15 Dutch Slang Terms You Should Know

Make sure you know your ‘straattaal,’ or “street talk,” before heading to the Netherlands.

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As if the Dutch language wasn’t complicated enough thanks to things like its irregular verbs and lack of clear-cut grammatical rules, Dutch people use a host of slang terms you’ll never encounter on Duolingo. There are around 2500 new words added to the country’s official dictionary each year [PDF], so it’s safe to say that Dutch slang—also called straattaal or street talk—develops at such a rapid pace even native speakers struggle to keep up.

No two slang terms are created equal. Some are rooted in the Middle Ages and are the result of centuries of bastardization. Others have been imported, from English shows or social media, or from Turkey, Morocco, Indonesia, or Suriname—countries whose cultures have become irrevocably tied to the Netherlands through colonization and immigration [PDF]. 

Knowing a bit of Dutch slang will not just help you find your bearings when you visit Amsterdam and its surroundings, but also earn you respect from the locals—who, despite being great at English, have a strong connection to their mother tongue. Here are 15 terms you’re sure to overhear in any public place, from street corners to supermarkets. 

1. Lekker

Lekker literally means “tasty,” but is better translated as “nice.” And, like “nice,” it can be used to describe a variety of things, from good meals to pretty locations and even attractive people. Unless used sarcastically, it expresses feelings of satisfaction and contentment.

2. Gezellig

Friends laughing and eating cheesecake dessert at autumn sidewalk cafe along canal
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If lekker is the first slang term that encapsulates Dutch culture, gezellig is the other. Sometimes translated as “cozy” or “pleasant,” it means having a nice time in good company. Family dinners are gezellig, as is partying with friends. A doctor’s appointment is not.

3. Vrijmibo

Vrijmibo is short for Vrijdag middag borrel, which means “Friday afternoon drinks.” They are a tradition at many Dutch companies, which seek to foster a sense of community at the office. Instead of working late into the night, you start the weekend with a midday toast.  

4. Mokum

Bikes on a bridge over a canal in Amsterdam
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Mokum is the unofficial name for Amsterdam. The word comes from Yiddish, where it means “place” or “safe haven.” The capital city used to have a large Jewish population, and although it shrank as a result of the Holocaust, its influences endure.

5. Mesjogge

Jewish culture hasn’t just influenced the character of Amsterdam, but also Dutch language at large, so much so that Yiddish words like mesjogge—which means “crazy,” “senseless,” or “insane”—have long blended into the Dutch vocabulary. 

6. Schat

Gold coins
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Schat is a term of endearment used between lovers and loved ones. Commonly translated to “dear,” its literal translation—“treasure”—better signifies the connotations attached to it: to call someone schat is to let them know they are precious to you.

7. Fakka

When someone says fakka, they’re asking how you’re doing. It’s one of many slang terms that came into Dutch from the South American country of Suriname, which the Netherlands colonized in 1667 (Suriname gained its independence in 1975). Like other terms from foreign countries, fakka is used primarily by young people.

8. AH

Dutch Supermarket Chain Ahold Announce Accounting Irregularities
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AH is short for Albert Heijn, which is the name of one of the largest supermarket chains in the country. The chain, recognizable by its blue-and-white logo, has many other nicknames, including Ap and Appie (McDonalds is called Mac or Maccie).

9. Ouleh

Ouleh came to the Netherlands through Arabic-speaking immigrants from countries like Morocco. The demonstrative pronoun is used to address others, becoming a replacement for words like “dude,” “bro,” “man,” or “friend.”

10. Mierenneuker

GERMANY-ANIMALS-ANT
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If a Dutch person calls you a mierenneuker, they aren’t complimenting you. Literally meaning “someone who has sex with ants,” it’s used to refer to people who are fussy, meticulous, and persnickety to the point that social interaction becomes cumbersome.

11. Betoeterd

Betoeterd, which essentially means the same as mesjogge, is a word that most Dutch children first hear from their grandparents when they step out of line. It’s an incredibly old-fashioned word, but that’s part of the reason why it continues to be used today.

12. Uitwaaien

Wind blowing hair of a woman on the beach
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Dutch has no shortage of verbs that resist translation. Uitwaaien, “out blowing,” means going for a walk down the beach or any other rustic, windswept location to reflect or unwind. The Netherlands is a windy country with a long coastline, which might explain how this term became so well-established.

13. -tje and -je

In Dutch, -tje and -je are used as diminutives—endings you attach to words if the object they denote is small or cute. Dutch diminutives are incredibly liberal in their application, leading to expressions like biertje (“beer”) and vriendje (“boyfriend”), to name two examples.

14. Havermelkelite

Oats and oak milk on a wooden board
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Possibly the youngest slang term on this list, Havermelkelite means “oat milk elite.” It’s used to refer, mockingly, to a growing class of young, well-dressed, upwardly mobile professionals that drink havermelk or oat milk instead of regular milk when they order coffee.

15. Helaas pindakaas

“Unfortunately peanut butter.” Confused? So are many other people when they watch European soccer and see Dutch players use this famous phrase to describe a match that didn’t go their way. Basically, it means “too bad,” or “oh well.”