Dutch Language Blog

Tag Archives: Curious Words

Curious Dutch Words – Monnikenwerk Posted by on Mar 28, 2022

Monnikenwerk monk's work drudgery donkey work

It’s a situation we’re probably all too familiar with: You know you have that paper to write, but it is saaaaai (booooring). This eentonig (monotonous) subject and the ridiculous length that you are required to write about it… Come on! Daar heb ik geen tijd voor! (I don’t have time for that!) In Dutch, we sometimes…

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What the heck is “grass duning”? – Curious Dutch Words Posted by on Feb 15, 2022

Grasduinen grass dunes curious dutch words

We have plenty of weird, obscure words in the Dutch language. Here’s one that I really like, but that probably won’t survive. So perhaps by writing this blog, we can keep the word grasduinen alive. But what does grasduinen mean? It’s a regular verb, but it sounds odd. According to the Van Dale means “zich…

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Curious Dutch Words: Why is a boterham called a boterham? Posted by on Oct 29, 2021

You wake up in the morning, take a shower, and then it’s time for breakfast. As a good Dutch person, you’ll have een kopje koffie (a cup of coffee) and, of course, een boterham (a slice of bread). But here’s the weird thing: de boterham means “the butter ham”. Yeah, really. But why? Previous posts in this series: Curious Words…

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Curious Dutch Words: Kidnapping By Mistake: Vergisontvoering Posted by on Sep 30, 2021

vergis vergisontvoering mistake curious Dutch words

Ontvoeringen (kidnappings)! Not a fun thing, but they happen. Often with the intention of using the gijzelaar (hostage) as a negotiation chip or for blackmail. There’s a clear intention behind the act. But somehow, the Dutch found the word vergisontvoering (mistaken kidnapping). How does that work, and how is this a word? Previous posts in this series…

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A Sterk Verhaal: What’s Strong About This Dutch Story? Posted by on Aug 30, 2021

In this post, we’ll explore the curiosity of the Dutch word sterk verhaal (“strong story”, a tall tale). What’s sterk about it? And by extension, what’s tall about the English story? Let’s explore. Skiing in Yugoslavia This weekend, I told the sterke verhaal that my dad told me many times. It’s a fun one, so why not! Back when Yugoslavia…

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Curious Dutch Words: Are You The Hostage Or Hostage Taker? Posted by on Aug 2, 2021

In Dutch, we have a pretty straightforward rule. If the word ends with -aar, that means that this person does whatever verb it is derived from: makelaar is a realtor (from makelen). An aarzelaar is a hesitator (from aarzelen). A handelaar is a trader (from handelen). A gijzelaar is a hostage (from gijzelen). But wait… gijzelen means to…

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Curious Words in Dutch 10: Veelpleger Posted by on Jun 7, 2021

Curious Dutch Words Criminal

Sometimes we do bad stuff. And sometimes we do stuff that lands us in de gevangenis (jail). Well, maybe not. But some people are so good at it, that they become a veelpleger (frequent offender). Or zeer actieve veelpleger (very active frequent offender). Or draaideurcrimineel (“revolving door criminal”)! What do these curious words mean, exactly? Previous posts in this series: Curious…

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