Words that English should borrow from Dutch

Paul Wonner. 1984. Dutch Still Life with Cookies and Candy. [https://www.wikiart.org/en/paul-wonner/dutch-still-life-with-cookies-and-candy-1984]

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


proposed pronunciation: /ˈlɛkər/, rhymes with pecker (heehee)

closest meaning: ‘good, nice’

When something tastes good, it’s lekker. When someone’s attractive, they’re lekker. When you’re doing something you’re enjoying, you’re doing it lekker. When you passive-aggressively want someone else to do something, they should lekker do it. Lots of things are lekker in Dutch. And if you’re unapologetic about finding something lekker, it’s gewoon lekker.

example: “Have you ever had pumpkin spice pulled pork with avocado on toast? It’s super lekker!”

bonus example: “Why don’t you just lekker fix it yourself?!”


(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.

example: “So then he raised his shirt and out popped his aarsgewei!”


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.

example: “I’m considering going to her lecture, but only if there’ll be 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.

example: “Susan, that dang kater of yours has been crapping in our garden again. Get your life!”