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Bargoens [bɑrˈɣuns] is a form of Dutch slang. More specifically, it is a cant language that arose in the 17th century, and was used by criminals, tramps and travelling salesmen as a secret code, like Spain's Germanía or French Argot. It is speculated to originate from Rotwelsch

However, the word Bargoens usually refers to the thieves' cant spoken in the latter half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century. The actual slang varied greatly from place to place; often Bargoens denotes the variety from the Holland region in the Netherlands. While many words from Bargoens have faded into obscurity, others have become part of standard Dutch (but are more often used in the "Hollandic" than in other Dutch dialects). Hufter (jerk), gappen (to steal) and poen (money) are examples of words now common in Dutch. As is the case for most thieves' languages, many of the words from Bargoens are either insults or concern money, crime or sex.

Bargoens has many Yiddish loanwords. Examples are sjacheren (to barter), mesjogge (crazy), jatten (hands, to steal), gabber (buddy, friend), tof (great), hachelen (to eat).

The name of this cant is close to baragouin, which means "jargon" in French. It is supposed to have been derived either from the Breton words bara+gwin (bread+wine) or from Bourgondisch ('Burgundish', i.e. [the language] from Burgundy).

Many Woonwagenbewoners (Dutch Travellers) used to speak this language as well.


apehaar (bad) tobacco
appie kim OK
bajes prison (from Yiddish בית)
bekakt snobbish
bollebof manager
bisnis business life, more specifically in prostitution
eisjedies adultery
gabber friend (from Yiddish חבר)
gozer young man (slag of Geuzen)
hufter bastard
lef courage (Old German (van Dale))
jatten noun: hands;
verb: steal (from Yiddish)
penoze underworld, organized crime (from Yiddish פּרנסה)
opduvelen! bugger off!
saffie cigarette; in earlier days also cigar (from the Morocco leather used for cigar kokers)
smeris policeman (from Yiddish שמירה)
temeier prostitute (from Yiddish טמאה)
kassiewijle dead, defect (conjugation of box and old Germanic word)
toges/tokus pump, anus (from Yiddish תּחת)

Also the nicknames of former Dutch guilders were Bargoens:

spie cent
hondje, beisje dubbeltje
heitje Twenty-five cent coin (from Yiddish ה)
piek, pegel guilder
knaak rijksdaalder
joet ten guilders (from Yiddish י )
geeltje twenty five guilders (lit. "little yellow one")
meier hundred guilders (from Yiddish מאה)
(rooie) rug thousand guilders (lit. "(red) back")

See also[edit]