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

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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 over €300bn. 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. It represents around 60% of staffing agency workers. 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. 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 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). AMAs are usually housed in refugee centres until they are 18 when official financial support is withdrawn and they are encouraged to go back home. Many AMAs simply disappear from the system. One of the... 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 >


Founded in 1961, Amcham – a much needed abbreviation for the American Chamber of Commerce in the Netherlands – describes itself as a non-profit, non- governmental, non-political, voluntary organisation of companies and individuals who invest in and trade between the US and the Netherlands.... More >


News agency Algemeen Nederlands Persbureau was set up by the Dutch newspaper association in December 1934 as a non-profit-making foundation but became a limited company in 2001. By 2007 the papers had sold their shares to private investors. Today ANP employs 250 people, including 160 journalists,... More >


ANW (Algemene nabestaandenwet) is the law covering benefit payments to widows, widowers and orphans. The number of people claiming ANW fell to 118,000 in September 2008, some 8,000 down from a year earlier, according to the national statistics office. Tougher criteria introduced in 1996 for people... More >


The ANWB (Algemene Nederlandsche Wielrijders Bond) began in 1883 as a road safety organisation for cyclists, promoting the use of bicycle bells. It has since grown into a massive motoring organisation with four million members, offering roadside repairs (the yellow vans of the Wegenwacht), travel... More >