Vel over been

scrawny, all skin and bone
[vel o-ver been] 

dog-218110_640Literally ‘vel over been’ translates as ‘skin over bone’. It applies to situations where people or animals are dying of hunger and literally only have skin left. However, it can also be used to say that somebody is very very skinny, or scrawny, basically emphasizing how skinny the person is.

“Dat kind moet echt meer eten; ze is vel over been!” 
(“That girl should really eat more; she’s just too scrawny!” Although ‘kind’ translates as child it is often used to denote a girl. In case of a boy, one would more often use the word ‘jongen’.)

“Vorige week is er een man gearresteerd wegens dierenmishandeling. Ze lieten foto’s zien van zijn honden, stuk voor stuk (waren ze) vel over been!” 
(“Last week a man was arrested on charges of animal abuse. They showed pictures of his dogs, each and every one of them was all skin and bone!” Lit.: ‘… because of animal abuse.’)

“De meeste gevangenen die werden bevrijd waren vel over been, en voor sommigen kwam de hulp te laat.” 
(“Most prisoners who were liberated were all skin and bone, and for some help came too late.”)

“Sommige modellen zijn gewoon vel over been. Behalve dat dat helemaal een verkeerd signaal uitzendt naar tienermeisjes, is het ook nog eens superlelijk.”)
(“Some (fashion) models are just scrawny. Apart from the fact that this really sends a wrong signal to teenage girls, it is also extremely ugly!”)

Related words:
– Dun: thin [adjective].
Mager: thin, lean, meagre [adjective].
– Broodmager: very skinny [adjective].
– Skinny: skinny [adjective]. Contrary to ‘fat’ the word ‘skinny’ is sometimes used informally in its English meaning, e.g. “Ik vind haar leuk maar ze is mij een beetje te skinny.” (“I like her but she is a bit too skinny to my liking.” Note the construction ‘[personal pronoun] [conjugation of ‘zijn’] mij te [adjective]’: ‘[personal pronoun] [conjugation of ‘to be’] too [adjective] to my liking.’)
Honger: hunger [noun] [de honger, <no plural>].
– Hongerig: hungry [adjective].
– Verhongeren: to die of starvation, to die of hunger [verb] [verhongerde, verhongerd].
– Uithongeren: to starve (out) [verb] [uithongerde, uitgehongerd].