Dutch Language Blog

Van Dale Word of the Year 2018 Posted by on Dec 5, 2018 in Dutch Vocabulary

The official list of the Van Dale Word of 2018 is out and open for votes, but before we go to the list, who is this van Dale?

Photo taken by kecia85 found on Flickr.com with license CC BY-SA 2.0

Van Dale Dictionary

If you are learning Dutch, you might have heard of the wonderful dictionary by Van Dale. Van Dale is like the Webster’s and Oxford Dictionaries but in Dutch. The first Van Dale dictionary was first published in the late 1800s that was started by Johan Hendrik van Dale. Unfortunately for Johan, he died and the dictionary was published posthumously thanks to his student Jan Manhave. The Van Dale Groot woordenboek van de Nederlandse Taal, or dikke/grote van dale as it is nicknamed, is the complete dictionary. It is updated every few years and is published in three big volumes. For those looking for a more pocket-friendly version, there are several versions both in physical form, in apps, and through the website. While there are other very reputable dictionaries in the Netherlands, the Van Dale Dictionary is the most popular.

Word of the Year

Sine 2003, the Netherlands votes the new word of the year. The first few years, the competition was hosted by other organizations, and in 2007 Van Dale started their own. Since then, the lovely people at Van Dale select a short list of words and put them up for a vote and anyone can participate. All you have to do is visit their website. Once a new word is selected, it is added to the dictionary. Some of the past winners and runner-ups are grappig (hilarious), some dirty and others just weird. Below are just a few:

Bokitoproof- inspired by a gorilla that escaped from a zoo in Rotterdam (winner 2007)

Swaffelen- to slap someone with a penis…yes you read this right! The Dutch actually have a word for this! (winner 2008)

Ontvrienden- to unfriend (winner 2009)

Tentsletje- a girl who has sex with several men in order to stay with them at a festival, usually in the tent, literally a tent slut (winner Belgium 2010)

Tuigdrop- a place where people with criminal offenses can live in isolation. This was proposed by the PVV party in 2011. (winner Netherlands 2011)

Stoeproken- smoking on the curb or sidewalk of a cafe (winner Belgium 2011)

Dagobertducktakstax for the rich (winner Netherlands 2014)

Flitsmarathon- a day when police are intensely checking the speed of drivers (winner Belgium 2014)

Below is a discussion from 2017 on the Dutch TV show De Wereld Draait Door about the words they think should win.

Word of the Year 2018

This year, the finalists are quite interesting and reflective of the year. Below are just some of the candidates:

Balanstrutje- a working woman who is very busy trying to balance work and her private life

Blokkeerfries- a person who blocked roads in Friesland to protest the Sinterklaas tradition

Drankhangen- hanging out with comfy clothes, drinks, and snacks (heavenly!)

Kantlijnksporter- someone who plays a sport that receives very little media attention

Kwispellezen- texts that are read to a specially trained dog that provides non-verbal feedback

Plogging- cleaning up trash while jogging

Selfieshopper- someone who buy clothes online just for the selfies and then returns it

Vliegschaamte- being ashamed of using a plane when there are more environmental options

Yogasnuiver- someone who leads a very calm and healthy lifestyle but sometimes does drugs when partying

To see the full list and to vote, make sure to visit the Van Dale website before December 17. Which word would you add to the Dutch language?

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About the Author: Karoly Molina

Since I was a little girl, I was fascinated with languages and writing. I speak English, Spanish, Italian, Dutch and a little bit of French. I am a writer, reader, language teacher, traveler, and a food lover! I now live in The Netherlands with my husband Riccardo, our cat Mona, and our dog Lisa, and the experience has been phenomenal. The Dutch culture is an exciting sometimes topsy-turvy world that I am happily exploring!


  1. Linda Glendening:

    I tried to access the “drop down” for “which better describes you—-please select” and did not work. I could not get anything to descriibe me from the “drop down” box. So icould not completely fill out the above form. Thank you.

    • Transparent Language:

      @Linda Glendening Hi Linda! If you reach out to us at TLsocial@transparent.com and let us know which newsletter you would like to subscribe to, we can subscribe on your behalf. Sorry for the trouble.