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30 Inspirational Dutch Quotes With English Translations

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Why do people love inspirational quotes so much? Life is full of them. You see them on social media, in commercials, printed on T-shirts, painted on walls, and even tattooed on people’s skin. There’s something very appealing about these quotes: they represent people’s attitudes, stories, mindsets, histories, and more. Deeper still, they represent cultures. So when you learn quotes from another language, it’s like you’re looking through a window into another culture. 

What kind of Dutch quotes would you like to learn? Whatever you want, we have it. In this article, we’ve listed thirty Dutch quotes with English translations that will teach you more about Dutch culture and traditions, as well as the typical (often down-to-earth) Dutch attitude. You’ll also find a few quotes that are popular in English and have been translated into Dutch so you can get the best of both worlds.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Dutch Table of Contents
  1. Quotes About Wisdom
  2. Quotes About Success
  3. Quotes About Love
  4. Quotes About Life
  5. Quotes About Family & Friends
  6. Quotes About Learning
  7. How DutchPod101 Can Help You Learn More Dutch

1. Quotes About Wisdom

We can all reach a point where we feel stuck or unsatisfied with our lives. So let’s start with a handful of simple Dutch quotes that offer valuable words of wisdom to get you back on the right path. 

#1

DutchMeten is weten.
Literally“Measuring is knowing.”
EquivalentMeasuring things brings knowledge.
This is one of the most common Dutch wisdom quotes, and it represents how the Dutch like to do things: with precision and preparation, and never too hurriedly. 

#2

DutchHaastige spoed is zelden goed.
Literally“Hasty speed is never good.”
EquivalentHaste makes waste.
Another popular quote in the Netherlands, this is used in a wide variety of situations: from parents to children, from teachers to students, and among friends.

It’s often used as a light reprimand, often delivered with a wink (real or imaginary).

#3

DutchWees de verandering die je in de wereld wil zien gebeuren.
Literally“Be the change you want to see in the world.”
Nearly identical to its English counterpart, this is a true inspirational quote. It’s not used quite as often in Dutch as it is in English, though a true Dutch idealist would definitely love this quote. 

In the Netherlands, this quote is used to inspire others to live responsibly.

#4

DutchJe kunt nooit een oceaan oversteken, als je niet het lef hebt om de kust uit het zicht te verliezen.
Literally“You can never cross the ocean until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.”
While this isn’t a very common quote in Dutch, it’s such a beauty. It’s deep, it’s true, and it tells you all about the need to sometimes take a risk and let go of your safety blanket. 

As you may notice, many Dutch quotes are related to the sea and water. This is because of the Dutch’s naval history, their close relationship with water, and their expertise in water management.


2. Quotes About Success

Do you have big plans for the future or an upcoming project you’re concerned about? These motivational quotes in Dutch will inspire you and clue you in on how to achieve success.

#5

DutchOm te slagen in het leven heb je twee dingen nodig: onwetendheid en vertrouwen. 
Literally“To succeed in life, you need two things: ignorance and confidence.”
While this quote is originally from Mark Twain, you may also hear the Dutch version in the Netherlands. It suits the Dutch attitude: confident, direct, and maybe a little bit clumsy.

#6

DutchStreef niet naar succes als dat is wat je wilt; gewoon doen waar je van houdt en in gelooft en de rest komt vanzelf.
Literally“Don’t aim for success if you want it; just do what you love and believe in, and it will come naturally.”
This quote also falls in line with the Dutch attitude: understanding that success is not everything. Do something the best you can and enjoy it as much as possible. Only then will you succeed.

#7

DutchVoor de wind is het goed zeilen.
Literally“Sailing is good before the wind.”
EquivalentIt is easier to be successful under favorable conditions.
Another quote that has to do with the sea, boats, and water. 

It perfectly depicts the level-headedness of the Dutch, who realize that a person’s efforts alone do not result in success. Better conditions make it easier to succeed by giving you a head start. 

#8

DutchElk nadeel heeft zijn voordeel. 
Literally“Every disadvantage has its advantage.”
The Dutch love this inspirational quote. Every bad thing has something positive. The trick is to find the good in the bad. 

The world-famous Dutch soccer player Johan Cruyff loved to use this quote with his Amsterdam dialect: Elk nadeel heb se voordeel.

#9

DutchOpgeven kan morgen ook nog.
Literally“You can always give up tomorrow.”
There is some power in this Dutch quote. You can always give up another day, so why give up today?

It tells you a bit about the Dutch go-getter mentality (doorzetter mentaliteit): keep on trying without giving up or making a fuss.   
Inspire Yourself with These Dutch Quotes about Success

3. Quotes About Love

The Dutch are not the most romantic people in the world, so there’s no overload of romantic love quotes in Dutch. The few love quotes they do have tend to possess a down-to-earth undertone. Let’s have a look at these Dutch love quotes with English translations.

#10

DutchDe liefde is als de wind, je kunt het niet zien maar wel voelen.
Literally“Love is like the wind; you can’t see it, but you can feel it.”
This is a beautiful love quote that, unfortunately, is not so widely used in the Netherlands. Will you be the one to change this?

#11

DutchDank je dat je altijd mijn regenboog na de storm wilt zijn.
Literally“Thank you for always being my rainbow after the storm.”
EquivalentThanks for always being my sunshine after the rain.

#12

DutchDe liefde kan niet van één kant komen.
Literally“Love cannot come from one side.”
EquivalentIt takes two to tango.
This down-to-earth love quote is quite popular in the Netherlands.

It has a nice ring and some truth to it: if you want to do something together, each party will have to contribute.

#13

DutchDe liefde van een man gaat door de maag.
Literally“A man’s love goes through the stomach.” 
EquivalentThe way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.
This humorous quote, quite popular in the Netherlands, may say something about the not-so-romantic nature of the Dutch. It even has its own old Dutch song.

Of course, you can replace “man” for women, children, or even animals: De liefde van een kat gaat door de maag. (“The love of a cat goes through the stomach.”) 

#14

DutchOngelukkig in het spel, gelukkig in de liefde. 
Literally“Unlucky in the game, happy in love.” 
EquivalentLucky at cards, unlucky in love.
This is one of those love quotes in Dutch with a nearly identical English equivalent. Those who always lose when gambling often have a happy love life. 

What do you think about that? Is it true for you?

#15

DutchOude liefde roest niet.
Literally“Old love does not rust.” 
This beautiful Dutch quote has an identical English counterpart, as well as its own song from the famous Dutch eighties band VOF De Kunst.

They sing: Oude liefde roest niet, maar verdwijnt net zoals jij. (“Old love does not rust, but disappears just like you.”) 
Did You Feel the Love with These Dutch Love Quotes?

4. Quotes About Life

Life is a great mystery, and yet there are some universal truths to be found. Read through these Dutch quotes about life to gain insight into the Dutch view of this phenomenon.

#16

DutchHet leven gaat niet altijd over rozen. 
Literally“Life doesn’t always go over roses.”
EquivalentLife is not always beautiful.
This Dutch life quote is a great reflection of the Dutch culture and mindset: direct, honest, and realistic. 

#17

DutchHoop doet leven. 
Literally“Hope makes you live.”
EquivalentAs long as you’ve got hope, there are possibilities.
This quote has a nice ring to it. It’s short but also quite powerful.

The Dutch often use this quote when speaking about love, life, or dreams.

#18

DutchGeld maakt niet gelukkig. 
Literally“Money does not make you happy.”
EquivalentMoney can’t buy happiness.
This Dutch quote has a very similar English counterpart and is very popular in the Netherlands. 

It also reflects the aspect of Dutch culture that realizes money isn’t everything, and that there’s more to life than material wealth. 

#19

DutchHet is zoals het is. 
Literally“Things are the way they are.”
EquivalentIt is what it is.
This may be the most Dutch quote out there. It’s down-to-earth, without drama, and very realistic. Things are just the way they are and you have to accept it. 

#20

DutchWat er ook gebeurt, altijd blijven lachen. 
Literally“Whatever happens, always keep smiling.”
This Dutch quote became famous through a popular Dutch clown duo: Bassie & Adriaan.

They had a very popular children’s TV show from the late seventies to the end of the nineties. They even have a song about this positive quote.

5. Quotes About Family & Friends

Express Your Love of Your Family with These Dutch Quotes

Family and friends are life’s greatest joys and necessities. These Dutch quotes about family and friendship offer some cultural perspective on how the Dutch perceive these crucial relationships.

#21

DutchOost west, thuis best. 
Literally“East, West, home is best.”
This Dutch quote is very popular in the Netherlands. It emphasizes that you have to appreciate where you’re from. You can travel all you want, but there is just no place like home.

#22

DutchGezelligheid kent geen tijd.
Literally“Coziness knows no time.”
This is one of the classic Dutch quotes about friendship. It just means that when you’re having fun, you shouldn’t worry about the time. So if you’re having fun drinking with friends, don’t worry about going to sleep a bit later.

Yes, the Dutch know how to have fun and be cozy together. They even have a special word for it: gezelligheid

#23

DutchDe appel valt niet ver van de boom. 
Literally“The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”
EquivalentA chip off the old block.
This quote means that children often resemble their parents. It’s a common saying in the Netherlands, often used when a child has the same looks, interests, or talents as their parents.

#24

DutchIn nood leert men zijn vrienden kennen.
Literally“In distress, people get to know their friends.”
When you’re in trouble or in a difficult situation, you’ll know who your true friends are. They’re the people that will be there for you no matter what. 

#25

DutchElk huisje heeft z’n kruisje. 
Literally“Every house has its cross.”
EquivalentEvery home has its own worries and problems.
This quote means that there is trouble in every house or family. This Dutch expression has been used since the seventeenth century. 

The house in this quote represents a family. The cross represents the difficulties and griefs that everyone inevitably faces in their life, such as illness, loss of loved ones, and setbacks. This is represented as a cross because of the horrible punishment of crucifixion from the past.

    → Would you like to learn more? Have a look at our vocabulary lists of quotes on Family and Friendship.

6. Quotes About Learning

Let’s close this article with the best quotes in Dutch for language learners: those about learning! 

#26

DutchTalenkennis is de deur naar wijsheid.
Literally“Knowledge of languages is the doorway to wisdom.”

#27

DutchIn het leven en ook in de taal zijn nuances alles.
Literally“In life and also in language, nuances are everything.”
This Dutch quote is from Louis Couperus, a Dutch novelist and poet who lived from 1863 to 1923. His famous works span a wide variety of genres: lyric poetry, psychological and historical novels, novellas, short stories, fairy tales, feuilletons, and sketches.

#28

DutchMen is nooit te oud om te leren. 
Literally“People are never too old to learn.” 
This is a popular Dutch learning quote, telling people to never get discouraged about learning something.  You’re never too old to learn something new.

Let’s live up to this inspirational quote. You’re never too old to start learning Dutch. You can do it!

#29

DutchOp een oude fiets moet je het leren. 
Literally“You have to learn it on an old bicycle.”
EquivalentTeaching materials are rarely new.
Although things may be renewed or modernized, the base often stays the same. A bike is a bike. Learning a language is learning a language. It has been done for ages and modern tools may make it a bit easier, but in the end we use the same kind of teaching materials.

#30

DutchLeren doe je met vallen en opstaan. 
Literally“You learn by falling and getting up.”
EquivalentYou learn by trial and error.
This Dutch learning quote reveals a lot about the Dutch mentality: you learn by doing and trying. Don’t expect to succeed at once. You’ll learn with time. 
Did These Dutch Learning Quotes Inspire You to Learn More Dutch?

7. How DutchPod101 Can Help You Learn More Dutch

In this guide, you’ve learned the most important and inspirational Dutch quotes with English translations on a variety of topics: from wisdom to success, from love to life, from family to friends, and beyond. 

Did we inspire you? Are you motivated to learn more about the Dutch culture, history, and language?

Then DutchPod101.com is the place to be. With our multiple vocabulary lists featuring audio recordings and other useful free resources, you’ll definitely boost your Dutch studies from day one. Practice is key! And remember: Leren doe je met vallen en opstaan. (“You learn by trial and error.”)

Would you like some one-on-one coaching? Remember that DutchPod101 also has the Premium PLUS MyTeacher service. Here, you can discover more about Dutch culture with your own private teacher and really master the Dutch language. Through personalized feedback and pronunciation advice, you’ll definitely get the hang of it. 

Happy learning on DutchPod101.com!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Dutch