List of English words of Dutch origin

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This is an incomplete list of Dutch expressions used in English; some are relatively common (e.g. cookie), some are comparatively rare. In a survey by Joseph M. Williams in Origins of the English Language it is estimated that about 1% of English words are of Dutch origin.[1]

In many cases the loanword has assumed a meaning substantially different from its Dutch forebear. Some English words have been borrowed directly from Dutch. But typically, English spellings of Dutch loanwords suppress combinations of vowels of the original word which do not exist in English and replace them with existing vowel combinations respectively. For example the oe in koekje or koekie becomes oo in cookie,[2] the ij (considered a vowel in Dutch) and the ui in vrijbuiter becomes ee and oo in freebooter, the aa in baas becomes o in boss, the oo in stoof becomes o in stove.

As languages, English and Dutch are both West Germanic, and descend further back from the common ancestor language Proto-Germanic. Their relationship however, has been obscured by the lexical influence of Old Norse as a consequence of Viking expansion from the 9th till the 11th century, and Norman French, as a consequence of the Norman conquest of England in 1066. Because of their close common relationship - in addition to the large Latin and French vocabulary both languages possess - many English words are essentially identical to their Dutch lexical counterparts, either in spelling (plant, begin, fruit) or pronunciation (pool = pole, boek = book, diep = deep), or both (offer, hard, lip) or as false friends (ramp = disaster, roof = robbery, mop = joke). These cognates or in other ways related words are excluded from this list.

Dutch expressions have been incorporated into English usage for many reasons and in different periods in time. These are some of the most common ones:

From Old Dutch

  • Many Latinate words in the English lexicon were borrowed from Latin. Quite a few of these words can further trace their origins back to a Germanic source - usually Old Low Franconian, the language that by the 9th century eventually evolved into Old Dutch.[3] These words are excluded from the list. See also: List of English Latinates of Germanic origin
  • Since speakers of West Germanic languages spoken along the North Sea coast from the 5th to the 9th century lived close enough together to form a linguistic crossroads - water was the main way of transportation - Dutch and English share some traits that other West Germanic languages do not possess. Lexical examples are for examples Dutch vijf / English five (compare German: nf) and Dutch leef / English live (compare German Leben). These words have been excluded from the list. See also: Ingvaeonic nasal spirant law
  • Since the Norman conquest of 1066 many Latinate words entered the English lexicon via French, which has – via Old French – a substantial base of Old Dutch (or Old Low Franconian) and Middle Dutch. For instance French boulevard comes from Dutch bolwerk. In cases it is not clear whether the loanword in French is from Dutch or another Germanic language, they have been excluded from the list. See also: Influence of Franconian language on French

For some loanwords stemming from this period it is not always clear whether they are of Old Dutch, Old Norse, another Germanic language or an unknown Old English origin. These words have been excluded from the list, or indicated as such.


From Middle Dutch

  • About one-third of the invading Norman army of 1066 came from Dutch speaking Flanders. Many Flemings stayed in England after the Conquest and influenced the English language.
  • The main part of refugees to England, Wales and Scotland from the 11th till the 17th century were from the Low Countries; particularly Flemish skilled weavers and textile workers immigrated as a result of floods, overpopulation and warfare in Flanders. In 1527, when England's population numbered 5 million, London alone had tens of thousands of Flemings,[4][5] while an estimated third of the Scottish population has a Flemish background.[6]

The Hanseatic League had in the late Middle Ages a trade network along the coast of Northern Europe and England, using to Dutch related Middle Low German as lingua franca. Some loanwords from this period could come from either language. These words have been excluded from the list, or indicated as such.


From Modern Dutch

  • In the Dutch Golden Age, spanning most of the 17th century, Dutch trade, science, military, and art were among the most acclaimed in the world, and many English words of Dutch origin concerning these areas are stemming from this period.
  • English and Dutch rivalry at sea resulted in many Dutch naval terms in English. See also: Dutch linguistic influence on naval terms
  • Via settlements in North America and else were in the world Dutch language influenced English spoken there, particularly American English. That resulted also in numerous place names based on Dutch words and places. These are excluded from the list unless they are well known, like Brooklyn (from the Dutch town Breukelen) and Wall Street (from Dutch Walstraat). See also: List of place names of Dutch origin
  • Due to contact between Afrikaans and English speakers in South Africa, many Dutch words entered English via Afrikaans, which has an estimated 90 to 95% vocabulary of Dutch origin. Only the words that entered standard English are listed here. Afrikaans words that do not stem from Cape Dutch but from an African, Indian or other European language, are not listed here. See also: List of English words of Afrikaans origin and List of South African slang words


A[edit]

Aardvark 
from South African Dutch aard + vark (earth + pig)[3]
Afrikaans 
from Dutch Afrikaans (Africanish)[4]
Aloof 
from Old French lof, based on Middle Dutch lof (windward direction) + Middle English a[5]
Apartheid 
from Afrikaans Apartheid, from Dutch apart + suffix -heid (separate + -hood)[7]
Avast 
from 17th century Dutch hou'vast (hold fast, hold steady)[6]

B[edit]

Bamboo 
from 16th century Dutch bamboe, based on Malay mambu[7]
Batik 
from Dutch batik, based on Malay amba + titik (to write + dot, point)[8]
Bazooka 
from US slang bazoo (mouth), based on Dutch bazuin (trompet)[9]
Beaker 
from either Old Norse bikarr or Middle Dutch beker (mug, cup)[10]
Beleaguer 
from 16th century Dutch belegeren (besiege)[11]
Berm 
from French berme, based on Old Dutch b(a)erm[12]
Bicker 
from Middle Dutch bicken (to slash, attack) + Middle English frequentative suffix -er[13]
Blare 
from an unrecorded Old English *blæren or from Middle Dutch blaren and blèren (to bleat, to shout)[14]
Blasé 
via French blasé, past participle of blaser (="to satiate"), perhaps from Dutch blazen (="to blow"), with a sense of "puffed up under the effects of drinking" [15]
Blaze (to make public, often in a bad sense, boastfully) 
from Middle Dutch blasen (="to blow, on a trumpet) [16]
Blink 
perhaps from Middle Dutch blinken (="to glitter") [17]
Blister 
via Old French blestre, perhaps from a Scandinavian source or from Middle Dutch blyster (="swelling") [18]
Block (solid piece) 
via Old French bloc (="log, block"), from Middle Dutch blok (="trunk of a tree")[19]
Bluff (poker term) 
from Dutch bluffen (="to brag, boast") or verbluffen (="to baffle, mislead") [20]
Bluff (landscape feature) 
from Dutch blaf (="flat, broad"), apparently a North Sea nautical term for ships with flat vertical bows, later extended to landscape features [21]
Blunderbuss 
from Dutch donderbus, from donder (="thunder") + bus (="gun," originally "box, tube"), altered by resemblance to blunder [22]
Boer 
(="Dutch colonist in South Africa") from Dutch boer (="farmer"), from Middle Dutch [23]
Bogart
after Humphrey Bogart[24]. Boomgaard means "orchard" ("tree-garden")[25].
Bokkoms 
A type of salter fish.
Boodle 
from Dutch boedel (="property") [26]
Boom 
from boom (="tree"); cognate to English beam[27]
Boomslang 
from boomslang, a type of snake.
Booze 
from Middle Dutch busen (="to drink in excess"); [28] according to JW de Vries busen is equivalent to buizen [8]
Boss 
from baas [29]
Boulevard 
from "bolwerk", which came as 'boulevard' into French, then into English. "Bolwerk" was also directly borrowed as bulwark
Bow (front of a ship) 
from Old Norse bogr, Low German boog or Dutch boeg [30]
Brackish 
from Middle Dutch or Low German brac (="salty," also "worthless")[31]
Brandy (wine) 
from brandewijn (literally "burnt wine") [32]
Brooklyn 
after the town of Breukelen near Utrecht
Bruin/Bruins 
archaic English word for brown bear, derived from the Dutch word for brown bruin.
Buckwheat
from Middle Dutch boecweite (="beech wheat") because of its resemblance between grains and seed of beech wheat.[9]
Bully 
from boel (="lover," "brother")[33].
Bulwark 
from bolwerk [34]
Bumpkin
from bommekijn (little barrel) [35]
Bundle 
from Middle Dutch bondel or perhaps a merger of this word and Old English byndele (binding) [36]
Bung 
from Middle Dutch bonge (="stopper")[37]
Buoy 
from boei (="shackle" or "buoy") [38]
Bush (uncleared district of a British colony) 
probably from Dutch bosch, in the same sense, since it seems to appear first in former Dutch colonies [39]

C[edit]

Caboose 
from kambuis or kombuis (="ship's kitchen", "galley") [40]
Cam 
from 18th century Dutch cam (cog of a wheel", originally comb, cognate of English comb) or from English camber (having a slight arch) [41]
Cockatoo 
from kaketoe [42]
Coleslaw 
from 18th century Dutch koolsla (cabbage salad) [43]
Commodore 
probably from Dutch kommandeur, from French commandeur, from Old French comandeor [44]
Cookie 
from koekje, or in informal Dutch koekie [45] (="biscuit", "cookie")
Coney Island 
(English dialect word for Rabbit) from Conyne Eylandt (literally "Rabbit Island"), in modern Dutch konijn and eiland.
Cramp 
(metal bar bent at both ends) from Middle Dutch crampe or Middle Low German krampe.[10]
Cricket 
from Old French criquet 'goal post', 'stick', perhaps from Middle Dutch cricke 'stick, staff'.[11]
Crimp 
from Old English gecrympan, perhaps reintroduced from Low German or Dutch krimpen (to shrink)[8]
Croon 
via Scottish, from Middle Dutch kronen (= to lament, mourn)[12]
Cruise 
from Dutch kruisen (="to cross, sail to and fro"), from kruis (="cross") [46]
Cruller 
from 19th century Dutch krullen (to curl) [47]

D[edit]

Dam 
from Middle Dutch or Middle Low German dam, or from Old Norse dammr [48]
Dapper 
from Middle Dutch or Middle Low German dapper (bold, sturdy) [49]
Deck 
from 16th century Middle Dutch dec or dekken (to cover) [50]
Decoy 
from 16th century Dutch de (the) + kooi (cage, used of a pond surrounded by nets, into which wildfowl were lured for capture) [51]
Dock 
from Middle Dutch or Middle Low German docke [52]
Dollar
from Dutch (Leeuwen)daler [13]
Domineer 
from late 16th century Dutch dominieren (to rule), based on Middle French dominer [53]
Dope 
from American English dope, based on Dutch doop (sauce) or dopen (to dip) [54]
Dredge 
from Scottish dreg-boat (boat for dredging), perhaps based on Middle Dutch dregghe (drag-net) [55]
Drill (verb) 
from 17th century Dutch drillen [56]
Drug 
from Old French drogue, based on Middle Dutch droge-vate (dry barrels, with first element mistaken as word for the contents) [57]
Dune 
from French dune, based on Middle Dutch dune [58]

E[edit]

Easel 
from ezel (=originally (and still) "donkey"; "schildersezel"=easel, lit. "painter's donkey") [59]
Elope 
from ontlopen (run away) [60]
Etch 
from Dutch ets or etsen [61]
Excise (noun) 
(="tax on goods") from Middle Dutch excijs, apparently altered from accijns (="tax"); English got the word, and the idea for the tax, from Holland [62]

F[edit]

Filibuster 
from Spanish filibustero from French flibustier ultimately from Dutch vrijbuiter (="pirate" or "freebooter") [63]
Flushing, Queens 
from Vlissingen, a city in the Netherlands
Foist 
from Dutch vuisten (="take in hand"), from Middle Dutch vuist (="fist") [64]
Forlorn hope 
from verloren hoop (literally "lost heap or group", figuratively "suicide mission," "cannon fodder") [65] Forlorn also has identical cognates in German and the Scandinavian languages
Freebooter 
from vrijbuiter [66]
Freight 
from vracht [67]
Frolic 
from vrolijk (="cheerful") [68]
Furlough 
from verlof (="permission (to leave)") [69]

G[edit]

Galoot 
(="awkward or boorish man"), originally a sailor's contemptuous word (="raw recruit, green hand") for soldiers or marines, of uncertain origin; "Dictionary of American Slang" proposes galut, Sierra Leone creole form of Spanish galeoto (="galley slave"); perhaps rather Dutch slang kloot (="testicle"), klootzak (="scrotum"), used figuratively as an insult [70]
Gas 
from gas, a neologism from Jan Baptista van Helmont, derived from the Greek chaos [71]
Geek 
from geck (gek) (="fool") [72] [73]
Gherkin 
from Dutch plural of gurk "cucumber", shortened form of East Frisian augurk [74]
Gimp (cord or thread) 
from Dutch gimp [75]
Gin 
from jenever [76]
Gnu 
from gnoe, earlier t’gnu, from a Khoikhoi word.[14]
Golf 
from kolf (="bat, club," but also a game played with these) [8]
Grab 
from grijpen (="to seize, to grasp, to snatch") [77]
Gruff 
from Middle Dutch or Middle Low German grof (="coarse (in quality), thick, large") [78]
Guilder 
from gulden [79]

H[edit]

Hale (verb) 
(="drag, summon"), from Old Frankonian haler (="to pull, haul"), from Frankonian *halon or Old Dutch halen, both from Proto Germanic [80]
Hankering 
from Middle Dutch hankeren or Dutch hunkeren [81]
Harlem 
called after the city of Haarlem near Amsterdam
Hartebeest 
from both Afrikaans (Hartebees) and Dutch (Hartenbeest)[15]
Hoboken 
possibly named after the Flemish town Hoboken, from Middle Dutch Hooghe Buechen or Hoge Beuken (="High Beeches" or "Tall Beeches")
Howitzer 
from Dutch houwitzer, which in turn comes from German Haussnitz and later Haubitze.
Hoist 
possibly from Middle Dutch hijsen [82]
Holster 
from holster [83]
Hooky 
from hoekje (=corner) in the sense of "to go around the corner" [84]
Hoyden 
maybe from heiden (=backwoodsman), from Middle Dutch (=heathern) [85]

I[edit]

Iceberg 
probably from Dutch ijsberg (literally ice mountain). [86]
Ietsism
from Dutch ietsisme (literally: somethingism) an unspecified faith in an undetermined higher or supernatural power or force
Isinglass 
from Dutch huizenblas (No longer used) from Middle Dutch huusblase, from huus sturgeon + blase bladder [87]

J[edit]

Jeer (to deride, to mock) 
Perhaps from Dutch gieren "to cry or roar," or German scheren "to plague, vex," literally "to shear."[16]
Jib (foresail of a ship) 
from Dutch gijben (boom or spar of a sailing ship)[17]

K[edit]

Keelhauling 
from kielhalen (literally "to haul keel")[88]
Keeshond 
prob. from special use of Kees (nickname corresponding to proper name Cornelis) + hond "dog" [89]
Kill (body of water) 
from kil from Middle Dutch kille (literally "riverbed") [90]
Kink 
from kink referring to a twist in a rope [91]
Knapsack 
from Middle Dutch knapzak (snack + bag)[92] http://www.etymologiebank.nl/trefwoord/knapzak
Knickerbocker 
The pen-name was borrowed from Washington Irving's friend Herman Knickerbacker, and literally means "toy marble-baker." Also, descendants of Dutch settlers to New York are referred to as Knickerbockers and later became used in reference to a style of pants [93]

L[edit]

Landscape 
from 16th century Dutch landscap (land + -ship)[94]
Leak 
possibly from Middle Dutch laken (to lack, to blame) or Low German lak (deficiency) [95]
Loiter 
from Middle Dutch loteren [96]
Luck 
from Middle Dutch luc, shortening of gheluc (happiness, good fortune)[97]

M[edit]

Maelstrom 
from 17th century Dutch mael + stroom (grinding + current), possibly based on Old Norse mal(u)streymur [98]
Manikin 
from Middle Dutch manneken (little man)) [99]
Mannequin 
from French Mannequin, based on Middle Dutch manneken (little man) [100]
Marshal 
from Old French, based on Frankish (Old Dutch) marhskalk[18]
Mart 
from Middle Dutch marct (market) [101]
Measles 
possibly from Middle Dutch masel (blemish) [102]
Meerkat 
from South African Dutch meer + kat (lake + cat), perhaps an alteration of Hindi markat (ape)[103]
Morass 
from Middle Dutch marasch (swamp), partly based on Old French marais (marsh) [104]

N[edit]

Nasty 
perhaps from Old French nastre "miserly, envious, malicious, spiteful," or from Dutch nestig "dirty," literally "like a bird's nest."[19]

O[edit]

Offal 
possibly from Middle Dutch afval (leftovers, rubbish) [105]

P[edit]

Patroon
from patroon (="patron") [106]
Pickle 
c.1440, probably from Middle Dutch pekel [107]
Pinkie 
Pinkje/Pinkie [108]
Pit 
the stone of a drupaceous fruit : from pit [109]
Plug 
from plugge, originally a maritime term.[110]
Polder 
from polder
Poppycock 
from pappekak (=dialect for "soft dung") [111]
Pump 
from pomp [112]
Puss 
perhaps from early 16th century Dutch poes or Low German puus (pet name for cat), but probably much older than the record, because present in many Indo-European languages. [113]

Q[edit]

Quack 
shortened from quacksalver, from kwakzalver (literally "someone who daubs ointments") [114]

R[edit]

Roster 
from rooster (="schedule, or grating/grill") [115]
Rover
from rover (="robber") [116]

S[edit]

Santa Claus 
from Middle Dutch Sinterklaas (="Saint Nicholas"), bishop of Minor Asia who became a patron saint for children. (Dutch and Flemish feast celebrated on the 5th and 6 December respectively) (Origins of Santa Claus in US culture)[117]
Schooner (boat) 
from schoener
Scone 
via Scottish, shortened from Middle Dutch schoonbroot "fine bread", from schoon (bright) + broot (bread) [118]
Scow 
from schouw (a type of boat) [119]
Scum (as in lowest class of humanity)
from schuim (froth, foam) [120]
Shoal 
from Middle Dutch schole (="large number (of fish)") (modern Dutch: school) (etymology not sure)
Skate 
from schaats. The noun was originally adopted as in Dutch, with 'skates' being the singular form of the noun; due to the similarity to regular English plurals this form was ultimately used as the plural while 'skate' was derived for use as singular." [121]
Sketch 
from schets [122]
Scour 
from Middle Dutch scuren (now "schuren") [123], cognate of the English word "shower".
Skipper 
from Middle Dutch scipper (now schipper, literally "shipper") [124]
Sled, sleigh 
from Middle Dutch slede, slee [125]
Slim 
"thin, slight, slender," from Dutch slim "bad, sly, clever," from Middle Dutch slim "bad, crooked," [126]
Sloop 
from sloep [127]
Slurp 
from slurpen [128]
Smack (boat) 
possibly from smak "sailboat," perhaps so-called from the sound made by its sails [129]
Smearcase 
from smeerkaas (="cheese that can be spread over bread, cottage-cheese")
Smelt 
from smelten (="to melt") [130]
Smuggler 
from Low German smukkelen and Dutch smokkelen (="to transport (goods) illegally"), apparently a frequentative formation of a word meaning "to sneak" [131]
Snack 
perhaps from Middle Dutch snakken (="to long" (snakken naar lucht="to gasp for air") originally "to eat"/"chatter") [132]
Snicker
from Dutch snikken (="to gasp, sob")[20]
Snoop 
from snoepen (to eat (possibly in secret) something sweet) [133]
Snuff 
from snuiftabak (literally "sniff tobacco") [134]
Splinter 
from splinter [135]
Split 
from Middle Dutch splitten [136]
Spook 
from spook (="ghost(ly image)") [137]
Spoor 
from both Afrikaans and Dutch spoor (="track"/"trail")
Stoker 
from stoken (="stoke a fire") [138]
Still life 
from Dutch stilleven [139]
Stoop (steps) 
from stoep (=road up a dike, usually right-angled) [140]
Stockfish 
from Dutch stokvis (= "stick fish")
Stove 
from Middle Dutch stove (="heated room"). The Dutch word stoof, pronounced similarly, is a small (often wooden) box with holes in it. One would place glowing coals inside so it would emanate heat, and then put one's feet on top of it while sitting (in a chair) to keep one's feet warm. [141]
Sutler
from zoetelaar (="one who sweetens", sweetener, old-fashioned for "camp cook") [142]

T[edit]

Tattoo (military term) 
from taptoe (literally "close the tap"). So called because police used to visit taverns in the evening to shut off the taps of casks. [143]
Tickle 
from kietelen [144]
Trigger 
from trekker (Trekken ="to pull") [145]

U[edit]

Upsy-daisy (baby talk extension of up) 
from late 17th century Dutch op zijn, and also occasionally as an adverb, "extremely".[21]

V[edit]

Vang 
from Dutch vangen (=to catch)
Veld 
from Cape Dutch, used in South African English to describe a field

W[edit]

Waffle (noun) 
from Dutch wafel, from Middle Dutch or Middle Low German wafel [146]
Walrus 
from walrus [147]
Wagon 
from Dutch wagen, Middle Dutch waghen (= "cart, carriage, wagon") [148]
Wentletrap 
from Dutch wenteltrap: wentelen (= "winding, spiraling") and trap (= "stairway").
Wiggle 
from wiggelen (= "to wobble, to wiggle") or wiegen (= "to rock") [149]
Wildebeest 
from Dutch "wilde" (= "wild") and "beest" (= "beast") Wildebeest
Witloof 
from Belgian Dutch witloof (literally wit "white" + loof "foliage"), Dutch witlof [150]

X[edit]

Y[edit]

Yacht 
from Dutch jacht, from Middle Low German jacht, short for jachtschip (literally "hunting ship") [151]
Yankee 
from Jan Kees, a personal name, originally used mockingly to describe pro-French revolutionary citizens, with allusion to the small keeshond dog, then for "colonials" in New Amsterdam. This is not the only possible etymology for the word yankee, however; the Oxford English Dictionary has quotes with the term from as early as 1765, quite some time before the French Revolution. Nowadays it commonly refers to Americans.[152]

Z[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Joseph M. Willams, Origins of the English Language at Amazon.com
  2. ^ http://books.google.nl/books?id=qIsDdUSYJMIC&lpg=PA125&dq=koekie%20american&hl=nl&pg=PA125#v=onepage&q=koekie&f=false
  3. ^ Wes Ulm, The Germanic Component of Old and Middle French: Frankish, Gothic, Burgundian and Their Contributions to the English Tongue, http://wesulm.bravehost.com/languages/english/franco_german.htm
  4. ^ http://pages.pacificcoast.net/~deboo/flemings/pages/Migrations.html
  5. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/legacies/immig_emig/wales/w_sw/article_1.shtml
  6. ^ http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/flemish/index.htm
  7. ^ http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?allowed_in_frame=0&search=apartheid&searchmode=none
  8. ^ a b c Het verhaal van een taal, negen eeuwen nederlands, http://www.pbo.nl
  9. ^ http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=buckwheat
  10. ^ http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=cramp&allowed_in_frame=0
  11. ^ http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=cricket&allowed_in_frame=0
  12. ^ http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=croon&allowed_in_frame=0
  13. ^ http://books.google.nl/books?id=qIsDdUSYJMIC&lpg=PP1&dq=dutch%20influence%20on%20english%20language&hl=nl&pg=PA237#v=onepage&q&f=false
  14. ^ Various Khoikhoi sources have been proposed: (1) ǂnû "black", for the black wildebeest; (2) ingu "wildebeest", from a Tuu word !nu:.[1]
  15. ^ http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/hartebeest Retrieved 11 April 2010
  16. ^ http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=jeer&allowed_in_frame=0
  17. ^ http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=jib&allowed_in_frame=0
  18. ^ http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=marshal
  19. ^ http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=nasty&allowed_in_frame=0
  20. ^ [2]
  21. ^ http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=upsy-daisy&allowed_in_frame=0

External links[edit]