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A tussenvoegsel (pronounced [ˈtɵsə(n)ˌvuxsəl]) in Dutch linguistics is a word that is positioned between a person's first name and the main part of the 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; see also van (Dutch)) meaning "from" and "de" (as in Greg de Vries), meaning "the". If a tussenvoegsel is present it forms an integral part of a surname, to separate it from similar Dutch surnames that include no tussenvoegsel (e.g. as in Jan de Boer versus Albert Boer and Frits de Kok versus Wim Kok).

The use of tussenvoegsels differs between the Netherlands and Belgium.

In the Netherlands[edit]

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, 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", it is written as "meneer De Vries" (Mr De Vries), but "Peter de Vries" and "P. de Vries".

In Belgium[edit]

In Belgium, surnames are collated with the full surname including tussenvoegsels. "De Smet" comes before "DeSmet" in a telephone book.[citation needed] 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.

In contrast to Dutch orthographic rules, in Belgium tussenvoegsels always keep their original orthography, as in meneer Van Der Velde, meneer P. Van Der Velde or Peter Van Der Velde.[1]


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.

Common tussenvoegsels[edit]

Some common tussenvoegsels are;[2]

  • aan (at)
  • bij (near)
  • de (the, but 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) (genitive case)
  • te, ten, ter (at)
  • tot (till)
  • uit, uijt (from, out of) (The uijt spelling is Old Dutch)
  • van (from)
  • 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' (above the)
  • 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

See also[edit]


  1. ^ onzetaal.nl, Hoofdletters in eigennamen
  2. ^ Koninkrijksrelaties, Ministerie van Binnenlandse Zaken en. "Home - Rijksdienst voor Identiteitsgegevens".

External links[edit]