Learn New Words FAST with this Lesson’s Vocab Review List

Get this lesson’s key vocab, their translations and pronunciations. Sign up for your Free Lifetime Account Now and get 7 Days of Premium Access including this feature.

Or sign up using Facebook
Already a Member?

Lesson Notes

Unlock In-Depth Explanations & Exclusive Takeaways with Printable Lesson Notes

Unlock Lesson Notes and Transcripts for every single lesson. Sign Up for a Free Lifetime Account and Get 7 Days of Premium Access.

Or sign up using Facebook
Already a Member?

Lesson Transcript

Michael: What is Dutch slang like?
Atie: And is it commonly used?
Michael: At DutchPod101.com, we hear these questions often. Imagine the following situation: Sam Swinkels uses a slang expression Ben Lee has never heard before.
Sam Swinkels: Doei!
Sam Swinkels: Doei!
Ben Lee: Wat betekent het?
Sam Swinkels: Het betekent "tot ziens!"
Michael: Once more with the English translation.
Sam Swinkels: Doei!
Michael: ""Doei!""
Ben Lee: Wat betekent het?
Michael: "What does it mean?"
Sam Swinkels: Het betekent "tot ziens!"
Michael: "It means "goodbye!""

Lesson focus

Michael: In this lesson, we will be learning some Dutch slang that you can use in the Netherlands. It is the kind of language that is used colloquially among specific groups in a community, society, or culture. As such, a certain variety of slang is often associated with a specific group. Very often, the meaning of the original word is changed or a word might be appropriated from another language.
Sometimes, new words evolve out of combinations of other words as well. Slang terms often evolve rapidly and tend to change with each generation as well. Much of Dutch conversation is made up of colloquial language and you might find yourself confused by what people are saying if you are not familiar with some of these colloquial expressions. In Dutch, this colloquial language is referred to as
Atie: straattaal.
Michael: or, in English, "street language." Interestingly, this word is an example of Dutch slang! You will find, in the Netherlands, that slang can be used in almost any situation you can think of. There is slang for being tired, slang for when you are dating, and there is slang for sports. There is even slang about monkeys! You'll hear an example of this later in this lesson. We will be looking at a variety of examples of slang as it is used in various situations and by different groups.
[Recall 1]
Michael: Let's take a closer look at the dialogue.
Do you remember how Sam Swinkels says Doei?
(pause 4 seconds)
Atie as Sam Swinkels: Doei!
Michael: This slang word is an informal way of saying goodbye and because its use is so prevalent in the Netherlands, I'm going to discuss it in detail. One can use it in situations varying from the casual to the slightly formal, but definitely not in very formal situations. For instance, you could use it when saying goodbye to colleagues at the end of the work day. Work is often a formal situation, but, if you are not talking to your boss or another senior person at your work and you are reasonably close to your colleagues, then this is a perfectly acceptable expression to use.
One could also use it when saying goodbye to staff in a shop, but only if the interaction you had with them was informal. Sometimes a shopping experience can be relatively formal, and it would not be advisable to use this word in that kind of situation. An example of a very casual situation might be when you are saying goodbye to a friend on the phone, for instance.
These days many women like to repeat the word. They say
Atie: Doei doei!
Michael: There is no rule that says men aren't allowed to say it twice, and some men do, but it's more common among women.
Let's now have a look at some more examples of how Dutch slang can be used.
Teens are known all over the world for coming up with slang of their own and Dutch teens are no different. A recent trend has been for some teens to refer to someone as
Atie: ouwe
Michael: or "oldie." You might hear it in a sentence such as this one:
Atie: Ja, is goed, ouwe.
Michael: which means, "Yes, it's okay, oldie."
Michael: While this may sound like a disrespectful way of talking to an older person, the fact is that some Dutch teens use it as a term of affection when addressing their peers. It is not prevalent in every school, but this is the nature of slang. It is very often associated with particular groups within a society or culture.
Another word that has recently gained popularity among some teens is the word
Atie: faka
Michael: which is a greeting and means "How's it going?" Interestingly, this slang word is based on the original Suriname word "Fawaka" which also means "How's it going?" or "How are you doing?" It is commonly used among children and teens in Suriname, and it was picked up from street slang. English has also had an influence on slang amongst teens in the Netherlands. Take, for instance, the word
Atie: ziek
Michael: which is based on the English word "sick." It is used, not to refer to someone who is ill, but to something that is fantastic or great. If in the Netherlands, you might be likely to hear it used in a sentence like
Atie: Dat is echt ziek!
Michael: or "That is really sick!" With the prevalence of social media, English television and movies, there are many examples of English slang words such as this which has been appropriated by Dutch teens. On the other hand, a word like
Atie: boeie
Michael: is an originally Dutch word that is very popular amongst teens. It is often spoken loudly when a young person doesn't care about something. It's similar to the English "whatever."
Atie: Het boeit me niet,
Michael: which means "I am not interested." It's not surprising that a word like this would be popular among teens!
Earlier I mentioned that some Dutch slang even involves monkeys and, as promised, here's an example. This happens to be my favorite because it's so visually apt. The slang word is
Atie: apenstaartje
Michael: which literally means "monkeytail," but, in slang, refers to the "at" symbol that you can find on any computer or smartphone keyboard. I like this because, if you look at the symbol, it really does look a bit like a monkey's tail. One might hear this word used in an expression like
Atie: Ik kan het apenstaartje niet vinden!
Michael: which means, "I can't find the "at" symbol!" Translated literally, this sentence would be "I can't find the monkey's tail!"
Changing the topic a bit, let's look at dating culture, which is rife with slang in every country. In the Netherlands, a common expression is
Atie: lekker ding
Michael: It means "nice thing" when translated literally, but, in slang, it refers to an attractive person. The nearest English equivalent is probably "sexy thing." It might be used in a sentence like
Atie: Zijn zus is een lekker ding.
Michael: This means, "His sister is a hottie." While this is a compliment, it should be used with caution. As you can imagine, calling a stranger a "sexy thing" would be rather inappropriate in any culture. Closely related to dating, the topic of going out is also rich with slang in most countries, and this is also true of the Netherlands. For instance, if you were to go out to a party, you would be likely to hear the expression
Atie: lekker knallen
Michael: which literally means "delicious popping," but, as a slang expression, it means to "party hard." It can be used in a sentence such as this one:
Atie: Wat was dat lekker knallen gisteravond!
Michael: which means "We partied very hard yesterday!" When partying, one is likely to drink as well, and there are many slang words associated with drinking. One of these is
Atie: zuipen
Michael: Taken literally, this could mean several things, such as "to drink," "to carouse," or "to guzzle." The slang term means "to get drunk." Someone might ask a friend if they want to get drunk by using a sentence such as this:
Atie: Heb je zin om te zuipen?
Michael: which means "Do you feel like getting drunk?" Drinking, going out, and dating are all specific situations that require relevant slang, but there is also slang that is more versatile and can be used in a variety of situations.
Cultural Insight/Expansion
Michael: If you are looking for a general, all-purpose slang word to use when in the Netherlands, then your best bet is probably the word
Atie: lekker
Michael: This word means "tasty" or "delicious," but, as a slang word, it can be used in just about any situation where you need a word that means the equivalent of "nice" or "good." One could use it when eating to say
Atie: Het eten is heel lekker.
Michael: This means, "The food is delicious." You could also use this word when saying good night, as in the expression
Atie: Slaap lekker,
Michael: which means "sleep well." It can also be used to talk about the weather. Take, for example, the expression
Atie: lekker weer
Michael: which means "nice weather." This word has even found its way into common expressions like this one, meaning "make yourself comfortable"
Atie: Ga lekker zitten.
Michael: A similar word is
Atie: leuk
Michael: and it can also mean that something is "good," "nice," or "fun." A common sentence in which you might hear it used is
Atie: Het was leuk u te ontmoeten,
Michael: which means "It was nice to meet you."
Now, you know some Dutch slang related to specific situations and other slang words that are more versatile. If you visit the Netherlands, you will have less difficulty understanding what people are saying when they use these words!


Michael: Do you have any more questions? We're here to answer them!
Atie: Doei!
Michael: See you soon!