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A tussenvoegsel (pronounced [ˈtʏsənˌvuxsəl]) in Dutch linguistics is a word that is positioned between a person's first and last name similar to Irish or Scottish surname prefixes, French particules or German von. The most common tussenvoegsels are "van" (as in Vincent van Gogh) meaning "from" and "de" (as in Greg de Vries), meaning "the". Most Dutch surnames include no tussenvoegsel (as in Mark Rutte and Wim Kok).
The use of tussenvoegsels differs between the Netherlands and Belgium.
In the Netherlands
In the Netherlands, these tussenvoegsels are not included when sorting alphabetically. For example, in the Dutch telephone directory the surname "De Vries" is listed under "V", not "D". Therefore in Dutch databases tussenvoegsels are recorded separately. This often simplifies finding a Dutch surname in a Dutch database, because including the tussenvoegsel would result in many surnames being listed under "D" and "V".
According to Dutch language rules in the Netherlands, the tussenvoegsel in a surname is written with a capital letter only when it starts a sentence or is not preceded by a first name or initial. So referring to a Peter whose surname is "De Vries" we write "meneer De Vries" (Mr De Vries), but "Peter de Vries" and "P. de Vries".
In Belgium, surnames are collated with the full surname including tussenvoegsels. "De Smet" comes before "DeSmet" in a telephone book. Although Francophone surnames commonly also have tussenvoegsels, those are frequently contracted into the last name, turning e.g. Le Roc into Leroc or La Roche into LaRoche, thus explaining the collation preference.
Tussenvoegsels originate from the time that Dutch last names officially came into use. Many of the names are place names, which refer to cities (Van Coevorden, for example) or geographical locations (such as Van den Velde, or "of the fields"). The following list of tussenvoegsels includes approximate translations, some of which have maintained their earlier meaning more than others.
- aan (at)
- bij (near)
- de (the, but "de" can also be French and Spanish for "of".)
- den, der, d' (of the)
- het, 't (the)
- in (in)
- onder (under, below)
- op (on, at)
- over (over, beyond)
- 's (of the, from)
- te, ten, ter (at)
- tot (till)
- uit, uijt (from, out of)
- van, van den, van der (of, of the, from, from the), e.g. Van Dijk, Van der Geest (from / from the)
- voor (to)
Combinations of these words are also common. For example:
- aan de, aan den, aan der, aan het, aan 't
- bij de, bij den, bij het, bij 't
- boven d'
- in de, in den, in der, in het, in 't
- onder de, onder den, onder het, onder 't
- over de, over den, over het, over 't
- op de, op den, op der, op het, op 't, op ten
- van de, van den, van der, van het, van 't, van ter
- uit de, uit den, uit het, uit 't, uit ten
- uijt de, uijt den, uijt het, uijt 't, uijt ten (The uij spelling is Old Dutch)
- ver (a contraction of van der)
- voor de, voor den, voor in 't
- Hoofdletters in eigennamen Onze Taal Taaladvies
- Music Cataloging at Yale AACR2; Capitalization of foreign terms at library.yale.edu
- Music Cataloging at Yale AACR2; Entry element for surnames with separately written prefixes at library.yale.edu