Going Dutch

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"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[1]) and "doing Dutch".

There are two possible senses—each person paying their 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".

A derivative is "Sharing Dutch", which stands for having a joint ownership of luxury goods. For example: four people share the ownership of a plane, boat, car or any other sharable high-end product. This in order to minimize cost, sharing the same passion for that particular product and to have the maximum usage of this product.


One suggestion is that the phrase "going Dutch" originates from the concept of a Dutch door. Previously on farmhouses this consisted of two equal parts (Sullivan 2010)[full citation needed]. Note that a Dutch door is also called a "split" door.

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".[1]

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.[citation needed]

Also the concept may have originated from Double Dutch, the jump rope variation in which partners simultaneously participate.

International practices[edit]


In Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Republic of Ireland, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland, the practice of splitting the bill in restaurants is common, though often everybody pays for themselves. In a courtship situation where both parties have a similar financial standing, the traditional custom is that the man always pays, though some, including etiquette authorities,[2] consider it old fashioned. Sometimes a romantic couple will take turns paying the bill or split it.

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".

In Catalonia "going Dutch" is the rule among Catalans. This is referred to in the Spanish language as pagar a la catalana ("to pay the way Catalans do").

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.[3]

In France, it is close to "faire moitié-moitié" or "faire moit'-moit'", which means "each one pays half of the bill". For romantic dates, the traditional practice is that the man pays. In a business meeting, the hosting party usually pays for all - it is considered rude not to do so.

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). Splitting the bill is becoming increasingly common among the younger generation, especially when all parties have similar income levels.

Middle East[edit]

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 or she is able to afford the expenses of all. Similarly, gender roles and age play a more important role than they would in Western societies.

In Egypt, it is called Englizy, which translates into "English style".

In Iraq, the expression is "Maṣlawiya", "مصلاوية", referring to the people of Mosul who are supposedly stingy.

In Levant (Syria, Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan) and some Arab countries, the expression is "Shamia" "شامية", referring to the people of Damascus in Syria, who are supposedly stingy with tight money expenditure. Another similar expression is "Sherke Halabieh" (meaning "Sharing the Aleppo way"), that bears a similar connotation.

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 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.

In Pakistan, Going Dutch is sometimes referred to as the "American System". This practice is more prevalent among the younger age group, friends, colleagues and some family members to request separate bills.. In Urdu, the practice is called "Apna Apna" which means "Each his own" in which each pays his own bill. In a group, generally Going Dutch means splitting the bill equally.

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. It's 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 Bangladesh it is common to use the term (je je,jar jar) যে যে,যার যার "His, His; Whose, Whose".

In North 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" (더치페이), a konglish loan phrase. For romantic dates, men usually pay.

In People's Republic of China, where traditional culture still plays an important role, the bills are generally paid in groups by the person of the highest social standing, such as a boss or an elder figure, the male in a group, the local of the area, or by the one who made the invitation. For a 1 to 1 situation, the younger one (except for students or people with limited income) pays for the elder one to show respect. It is considered rude and less friendly to split the bill. It is very common for a group of friends or colleagues to take turns paying the bill. Men always pay for romantic dates to show generosity and responsibility as a man. It is most common among groups of strangers or sometimes younger generations to split the bill. 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"[citation needed].

In Indonesia, the term is BSS and BMM, as acronym for "Bayar Sendiri-Sendiri" and "Bayar Masing-Masing", and which both 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 koodu,nanu nandu kodthini" in Kannada) (or EDVD - "Evadi Dabbulu Vaadi Dabbule" in Telugu) (or "thanakathu, thaan" in Tamil) (or "thantrathu, thaan" in 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 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". KKB would generally be the norm among friends or people of similar financial standing. As in most Asian countries the person footing the bill is generally dictated by gender roles or standing in the community or work. It is still general practice to have the male answer the bill especially during courtship or when in romantic relationships.

In Thailand, the practice is referred to as อเมริกันแชร์ "American Share".

Latin and South America[edit]

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.[citation needed] Other alternatives are to 'pagar cincuenta cincuenta' or 'hacer mitad y mitad' (or also colloquially 'hacer miti miti').

In Chile the phrase used is 'hacer una vaca' (to make a cow) which means that each participant pays on a common pot to either pay the bill afterwards, or beforehand, when buying for a meeting or party at a home. In this cases a person is designated as the 'bank' (the one who collects the money) this works either when planning the things to buy for a party, or when paying the bill on a restaurant and/or pub. It still is splitting the bill but one person pays for all of it and the others reimburse him/her. In more formal settings (office party) the participants may require to see the supermarket bill to check that the money was spent as agreed.

In Panama the phrase mita (or miti) 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 Costa Rica the phrase is "ir con Cuyo". It means to go with Cuyo (Cuyo being supposedly a person). If the interlocutor asks "who is Cuyo?" the other responds "cada uno con lo suyo" meaning each person pays what they ate. It is not unusual for Costa Ricans to be rather strict with the math, sometimes even up to the last Colón.

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 El Salvador the rhyming phrase Ley de Esparta... Cada quien paga lo que se harta, which means 'Spartan Law, each pays what he/she eats'.


  1. ^ a b 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.
  2. ^ Magdalena Ribbing (2008-10-05). "Delad nota är delad glädje". DN.SE. Archived from the original on 2009-10-01. Retrieved 2012-11-17. 
  3. ^ "Pagare alla romana" sul sito dell'Accademia della Crusca.