The Dutch influence in everyday English

Brief Background

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.

Dutch gable

Dutch gambrel roof – a shallow slope over a steep slope

Classic American Barn

Classic mid-west American barn

Dutch Houses

Typical modern-day Dutch homes








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




Killer Coke? – It’s The Real Thing

Published in Coláiste Dhúlaigh ‘s newspaper “The Almanac” (2006)

I look at the controversy surrounding Coca Cola’s activities in Colombian factories and take a look at the subsequent actions taken by organisations around the world, including many student unions in Ireland.


Coca Cola has become the target of a major worldwide boycott due to the treatment of its workers in Colombia. Many top Irish colleges have joined the boycott, which sees trade unions across the world uniting with student unions in college and university campuses in a global effort to boycott products made by Coca Cola.

According to ‘Killer Coke’, a U.S. website set up to highlight the Colombian workers’ plight, since 1994 eight workers in Coca Cola’s bottling plants in Colombia have been murdered and hundreds more imprisoned, tortured or threatened for joining Sinaltrainal, the main union that represents workers in the plants.


Coca Cola’s management supposedly initiated the violence against workers in an attempt to wipe out the trade union. By this alleged terrorism of the workforce, Coke has been able to replace full-time, unionised workers with temporary, cheaper staff.

According to ‘Killer Coke’, the plant manager in a bottling plant in Carepa, Colombia, declared publicly that he had given an order to paramilitaries to wipe out the union. The union leader, Isidro Gil, was then killed within the plant by the paramilitaries, who afterwards ordered the workers to leave the union or meet the same fate. Subsequently thirty-six Sinaltrainal members were forced to leave the area through threats.

In 2003, Sinaltrainal asked for help from the trade unions of the world and called for an international boycott of Coca Cola. The United Steelworkers of America and the International Labour Rights Fund filed a lawsuit on behalf of the union, several of its members, and the estate of Isidro Gil. Gil’s wife was later murdered while she participated in the lawsuit against Coca Cola in the U.S. Courts.


Protest to boycott Coca Cola by Irish Labour Youth, Óige an Lucht Oibre (2001)

Coca Cola management accused two leading members of Sinaltrainal of planting a bomb in one of their plants. They were imprisoned and tortured for six months and their families allegedly received threats from paramilitaries. However, after examining the evidence, the state prosecutor found that the claims were totally false and there never had been a bomb at the plant. By then, most of the union members on full-time contracts had quit their jobs in fear.

Sinaltrainal repeatedly petitioned the Coca Cola HQ in Atlanta for better working conditions and to urge them to intervene in Coca Cola Colombia’s anti-union campaign. They reportedly received no reply.

Findings from a judicial inquiry by a Colombian court have been made available online by Coca Cola and states, “Nowhere has it been established that any Company executive ever played a role in violating [workers’] rights.” The inquiry continues that it “found no evidence…that bottler management conspired in or encouraged the murder.” However, the ruling doesn’t mention the Gil murder but rather addresses a related case. Sinaltrainal lawyers say no investigation was conducted at all and no one was ever charged with Gil’s murder.

In 2003, a U.S. federal judge had no choice but to throw out all charges against Coca Cola HQ on the grounds that they don’t control the Carepa plant. As a result of this ruling, the Colombians took their case public.


The boycott campaign was launched in July 2003 supported by CUT (the Colombian equivalent of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions). Since that time the boycott has spread across the world. In Ireland the boycott is supported by the Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI) and Unison. Many colleges across the country have voted to boycott all Coke products, which include Sprite, Fanta, Lilt, River Rock and Powerade. Amongst the Irish college partisans are Trinity College, UCD, Maynooth, National College of Art & Design and National College of Ireland.

TUI is the representative union for all vocational schools including Coláiste Dhúlaigh. However, Coca Cola and Coke products are still on sale in Coláiste Dhúlaigh’s canteen. Dhúlaigh student Roisín Cummings said she wasn’t even aware that there was a worldwide boycott of Coca Cola. “I can’t believe this can go on in a company like Coca Cola today but I will probably continue buying Coke.”

Several other students questioned also admitted they were not aware of the boycott but have since begun to avoid Coke and its products. Katrina Graydon, a second year student at the college said, “I love my Coke but for the last few days I purposely didn’t buy it. It’s proving to be difficult but I believe the boycott is a good thing.” All students questioned felt that Coláiste Dhúlaigh should align themselves with the Teachers Union of Ireland in their support of the international boycott of Coca Cola products.

Although the loss of business in Irish colleges may not harm the multi-national corporation hugely, it could prove to be the beginning of a wider boycott of Coca Cola products, both in Ireland and abroad.

Review: The 100

The 100 (2014 – )

TV Series; Drama, Mystery, Sci-FiThe_100

Season 1; Episodes 1-13

Dixie score: 7 out of 10

At first glance The 100 has all the hallmarks of being just another programme which sprung up out of the batch of numerous young millennial aimed dramas. Films like The Hunger Games and Divergent, whilst apparently popular, are aimed at a specific young adult demographic group. The popularity of these has led to many attempts to recreate their style, as is usual. Being in my 30’s, in broad terms I find these types of movies to be all shine and no substance. When The 100 opened, with its cast of teens and young 20-somethings staring dramatically off camera, it appeared to be very much based in this ilk.

However, rather quickly, through a rapid pace and an interesting premise, this show pulls the viewer in. Immediately it promises to deliver a grittier and darker take on the genre. The high velocity opening-episodes twist and turn leaving the viewer guessing as to who will survive and who won’t. I found myself eager to continue the binge watching. Continue reading

Learning Dutch as a Buitenlander in De Nederlands


I have been told, on a very regular basis, by Dutch people that the Dutch language is the most difficult language in the world to learn.

I live in The Netherlands and I love it. I moved here from Ireland several years ago and I have found the transition relatively easy. The Dutch are similar, in many ways, to the Irish. We are both laid back cultures, comfortable in our own skin, not really concerned with what the rest of the world thinks about us (unlike so many other cultures worldwide we could all name right now) and just get on with being ourselves. We are unconcerned and just are who we are. So I find it an easy thing to be a buitenlander if you’re Irish in The Netherlands. Continue reading