Words that English should borrow from Dutch

(This list is irreg­u­larly yet irre­press­ibly updated. All the new words go on the top.)


(sug­gested by Mer Almagro)

pro­posed pro­nun­ci­ation: /ˈɑrsgəˌwaɪ/, rhymes with arse why

closest meaning: ‘tramp stamp’

Tramp stamp is a bit sexist, isn’t it? A shame about the rhyme, but it’s gotta go. Never fear, though, as Dutch has got your back with aarsgeweiIt’s gender neutral, and it lit­er­ally means arse antlers, which you’re also free to sub­sti­tute if aarsgewei is too dif­fi­cult to spell or pro­nounce.


pro­posed pro­nun­ci­ation: /ˈbɒrəl/, rhymes with coral

closest meaning: ‘drinks’

After a present­a­tion, after a meeting, after a long week of work, you can go for drinks. What a hor­ribly unfanciful word, drinks. Instead, sub­sti­tute the Dutch word borrel. Ori­gin­ally and primarily it means a glass of strong liquor, but it’s been met­onym­ic­ally extended to the prac­tice of imbiding drinks (alco­holic or non-) in a social, often pro­fes­sional, set­ting. Next time you organise a con­fer­ence or a meeting, make sure there’s a borrel after­wards.


pro­posed pro­nun­ci­ation: /ˈkeɪtər/, rhymes with later

meaning: ‘tomcat’

OK, tomcat is a nice word. It doesn’t have to be replaced. But con­sider adding kater. It sounds fun. While you’re at it, re-introduce puss as the word for a female cat. Con­sider com­bining them into kater­puss or some­thing sim­ilar for extra credit. Added bonus: kater also means ‘hangover’ for some reason. Two words for the price of one.