List of English words of Dutch origin explained

This is a list of words of Dutch language origin. However, note that this list does also include some words of which the etymology is uncertain, and that some may have been derived from Middle Low German equivalents instead or as well. Some of these words, such as cookie and boss and aardvark, are without a doubt of Dutch origin. But, many of these words are similar not because they are Dutch loan words, but because English, like Dutch, is a Germanic language. Some of these words lack a counterpart in modern Dutch, having been lost since the time it was borrowed.


Aardvark : from Afrikaans Dutch, literally "earth-pig" (the animal burrows), from aard (="earth") + varken (="pig")
  • Afrikaans : from Afrikaans (via Afrikaans) (="African" adj.)
  • Ahoy : from hoi (="hello")
  • Aloof : from a- + Middle English loof (="weather gage," also "windward direction"), probably from Dutch loef (="the weather side of a ship"); originally a nautical order to keep the ship's head to the wind, thus to stay clear of a lee-shore or some other quarter, hence the figurative sense of "at a distance, apart"
  • Anchor : "liquid measure," that of Rotterdam, once used in England, from Dutch
  • Apartheid : from Afrikaans apartheid (literally "separateness"), from Dutch apart (="separate") + suffix -heid (cognate of English -hood)
  • Avast : a nautical interjection (="hold! stop!"), probably worn down from Dutch houd vast (="hold fast")
  • B

    Bamboo : from Dutch bamboe, from Portuguese bambu, earlier mambu (16th century), probably from Malay samambu, though some suspect this is itself an imported word
  • Bantam : after Bantam, former Dutch residency in Java, from which the small domestic fowl were said to have been first imported
  • Batik : from Dutch, from Malay mbatik (="writing, drawing")
  • Bazooka : "metal tube rocket launcher," from name of a junkyard musical instrument used as a prop by U.S. comedian Bob Burns, extension of bazoo (slang for "mouth" or "boastful talk"), probably from Dutch bazuin (="trumpet")
  • Beaker : from beker (="mug, cup")
  • Beleaguer : from belegeren (="besiege, attack with an army")
  • Berm : from French berme, from Old Dutch baerm (in Dutch, the English meaning is now archaic, berm being used as "usually grassy ground alongside a road")
  • Bicker : "a skirmish, fight," bikern, probably from Middle Dutch bicken (="to slash, stab, attack") + -er, Middle English frequentative suffix
  • Blare : blèren (="to wail"), possibly from an unrecorded Old English *blæren, or from Middle Dutch bleren (="to bleat, cry, bawl, shout")
  • Blasé : from French blasé, past participle of blaser (="to satiate"), origin unknown; perhaps from Dutch blazen (="to blow"), with a sense of "puffed up under the effects of drinking"
  • Blaze (to make public, often in a bad sense, boastfully) : from Middle Dutch blasen (="to blow, on a trumpet)
  • Blink : from Middle Dutch blinken (="to glitter")
  • Blister : from Old French blestre, perhaps from a Scandinavian source or from Middle Dutch blyster (="swelling")
  • Block (solid piece) : from Old French bloc (="log, block"), via Middle Dutch bloc (="trunk of a tree") or Old High German bloh
  • Blow (hard hit) : blowe, from northern and East Midlands dialects, perhaps from Middle Dutch blouwen (="to beat")
  • Bluff (poker term) : perhaps from Dutch bluffen (="to brag, boast") or verbluffen (="to baffle, mislead")
  • Bluff (landscape feature) : from Dutch blaf (="flat, broad"), apparently a North Sea nautical term for ships with flat vertical bows, later extended to landscape features
  • Blunderbuss : from Dutch donderbus, from donder (="thunder") + bus (="gun," originally "box, tube"), altered by resemblance to blunder
  • Boer : (="Dutch colonist in South Africa") from Dutch boer (="farmer"), from Middle Dutch
  • Bogart : after Humphrey Bogart Bogart means "(keeper of an) orchard"
  • Boodle : perhaps from Dutch boedel (="property")
  • Boom : from boom (="tree"); cognate to English beam, German baum
  • Boomslang : via Afrikaans from boomslang (="tree snake")
  • Booze : from Middle Dutch busen (="to drink in excess"); according to JW de Vries busen is equivalent to buizen [1]
  • Boss : from baas
  • Bow (front of a ship) : from boeg
  • Brackish : from Scottish brack, from Middle Dutch brak (="salty," also "worthless")
  • Brandy (wine) : from brandewijn (literally "burnt wine")
  • Brawl : from brallen
  • Brooklyn : after the town of Breukelen near Utrecht
  • Bully : from boel (="lover," "brother"), from Middle High German buole, maybe influenced by bull
  • Bulwark : from bolwerk
  • Bundle : from Middle Dutch bondel (=diminutive of bond), from binden "bind," or perhaps a merger of this word and Old English byndele (="binding")
  • Bumpkin: from bommekijn (="little barrel")
  • Bung : from Middle Dutch bonge (="stopper"), or perhaps from French bonde, which may be of Germanic origin, or from Gaulish bunda
  • Buoy : from boei (="shackle" or "buoy")
  • Bush (uncleared district of a British colony) : probably from Dutch bosch, in the same sense, since it seems to appear first in former Dutch colonies
  • C

    Caboose : from kambuis or kombuis (="ship's kitchen", "galley")
  • Cam : from Dutch cam (="cog of a wheel," originally "comb"), cognate of English comb
  • Clove (disambiguation) : from kloof [1] (="steep valley", "gorge")
  • Cockatoo : from kaketoe
  • Coleslaw : from koolsla (literally "cabbage salad")
  • Commodore : probably from Dutch kommandeur, from French commandeur, from Old French comandeor
  • Cookie : from koekje, or in informal Dutch koekie (="biscuit", "cookie")
  • Coney Island : from Conyne Eylandt (literally "Rabbits' Island")
  • Crimp : from krimpen (= "to shrink") [1]
  • Cruise : from Dutch kruisen (="to cross, sail to and fro"), from kruis (="cross")
  • Cruller : from Dutch krullen (="to curl")
  • D

    Dam : from Middle Dutch dam (compare Amsterdam or Rotterdam)
  • Dapper : from Middle Dutch or Middle Low German dapper (="bold, strong, sturdy,")
  • Deck : from dek (originally "covering")
  • Decoy : from de kooi (="the cage," used of a pond surrounded by nets, into which wildfowl were lured for capture)
  • Delftware : from Delft, town in Holland where the glazed earthenware was made; the town named from its chief canal, from Dutch delf, (literally "ditch, canal"), which is related to Old English dælf and modern delve
  • Dike : from dijk (="embankment")
  • Dock (maritime) : from Middle Dutch or Middle Low German docke
  • Domineer : from Dutch domineren (="to rule")
  • Dope : old meaning "sauce," now "drugs," comes from the Dutch verb (in)dopen (usually ="to baptize," but here ="to dip in")
  • Dredge : from Scottish dreg-boat (="boat for dredging") or Middle Dutch dregghe (="drag-net"), one possibly from the other but hard to tell which came first; probably ultimately from root of drag
  • Drill (verb) : from Middle Dutch dril, drille and in modern Dutch drillen
  • Drug : from Old French drogue, perhaps from Middle Dutch or Middle Low German droge-vate (="dry barrels"), with first element mistaken as word for the contents (see dry goods), or because medicines mostly consisted of dried herbs
  • Dune : from Middle Dutch dune, before from Celtic dun (="hill"), in modern Dutch duin
  • E

    Easel : from ezel (=originally (and still) "donkey")
  • Etch : from ets or etsen
  • Excise (noun) : (="tax on goods") from Middle Dutch excijs, apparently altered from accijns (="tax"); English got the word, and the idea for the tax, from Holland
  • F

    Filibuster : from Spanish filibustero from French flibustier ultimately from Dutch vrijbuiter (="pirate" or "freebooter")
  • Flense : from Danish flense or Dutch vlensen
  • Foist : from Dutch vuisten (="take in hand"), from Middle Dutch vuist (="fist")
  • Forlorn hope : from verloren hoop (literally "lost troop," figuratively "suicide mission," "cannon fodder")
  • Freebooter : from vrijbuiter
  • Freight : from vracht
  • Frolic : from vrolijk (="cheerful")
  • Furlough : from verlof (="permission (to leave)")
  • G

    Galoot : (="awkward or boorish man"), originally a sailor's contemptuous word (="raw recruit, green hand") for soldiers or marines, of uncertain origin; "Dictionary of American Slang" proposes galut, Sierra Leone creole form of Spanish galeoto (="galley slave"); perhaps rather Dutch slang kloot (="testicle"), klootzak (="scrotum"), used figuratively as an insult
  • Gas : from gas, a neologism from Jan Baptista van Helmont, derived from the Greek chaos
  • Geek : from geck (gek) (="fool")
  • Gherkin : from Dutch plural of gurk (="cucumber"), shortened form of East Frisian augurk
  • Gimp (cord or thread) : from Dutch gimp
  • Gin : from jenever
  • Gnu : from gnoe (from Bushman !nu)
  • Golf : from kolf (="bat, club," but also a game played with these) [1]
  • Grab : from grijpen (="to seize, to grasp, to snatch")
  • Gruff : from Middle Dutch or Middle Low German grof (="coarse (in quality), thick, large")
  • Guilder : from gulden
  • H

    Hale (verb) : (="drag, summon"), from Old Frankonian haler (="to pull, haul"), from Frankonian *halon or Old Dutch halen, both from Proto Germanic
  • Hankering : from Middle Dutch hankeren or Dutch hunkeren
  • Harlem : called after the city of Haarlem near Amsterdam
  • Hartebeest : from Afrikaans, from Dutch hertebeest "antelope," from hert "deer" (cognate to "hart") + beest "beast"
  • Hoboken : possibly named after the Flemish town Hoboken, from Middle Dutch Hooghe Buechen or Hoge Beuken (="High Beeches" or "Tall Beeches")
  • howitzer : from Dutch houwitzer, which in turn comes from German Haussnitz and later Haubitze.
  • Hottentot : from South African Dutch, said to mean "stammerer," it is from hot en tot "hot and tot," nonsense words imitative of the clicking, jerking Khoisan speech
  • Hoist : possibly from Middle Dutch hijsen
  • Holster : from holster
  • Hooky : from hoekje (=corner) in the sense of "to go around the corner"
  • Hoyden : maybe from heiden (=backwoodsman), from Middle Dutch (=heathern)
  • I

    Iceberg : probably from Dutch ijsberg (literally ice mountain).
  • Ietsism: from Dutch ietsisme (literally: somethingism) an unspecified faith in a higher or supernatural power or force
  • Isinglass : probably from Dutch huizenblas (No longer used)
  • K

    Keelhauling : from kielhalen (literally "to haul keel")
  • Keeshond : prob. from special use of Kees (shortening of proper name Cornelius) + hond "dog"
  • Kill (body of water) : from kil from Middle Dutch kille (literally "riverbed")
  • Kink : from kink referring to a twist in a rope
  • Knapsack : possibly from knapzak (literally "bag of snacks")
  • Knickerbocker : The pen-name was borrowed from Washington Irving's friend Herman Knickerbacker, and literally means "toy marble-baker." Also descendants of Dutch settler of New York are referred to as Knickerbockers and later became used in reference to a style of pants
  • L

    Landscape : from landschap
  • Leak : possibly from lekken (="to drip, to leak")
  • Loafer : from loper (="walker")
  • Loiter : from Middle Dutch loteren
  • Luck : from Middle Dutch luc, shortening of gheluc (="happiness, good fortune")
  • M

    Maelstrom : from maalstroom (literally "grinding current" or "stirring current") (possibly Norse in origin)
  • Manikin : from Brabantian manneken (literally "little man")
  • Mannequin : via French from Dutch manneken (literally "little man")
  • Mart : from Middle Dutch marct (literally "market") (modern Dutch: markt)
  • Measles : possibly from Middle Dutch masel "blemish" (modern Dutch: mazelen)
  • Meerkat : from Dutch meerkat
  • Morass : from moeras (="swamp")
  • O

    Offal : possibly from Middle Dutch afval (="leftovers, rubbish")


    Patroon: from patroon (="patron")
  • Pickle : c.1440, probably from Middle Dutch pekel
  • Pinkie : Pinkje/Pinkie
  • Pit : the stone of a drupaceous fruit : from pit
  • Plug : from plugge, originally a maritime term.
  • Polder : from polder
  • Poppycock : from pappekak (=dialect for "soft dung")
  • Pump : from pomp
  • Q

    Quack : shortened from quacksalver, from kwakzalver (literally "someone who daubs ointments")


    Roster : from rooster (="schedule, or grating/grill")
  • Rover: from rover (="robber")
  • S

    Santa Claus : from Middle Dutch Sinterklaas (="Saint Nicholas"), bishop of Asia Minor who became a patron saint for children. (Dutch and Flemish feast celebrated on the 5th and 6th of December respectively) (Origins of Santa Claus in US culture)
  • Schooner (boat) : from schoener
  • Scone : from schoon (="clean")
  • Scow : from schouw (a type of boat)
  • Shoal : from Middle Dutch schole (="large number (of fish)") (etymology not sure)
  • Skate : from schaats. The noun was originally adopted as in Dutch, with 'skates' being the singular form of the noun; due to the similarity to regular English plurals this form was ultimately used as the plural while 'skate' was derived for use as singular."
  • Sketch : from schets
  • to Scour : from Middle Dutch scuren (now "schuren")
  • Skipper : from Middle Dutch scipper (now schipper, literally "shipper")
  • Sled, sleigh : from Middle Dutch slede, slee
  • Slim : "thin, slight, slender," from Dutch slim "bad, sly, clever," from Middle Dutch slim "bad, crooked,"
  • Sloop : from sloep
  • Slurp : from slurpen
  • Smack (boat) : possibly from smak "sailboat," perhaps so-called from the sound made by its sails
  • Smelt : from smelten (="to melt")
  • Smuggler : from Low German smuggeln or Dutch smokkelen (="to transport (goods) illegally"), apparently a frequentative formation of a word meaning "to sneak"
  • Snack : perhaps from Middle Dutch snakken (="to long" (snakken naar lucht="to gasp for air") originally "to eat"/"chatter")
  • Snoop : from snoepen (to eat (possibly in secret) something sweet)
  • Snuff : from snuiftabak (literally "sniff tobacco")
  • Splinter : from splinter
  • Split : from Middle Dutch splitten
  • Spook : from spook (="ghost(ly image)")
  • Stoker : from stoken (="stoke a fire")
  • Stern : hind part of a ship related to Steven in Dutch and Stiarn in Frisian
  • Still life : from Dutch stilleven
  • Stoop (steps) : from stoep (="flight of steps, doorstep")
  • Stockfish : from Dutch stokvis (= "stick fish")
  • Stove : from Middle Dutch stove (="heated room"). The Dutch word stoof, pronounced similarly, is a small (often wooden) box with holes in it. One would place glowing coals inside so it would emanate heat, and then put one's feet on top of it while sitting (in a chair) to keep one's feet warm.
  • Sutler: from zoetelaar (="one who sweetens", sweetener, old-fashioned for "camp cook")
  • T

    Tattoo (military term) : from taptoe (literally "close the tap"). So called because police used to visit taverns in the evening to shut off the taps of casks.
  • Tickle : from kietelen
  • Trek : from trekken (via Afrikaans) (literally "to march" or "to travel")
  • Trigger : from trekker (Trekken ="to pull")
  • Tulip : from tulp
  • V

    Vang : from Dutch vangen (=to catch)
  • Veldt : South African grassland, 1785, from Afrikaans, from older Dutch veld (="field")
  • W

    Waffle (noun) : from Dutch wafel, from Middle Dutch or Middle Low German wafel
  • Walrus : from walrus
  • Wagon : from Middle Dutch wagen, waghen (="cart, carriage, wagon")
  • Wiggle : from wiggelen (="to wobble, to wiggle") or wiegen (="to rock")
  • Wildebeest : from wildebeest (literally wild beast, via Afrikaans)
  • Witloof : from witlof (literally wit "white" + loof "foliage")
  • Y

    Yacht : from obsolete Dutch jaght, from Middle Low German jacht, short for jachtschip (literally "hunting ship")
  • Yankee : from Jan Kees, a personal name, originally used mockingly to describe pro-French revolutionary citizens, with allusion to the small keeshond dog, then for "colonials" in New Amsterdam (Note: this is not the only possible etymology for the word yankee. For one thing, the Oxford English Dictionary has quotes with the term from as early as 1765, quite some time before the French Revolution.)
  • References

    1. Het verhaal van een taal, negen eeuwen nederlands,

    See also

    External links