Dutch uncle


Dutch uncle


  • criticize, scold or lecture someone
  • speak bluntly, firmly, or frankly
  • reprove someone, often severely or unsparingly
  • give benevolent advice
  • be over critical

Dutch uncle is an informal term used for a person who makes candid, harsh, or stern comments and criticism to inspire, educate, admonish someone.

Example Sentences

  1. I thought he would approve of my choices, but he ranted on like a Dutch uncle for a whole hour.
  2. The head of the sales team was banging on like a Dutch uncle about the latest figures.
  3. Nicola’s husband is such a Dutch uncle at dinner parties. He always tries to sort out everyone’s lives.
  4. Cathy hated the new boss with a vengeance. He always talks down to people and criticizes everything. He’s such a Dutch uncle.
  5. I’m sorry if I’m coming across like a Dutch uncle, but the way you behave, I feel I have to say something.
  6. He gave me a Dutch Uncle talk in a stern but very kindly way about the importance of living up to my commitment.


This is an informal phrase dating from the mid-1800s. Many other phrases with the word ‘Dutch’ originated in the 17th century when the British and Germans were fighting wars with each other.

It has a negative connotation, usually aimed at men because of the use of ‘uncle.’ It is used to describe someone who gives advice, like an uncle (but who usually isn’t related) in an overly critical or direct manner. It is thought to have originated from a stereotype of the Dutch being very stern and blunt.

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