Met de noorderzon vertrekken

leave without notice to an unknown destination Iconspeaker_3
[Dutch phrase of the week]

seaside-1031450_1280“Met de noorderzon vertrekken” can be literally translated as “to leave with the northern sun”. It stems from 17th century Dutch. Then, the “noorderzon” was synonymous to “during the night” – the sun shines in the northern/Scandinavian countries at night. The “zuiderzon” (“southernsun”) was synonymous to “during mid-day”. “Met de noorderzon vertrekken” originally meant to leave without notice leaving many debts. Nowadays, it is used when someone leaves without telling anyone that he intends to leave nor where he’s going.

– “Hij is met de noorderzon vertrokken en hij heeft nooit meer iets van zich laten horen.” 
(“He left without notice to an unknown destination and has never been in touch since.”)

– “Na dat schandaal is zij met de noorderzon vertrokken, later bleek dat ze naar Canada was geëmigreerd.”
(“After the scandal she left to an unknown destination, later it turned out she had emigrated to Canada.”)

– “Als je zomaar met de noorderzon vertrekt, loop je weg voor je verantwoordelijkheden.”
(“If you just leave like that, you walk away from your responsibilities.”)

– “De benen nemen”: to run away (both in literal and figurative sense) [lit.: “to take the legs”].
– “De plaat poetsen”: to desert (original meaning), to run away, to leave [lit.: “to clean the butt plate(part of a gun)”].

– “Toen hij de politiesirene hoorde, poetste de dief de plaat.”
(“When he heard the police siren, the thief ran away.”)

Related words:
– Zon: sun [noun] [de zon, de zonnen].
– Noord: north [adjective].

8 thoughts on “Met de noorderzon vertrekken

  1. Re the expression “de benen nemen”, English does have “take to one’s legs”, which also means to run away.

  2. We’d say (UK) “disappeared off the face of the earth”, but I’d agree Joost it sounds about the right translation.

  3. Sander, that would be “to do a moonlight flit”.
    “A moonlight split” sounds more like nocturnal gymnastics! 🙂
    Anyway, “a moonlight flit” does have this meaning too, but (in my opinion) not the finality and definitiveness of “disappeared off the face of the earth”. I would use “a moonlight flit” for a departure that you might have suspected would happen.

  4. Moonlight FLIT not moonlight SPLIT
    (Flit = Verhuizen)
    To do a moonlight flit (in the North of England and in Scotland) was to move house in the night to avoid rent or other debt so this would seem to be about right.

  5. This is so appropriate for me, as recently Ik met de noordezen vertrekken naar Hawai’i!
    (please correct as neccessary – dank u!)

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