14 Dutch surnames which you are glad are not yours

In 1811 during the French occupation of the Netherlands, the Dutch were forced to register their names for taxation purposes.  To annoy the French and give their friends a laugh, many locals registered false names.  These weird and wonderful names are a tribute to the defiant Dutch forefathers, and a constant source of amusement for everyone else.

Gekkehuis:  madhouse

Hoogenboezem:  high bosom

Paardebek:  horse’s mouth

De Keizer:  the emperor (mocking Napolean)

Rotmensen: rotten people

Poepjes:  faeces or farts

Piest:   (he/she) pees

Naaktgeboren:  Born naked

Zeldenthuis:  Hardly at home

Scheefnek:  Crooked Neck

Suikerbuik:  Sugar belly

Zeepvat:  soap barrel

Klootwijk:  village of balls

Uittenbroek:  out of his pants

Don’t believe us? Check them out on the Telefoongids. We’ve found 41 Rotten People, 61 Farts and 102 Born-nakeds.

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7 thoughts on “14 Dutch surnames which you are glad are not yours

  1. Theo

    Another one is: Pielkens (wiener, dick). But then there are many of these names still going strong.

    To be fair, at the time most people chose their familyname wisely, often referring to the profession, their area etc.

    A few profession familynames:
    Bakker (baker)
    Vleeschhouwer (butcher)
    Timmerman (carpenter)
    Touwslager (ropemaker)
    etc etc.

    And then their are a lot of familynames taken from the first names:
    Jansen / Janssen (Jan’s son, Jan =John))
    Pietersen (Pieter’s son, Pieter = Peter)
    etc etc

    Another thing is that this all took mostly place in the northern half of the Netherlands, the protestant half. They did not have the custom of having familynames. They simply called someone ‘Jan van de molen’ (Jan from the mill) if the person was from a family living in a mill for instance.

    The Southern part of the Netherlands, the catholics, had already the custom of having familynames. My familyname, Lumens, for instance was already documented in the present province of Limburg around 1300-something. Lumens stands for Lum’s zoon (the son of Lum) which used to be a local boysname a long time ago, Lum being short for Lambertus (Lambert).

    Reply
  2. maaike

    not all names were meant to defy the French. Some names refer to places in old Dutch:
    A rot is a muddy place.
    a boezem is not a female bosom in this case, but is a sort of place that holds the surplus water from a polder.
    All names with ‘ broek’ refer to wetlands.

    Reply
  3. Tim

    I have to be honest, I’m Dutch and I don’t agree with the translation of the name “Rotmensen”. Strictly speaking yes, ‘rot’ means rotten in English, in the sense that food rots. But I don’t think this is translated properly, as we never in our language use any form of “rotten” to curse or call people names. What we do use it for, hence why the name is on this particular list, is the fact that we can place the word ‘rot’ as a prefix to practically every word of objects in our language, to indicate that we have a dislike of the subject or thing. When we say “ah wat een rotweg” (ah what a stupid/annoying/horrible road), we do not literally mean the road is rotten, nor is it implied. We simply mean we dislike the road. This is logical as a road cannot rot, but the essence is the same for things that can. To make things harder, I don’t think it has one translation. I used 3 words to translate ‘rot’ just now, because any of them fit, and the intonation and tone of the sayer can imply anything from a little annoying to very severe. Lastly, as if it wasn’t enough, we can also use it for things that can actually rot, but don’t do when we use the phrase. For example, when someone eats a banana that isn’t ripe yet, or a grape with a seed he could say “rotbanaan” or “rotdruif” without implying the fruit is rotten.

    So concluding, I would translate Rotmensen with stupid or annoying people, but certainly not with rotten.

    Reply
  4. Ruth Hannah

    A couple of other fun surnames that I’ve come across within my class over the years:
    Hertenscheit – Deer shit
    Modderkolk – Mud pond
    Snijdood – Cut dead
    Konijnenberg – Rabbit mountain/hill

    Reply

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