Afrikaanse Vergelykings – Afrikaans Simile – Your Comprehensive & Fun Guide

so moeg soos 'n hond

Welkom by Afrikaanse Vergelykings – Afrikaans simile.

We often use similes without realizing, when we desire to emphasize the meaning of an idea or an image. But similes allow us insight into a different culture, as you can notice from these Afrikaans similes and their English translations.

Ons gebruik gereeld vergelykings, somtyds sonder dat ons dit besef, om ‘n idee of beeld te versterk. Vergelykings gee ons ook insig in ander kulture, soos jy kan opmerk van herdie Afrikaanse vergelykings en hulle (direkte) Engelse vertalings.

so arm soos ‘n kerkmuis = as poor as a church mouse

Afrikaanse vergelykings Afrikaans simile, so arm soos 'n kerkmuis = as poor as a church mouse

This simile is probably deriving from an older one, as hungry as a church mouse – illustrating how the Catholic and the Orthodox priests were careful not to mess the smallest crumb of the sacramental bread.

Die vergelyking het heelwaarskynlik sy oorsprong van ‘n ouer een, “so honger soos ‘n kerkmuis”, wat illustreer hoe versigtig die Katolieke en Ortodokse priesters was om nie die kleinste krummel van die heilige nagmaalbrood te mors nie.

so bitter soos gal = as bitter as bile

so bleek soos ‘n laken = as pale as a sheet

In English we would rather say as pale as death, as pale as a ghost, as white as a sheet)

so blind soos ‘n mol = as blind as a mole
so blou soos die hemel / die berge = as blue as the sky / as blue as a mountain
so dapper soos ‘n leeu = as brave as a lion

so dood soos ‘n mossie = as dead as a sparrow

This simile might derive from as dead as a dodo (referring to the dodo being an extinct species), although I think that as dead as a door nail is more used.

so doof soos ‘n kwartel = as deaf as a quail

so doof soos 'n kwartel = as deaf as a quail, Afrikaanse vergelykings Afrikaans simile
Afrikaanse vergelykings Afrikaans simile

Quails are widespread in South Africa and very easy to catch. The expression is based on a misunderstanding between Dutch and German. In German “doof” means “dumb”. Because quails are easy to catch or be lured with simple tricks, the Germans called them “doof” and the word entered Dutch and then Afrikaans.
In English we would say as deaf as a post.

so dom soos ‘n esel = as stupid as a donkey
so donker soos die nag = as dark as the night
so dronk soos ‘n matroos = as drunk as a sailor
so droog soos kurk / strooi = as dry as cork / as dry as straw (as dry as a bone is used in English)
so dun soos ‘n plank = as thin as a plank (rather as thin as a rail in English)

so fris soos ‘n perd = as healthy as a horse

so fris soos 'n perd = as healthy as a horse, Afrikaanse vergelykings Afrikaans simile
Afrikaanse vergelykings Afrikaans simile

This is an interesting Afrikaans idiom as the English equivalent originates in the NE of the USA and is best used in summer. In English we would rather say as healthy / as fit as a butcher’s dog. This makes sense as a butcher’s dog would have a diet based on meat and other scraps, thus keeping him healthier than the stray dogs.

so geduldig soos Job = as patient as Job
so geel soos goud = as yellow as gold
geld soos bossies = money like weeds (has a lot of money)
so gereeld soos klokslag = as regular as clockwork
so giftig soos ‘n slang = as poisonous as a snake

so goed soos goud = as good as gold (completely genuine)

so goed  soos goud = as good as gold (completely genuine) Afrikaanse vergelykings Afrikaans simile

This simile most probably draws from the end of the 19th century when banknotes were first introduced in the USA. These were actually IOUs, written promises for a later payment, in gold and silver. Thus the expression, IOUs were “as genuine as gold”, as good as gold.

“And how did little Tim behave?” asked Mrs. Cratchit…
“As good as gold,” said Bob, “and better.”

Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol, 1843

so glad soos seep = as smooth as soap
so groen soos gras = as green as grass
so groot soos ‘n reus = as big as a giant
so hard soos klip = as hard as stone
so helder soos kristal = as clear as crystal
so honger soos ‘n wolf = as hungry as a wolf

so koel soos ‘n komkommer = as cool as cucumber

so koel  soos 'n komkommer = as cool as cucumber, Afrikaanse vergelykings Afrikaans simile
Afrikaanse vergelykings Afrikaans simile

As cool as a cucumber dates back to the beginning of the 18th century. Cool here does not refer to low temperature, but rather to someone unruffled. As cool as a cucumber was first recorded in 1732, in John Gay’s New Song on New Similes.

so koud soos ys = as cold as ice
so krom soos ‘n hoepel = as crooked as a hoop
so kwaai soos ‘n tierwyfie = as vicious as a tigress
so lelik soos die nag = as ugly as the night
so lig soos ‘n veer = as light as a feather
so lui soos ‘n donkie = as lazy as a donkey
so maer soos ‘n kraai = as thin / skinny as a crow
so mak soos ‘n lam = as tame as a lamb
so maklik soos pyp opsteek = as easy as lighting a pipe

so moeg soos ‘n hond = as tired as a dog

so moeg  soos 'n hond = as tired as a dog, Afrikaanse vergelykings Afrikaans simile

As tired as a dog draws back to the 9th century, originating in the adjectival phrase dog-tired. It is said that Alfred the Great, King of Wessex and King of the Anglo-Saxons used to send his sons, Athelbrod and Edwin, out hunting accompanied by their dogs. Whichever son would catch more game would be seated at their father’s right hand side at the dinner table that evening. The hunt would leave both young princes as tired as a dog.

so nat soos ‘n kat = as wet as a cat
so nuuskierig soos ‘n aap = as curious as a monkey
so oud soos die berge = as old as the mountains
so plat soos ‘n pannekoek = as flat as a pancake
pronk soos ‘n pou = shows off like a peacock
so reg soos ‘n roer = as straight as a barrel (of a gun)
so rond soos ‘n koeël = as round as a bullet
so rooi soos bloed = as red as blood
so regop soos ‘n kers = as upright as a candle
rook soos ‘n skoorsteen = smokes like a chimney
so sag soos sy = as soft as silk
so seker soos twee maal twee vier is = as sure as knowing two times two is four
sing soos ‘n nagtegaal = sings like a nightingale
so skerp soos ‘n lemmetjie = as sharp as a razor blade
so skraal soos ‘n riet = as slim as a reed
so skurf soos ‘n padda = (skin) as scabby / dry as a toad

slaap soos ‘n klip = sleeps like a stone

slaap soos 'n klip = sleeps like a stone, Afrikaanse vergelykings Afrikaans simile

The former version of sleep like a stone would be sleep like a log – metaphorically mentioned in English as early as the 17th century:

“foundering is when she will neither veere nor steare, the sea will so ouer rake her, except you free out the water, she will lie like a log, and so consequently sinke.”

John Smith, A Sea Grammar, 1627

so slim soos ‘n jakkals = as clever, crafty as a jackal
so soet soos suiker / stroop = as sweet as sugar / syrup
so stadig soos ‘n trapsuutjies = as slow as a chameleon
so steeks soos ‘n donkie = as stubborn as a donkey
so sterk soos ‘n os = as strong as an ox
so stil soos ‘n muis = as quiet as a mouse
stink soos ‘n muishond = stinks like a skunk
so suur soos asyn = as sour as vinegar
so swaar soos lood = as heavy as lead
so swak soos ‘n lammetjie = as weak as a lamb
so swart soos die nag = as black as the night
swem soos ‘n vis = swims like a fish
sweet soos ‘n perd = sweats like a horse
so taai soos ‘n ratel = as tough as a honey badger
so trots soos ‘n pou = as proud as a peacock
so vas soos ‘n rots = as steady as a rock
so vinnig soos ‘n windhond = as fast as a greyhound

so wit soos sneeu = as white as snow

Afrikaanse vergelykings Afrikaans simile, so wit soos sneeu = as white as snow
Afrikaanse vergelykings Afrikaans simile

Imagine the pure, pristine snow of a sunny winter’s morning. Shakespeare was one of the first to use this powerful simile:

… What if this cursed hand
Were thicker than itself with brother’s blood,
Is there not rain enough in the sweet heavens
To wash it white as snow? …

Shakespeare, Hamlet, 1602
Nou in Afrikaans - geliefde kinderboeke deur Patricia Furstenberg
Nou in Afrikaans – geliefde kinderboeke deur Patricia Furstenberg – Amazon

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Thank you for reading Afrikaanse Vergelykings, Afrikaans simile, a comprehensive and fun guide.

Did you know that South Africans can now order my books through LOOT?

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Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for Patricia Furstenberg
Order Silent Heroes through Loot.

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Afrikaans to English translation - compound words meaning

When learning a new language, some of the issues we encounter are translating those crafty closed compound words – combinations of two or more words that function as a single unit and mean something different than the individual words they are built from.

  1. Aasvoël

Direct translation: bait bird

Actual meaning: vulture

Aasvoël  - bait bird - vulture
Aasvoël – bait bird – vulture

2. Jagluiperd

Direct translation: Hunting lazy horse

Actual meaning: cheetah

Jagluiperd - lazy horse - cheetah
Jagluiperd – lazy horse – cheetah

3. Keelvol

Direct translation: full throat

Actual meaning: sick of it all

Keelvol - full throat - sick of it all
Keelvol – full throat – sick of it all

4. Knormoer

Direct translation: Growl nut

Actual meaning: starter motor

Knormoer - Growl nut - starter motor
Knormoer – Growl nut – starter motor

5. Klapkassie

Direct translation: Little Flap cupboard

Actual meaning: cubby hole

Klapkassie - Little Flap cupboard - cubby hole
Klapkassie – Little Flap cupboard – cubby hole

6. Kameelperd

Direct translation: Camel horse

Actual meaning: Giraffe

Kameelperd - Camel horse - Giraffe. Hello :)
Kameelperd – Camel horse – Giraffe

7. Kattekwaad

Direct translation: Cats mischief

Actual meaning: getting up to no good

Kattekwaad - Cats mischief - getting up to no good
Kattekwaad – Cats mischief – getting up to no good

8. Koggelmannetjie

Direct translation: teasing little man

Actual meaning: a male rock lizard

Koggelmannetjie - teasing little man - a male rock lizard
Koggelmannetjie – teasing little man – a male rock lizard

9. Luiperd

Direct translation: Lazy horse

Actual meaning: Leopard

Luiperd - Lazy horse - Leopard. A translation with spots
Luiperd – Lazy horse – Leopard

10. Laatlammetjie

Direct translation: late lamb

Actual meaning: a child born many years after its siblings

Laatlammetjie - late lamb - a child born many years after its siblings. Family
Laatlammetjie – late lamb – a child born many years after its siblings

11. Padkos

Direct translation: road food

Actual meaning: Southern African snacks and provisions for a journey

padkos - road food - Southern African snacks and provisions for a journey. Culinary translations
padkos – road food – Southern African snacks and provisions for a journey

12. Perdeby

Direct translation: horse fly

Actual meaning: wasp

perdeby - horse fly - wasp. A literal translation that could sting.
perdeby – horse fly – wasp

13. Pletterpet

Direct translation: falling hat

Actual meaning: helmet

Pletterpet - falling hat - helmet, Afrikaans English literal translations
Pletterpet – falling hat – helmet

14. Papier vampier

Direct translation: paper vampire

Actual meaning: stapler

Papier vampier - paper vampire - stapler. Fun example of literal translations
Papier vampier – paper vampire – stapler

Note: papier vampier (papiervampier) is slang and is included in Mzansi Taal online dictionary.
More common names are “kramdrukker” (staple presser), “krammasjien” (staple machine) or “krambinder” (staple binder). But how boring they sound 🙂 isn’t it?
[Undated 30 June 2020]

15. Springmielies

Direct translation: Jumping corn

Actual meaning: popcorn

Springmielies - Jumping corn - popcorn. Afrikaans English literal translations
Springmielies – Jumping corn – popcorn

16. Trapsuutjie

Direct translation: step softly

Actual meaning: chameleon

Trapsuutjie - step softly - chameleon. Afrikaans English literal translations
Trapsuutjie – step softly – chameleon

17. Verkykers

Direct translation: far lookers

Actual meaning: binoculars

Verkykers - far lookers - binoculars. Afrikaans English literal translations
Verkykers – far lookers – binoculars

18. Vergrootglas

Direct translation: making big glass

Actual meaning: magnifying glass

Vergrootglas - making big glass - magnifying glass. Afrikaans English literal translations
Vergrootglas – making big glass – magnifying glass. Afrikaans English literal translations

19. Windmeulvliegtuig

Direct translation: wind mill flying plane

Actual meaning: helicopter

Windmeulvliegtuig - wind mill flying plane - helicopter. Afrikaans English literal translations
Windmeulvliegtuig – wind mill flying plane – helicopter

20. Ystervark

Direct translation: iron pig

Actual meaning: porcupine

Ystervark  - iron pig – porcupine -Afrikaans English literal translations
Ystervark – iron pig – porcupine. Afrikaans – English literal translations

Nou in Afrikaans, geliefde kinderboeke:

Die Leeu en die Hond

Die Jagluiperd en die Hond

Die Olifant en die Skaap

Did you know that South Africans can now order my books through LOOT?

You can order my latest novel, Silent Heroes, a #1 New Release in Amazon US in History of Afghanistan for kindle category for a couple of months, a #2 Best Sellers in Arms Control as well as #4 Best Seller in Middle Eastern Literature from Loot.

Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for Patricia Furstenberg
Loot

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