The Netherlands was among the small group of European nations which claimed ownership of territories in North America in 17th Century. In 1602, the United East India Company (VOC) was created to find a new route to the spice rich East. This led to exploration of the Staten and Manhattan Islands via the Hudson River, later named for the navigator of the exploration, Henry Hudson.
They were also eager to set up a fur trade with the indigenous people of North America. This led to the creation of the West India Company (WIC), charted by the Dutch Government to develop trade in the New World. A permanent colony was established, named New Netherland, with the first permanent settlers arriving in 1624. They landed in what is now known as New York, New Jersey, Delaware and Connecticut.
Whilst a lucrative fur trade was developed and many farms and villages established across the mid-Atlantic region, the Dutch struggled to sustain the colony. It proved difficult to attract settlers from the relatively prosperous Netherlands. This along with the growing influence of, and conflict with, the neighbouring English settlement of New England put an end to the Dutch colony of New Netherland. Governor Peter Stuyvesant surrendered New Amsterdam in 1664 to the English, who promptly renamed it New York.
However, the Dutch influence in America can be clearly seen. It often goes unnoticed just how impactful those years of Dutch occupation have been. Some influences are more obvious than others. After living in The Netherlands for so long I am still noticing more ways the Dutch have influenced American culture. Even looking at the credits to a programme shows this alone. From architecture to place names to everyday words, the Dutch imprint is evident in North America, and, therefore by default, the rest of the English speaking world.
Beaker – from the Dutch beker meaning cup
Boss – from the word baas meaning the same thing in both languages
Brandy – originates from the Dutch word brandewijn which literally means “burned wine”
Cockatoo – from the Dutch kaketoe for the same creatue
Coleslaw – from the Dutch koolsla, meaning “cabbage salad”
Cookie – from the Dutch word koekje meaning “biscuit”
Cruise – originated from the Dutch verb kruisen, which means “to cross”
Dam – unsurprisingly this is a direct Dutch word
Decoy – originating from the Dutch words de (“the”) and kooi (“cage”) referring to a pond surrounded by nets, into which wildfowl were lured for capture
Easel – an interesting origin coming from ezel, the Dutch for “donkey”, out of the word schildersezel meaning “painter’s donkey”
Frolic – from the Dutch vrolijk, meaning “happy” or “cheerful”
Gin – both the word and the drink originate from the Dutch drink jenever
Hankering – from the Dutch word for “yearning”, hunkeren
Kink – from kink referring to a twist in a rope
Landscape – from landschap which has the same meaning in both languages
Luck – from Middle Dutch luc, a shortening of gheluc, meaning “happiness” or “good fortune”
Poppycock – from pappekak which is Dutch dialect for “soft dung”
Pump – comes from the word pomp, meaning “pump” (as in a petrol or bicycle pump)
Puss – from the Dutch word referring to a “cat”, poes
Rucksack – originated from the Dutch word for backpack, rugzak; rug meaning back and zak being bag.
Roster – this comes from rooster, the Dutch word for timetable or schedule
Santa Claus – Our festive gift giver’s name is derived from Sinterklaas (“Saint Nicholas”), who is believed to be a bishop of Minor Asia who became a patron saint for children
Smelt – from smelten, the Dutch verb “to melt”
Snuff – from snuiftabak, literally “sniff tobacco”
Spook – this is a direct Dutch word for a ghost, phantom, or spirit
Waffle – comes from the Dutch word wafel meaning the same thing
Wagon – relates to the Dutch word wagen (used when referring to trains)
Amsterdam, NY – The origin of this place name speaks for itself.
Bergen County, New Jersey – Named after Bergen op Zoom in the south of The Netherlands
Bowery, The – A New York neighbourhood coming from the Dutch term de bouwerij
Brielle, NJ – Named after Brielle, South Holland.
Bronx, The – Named after Dutch immigrant Jonas Bronck
Coney Island – Originates from the Dutch words konijn and eiland, literally meaning “Rabbit Island”
DeRidder, Louisiana – From the Dutch word meaning “the knight”
Flushing (in Queens) – Named after Vlissingen in The Netherlands
Friesland, Wisconsin – After the Dutch province of Friesland
Harlem – Named after the city of Haarlem near Amsterdam
Harlingen, Texas – Named after Harlingen in The Netherlands.
Holland – Towns in Michigan, New York, Ohio and Wisconsin.
Kinderhook – Town in New York. Closely meaning “children’s corner” in Dutch.
Leyden, Massachusetts – After Leiden, The Netherlands
Middleburg, Ohio – After Middelburg in The Netherlands
New Dorp, NYC – Meaning “new town” in Dutch.
New Utrecht, NYC – As opposed to old Utrecht, a lovely city in The Netherlands.
New York – Famously, it must be mentioned that, before New York was named such, it was called “New Amsterdam” by the Dutch
Rotterdam, NY – As with Amsterdam, the name speaks for itself.
Staten Island, NY – From the Dutch for “states”, staten.
Venlo – In North Dakota and named after the province in Limburg, in The Netherlands.
Yonkers – Another New York borough which comes from the Dutch word jonkers
Zeeland, Michigan – Named for Zeeland in The Netherlands; also responsible for the naming of the southwest Pacific country New Zealand
Zwolle, Louisiana – After Zwolle in The Netherlands
De Groot, Hendrix (and derivatives, all Dutch), Herbert, Hermans, Houtman (wood or forest man), Jacobs, Jansen, Klein (a “little” Dutch name), Koeman (merchant), Kranz (meaning “wealth” in middle Dutch), Lucas, Middelburg, Prinsen, Roosevelt (rose field), Ryker, Schneider/Schneijder/Snyder, Schoonenburg, Schuyler, Schwarzenburg, Smit, Timmerman (Carpenter), Van der Beek (of the creek), Van der Berg, Vogels (birds), Wang (someone with rosy cheeks), Waterman, Willemsen, Wolters.
America Police badges with Dutch influence