Stront aan de knikker

trouble, the shit hits the fan Iconspeaker_3 Knikker
[Dutch phrase of the week]
[stront aan de knik-ker]

"Stront aan de knikker" literally translates to "shit on the marble" 🙂 It is common idiom for referring to a state of trouble. I believe that the synonymous English expression is "the shit hits the fan", native English speakers are kindly invited to confirm or refute this.

– "Wat is er aan de hand?" – "Stront aan de knikker…" 
("What's going on?" – "Trouble…")

– "Toen de ME hard optrad tegen de protestanten, wist ik dat er stront aan de knikker was." 
("When the riot police acted forcefully against the protesters, I knew the shit was going to hit the fan.")

– "Waarom fronst Frank zijn wenkbrauwen?" – "Waarschijnlijk is er ergens stront aan de knikker…" 
("Why is Frank frowning?" – "There's probably trouble somewhere…")

– "Wat is er aan de hand?": what's going on?
– "Foute boel": trouble, wrong, bad.

– "Dit is foute boel…ik ben pleite…"
("This is trouble…I'm out of here…")

Related words:
– Stront: shit, crap, poop [noun] [de stront, <no plural>].
– Knikker: marble [noun] [de knikker, de knikkers].

– "Kijk mam! Ik heb vandaag hartstikke veel knikkers gewonnen!"
("Look mum! I really won a lot of marbles today!")

– Knikkeren: to play marbles [verb] [knikkeren, knikkerde, h. geknikkerd].
– Probleem: problem [noun] [het probleem, de problemen].

8 thoughts on “Stront aan de knikker

  1. Stront aan de knikker is probably closer to “There’s something rotten in Denmark.” {Shakespeare] than” when the shit hits the fan”, I think. TKB

  2. Since you invited comments from native English speakers….
    “shit that hits the fan” doesn’t work at all in English. The correct phrase is more like: “when the shit hits the fan”.
    Specifically, it’s “the shit” that hits the fan, and not just any old shit. So, correctly: “I knew shit was going to hit the fan.”, would become “I knew the shit was going to hit the fan”.
    I’m not sure about “something rotten in Denmark” either. It relies on the audience “getting” the Shakespearian reference. How about “Trouble at ‘mill”?

  3. “Stront aan de knikker”, in concise, decent, easily understood English, simply means “there is trouble”.

  4. Friends,
    I have been thinking about the origin of the expression.
    Like so many expressions, upon closer examination it may well turn out to be a sexually tainted expression. What would a marble [knikker] have to do with shit after all. Better to understand “knikker” as the thing which nodds, or in this case the equivalent of the English cock or prick. Then the shit becomes a more logical reference to sodomy. So in all the initially funny sounding expression in this way would turn out be much less innocent.

  5. I thought the expression went “poep aan de knikker”. I’m not alone in this belief: Google produced 20,700 search hits while “stront aan de knikker” got 23,300. Myself, I am partial to the “poep” version because it must be doggy-doo, “hondepoep”, that sometimes does soil kids’ marbles. I think M.Jansen’s sodomy theory is far-fetched. This sounds like something a Dutch stand-up comedian contrived.

  6. @ E. Pollari: “Poep” is only referred to as “shit” in Holland. In both Belgium and Holland it’s more commonly used as “ass” or “behind”, though. It could be that “poep aan de knikker” is in fact a correct version of the expression but I, as a Belgian young lady, would personally use “stront aan de knikker”.

  7. Hi Caro! Yeah, I noticed this at a friend’s place in Antwerp, whose son had escaped during changing. He told his wife: “ge moogt die poeperd een pamper om z’n poep doen”. I had to think about that one, but I decided that he wanted his wife to wrap a Pamper around the little darling’s bum.

Comments are closed.