Friday, March 14, 2014

Dutch Loanwords: Part 1

In past months, we've explored the origins of some of the most interesting loanwords that have made it into the English language from languages including Portuguese and Irish. This week we'll be looking at several of our favorite Dutch loanwords, including some delicious food terms today.

Booze - This slang term for alcohol comes from the Middle Dutch word busen, which actually means "to drink heavily".

Coleslaw - Despite personally not being a fan of this popular side dish, it is interesting to know that it translates as koolsla, which literally means "cabbage salad" in Dutch. Kool means "cabbage", while sla is "salad".

Cookie - One of the best foods in existence, the cookie (sadly called "biscuit" by Brits) gets its name from the Dutch word koekje meaning "little cake". It's actually the diminutive form of koek, which unsurprisingly means "cake".

Some delicious-looking Liège waffles from Belgium.
Easel - This term certainly has an oddly interesting origin. It comes from the Dutch word ezel, which translates as "ass" (as in "donkey"). A painter's easel at the time was called a schildersezel, or "painter's donkey", apparently because loading a burden onto a donkey was comparable to propping up a canvas on a wooden stand.

Iceberg - Almost undoubtedly came to English via the Dutch world ijsberg, literally meaning "ice mountain".

Quack - We're not talking about the sound a duck makes, but the term used for a person who pretends to have medical skills. It came from Dutch quacksalver, "hawker of salve" which originated from a combination of quacken "to boast" and salven "to rub with ointment"

Snicker - Don't you agree that this is just a fun word to say? However, its origins aren't as fun, as it comes from the Dutch word snikken, meaning "to gasp, sob".

Waffle - We conclude with a food we can't imagine life without, whose name came directly from the Dutch word wafel.

We'll have even more great Dutch loanwords for you in Part 2 on Monday.