once bitten twice shy

Hantu

Senior Member
English
What is the common Netherlands equivalent of English “once bitten twice shy,” or French “chat échaudé craint l'eau froide?” Of course, with the French version, one is immediately reminded of Schrodinger’s famous, but hapless, quantum cat.
 
  • Hantu

    Senior Member
    English
    I am an author, and I am working on a book with scenes in the Netherlands, one of which needs this expression said by a Netherlander. But, since there isn't one, I can write around it. (Oh, I lived in Holland for four years, but then I never needed such an expression.) Thanks.
     
    Last edited by a moderator:

    Peterdg

    Senior Member
    Dutch - Belgium
    First of all, I'm not familiar with the English nor the French expression (although I'm pretty comfortable in both languages), so it could help if you explained what they mean, or what you want them to mean.

    I have an idea of what they mean, but I'm not at all sure, especially because the English and the French expresion do not seem to convey the same thing (in fact, they seem to mean more or less the opposite).
     
    Last edited by a moderator:

    Hantu

    Senior Member
    English
    This proverb suggests a situation when a person has had a bad experience and is reluctant or fearful of trying it again. It could be anything from a distasteful food to a bad love affair. In other languages I am familiar with, the proverb usually centres on the experience of a cat (e.g. the French) or a child, the source of the unpleasant experience being hot water.
    I don't know for sure the central image for the English version. For some reason, I always thought of it as being a rat--a creature known for being bait-shy and wary. But it might equally apply to a person fearful of dogs (Angela Merkel confronting Putin's dog perhaps?). As I have heard it used in English, it usually is about someone coming off a romantic relationship but wary of trying a new one.
     
    Last edited by a moderator:

    Peterdg

    Senior Member
    Dutch - Belgium
    This proverb suggests a situation when a person has had a bad experience and is reluctant or fearful of trying it again.
    I perhaps have something that could be useful.

    "Een ezel stoot zich geen twee keer aan eenzelfde steen".

    (Literally: "A donkey never bumps the same stone twice.").

    I hope this helps. It's not exactly the same (but, in my opinion, neither is the French expression ).
     
    Last edited by a moderator:

    Hantu

    Senior Member
    English
    An interesting possibility. But as I understand the Dutch, wouldn't it be closer to "forewarned is forearmed"? Only context could tell. The implication of my English expression here suggests that having the unpleasant experience gives one an advantage in facing it again. "Once bitten twice shy" carries with it the idea that once having been hurt, the person/animal is reluctant to try it again--even if the threat is remote. Perhaps the contrast is clearer in, for example, French which contrasts very hot water with cold--just water itself is scary.
     

    ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    An interesting possibility. But as I understand the Dutch, wouldn't it be closer to "forewarned is forearmed"? Only context could tell.
    Quite so, but I thought there was a possible link, depending indeed on the context.
    The implication of my English expression here suggests that having the unpleasant experience gives one an advantage in facing it again. "Once bitten twice shy" carries with it the idea that once having been hurt, the person/animal is reluctant to try it again--even if the threat is remote. Perhaps the contrast is clearer in, for example, French which contrasts very hot water with cold--just water itself is scary.
    You could say that the former is more a posteriori (after it has happened), the latter (Forewarned...) is a priori...
     

    elroy

    Moderator: EHL, Arabic, Hebrew, German(-Spanish)
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    The implication of my English expression here suggests that having the unpleasant experience gives one an advantage in facing it again.
    That’s not how I understand it, at least not in every context. The reluctance to do the thing again could be irrational or exaggerated, posing a disadvantage because the person forfeits opportunities because of it.

    Perhaps you could describe the context in which you’d like to use the expression?
     

    Hantu

    Senior Member
    English
    That’s not how I understand it, at least not in every context. The reluctance to do the thing again could be irrational or exaggerated, posing a disadvantage because the person forfeits opportunities because of it.

    Perhaps you could describe the context in which you’d like to use the expression?
    Perhaps the problem here is that I was unclear. When I wrote "The implication of my English expression here..." I meant the expression 'forewarned is forearmed'. My sloppiness of language was to assume that readers would expect the word 'here' to mean the expression immediately previously mentioned, rather than the one which the whole debate was about, i.e., 'once bitten twice shy'.
     
    Last edited:
    Top