Delta nr 21, July 2006
'Dat is de druppel die de emmer doet overlopen' (literally: 'That is the drop that makes the bucket overflow'), is a very common Dutch expression. The English equivalent is: 'That is the straw that broke the camel's back'. The Dutch use this expression when they're fed up with something, as if to exclaim, 'That's it, I'm not taking any more of this!' Although it's a much-used expression, you're unlikely to hear Dutch people say the whole expression; they usually shorten it to, 'Dat is de druppel!' People also use the expression to explain how they came to make a certain rash decision. For instance, someone who has been working his tail off and then gets unjustly criticized by his boss, may decide to quit his job. Afterwards, he might say, 'Dat was de druppel', to explain what made him quit.