: This expressive proverb means that even when people appear to have changed, their basic character is likely still intact. One’s true character will always show, no matter how hard one tries to hide it.

3. Die skoenmaker se kinders loop kaalvoet.

  • Translation: The shoemaker’s/cobbler’s children walk barefoot.
  • Meaning: It relates to a situation where people who excel in their profession sometimes cannot extend their services to their children.

4. Elkeen d*nk sy uil is ‘n valk.

  • Translation: Everyone sees his owl as a falcon.
  • Meaning: This proverb means that parents want to see their children only through rose-colored lenses, probably endowing them with characteristics they don’t really have.

5. Goeie wyn het nie ‘n krans nodig nie.

  • Translation: Good wine doesn’t require a wreath.
  • Meaning: It means that quality is self-evident; it doesn’t need to be praised or advertised.

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6. Die deler is so goed soos die steler.

  • Translation: The one who shares in the loot is the same as the thief.
  • Meaning: It reminds us that if we are aware of a criminal act but consciously choose to profit from it anyway, we are morally as guilty as the person who committed the crime.

7. Agteros kom ook in die kraal.

  • Translation: The ox bringing up the rear also gets into the kraal.
  • Meaning: Even those lagging eventually reach their goal. The proverb is also sometimes a kind reminder that no one is a complete loser in every area of life.

Afrikaanse idiome

Afrikaans proverbs
An owl on a tree. Photo: pexels.com, @dsd (modified by author)
Source: UGC

Idiomes use the same vivid imagery and metaphoric language found in many African stories. They are used to impart knowledge to a specific group of people.

1. Die aap uit die mou laat.

  • Translation: To let the monkey out of the sleeve.
  • Meaning: To release the cat out of the bag, to spill the beans.

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2. Die berge het ‘n muis gebaar.

  • Translation: The mountain gave birth to a mouse.
  • Meaning: When you put a lot of effort into a project but have little to show for it.

3. Die berge het ‘n muis gebaar.

  • Translation: The mountain birthed a mouse.
  • Meaning: Not getting the results wanted despite the effort given.

4. Katjie van die baan.

  • Translation: Kitten of the track.
  • Meaning: Describes an outgoing and fun person at an event.

5. Die bobbejaan agter die bult gaan uithaal.

  • Translation: To fetch a baboon from behind the hill.
  • Meaning: To think or talk about problems that haven’t happened yet, thus possibly making them happen.

6. As die hemel val is ons almal dood.

  • Translation: We are all dead if the sky calls.
  • Meaning: Complain less and try to focus on the brighter side.

7. So ń bek moet jem kry.

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  • Translation: Such a mouth should get jam.
  • Meaning: Used when someone says something which rings true or is very witty and sharp.

What does the word kom jou hond mean?

This is a popular Afrikaans idiom that means come to your dog.

Choosing the right Afrikaans idioms can pass a message directly. You can use these idioms to communicate specific messages.

READ ALSO: 125+ African proverbs and quotes that will build your morals

Briefly.co.za recently published an article with African proverbs and quotes that will build your morals. African culture is deeply rooted in its people through music, quotes, and sayings. Songs, for instance, have a way of sending a particular message.

African proverbs could be used to educate, warn, or praise an action. In the same way, they are used to pass a hidden message and influence good morals.

Source: Briefly News

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