to blow one’s nose [verb] [snoot, gesnoten]
"Snuiten" is one of those Dutch verbs that can only be used in conjunction with a specific body part, in this case: the nose.
The noun "snuit" translates into "snout", an animal’s protruding nose-mouth combination. In case of birds, the word "snavel" is used: "bill" or "beak". (Parts of) Animals are often used in Dutch expressions to emphasize a human feature or characteristic, see also ‘Expressions’.
1. "Als mijn collega z’n neus snuit, hoor je dat in de kamer ernaast."
("When my colleague blows his nose, it can be heard in the adjacent room.")
2. "Met z’n lange gevoelige snuit gaat de miereneter op zoek naar mieren." ("With his long sensitive snout, the ant-eater goes out to search for ants."
1. "Hou je snuit!"
("Shut up!". Literally: "Shut your snout!")
2. "Hou je snavel!"
("Shut up!" Literally: "Shut your bill/beak!")
3. "Hij is een rare snuiter!"
("He is a strange guy / weirdo!" Literally: "He is a strange noseblower!")
4. Equivalent to 3. : "Hij is een vreemde vogel!" (Literally: "He is a strange bird!")
5. "De nieuwe manager is echt een hippe vogel!"
("The new manager is really a fashionable/hip dude!" Literally: "The new manager is a really hip bird!")
1. "Zakdoek": handkerchief (literally "sack cloth").
2. "(Papieren) zakdoekje": translates to "little paper handkerchief", not to be confused with "tissue", which translates to "tissue" :-), see ‘Extra’.
What a "papieren zakdoekje" and a "tissue" have in common is that they both can be used for blowing one’s nose. The difference though between them is that "papieren zakdoekjes" are bought in a tightly folded thin plastic rectangular wrapper. This is called a "pakje zakdoekjes", usually sold in a multi-pack.
"Tissues" come in cardboard boxes, out of which they are pulled, unfolded, ready to use. "Papieren zakdoekjes" first need to be unfolded before use.
"Tissue" boxes are commonly placed in a room to be used by more than one person, e.g. in a psychiatrist’s office. A "pakje zakdoekjes" is more for personal use.
But what do you call the stuff that comes out of your nose?
The stuff that comes out of your nose is called “snot” in Dutch. Derived verb is “snotteren”: when somebody is in tears (or has a cold) and has a runny nose and is sniffling all the time. A runny nose is called a “snotneus”, which is also used as an expression to refer to a young wiseguy…
Are Hou je snuit and Hou je snavel interchangeable or would you use one or the other in a given situation or to speak to a certain person?
Yes, “hou je snuit” and “hou je snavel” are interchangeable. I would say though that “hou je snavel” is used more than “hou je snuit”. Both are used by people who were born before, let’s say, the ninties or even the eighties
The people born before the eighties will remember a very popular TV show in which a blue owl wishes you good night by using the expression ‘snaveltjes toe’. This literally translates to ‘shut your little beak’ but sounds somewhat friendlier than ‘hou je snavel’.
Using the expression might indicate that you want to express your belonging to that slightly older generation.