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Word of the Day: schatje (darling, dearest)

Petra who asked us the other day about SINAASAPPEL (orange) also wanted to know more about the word SCHATJE. To say that someone is a SCHATJE is okay. But as a form of address I absolutely dislike it. If my loved one were to call me SCHATJE, I would immediately leave her and never come back. But that is probably because I am a man and Dutch.

Word of the Day: luier (nappy, diaper)

Yes I agree, Zsuzsa, LUIER is a strange word. It is so common and yet so unique. When you were changing Noah’s nappy for the umpteenth time, you were probably wondering about the origins of the word. I can see you standing there with the dirty thing in your hand, thinking: ‘LUIER, nappy, napkin, diaper, pamper….’ How do they connect?

Word of the Day: sinaasappelsap (orange juice)

Each day my breakfast consists of a bowl of muesli with low-fat milk and a glass of orange juice. It makes me feel good and healthy. And I must have millions of ‘food mates’ all over the world eating and feeling the same. Unbelievable that there were times when this kind of breakfast was, to say the least, unusual.

Word of the Day: pasen (Easter)

Yes, the new Pope thanked the Dutch florists for the 40,000 free flowers (including 3,000 white Avalanche roses) after having said ‘urbi et orbi’ today. But no, this Pope did not express his gratitude in Dutch as his predecessors were accustomed to. This year no ‘Bedankt voor de bloemen’ (‘thanks for the flowers’). He said it in Italian. This year Pope Francis broke a tradition which started 28 years ago. What a shame. Next year we hope he studied some Dutch (you know where…).

Word of the Day: paashaas (Easter bunny)

Why does the English language have a bunny (KONIJN) for Easter and why is it a hare (HAAS) in all other languages? Very relevant questions that Anne-Marie posed on the day that the musical The Passion wound its way through the streets of The Hague.

Word of the Day: lachen (to laugh)

‘To make that noise which sudden merriment excites’, writes Samuel Johnson in his 18th century dictionary. However, LACHEN, laughter is so much more than mere noises ranging from calm giggles to loud guffaws. LACHEN is a visual expression of cheerfulness as well.

Word of the Day: vogel (bird)

Spring is late in The Hague. The previous week was one of the coldest March periods in a long, long time. All those birds that had been warbling merrily that spring had finally arrived, have now shut their bills and beaks. It is HUFTERIG WEER (chilly weather) as the West Frisians say.

Word of the Day: duif (pigeon, dove)

Some people hate these city birds, others love them. Jacqueline, for instance, cannot stand their loud cooing at break of day when they wake her up. And on top of that her balcony is covered with DUIVENPOEP, ‘dove droppings’. Every year there is a romantic couple outside her bedroom window. And soon there will be more of them.

Word of the Day: verrekijker (binoculars)

This week it’s DE BOEKENWEEK, the national book week. A very succesful campaign to promote HET BOEK. It was started in the 1930’s in the Netherlands and is still going strong. Each year an author of name and fame is asked to write HET BOEKENWEEKGESCHENK, the book week gift. This year’s author is Hague born author and comedian Kees van Kooten (1941). His short novel is a witty search for the story behind his father’s binoculars.

Word of the Day: bitterbal (???)

Looking back at my recent ‘Words of the Day’, my musings on Dutch words are getting longer every day. The words LICHAAM, GEEST and HUFTER captivated me so much that I couldn’t stop writing.

Word of the Day: hufter (ill-mannered person)

Today’s word HUFTER (/hœftə/), made a capricious journey in time. It began its life as the verb HUFTEREN in the nineteenth century somewhere in West Friesland. It meant ‘to shiver with cold’. To this day West Frisians still speak of ‘hufterig weer’.

Word of the Day: lichaam (body)

For many years I assumed that LICHAAM, body, originally meant ‘house of flesh’. For this reason I had fallen in love with it. After Margreet suggested LICHAAM, I did some research and discovered to my dismay that I had been wrong. Yes, HAAM does not mean ‘home’. HAAM means ‘covering’. And LIC means ‘shape’ as in ‘likeness’. According to the Bible God shaped Adam’s body after his likeness.

Word of the Day: tuin (garden)

In this short series of Dutch and English words that are closely related (after having dealt with KNECHT and SLACHT), let’s have a look at the word TUIN, garden. This word sounds like…. ‘town’. So what have TUIN and TOWN in common?