Als klap op de vuurpijl

to crown/top/cap it all Iconspeaker_3
[Dutch phrase of the week]
[als klap op de vuur-pijl]

Vuurwerk A "vuurpijl" literally translates as "fire arrow" and is the general name for the aerial shells that the Dutch typically like to fire off on New Year's eve. The "klap" is what follows the flash; the "bang", the crowning touch. At least that is my guess, explanations differ 🙂 This phrase is typically used to close off a positive sequence of events but you can also use it when things are not going your way.

– "Ik heb onlangs een nieuwe auto gewonnen, mag een jaar lang gratis tanken en als klap op de vuurpijl hoef ik niet eens wegenbelasting te betalen!" 
("Recently I have won a new car, I get gas/petrol for free for a year, and to top it all: I don't even have to pay road tax!" Note the verb 'tanken': to fill up, refuel.)

– "Een collegaatje van mij heeft net een promotie gekregen, met haar vriend een huis gekocht en als klap op de vuurpijl gaat ze een jaar op wereldreis!" 
("A colleague of mine just got a promotion, she has bought a house with her boyfriend and to crown it all she is going to travel the world for a year!" Lit. 'wereldreis' is a trip around the world.)

– "Vanochtend had ik een sollicitatiegesprek en ik had al slecht geslapen, en toen bleek mijn pak vies te zijn en als klap op de vuurpijl miste ik ook nog mijn trein!" 
("This morning I had a job interview and I had already slept badly, and then my suit turned out to be dirty and to top it all I also missed my train!")

Related words:
– Knallen: to bang [verb] [knalde, geknald]. Sometimes used as slang for 'to have sex'.
– Vuur: fire [noun] [het vuur, de vuren].
– Vuurwerk: fireworks [noun] [het vuurwerk, <no plural>].


fireworks [noun] [het vuurwerk, <no plural>]

In the Netherlands it is common that people let off their own fireworks. Since fireworks is not cheap, some people complain about the waste of money that could have been spent on more useful things or on the less fortunate people on this planet.
Fireworks is usually sold in the Netherlands from the 28th of December till the 31st. Safety laws are strict for the shops that sell fireworks, and not all fireworks are allowed by Dutch law. For this reason border control between the Netherlands and Belgium is enforced in this time of the year, since more dangerous fireworks are allowed in Belgium and people try to bring it into the Netherlands.

– “Op oudejaarsavond wordt om twaalf uur vuurwerk afgestoken.”
(“At New Year’s Eve, fireworks are let off at twelve o’clock.”)

– “Veel kinderen steken al eerder dan twaalf uur klein vuurwerk af, zoals rotjes.”
(“Many kids let off small fireworks earlier than twelve o’clock, like firecrackers.”)

– “In Nederland mag vuurwerk alleen worden afgestoken op 31 december vanaf 10 uur ‘s ochtends tot ‘s nachts 2 uur.”
(“In the Netherlands, fireworks are only allowed to be let off at December 31st from ten o’clock in the morning till two o’clock at night.”)

– “De discussie die ik gisteren met haar had, man…vuurwerk!”
(“The discussion I had with her yesterday, man…fireworks!”)

Related words:
– “Jaarwisseling”: turn of the year.
– “Rotje”: firecracker.
– “Strijker”: heavy (illegal) firecracker, literally “striker”.
– “Gillende keukenmeid”: whizzer, literally: “screaming kitchen maid” 🙂
– “Vreugdevuur”: bonfire.

The Dutch city of Den Haag is notorious for its high amount of bonfires after New Year’s Eve. Some neighbourhoods are temporarily changed into warzones. Because not all fires can be prevented, the authorities allow bonfires at certain locations under certain circumstances. Not many people stick to those rules though…;-)

Every year the Dutch government makes an effort to warn teenagers for the dangers of fireworks. With all the “common” violence on tv and in videogames, realistic commercials with blown off fingers do not have so much impact anymore. This year, the Dutch government tries to get the message across by creating a web site with a fictitious Chinese guy explaining the dangers in YouTube like videos. Check it out at


to light, to infect/contaminate [verb] [aansteken, aangestoken]


1. "Kun jij de kaarsen aansteken alstjeblieft?"

("Can you light the candles, please?" See also 32. Kaars)

2. "Door de wind kun je geen sigaret aansteken."

("Because of the wind, one cannot light a cigarette.")

3. "Op de kleuterschool steken kinderen elkaar vaak aan."

("In kindergarten children often contaminate each other." And obviously
not: "… light each other." 🙂 but it would not be an incorrect

Related words:
– In the meaning of "to infect/contaminate" the word "aansteken" is only used when you talk about a cold or the flu. "Serious" illnesses require the use of the verb "besmetten". A "contagious disease" is a "besmettelijke ziekte".

– A lighter is called an "aansteker".

Example: "Mag ik je aansteker even lenen?"

("Can I borrow your lighter?")


candle [noun] [de kaars, de kaarsen]

1. "De aangestoken kaarsen gaven het kerstdiner een romantische sfeer."
("The lit candles gave the christmas dinner a romantic touch/atmosphere.")

2. "Met slechts een kaars, doolde de prinses door het donkere kasteel."
("With only a candle, the princess wandered through the dark castle."

1. "Kaarsrecht": "Straight as an arrow" (literally: "candlestraight").

"De lasergestuurde raket vloog kaarsrecht op zijn doel af."
("The laser-guided missile headed (in a very) straight (line) for its target.")

2. "Zo iemand moet je met een kaarsje zoeken".
("You can count people like that on the fingers of one hand." Literally: "You have to look for a person like him/her with a little candle.")

3. "(Voor iemand) een kaarsje opsteken."
("To light a little candle (for somebody)." (for good luck/fate) )

Related words:
1. "Kandelaar": translates to "candlestick/candleholder/candlestand".
2. "Theelichtje" or "waxinelichtje": translates to "nightlight": a very small candle, often in an aluminum cup/holder.
3. "Doven": translates to "to extinguish / to put out".

In the old days, "theelichtjes" were mostly used to keep the tea warm. A "theelichtje" was placed into some kind of supporting frame with the tea pot on top, hence "theelichtje": "little tealight".