Van een kouwe kermis thuiskomen

to have a rude awakening, to be brought down to earth with a shock [Dutch phrase of the week] Iconspeaker_klein

The literal translation of this week’s phrase is “to come home from a cold fair”. You may understand its  figurative meaning in the context of the dramatic turn of events for the Dutch soccer team, being kicked out of the European Championship soccer tournament: a rude awakening for all of us…

“Kouwe” is spoken language for “koude”, from the adjective “koud”: cold.  

– “Door de 3-1 nederlaag tegen Rusland kwam Nederland van een kouwe kermis thuis.”
(“The 3-1 defeat by Russia was a rude awakening for the Netherlands.”)

– “Hoe kon Oranje dit overkomen?” – “Ja gozer, wie zal het zeggen? We komen van een kouwe kermis thuis…”
(“How could this happen to the Dutch team?” – “Yeah buddy, who will tell? We’ve been brought down to earth with a shock…”)

– “Met de staart tussen de benen afdruipen”: to clear off with one’s tail between one’s legs.
– “In zak en as zitten”: to be in sackcloth and ashes, to be in a state of despair.
– “Rauw/Koud op iemands dak vallen”: lit.: to fall raw/cold on someone’s roof: to be quite unprepared for something.

Related words:
– “Kermis” (de ~; <plural> de kermissen) : fair.
– “Koud” (adjective): cold.
– “Teleurstelling”(de ~; <plural> de teleurstellingen): disappointment.

(picture from