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he's speaking double Dutch


a) he's talking nonsense

German translation:

double Dutch = das Kauderwelsch

double Dutch: approximately 600,000 Google hits



Sample text:

McClaren Speaks DOUBLE DUTCH During Interview

(Sky News)

Talk is cheap, so they say,
It is when politicians come your way.
Beware of the one who promises too much,
Because he is talking DOUBLE DUTCH.

(from the poem "Politicians" - author unknown)

Did you know?

double Dutch
noun phrase

- talk or writing that is nonsense or that you cannot understand

- a game played in the US by jumping over a rope

(Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary)

In 2005, a minister in Wales tried to explain the need to reorganise the four Welsh police forces by saying,

"The only thing which isn't up for grabs is no change and I think it's fair to say it's all to play for, except for no change."

Rest assured that even native English speakers have no idea what this statement means. It's a perfect example of what we would call "double Dutch."


In the 1600s, the English and Dutch were colonial rivals, a competition that meanwhile is limited to places like the football pitch. Back then the English described anything they didn't like or that was considered foreign as "Dutch."

For instance "Dutch courage" is a sarcastic way of describing courage that is gained by drinking alcohol.

A "Dutch auction" is a sale that begins with a high asking price, which is then reduced until a buyer is found.

In America it was once popular to describe something confusing or difficult as "high Dutch."

It comes as no surprise then, that apart from referring to a complicated game of jump rope that involves two ropes, double Dutch also means speaking or writing that is difficult or impossible to understand.


Choctaw, Greek, babble, baloney, gibberish, gobbledygook, hogwash, hokum, hooey, malarkey, mumbo jumbo, nonsense, rubbish


"I thought he was speaking double Dutch until I realised it was just his strong regional accent."

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