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How Well Do You Know These Random, 16th Century Flemish Proverbs?

Who knows why geese go barefoot?

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On this week's episode of BuzzFeed's Another Round podcast, Heben quizzes Tracy about Flemish proverbs.


The quiz was inspired by this painting by Netherlandish artist Pieter Bruegel the Elder.

Public Domain / Via Wikimedia Commons

It has many names, including Netherlandish Proverbs, The Topsy Turvy World, and The Blue Cloak. The 16th century painting is filled with scenarios that represent various proverbs, such as "To bang one's head against a brick wall," which roughly translates to "To try to achieve the impossible."

Can you guess what these proverbs mean?

  1. "To piss against the moon"

    Wikimedia Commons
    To brighten something
    To give something a new sheen
    To waste one's time on a futile endeavor
    To be skeptical of Galileo's theories about the solar system
  2. "To bell the cat"

    Wikimedia Commons
    To tame something
    To carry out a dangerous or impractical plan
    To add unnecessary accoutrement to an already beautiful item
    To start an all-feline jingle bells band
  3. "Horse droppings are not figs"

    Wikimedia Commons
    Don't be fooled by appearances
    Keep it 100
    Never try to eat something without knowing it's origin
    Poop can only tell you so much about a creature
  4. "To see bears dancing"

    To be drunk
    To be dizzy
    To be starving
    To be obsessed with Winnie The Pooh
  5. "To fall through the basket"

    Wikimedia Commons
    To be lazy
    To fuck something up
    To forget about something
    To have your deception uncovered
  6. "A hoe without a handle"

    Wikimedia Commons
    To be a slut who has lost control of a situation
    To not finish a task
    To make something harder on yourself than it needs to be
    To be useless
  7. "Here he is with his lantern"

    Wikimedia Commons
    To finally have an opportunity to show a talent
    To make everything about yourself
    To shed light on a situation
    To arson
  8. "To tie a flaxen beard to the face of Christ"

    Wikimedia Commons
    To be sacrilegious
    To hide deceit under a veneer of Christian piety
    To disguise oneself poorly
    To whitewash history and make the saviour and creator of humanity in the image of white people so they can make it easier to conquer and colonize the entire world
  9. "Who knows why geese go barefoot?"

    Wikimedia Commons
    Why do people pretend to be poor?
    There's a reason for everything though it may not be obvious
    Stop trying to be what you're not / Be true to yourself
    To be lacking in innovation
  10. "To be able to tie even the devil to a pillow"

    Wikimedia Commons
    Obstinacy overcomes everything
    To be very cunning
    To be very tired
    To be a great employee of Mattress Warehouse
  11. "The meat on the spit must be basted"

    Wikimedia Commons
    Spice your food (white people)
    Don't be dry or boring
    Some things require constant attention
    Use lotion
  12. "The fox and the stork dine together"

    Wikimedia Commons
    You can find friends in unlikely places / opposites attract
    There's room for everyone on this planet
    Dating is hard
    Two deceivers always keep their own advantage in mind
  13. "To sit on hot coals"

    Wikimedia Commons
    To step into a heated situation
    To be impatient
    To be brave
    To turn yourself in
  14. "To confess to the devil"

    Wikimedia Commons
    To reveal secrets to your enemy
    To join the dark side / give into evil impulses
    To have sex
    To enjoy punishment
  15. "They both crap through the same hole"

    Wikimedia Commons
    We're all gonna die
    Everyone poops
    They're in a human centipede
    They're attempting something physically impossible
    They're inseparable comrades

How Well Do You Know These Random, 16th Century Flemish Proverbs?

Flemish proverbs, amirite? Congratulations on finishing this quiz, hopefully your life is now better.

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Heben Nigatu and Tracy Clayton cover everything from race, gender and pop culture to squirrels, mangoes, and bad jokes, all in one boozy podcast.

Contact Another Round at julia.furlan+anotherround@buzzfeed.com.


Contact Heben Nigatu at heben@buzzfeed.com.

Eleanor Kagan is the director of audio for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Eleanor Kagan at eleanor.kagan@buzzfeed.com.

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