"Going Dutch" is a term that indicates that each person participating in a group activity pays for themselves, rather than any person paying for anyone else, particularly in a restaurant bill. It is also called Dutch date, Dutch treat (the oldest form) and "doing Dutch".
There are two possible senses—each person paying his own expenses, or the entire bill being split (divided evenly) between all participants. In strict usage, "Going Dutch" refers to the former, paying one's own expenses, and the latter is referred to as "splitting the bill", but in casual usage these may both be referred to as "going Dutch".
The Oxford English Dictionary connects "go Dutch" with "Dutch treat" and other phrases many of which have "an opprobrious or derisive application, largely due to the rivalry and enmity between the English and Dutch in the 17th century," the period of the Anglo-Dutch Wars. Another example is "Dutch courage".
The gambling term "dutching" may be related to "go Dutch", as it describes a system that shares stakes across a number of bets. It is commonly believed, however, that the Dutch reference here was in fact derived from a gangster, Dutch Schultz, who used this strategy to profit from racing.
In Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Republic of Ireland, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland, the practice of splitting the bill in restaurants is common. In a courtship situation where both parties have a similar financial standing, which is commonplace in the aforementioned nations, the traditional custom of the man always paying in restaurants has largely fallen out of use and is by many, including etiquette authorities, considered old fashioned; nevertheless it can be made more acceptable to the other party if explained beforehand. Generally a romantic couple will take turns paying the bill or split it. Generally it is assumed that everyone pays for himself or herself in restaurants unless the invitation stated otherwise.
In most of northern Europe, central Europe and Australia the practice of splitting the bill is common. On a dinner date, the man may pay the bill as a way of overtly stating that he views this as a romantic situation and that he has some hopes or expectations for a future development. Some women object to this or even find it offensive so it is a judgment call. Younger urban women especially tend not to accept men paying for them; or will in turn insist to pay for the next dinner or drink.
In several south European countries such as Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece or Cyprus it is rather uncommon for most locals to have separate bills and is sometimes even regarded as rude, especially when in larger groups. But in urban areas or places frequented by tourists this has changed over the last decades. In Greece the practice is colloquially called "refené".
Remarkably in Catalonia "going Dutch" is the rule among Catalans. This Catalan usage is so shocking for other Spaniards that it is referred in Spanish language as pagar a la catalana (that can be translated as "to pay the way Catalans do"). Instead pagar a escote means to split the bill equally among all the commensals.
In some parts of Italy (especially the south), the expression pagare alla romana can be translated as: "To pay like people of Rome" or "to pay like they do in Rome". It has a double and opposite meaning, depending by the tradition followed: the modern and more common meaning of pagare alla romana is to divide equally the total cost between all the commensals; the other meaning is the same as "going Dutch". This can lead to misunderstanding.
In France, it is close to "faire moitié-moitié" or "faire moite-moite", which means "each one pays half of the bill". This does not apply to romantic date where the man usually pay according to traditional French "étiquette". In a business meeting, the receiving party usually pays for all - it is considered rude not to do so, and rarely (if ever) occurs.
The corresponding phrase in Turkish is hesabı Alman usulü ödemek, which can be translated into English as "to pay the bill the German way" ("Alman usûlü": German style).
In Middle Eastern cultures, "going Dutch" is seen as being extremely rude. Traditions of hospitality play a great part in determining who pays, therefore an invitation will be given only when the host feels that he is able to afford the expenses of all. Similarly, gender roles and age play a more important role than they would in Western societies. Similar rules apply in Turkey as well, although splitting the bill is becoming increasingly common among the younger generation, especially when all parties have similar income levels.
In Egypt, it is called Englizy, which translates into "English style".
In Levant (Syria, Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan) and some Arab countries, the expression is "Halabia" "حلبية", referring to the people of Halab in Syria, who are known to be stingy with tight money expenditure.
In India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, and Iran, it is even considered taboo to ask people to pay their own bills. The bills are generally paid by the elder of a group, the male in a couple, the local of the area, or by the one who made the invitation if there is no significant age gap. Invitations are only given if someone understands that they can pay for all of the guests.
Though with changing times, customs among the new generation has changed and "going Dutch" is a completely accepted practice in most of urban India. It is most common among friends, colleagues and couples to split the bill or request separate bills. It is commonly called "TTMM" (Tera Tu Mera Main) literally meaning you (pay) for yours and me for mine in Mumbai. Its also not unacceptable to pay for elders among the group if the invitation has been extended by some one younger (say a niece taking her aunts and uncles out for dinner).
In North Korea and South Korea, where rigid social systems are still in place, it is most common for the person of the highest social standing, such as a boss or an elder figure, to pay the bill. This not only applies in a 1 to 1 situation but also in groups. Among the younger generation, it is quite common for friends to alternate when paying the bill, or for one to pay for dinner and another to pay for drinks. In South Korea, "going Dutch" is called "Dutch Pay", a konglish loan phrase.
In Hong Kong, the appropriate term is "AA制", where 制 is the Chinese word for "system". Explanations vary: "AA" could stand for "Algebraic Average" or "Acting Appointment" or "About to Act".
In Indonesia, the term is BSS as acronym for "Bayar Sendiri-Sendiri" which means "pay for yourself". This term commonly used only in less formal setting among friends. In a more formal setting the commonly accepted convention is person with higher social standing to take the payments. Among equal members of group it is consider polite to offer payments for all the meals and drinks in which the other party have the opportunity to refuse or accept out of respect for the other party.
In India, in Hindi, the practice is called as TTMM - Tu Tera Mein Mera Hindi (or Je Jaar Shey Taar in Bengali) (or Tujhe Tu Majhe Mi in Marathi) (or "Neenu nindu kodu,nanu nandu koduttini" in Kannada) (or ABVP - "Avadi Bill Vaade Pay cheyyali" in Telugu)(or "Nee unaku kodu, Naan enaku kodukaraen" in Tamil) (or "Ijju Ante Kodutho, Njan ente kodukkam" in Karakkadan Malayalam) meaning 'You pay yours and I pay mine'. Generally though, since the concept of dating is very new this act is not applied to dating. When the expression going Dutch is used, it often refers to splitting the bill equally.
In Pakistan, Going Dutch is sometimes referred to as the "American System". Following of this practice is prevalent among the younger age group, friends or cousins. In Urdu, the practice is called "Apna Apna" which means "Each his own" but generally Going Dutch in Pakistan means splitting the bill equally.
In Japan, it is called 割勘 (warikan), which translates into "splitting the cost".
In the Philippines, it is referred to as KKB; an acronym for "Kanya-kanyang bayad" which means "pay for your own self".
In Thailand, the practice is referred to as อเมริกันแชร์ "American Share".
Latin and South America
Some Latin American countries use the Spanish phrase pagar a la americana (literally "to pay American style") which refers to a trait attributed to people from the United States or Canada.
In Argentina specifically, 'a la romana' (exact translation of Italian's 'pagare alla romana') is rarely used and 'pagar a la americana' (pay American style) is the most common way of expressing this idea.
In Panama the phrase mita y mita (a colloquial contraction of mitad y mitad in this case with the stress on the first syllable mi) literally "half and half" refers to both "going Dutch" and to splitting the check equally.
In Guatemala the phrase is "a la ley de Cristo... cada quien con su pisto" which is used more as a rhyme with the word "Cristo" and "pisto" rather than having a religious connotation.
Almost the same in Honduras where the phrase is "Como dijo Cristo... cada quien con su pisto".
In Colombia, this practice is referred to as "estilo Americano" ("American style" in Spanish), particularly when referring to dates involving men and women.
- Oxford English Dictionary. Dutch, adj., n., and adv. Second edition, 1989; online version June 2012; accessed 02 September 2012. Earlier version first published in New English Dictionary, 1897.
- Magdalena Ribbing (2008-10-05). "Delad nota är delad glädje". DN.SE. Retrieved 2012-11-17.
- "Pagare alla romana" sul sito dell'Accademia della Crusca.