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Dutch Profanity: Dutch Swear Words You Need to Know

Swear words are a fascinating aspect of any language, offering insight into cultural sensibilities, taboos, and humour. Dutch, with its colourful palette of swear words and insults, is no exception. In today’s blog, we will explore the most common Dutch swear words, from mild curse phrases to more offensive terms, categorised into different subsections to help you understand their meanings and contexts. For Dutch phrases whose literal meaning differs from their actual usage, we’ve provided English equivalents.

Whether you're learning Dutch or just curious about Dutch swearing phrases, remember that using these words can be offensive, so use them wisely and consider the context.

Having said that, here we go!

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Lul (Dick)

  • Use: Dutch people use the term Lul to insult ka man by comparing him to a male genital.

Eikel (Glans/Acorn)

  • Use: Another term for male genitalia, Eikel is commonly used to talk about someone who one thinks is an idiot or jerk. An English equivalent would be “dickhead”.

Klootzak (Ballsack)

  • Use: A stronger insult than "lul" or "eikel," this word targets a man's intelligence or behaviour. It’s like calling them “asshole”.

Doos (Box)

  • Use: Similar in usage to the words “twat” or “idiot”, the literal meaning of Doos refers to female genitalia.
  • English Equivalent: Twat.

Trut (Female genitalia)

  • Use: Originally referring to female genitalia, now more commonly used to insult women. A common English equivalent is “Bitch.”

Klote (Testicles)

  • Use: Used to describe something that is very bad or unpleasant. In English, we would say that something is “shitty”. In Dutch, it’s testicles.

Kut (Vagina)

  • Use: Similar to "klote," but more versatile; used to express frustration or disappointment, not unlike the F-word in English.

Reet (Ass)

  • Use: Refers to someone's backside, but also used to express indifference, like when we say we don’t give a damn about something.

Dutch Swear Words About Disease

Kanker (Cancer)

  • Use: "Kanker" is a highly controversial term due to its direct translation to "cancer." It's used to vent frustration or anger, like after stubbing a toe or missing a bus, but its association with a serious illness makes its usage widely considered offensive and insensitive. For instance, someone might exclaim "Kanker!" after experiencing a painful mishap, but this is generally frowned upon due to the term's gravity.
  • English Equivalent: There's no direct English equivalent that carries the same medical connotation used as an expletive, but it's akin to using a severe disease as a curse.

Tering (Tuberculosis)

  • Use: Similar to "kanker," "tering" refers to "tuberculosis" and is used to express a range of emotions from frustration to excitement. An example of its positive use is describing an event as "teringleuk," which translates to "tuberculosis fun," indicating that the event was exceptionally enjoyable or exciting, despite the grim origin of the term.

Godverdomme (Goddammit)

  • Use: "Godverdomme" directly translates to "goddammit" and is used as a standalone expression of frustration or anger. Unlike English, Dutch does not use this term in phrases like "damn you" or "those goddamn kids." It remains a potent expression of annoyance or dismay on its own.

Jezus Christus / Jezus (Jesus Christ / Jesus)

  • Use: In Dutch, invoking the name "Jezus Christus" or simply "Jezus" serves the same purpose as it does in English, to express shock, frustration, or disbelief. The lighter variant, "jeetje," is used to soften the expression.

Dombo (Dumbass)

  • Use: "Dombo" is a milder insult referring to someone acting foolishly or without thought. It's akin to calling someone a "dumbass" in English but is used more affectionately among friends.

Pannenkoek (Pancake)

  • Use: Calling someone a "pannenkoek" is a playful way to criticise their actions or decisions, similar to calling someone a "silly" or "goof" in English. It's often used in a friendly, teasing manner.

Sukkel (Sucker)

  • Use: "Sukkel" is used to describe someone perceived as being slow, inept, or foolish, somewhat akin to calling someone a "sucker" or a "doofus" in English. While it can be used playfully among friends, its default connotation is more critical.

Idioot (Idiot)

  • Use: "Idioot" is the Dutch word for "idiot" and conveys a similar level of offense. It's used to criticise someone's intelligence or decision-making harshly and is generally not taken as a friendly jibe.

Achterlijk (Retarded)

  • Use: "Achterlijk" translates to "retarded" and is used to describe nonsensical or absurd actions or decisions. While it's less controversial in Dutch than in English, calling someone "achterlijk" is still considered offensive and is akin to attacking their intelligence or thought process.

Debiel / Imbeciel (Moron)

  • Use: "Debiel" and "imbeciel" are terms used to insult someone's intelligence, similar to calling someone a "moron" in English. These words suggest a lack of common sense or intelligence in the person being referred to.

Mongool (Mongol)

  • Use: "Mongool" is a highly offensive term in Dutch, equivalent to the derogatory use of "retard" in English. It originated from an outdated medical term that simultaneously insulted people with Down syndrome and individuals from Mongolia. Its use is frowned upon, reflecting a serious insult to someone's intelligence and sensitivity.

Common Dutch Swearing Phrases

Woman swearing

Wil je een klap voor je bek? / Wil je een klap voor je kanis? (Do you want a smack in the face?)

  • Use: These phrases are used to confront someone aggressively, suggesting they might receive a physical hit. "Wil je een klap voor je bek?" is widely understood, while "Wil je een klap voor je kanis?" is more specific to Amsterdam dialect, with "kanis" being a local slang for face or mouth.

Ben je gek? / Ben je helemaal besodemieterd! (Are you out of your mind? / Are you crazy?)

  • Use: "Ben je gek?" is a rhetorical question to express disbelief in someone's actions or words, suggesting they are not thinking clearly. The more intense "Ben je helemaal besodemieterd!" amplifies this disbelief, indicating someone has acted foolishly or irrationally. "Besodemieterd" carries the implication of being deceived or tricked.

Zit niet te zeiken / Zeik niet zo (Don't be a pain in the ass / Quit bitching)

  • Use: "Zit niet te zeiken" or "Zeik niet zo" are phrases used to tell someone to stop complaining or making a fuss over minor issues. It's equivalent to telling someone to stop being a nuisance or to quit their whining.

Kan me geen reet schelen (I don't give a fuck)

  • Use: Expressing a profound level of indifference, "Het kan mij geen (ene) reet schelen" is used to convey that someone couldn't care less about a situation or outcome.

Lik me reet (Kiss my ass)

  • Use: A crude way to reject someone's opinion or demand, "Lik me reet" literally means "lick my ass," showing contempt or defiance.

Het zal me de reet roesten (I couldn't care less)

  • containing the word “reet”, this Dutch swearing phrase indicates an even deeper level of indifference. "Het zal me de reet roesten" suggests that the speaker is so unconcerned that the matter might as well rust their backside.

Je kan me reet likken (You can kiss my ass)

  • Use: Similar to "Lik me reet," this phrase is used to dismiss someone's opinion or demand in a vulgar and dismissive manner.

In wrapping up our exploration of Dutch swear words, it's important to remember that while learning these expressions can be amusing and offer insight into Dutch culture, our intention isn't to encourage their use in daily conversation. Understanding Dutch swearing phrases is more about gaining a fuller understanding of the language and its nuances, rather than using them to insult others. Language learning is a bridge to understanding different cultures, expressing oneself, and, of course, enjoying the process.

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Discovering the colourful side of Dutch through its swear words offers a unique lens into the directness and humour that characterise the Dutch language and its speakers. However, it's crucial to use this knowledge responsibly and understand the context in which these words and phrases are appropriate.

If you're intrigued by what you've learned and are keen to dive deeper into the Dutch language or a specific Dutch dialect, Listen & Learn is here to guide you. Whether you're beginning your language learning journey or aiming to refine your Dutch skills, our personalised Dutch courses are designed to engage and challenge you, swear words aside. Join us at Listen & Learn for a comprehensive approach to learning Dutch, where culture and language intertwine to create a rich and rewarding learning experience.