Friday 18 October 2019

Dutch words every foreigner in NL uses, even if they don’t speak Dutch

herring and onionThere are some Dutch words which just sneak in to the conversation, either because we use them so much or because there is no equivalent in our own tongues. Here’s a list of 10 Dutch words every buitenlander uses from day one.

Lekker: the proverbial first word everyone seems to learn and which describes just about everything which is positive. Even people who say they don’t speak a word of Dutch will use the odd ‘lekker’.

Borrel: for some reason, we don’t go for drinks, we always have a borrel. And if you are young expats working in an international environment you may even have a vrijmibo

Btw: always pronounced bee tee wee and meaning tax, not ‘by the way’.

Atv: unlike btw, atv is often pronounced in the English way (by English speakers), as in ‘I’ve got an ei tee vee tomorrow. Lucky you.

Gemeente: perhaps it is because foreigner have so much to do with the good folks in the town hall, but everyone talks about the gemeente, never the council.

Makelaar: those other good folk who find houses for extortionate fees.

Bel: when you have been in in the Netherlands a few weeks, everyone seems to stop phoning. We bel, as in ‘I’ll bel you tonight’.

Horeca: as in working in the horeca… it’s a terrifically handy term – hotel, restaurant, cafe – and one which the rest of the world could easily adopt.

Apotheek: another word that just sneaks in, even though there are plenty of respectable foreign language equivalents.

Storing: a word which all Dutch railway users will get to know very well.

This list was first published on Netherlands by Numbers. Feel free to suggest more. has been free for 13 years, but now we are asking our readers to help. Your donation will enable us to keep providing you with fair and accurate news and features about all things Dutch.
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