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"Going Dutch" (sometimes written with lower-case dutch) is a term that indicates that each person participating in a paid activity covers their own expenses, rather than any one person in the group defraying the cost for the entire group. The term stems from restaurant dining etiquette in the Western world where each person pays for their meal. It is also called Dutch date, Dutch treat (the oldest form, a pejorative) 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, with an upper and lower half that can be opened independently.
The Oxford English Dictionary connects "go Dutch" and "Dutch treat" to other phrases 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. Another possible origin is double Dutch, the jump-rope variation in which partners simultaneously participate. A folk etymology is that the "Dutch" reference derives from Dutch Schultz, a New York gangster of the late 1920s to mid-1930s, who may have used dutching to profit from gambling on horseracing, though his nickname derives from Deutsch ('German'), in reference to his German-Jewish background.
In the Netherlands, going Dutch is not referred to as "going Dutch".
In Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iceland, 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, consider it old fashioned. Sometimes a romantic couple will take turns paying the bill or split it.
In several southern 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 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 Roman-style' (in reference to modern, urban Rome, not ancient Rome). It has a double and opposite meaning, depending on the tradition followed: the modern and more common meaning is to divide equally the total cost between all the diners; the other is the same as "going Dutch". This can lead to misunderstanding.
In France, faire moitié-moitié (colloquially faire moit'-moit'), literally 'make half-[and]-half', which means each one pays an equal portion 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.
In North America, the practice of "going Dutch" is often related to specific situations or events. During meals such as birthdays, first-dates or company business lunches, an expectation develops based on social traditions, personal income, and the strength of relationship between the parties. Moreover, the increase in prevalence for mobile sharing payment platforms such as Venmo or Zelle has resulted in a cultural rethinking of meal payments.
Middle East and Near East
In Middle Eastern cultures, asking to "go Dutch" is seen as 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, meaning 'English-style'.
In the Levant (Syria, Palestine, Lebanon, and Jordan) and some other Arab countries, the expression is shamia (شامية), referring to the people of Damascus in Syria, who are supposedly stingy. Another similar expression is sherke halabieh (meaning 'sharing the Aleppo way'), which 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'; in short form, it is Alman usûlü, 'German-style'.
"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. In Mumbai, Delhi and other cities it is commonly called TTMM, for tu tera main mera, literally meaning 'you for yours and me for mine'. 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 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 a group, going Dutch generally means splitting the bill equally.
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 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.
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 there are many names for the practice, in different languages: it is called TTMM for tu tera mein mera in Hindi; je jaar shey taar in Bengali; tujhe tu majhe mi in Marathi; neenu nindu koodu, nanu nandu kodthini in Kannada; EDVD for evadi dabbulu vaadi dabbule in Telugu; thanakathu, thaan in Tamil); and thantrathu, thaan in Malayalam. These all generally translate to 'you pay yours and I pay mine', though in practice it refers to splitting the bill equally. Since the concept of freely dating is comparatively new in India – a culture with a long history of arranged marriage – going Dutch is primarily not applied to dating but to outings among friends and colleagues. When the expression going Dutch is used, it .
In Japan, it is called warikan (割勘), 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 their 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
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, 'Roman-style' (from Italian pagare alla romana, 'pay Roman-style') is used occasionally, while pagar a la americana ('pay American-style') is the most common way of expressing this idea. Other alternatives are pagar cincuenta cincuenta ('pay fifty-fifty') or hacer mitad y mitad (also, colloquially, pagar miti miti), 'pay half and half'.
In Chile, the phrase used is hacer una vaca ('to make a cow') which means that each participant pays into a common pool to either pay the bill afterwards, or beforehand, when buying for a meeting or party at a home. In this case, a person is designated as the "bank" (the one who collects the money). This system is used either when planning the things to buy for a party, or when paying the bill in a restaurant or pub. It still is splitting the bill, but one person pays for all of it and is reimbursed by the others. 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 (using colloquial contractions of mitad y mitad, with the stress on the first syllable mi); this is literally 'half and half', and refers to both "going Dutch" and to splitting the check equally.
In Guatemala, a sing-song phrase is used: "A la ley de Cristo, cada quien con su pisto", literally 'By the law of Christ, each one with his own stew', more a simple rhyme than having any religious connotation. Pisto is a stewed dish similar to ratatouille, and is used in this phrase as a stand-in for food in general.
It is almost the same in Honduras, where the phrase is "Como dijo Cristo, cada quien con su pisto", 'As Christ said, everyone with their own stew.'
A Costa Rican system is known as ir con Cuyo, literally 'to go with Cuyo' (Cuyo being supposedly a person; this is a stand-in name, like "John Doe" in English). If one of the diners asks "Quien es Cuyo? ('Who is Cuyo?') another may respond that they are (i.e that this person will pay the bill), or may suggest "cada uno con lo suyo", 'each with his own', meaning each person should pay for what they ate.