Dutch people like compound words! A compound word is a combination of words that together form a new word. You can make countless compound words in Dutch. You can form badkamer with bad and kamer for example, but you can also go one step further with words such as badkamertegel (bathroom tile). In this article we will discuss a few special compound words.
You probably already know this word when you learn Dutch, because it is used a lot! The Dutch eat boterhammen during breakfast and lunch. But ... what is it exactly? Many language learners think that a boterham is a sandwich with butter and ham, but nothing could be further from the truth. It is simply a slice of bread. And of course you can add butter and ham if you want. Then it is a boterham with butter and ham. But you can also combine a boterham with something else, such as cheese, jam or peanut butter.
A pinda is a peanut. Kaas is of course cheese. So, together it is peanut cheese. In many countries this product is called peanut butter, but it was not possible to use this name in Dutch. When peanut butter came on the market in 1948, it was forbidden in the Netherlands to use the word boter (butter) for products other than real butter. So the Dutch had to find another word for this delicious spread. And of course they immediately thought of cheese.
We will stay with the peanuts for a while, because appeltje-eitje translates as peanuts! As in: very easy. Apple egg, right?
This word is not really funny, but we have included huiswerk in this list, because the word can be confusing for people who learn Dutch. Huiswerk is actually work to do at home and not at school or in the classroom. So homework. We call the household chores that you need to do in the house, such as cleaning and doing the laundry, het huishouden.
Talking about the household ... stofzuigen is a funny verb, because stof means dust and zuigen means to suck. Fortunately we have a device for it: een stofzuiger (a vacuum cleaner).
This word is so confusing! These days we often need a stopcontact to make contact with others via our smartphone or tablet. It has nothing to do with stopping contact. A stopcontact is a wall socket!
Kletsen means to chat and a kous is a long sock that almost comes to your knee. Kletskous is not a piece of clothing. It's just someone who talks a lot and likes to talk. Gezellig!
This is a handy word to know. A doek is like a cloth, while hand is, well, a hand. So what does hand-cloth mean? It's a regular towel for after a shower or bath.
The bike of your grandma? No! An omafiets is just a typical Dutch bicycle. In the past it was mainly used by women, but nowadays everybody wants one.
We've added this word just to show you how serious the Dutch are about compound words: they can be very long. Achteruit means backwards, kijken to look and spiegel mirror. Yes, you've guessed it, it's a rear-view mirror.