13 ways to take your leave in Dutch

You thought it was just a question of using dag for hello and goodbye as you learned in your language class? Not at all. Here are 13 popular ways to take your leave.

And you thought learning Dutch was tricky

So many words, so little time

Doei – (doo-eee) derived from dag – even people who don’t want to say it do

Doedoei – (do doo-i, empasis on second syllable) doei but worse

Dikke doei (dikuh doo-i) – big fat doei – should be a criminal offence to say it.

De mazzel – (duh mahzul) also means good luck, a very laddish way to say farewell. Derived from the Yiddish mazel tov. Sometimes shortened to Demats

Aju – (ayuu) from the French adieu

De ballen (laat ze niet vallen) – the balls, don’t drop them. Incomprehensible. Again popular with lads for perhaps obvious reasons.

Zieje (seeyuh) – See you –  Popular with teenage children who don’t want to tell you where they are going

Later – (latuhr) – said in a slightly off-hand way. Used to be connected to Zieje as in ‘see you later’. Also therefore popular with teenagers.

Tabee/tabé – (tabey)  a slightly old-fashioned way of saying goodbye. It’s what sailors used to say when they left for a long voyage. ‘Nou tabé dan, ik groet je, mijn mooi Amsterdam’ (farewell, I greet you, my beautiful Amsterdam) is a sailor’s song

Houdoe! (howdoo)- The Brabant way of saying cheerio. Immortalised in a song by the Vliegende Panters and voted best word in the Brabant dialect. Not to be used north of the Rhine.

Geluk he (cheluk huh) – Be lucky – used by wide-boys in Amsterdam bars.

Hoi – (hoy) This originally meant ‘Hi’. Now it is said at parting, which is confusing. It brings to mind the story of Dutch war-time prime minister Gerbrandy who greeted Churchill with a hearty ‘Goodbye!; at which Churchill allegedly said ‘What, already?’

But then, the simplest –and politest – way of saying goodbye is a simple ‘Tot ziens!’

Of course, in no way is this an exhaustive list and all your suggestions are most welcome.


15 thoughts on “13 ways to take your leave in Dutch

  1. Jan Kazemier (@wwwhizz)

    Tot de volgende keer! (Tod duh fol-gen-duh kir) – Until next time!
    Tot straks! (Tod strawks) – See you in a minute (until soon)
    De groeten! (duh groo ten) – The greetings!
    Fijne avond (fine-uh ah-fond) – (have a) nice evening!
    Fijn weekend (fine weekend) – (have a) nice weekend!
    Tschüss! – German.

  2. Pete

    Jaren in Oss gewoond. Niks anders dan “houdoe” (waarschijnlijk van houd oe goe oftewel hou je haaks). Als je daar in mijn cafe iets anders zei, geeft niet wat, werd er steevast “en laat ze niet vallen” geantwoord. Dan wist je dat je echt niet als Brabander beschouwd werd.

  3. Asier Valdes

    Hoi! I was in a brief conversation (in Utrecht) and people said to me dikke doei. As I understand this is really offensive?

    1. Barbara

      Hi Asier.
      It’s not offensive, just not stylish at all.
      Somewhere along the lines of “later gator” and “too-da-loo” in my opinion 🙂

  4. Heleen

    Tabé is a general greeting in several Indonesian languages. It probably came to the Netherlands with colonians returning to the homeland…


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