Ten French words the Dutch use

The Dutch are fiercely proud of their language and think everyone should learn it, but we foreigners manage to sneak in some foreign words. The French have had a fair amount of success.

Bureau: desk

Volière: big birdcage

Now all you need to buy are the bottles of Calve sauce

Now all you need to buy are the bottles of Calve sauce

Gourmetten: ‘Gourmet’ means a judge of fine food. In Dutch, however, the verb ‘gourmetten’,  denotes the communal charcoaling of food in individual frying pans.

Trottoir: pavement

Bonbon: chocolate 

Dressoir: sideboard

Suite: Pronounced ‘sweetuh’ by the Dutch. Room divided from another room by (sliding) doors. Hence, performing ‘tussen de schuifdeuren’, or between the sliding doors: an amateur performance. (See also weird things about Dutch houses)

Niveau: level

Enfin: prounounced Affijn by the Dutch. In the end. Also used as a stopgap word, like Anyway

Kado: the Dutch pragmatic spelling of cadeau which, yes, means a present.

For advanced users only
: Drop this into the conversation if you can:

L’argent des autres, c’est le moindre de mes soucis – famous quote from Louis Couperus’ novel Van oude mensen, de dingen die voorbij gaan (Of old people and things that pass). Said by Ina who is anything but indifferent to the money of others.  Let your voice go up on ‘moindre’ and accompany with an insouciant wave of the hand.


10 thoughts on “Ten French words the Dutch use

  1. Paul

    Ah, you mean:
    Gourmetten (indeed)
    Bonbon (indeed)
    Aaneengesloten kamers
    Welnu (of afijn)
    Kado (not cadeau)

    Well, at least our word of Apartheid is international 😉

  2. Palletje

    The spelling rules in The Netherlands have changed a lot the last 20 years. When I was a kid at school “kado” was not correctly spelled, we spelled everything the french way, now all things are being spelled the easy way and appearently it seems to be correct nowadays. Allthough I am not really an old fashioned person I just can’t seem to get used to this new way of spelling. To me it looks like people failed their spelling tests or written by a kid who haven’t had any spelling tests yet (eventhough I know it is not an original Dutch word but a french loan-word).

    Also we seem to take a lot of “slang” into our new spellings where original words already exists. Like “doekoe” which is is foreign word for money (“geld” in Dutch) which is mostly used by people for foreign origins. I understand people using the word for fun and I understand mostly youngsters use it to sound cool, I just do not see it as a usefull addition to our language and to be perfectly honest (and no offense meant) I see it as a deteriotation of our language.

    I am not saying we shouldn’t use those words or we shouldn’t be able to write it on a quick not, I am just saying we shouldn’t add it to the official language

  3. Nihal

    Manège, mise en place, crèche, stage, malaise, décolleté, chauffeur, à la carte, jus, mousse, omelette, café, milieu, bourgeois, voyeur, reportage.

  4. Pete

    En wat dacht je van de nachtmerrie van alle dictees (wéér één)? Marechaussee?
    Een ieder die Nederland binnenkomt of verlaat krijgt ermee te maken.

  5. Dylan Patrick Smith

    I am an American and I have taken a total of 10 years of French in my school studies many years ago. I wanted to pick up a new language and am now studying Dutch on my own. In just over a week and a half I have been able to write basic phrases and sentences and understand things like objects, months, days of the weeks, numbers, the weather, rooms in a house, greetings, and saying goodbye. I am enjoying learning this language and the amount of French loan words in Dutch is pretty interesting as well.

    A few words I noticed from my French studies similar in Dutch:

    confituur – ‘confiture’ (preserves)
    meubel – ‘meuble’ (furniture)
    magazijn – ‘magasin’ (store)


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