A Dictionary of Dutchness: a lexicon of acronyms, abbreviations and general Dutch language jargon

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The official form of Dutch is known as Algemeen Beschaafd Nederlands (ABN), literally general civilized Dutch, or standaardnederlands. The written form of ABN is considered the official spelling of the language. It is monitored by the Taalunie, an organisation backed by the Dutch and Belgian governments.... More >

ABN Amro

The ABN Amro banking group was formed as the result of a merger between Algemene Bank Nederland (ABN) and the Amsterdamsche-Rotterdamsche Bank (Amro) in 1991. With operations all over the world, ABN Amro was the subject of a bitter and expensive takeover battle in 2007. Bought by a consortium for... More >

ABN Amro banking group

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The Algemeen Burgerlijk Pensioenfonds (Dutch civil service and teachers' pension fund) was set up in 1922. Today it is one of the biggest pension funds in the world with invested assets of €200bn. The ABP is currently building up pensions for 1.1 million workers, holding pensions for 760,000... More >


The name of the Biblical patriarch Abraham, who reached the ripe old age of 175, is applied to men in the Netherlands when they reach the age of 50. Women are known as Sarah who, according to the Bible, lived until she was 127. Turn 50 at work, and you may find the company lift plastered with posters... More >


The Algemene Bond Uitzendondernemingen (Dutch association of temporary employment agencies) was founded in 1961 to improve standards for temp agencies and their workers. With more than 310 members, ABU represents 650,000 temporary employees which is around 65% of the sector. ABU's website also... More >


The Achterhoek (literally, back corner) is the name given to the far eastern part of the province of Gelderland which stretches into Germany. It lies between the IJssel and Oude IJssel rivers and is predominantly rural with lots of farms and forested areas. This makes it a popular place for weekend... More >


The Autoriteit Consument & Markt was formed in April 2013 by merging the Netherlands Consumer Authority, the competition body NMa and the telecommunications watchdog OPTA. The organisation says its task is to 'create opportunities and options for businesses and consumers alike', it aims to... More >


The Adviescommissie voor Vreemdelingenzaken (advice committee for foreigner affairs) is an independent committee set up in 2001 to advise the government on immigration issues, particularly immigrants’ legal rights. The committee is currently looking into the implications of people having multiple... More >


ADO (Alles Door Oefening or everything through practice) is the main football club in The Hague. ADO has never matched the successes of the other big city clubs Ajax (Amsterdam) and Feyenoord (Rotterdam) although it did win the national title in 1942 and 1943, as well as the league cup in 1968... More >


Aedes is the umbrella organisation of the 500 or so Dutch housing corporations which rent out, maintain and manage 2.4 million homes – over one-third of the country’s housing stock. Housing corporations mostly focus on the rent- controlled sector but are also branching out into more expensive... More >


The Algemene Energieraad or energy council (the word ‘general’ is dropped in both the English and Dutch name on its website) is an independent body which advises the government and parliament on energy policy. website More >


The Autoriteit Financiële Markten is the main watchdog for the financial services sector. It covers all financial services (savings, investment, insurance and loans) with ‘the aim of ensuring the efficient operation of the financial markets’. Which makes one wonder what it was doing in the... More >


The Algemene Inspectiedienst or general inspection service operates on behalf of the ministry of agriculture, nature management and food quality and is charged with making sure rules are not broken. It has regularly been in the news in recent years due to its involvement in tracing and containing... More >


The Adviesraad Internationale Vraagstukken (advisory council on international affairs) is an independent body which advises the government on foreign policy in relation to human rights, peace and security, development aid and European integration. It was formed in 1998 following the merger of three... More >


The Dutch secret service or Algemene Inlichtingen en Veiligheidsdienst falls under the home affairs ministry. It is charged with 'identifying threats and risks to national security which are not immediately apparent'. It carries out operations at home and abroad, working together with over 100... More >

Algemene Beschouwingen

The Algemene Beschouwingen are the general debates that always follow the publication of the budget on the third Tuesday of September (Prinsjesdag). First comes the two-day general political debate during which MPs attempt to score points. Next comes the general financial debate during which the... More >


In theory this word means ‘not Dutch’, but in practice it means ‘not western’ or ‘not white’. The third generation children of Turkish and Moroccan immigrants are still known as allochtoon despite being born and brought up in Holland. Every official organisation seems to have its own... More >


AMA stands for alleenstaande minderjarige asielzoeker (unaccompanied under-age asylum seeker) and refers to the estimated 15,000 children and young people under the age of 18 who are claiming asylum in the Netherlands. AMAs are usually housed in refugee centres until they are 18. Then official... More >


AMC stands for Academic Medical Centre and not Amsterdam Medical Centre, as everyone thinks. It is one of the largest hospitals in the country, housing the medical faculty of the University of Amsterdam and several other institutes. The AMC has just over 1,000 beds and deals with 60,000 patients... More >