surprise Iconspeaker_3
[noun] Surprise
[de sur-pri-se, de sur-pri-ses]

The Dutch "surprise" (pronounced "sur-pree-zuh") is nearly only used in the context of Sinterklaas. Unless you're a "kakker" and speak with a hot "aardappel" in your mouth…then you may want to use "surprise" as a synonym for the far more common "verrassing" (surprise)…and if you really want to overdo it, you can use the French "quelle surprise" 🙂

See Extra for more info on the Dutch tradition of "surprises".

– "Heb jij je surprise al klaar? Zondag is het pakjesavond!" 
("Do you have your Sinterklaas surprise ready yet? It's Sinterklaas' evening of presents on Sunday!")

– "Ik heb echt een onnozele surprise gemaakt voor Frank…dat zal hij echt niet leuk vinden :-)" 
("I really made a silly Sinterklaas surprise for Frank…he's really not going to like it :-)")

– "Mijn beste kerel! Mieters jou hier te treffen, wat een surprise!" 
("Old chap! How swell to meet you here, what a surprise!" Lit.: "My best man!…")

– "Grote ogen opzetten": to be surprised, to be dazed. Lit.: "to put on big eyes".
– "Nou breekt mijn klomp!": I'll be damned! Lit.: "Now my wooden shoe breaks!"

– "Heb jij deze surprise gemaakt?? Nou breekt mijn klomp! Hij is geweldig!!"
("Did you make this Sinterklaas surprise?? I'll be damned! It's great!!")

Related words:
Pakjesavond: Sinterklaas' evening of presents [noun] [de pakjesavond, de pakjesavonden].
– Stomverbaasd: dumbfounded, flabbergasted [adjective].
– Verrassing: surprise [noun] [de verrassing, de verrassingen].

– "Met die stevige wind is het geen verrassing dat de gevoelstemperatuur erg laag ligt."
("With that strong wind, it's no surprise that it feels like temperatures are very low.")

During Sinterklaas time, it's kind of a tradition to have a "surprise-avond" (lit.: surprise night). The "surprise-avond" may coincide with "pakjesavond", but this is not mandatory. A few weeks (sometimes months) before "surprise-avond" there's the crucial part of "lootjes trekken", where all participants draw the name of another participant. It is of the utmost importance not to reveal the name you have drawn, although many try to find out the names that others have drawn. The objective is then to create a "surprise" for the person you've drawn, which consists of three elements: 1. a hand-made object (constructed by using materials like paper, cardboard boxes, toilet paper roles, etc.) 2. a Sinterklaas poem, and 3. a small, funny present. During "lootjes trekken" often a maximum amount is agreed upon, which may be spent on the "surprise". The created object, poem and/or present must preferably apply to a characteristic feature of the recipient. Finally, at the "surprise-avond" everybody opens/unpacks/dismantles the "surprise" that has been created for him/her, reads the poem out loud, and guesses the name of the creator. Because the quality of the "surprises" may vary, a "surprise-avond" may include feelings of both pleasant surprise and serious disappointment, as well as the consumption of alcoholic beverages 🙂


evening of presents [noun] [de pakjesavond, de pakjesavonden]

"Pakjesavond" (literally 'evening of packages'), or "Sinterklaasavond" is the traditional evening ("avond") of "Sinterklaas" which is celebrated at the 5th of December. Since there is only one "pakjesavond", there is no plural.
The tradition is much more than just this evening and you can read all about it at

A "pakje" is a small package. This word is used to indicate a postal package (also "pakket(je)") or a present, especially if it is in the shape of a box. At "Sinterklaasavond", Sinterklaas and his "Zwarte Pieten" deliver presents to all houses (unless the children have been bad 🙂 ), hence the alternative name "pakjesavond".

1. "Voor kinderen is pakjesavond ontzettend spannend!"
("To children pakjesavond is extremely exciting!")

2. "Sinterklaasavond wordt ook wel pakjesavond genoemd."
("Sinterklaasavond is also called pakjesavond." Or: "… is alternatively called…")

3. "Hopelijk slaat Sinterklaas jouw huis niet over op pakjesavond!"
("Hopefully Sinterklaas will not skip your house at pakjesavond!")

4. "Omdat iedereen op tijd thuis wil zijn voor pakjesavond, is het op 5 december 's middags al erg druk op de weg."
("On the 5th of December, already in the afternoon the roads are very crowded, because everybody wants to be at home on time for pakjesavond.")

Related words:
1. "Pepernoot": traditional candy that the "Zwarte Pieten" hand out to children.
2. "Kruidnoot": as in 1. but a different kind.
3. "Strooigoed": mix of candy that the "Zwarte Pieten" traditionally throw in the hall-way, through an open window or where ever possible, prior to delivering the presents. Basically "Zwarte Pieten" can throw candy at you whenever they want in the days leading up to "pakjesavond" 🙂 .
4. "Strooien": to scatter, to throw, to strew.

Read more about Sinterklaas and his "Zwarte Pieten" at .

References to the tradition of Sinterklaas were also made in "DWOTD 36. Kloppen", "DWOTD 72. Waaien" and "DWOTD 73. Hart".


to knock, to beat/pound, to be correct/in order [verb] [klopte, geklopt]

Deur met deurklopper“Kloppen” is a so-called homonym: a word that has more than one meaning. The Dutch language is (in)famous for its frequent use of homonyms, check out DWOTD “Aankomen“.

1. “Toen de postbode zag dat er geen bel was, klopte hij drie maal op de deur.”
(“When the postman saw that there was no doorbell, he knocked on the door three times.”)

2. “Het decolleté van de aantrekkelijke projectmanager deed het hart van de jonge programmeur sneller kloppen.”
(“The attractive project manager’s cleavage made the young programmer’s heart beat faster.”)

3. “Toen de politieagent zag dat het slot van de deur geforceerd was, wist hij dat er iets niet klopte.”
(“When the police officer saw that the doorlock had been forced open, he knew that something was wrong).”

1. “Dat klopt als een bus!”.
(“That’s absolutely correct/right!”. Literally: “That knocks like a bus!”)

Also: “Dat klopt als een zwerende vinger!”
(Literally: “That pounds like a gathering finger!”)

–> It is very common to just say: “dat klopt!”

2. “Bij iemand aankloppen”.
(“To ask someone for help or advice”. Literally: “To knock at somebody’s”, where “door” is implied).

Related words:
1. “Afkloppen”.
(Literally: “to knock
down”). Translates to “to knock on wood”: the superstitious habit to
renounce bad luck by knocking on a wooden object.

2. “Schouderklopje”.
(Literally: “little pat on the shoulder”). Translates to “pat on the back”.

– “Iedereen vindt het prettig om af en toe een schouderklopje te krijgen.”
(“Everybody likes getting a pat on the back now and then.”)

Two well known children songs frequently use the word “kloppen”:

1. “Daar wordt aan de deur geklopt.”
(“There is knocking at the door.”)
Read the lyrics and listen to the song here.

2. “Hoor, wie klopt daar kinderen?”
(“Hear, who is knocking there children?”)
Read the lyrics and listen to the song here.

Both songs are “Sinterklaasliedjes”. “Sinterklaas” is a direct competitor of Santa Claus, whom the Dutch refer to as the “Kerstman”. (Both originate from the same catholic saint though: Sint Nicolaas (“Saint Nicolas”)).

More info on “Sinterklaas”: (English) (Dutch)