Dutch Language Blog

Untranslatable Words: Kletskoek Posted by on Nov 20, 2018 in Culture, Dutch Language, Dutch Vocabulary

Wat zeg je nou? Kletskoek! Ik heb daar niets mee te maken! You may have heard this before. Somebody is upset, and their choice of words is… kletskoek? A chatting cookie? What does that mean, how did we get here? Here is an attempt to explain it.

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Gossip Biscuit!

Nonsense! (Image compiled by author from images from Unsplash.com)

Nowadays, the word koek or koekje practically always refers to a biscuit or a cookie – you may see similarity between cookie and koekje, too! So how did koek end up in a samenstelling with klets to form the word kletskoek?

I did not find an easy explanation, so I will have to make assumptions here. Klets is rather simple – kletsen means “to chat”. However, the Dutch sometimes being quite the roddelaars (gossipers), kletsen can also mean “to gossip”. But koek? That is more difficult to explain.

Perhaps it becomes easier when connecting kletskoek to a synonym: lariekoekLarie does not really have a meaning by itself in Dutch (anymore), but it appears to be related to a form of leeg (empty). In both these examples, koek appears to make larie and klets stronger. Kletspraat is another synonym, which literally means “gossip talk”. However, it is not used in the same way. Kletskoek and lariekoek are more vulgar than kletspraat, and more aggressive. That is why you will hear these more often in a situation when a person is upset. A bit like “nonsense! I had nothing to do with it!” Of course, the Dutch also have words like onzin!, the translation of “nonsense”, but now you know that you can get creative!

So what does koek mean? Cookie, of course. But apart from that, it can also just refer to a thing, basically. Dat is andere koek means “that is something else again”, for example. Or dat is oude koek, literally “that is old cookie” means that something is old news already. Throughout history, koek had a lot of different meanings, and it is a bit unclear where the gossip comes in.

So bringing this all back together. Koek just means thing, then. So gossip thing seems the most apt literal translation from what I could find. Now, this could be close to the truth, or complete kletskoek! 

What do you think, do you have a different theory? Let me know in the comments below, and let’s discuss! 



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About the Author: Sten

Hi! I am Sten, both Dutch and German. For many years, I've written for the German and the Dutch blogs with a passion for everything related to language and culture. It's fascinating to reflect on my own culture, and in the process allow our readers to learn more about it! Besides blogging, I am a German-Dutch-English translator, animator and filmmaker.


  1. Lennox:

    Apart from kletskoek….with the two k’s …sounding nice….Koek is non nutritional food….So if someone is talking with no actual content…..maybe this is how the word derived?

    • Sten:

      @Lennox Interesting thought, but I think the way people thought about food not even 50 years ago was very different than today. I don’t think koek would be seen as non-nutritional food. But it could well be that it is somehow related to that sort of koek indeed!