Monday, March 17, 2014

Dutch Loanwords: Part 2

In Friday's post, we looked at several Dutch terms that have made their way into the English lexicon. Today we're continuing on with more great words from Dutch, including a few interesting animal names.

Aardvark - The name for these fascinating African mammals is a combination of the Dutch terms aard meaning "earth" and vark meaning "pig". The word originated in South Africa, where Afrikaans, the daughter language of Dutch, is spoken. It's called "earth-pig" because the animal tends to burrow in the earth.

Bazooka - This word has a fairly odd etymology. These portable rocket launchers first used by the U.S. Army were named for the bazooka, a type of brass musical instrument somewhat similar to a trombone used as a prop by an American comedian named Bob Burns in the 1930s. Apparently, that word, in turn, likely originated from the Dutch term bazuin, meaning "trumpet". Got that?

This meerkat doesn't look too slim...
Bumpkin - Defined as an "awkward country fellow", this word comes from the Dutch word bommekijn, meaning "little barrel". It's not exactly a kind thing to call a person in modern times, nor was it when it originated in Dutch, as it referred to Dutch people as "short and dumpy".

Elope - Running off to secretly marry? You might be interested to know that the word for what you're doing actually comes from the Dutch word ontlopen, meaning "run away".

Luck - Good luck is a great thing to have. It originated as gheluc meaning "happiness" and "good fortune" in Dutch before being shortened to simply be luc.

Meerkat - Undoubtedly one of the world's cutest animals, meerkat means "monkey" in Dutch, likely a combination of the words meer, meaning "lake" and kat, which you could probably guess is "cat".

Slim - Strangely enough, despite meaning "thin" or "slender" in English, the original Dutch word slim actually means "bad", "sly", or "crooked".

Are there any interesting Dutch loanwords that we left off our list? Let us know in the comments below, and please include a definition.