1. to fail an exam/test [verb] [zakte, gezakt] [‘za-kun‘]

3922731684_7d242477ff_zUnlike its opposite “slagen“, “zakken” is mostly used with reference to the test or the exam, unless it is very clear from context.

(Photo: Alex Proimos ( – some rights reserved.)

– “Ik baal als een stekker dat ik gezakt ben voor dat examen!”
(“I’m really pissed off that I failed that exam!”)

– “Hoe vaak ben je al gezakt voor je rijexamen?”
(“How many times have you failed your driving test (already)?”)

Related words:
– “Slagen“: to pass an exam/test, to succeed.
– “Verprutsen”: to mess up.

– “Hoe ging je examen?” – “Ik weet niet, volgens mij heb ik het verprutst.”
(“How did the exam go?” – “I don’t know, I think I messed up.” Note that “verprutsen” needs the “het” to refer to the exam.)

2. to lower, to fall, to drop [verb] [zakte, gezakt] [‘za-kun‘]

– “Een dag na de overstroming begon het waterpeil weer te zakken.”
(“One day after the flood, the water level started to drop again.”)

– ” ‘Laat je handen nu maar zakken’, zei de politieman tegen de schurk.”
(” ‘You can lower your hands now’, the policeman said to the villain.” Lit.: “Let your hands drop now…”)

– “Ik wacht nog wat langer met het kopen van een iPod, totdat deze in prijs gezakt is.”
(“I’ll wait a bit longer before I buy an iPod, until it has lowered in price.” Here one also uses the verb “dalen”.)

– “Daar zakt mijn broek van af”: “That really pisses me off”, usually when you are astonished by something (in a negative way). Lit.: That makes my pants fall down.
– “Door je enkels zakken”: to have one’s ankle give (way).
– “Het eten laten zakken”: to digest one’s food, to let one’s food go down.
– “Inelkaar zakken”: to collapse.

Related words:
– “Doorzakken”: to party/drink until late in the night.
– “Dalen”: to descend, to lower.

3. bags, pockets [noun; plural] [de zak, de zakken] [‘zak‘]

See also “Zakje“, for the use of the diminutive of “zak”.

– “Haal je handen uit je zakken!”
(“Take your hands out of your pockets!”)

– “Kun jij de vuilniszak even buiten zetten?”
(“Could you take the garbage (bag) outside?” Lit.: “Can you put the garbage (bag) outside for a moment?” Note that “even” is not translated, but the present tense “Kun” is translated with the past tense “could” – instead of “can” – to achieve a similar subtlety.)

– “Wat ben jij voor een ontzettende zak dat je me dit flikt!”
(“Your such a bastard that you do this to me!” Lit.: “What kind of an appalling bag are you that you play this trick on me!” Here “zak” is derived from “klootzak”, a term of abuse, see ‘Related words’.)

Related words:
– “Klootzak”: informal synonym for “scrotum” (“kloot” is an informal synonym for “testicle”).
– “Balzak”: like “klootzak” but not used as a term of abuse.
– “Luchtzak”: air pocket/hole.
– “Zakkenroller”: pick pocket [noun].
– “Zakkenwasser”: loser, incompetent person. Lit.: bag/pocket washer.