When embarking on the adventure that is trying to learn a brand new language, you find that often the first words you'll pick up are funny or rude insults or slang words.
With this in mind - for those out there trying to improve their Dutch skills but bored of memorising all the generic vocab and grammar rules - here are some of the funniest and most commonly used Dutch swear words.
The best Dutch swear words
While, of course, we can’t recommend trying out these words in your next Dutch lesson or when having lunch with some of your Dutch colleagues, it might still be useful or amusing to at least know about some of the most commonly used swear words in the Netherlands. Brace yourself, some of them might be a bit surprising.
Swear words based on illnesses
One rather unusual habit in the Netherlands is to use the name of diseases or illnesses as swear words or insults. Generally, these are pretty offensive words - even as swear words go - so definitely think about where you are and what you’re saying before using them. Here are some examples.
This has got to be one of the most well-known - and controversial - swear words in the Dutch language, and it can be confusing because the word kanker actually means “cancer”. Unsurprisingly, use of the word is frowned upon by many, but it’s likely that you’ll have heard the word kanker thrown around as a swear word by groups of teens when out and about. As a swear word, kanker can be combined with other words to be used as an insult, but generally it’s used, for example, if you suffer a (minor) injury or inconvenience, such as getting a paper cut or dropping and smashing your smartphone.
While kanker is probably the most commonly used Dutch swear word in this category, it isn’t the only one. Another example is tering, which translates to “tuberculosis”. Like kanker, tering can be used on its own to express frustration, but it can also be used to say something positive. For example, someone might describe an upcoming event as teringleuk (“tuberculosis fun”).
Funny Dutch insults
Probably worth mentioning that it’s not a great idea to just go around the Netherlands insulting the locals. But, if you find yourself in a situation where it’s necessary or appropriate, these are some of the words you might consider using.
Klootzak literally translates to “scrotum”, and is used to describe anyone (or anything) that could be considered irritating, annoying or disagreeable.
This is a pretty imaginative one, which can make it a pretty fun one to use. Literally, mierenneuker is a rude way of saying that someone likes to sleep with ants, but is used as an insult to describe someone who spends too much time faffing over minor details. This means it can also be used as a verb (mierenneuken) when someone is nitpicking.
This is another fairly mild one. It literally means acorn, but is used in similar situations to the word klootzaak.
Lul is a pretty versatile swear word. It refers to a man's - ahem - accoutrement, and can be combined with other words to create new insults (e.g. hondenlul).
Trut is generally only used as an insult for women. It’s a Dutch slang word for a woman's private parts (and is pretty mild in comparison to other slang and swear words in the same vein), and is used to tell someone that you're not very fond of them
Kutwijf is similar to trut, but perhaps a little more offensive. Individually, both words (kut and wijf) are already derogatory terms in their own right, and wijf can be combined with other swear words (e.g.kanker) to create other insults aimed at women. Kut on its own is also a pretty popular Dutch swear word, but more on that later…
Finally, sukkel is another mild insult, which is used in similar situations to English words like “wimp” or dork”. It is believed to have come from Frisian.
Dutch slang words to use to tell someone to go away
If you don’t want to resort to insulting someone, there are ways that you can tell them to go away and leave you alone if you need your own space.
Saying this to someone wouldn’t be considered too rude, but it certainly isn’t polite either. Simply put, rot op just means “go away”.
Opzouten - pronounced opzoute (without the “n”) - is like rot op, but is slang that is especially popular in and around Amsterdam. It also means “go away”.
This is the most explicit variation of these kinds of slang words. On its own, flikker is a pretty offensive swear word used to refer to gay men, but combined flikker op is a rather rude way to tell someone to go away - you'll probably be able to guess what the English equivalent is (hint: it also starts with "f").
Other Dutch curse words
Dutch people also like to use some of the most well-known English swear words, but there are plenty of Dutch ones out there for people who want to be rude in Dutch. Some other Dutch curse words that are commonly used - but don’t fit into any of the above categories - are:
As mentioned above, kut can be combined with plenty of other words to create new swear words and insults, but it's a swear word in its own right. Like trut, the word refers to a woman's private parts, and as a curse word can be used as an expletive, an adjective or an adverb - you could, for example, say you feel kut or that the weather is kut. It may sound similar to an English swear word, but don’t worry; it isn’t considered anywhere near as offensive.
Like opzoute, this is a slang swear word that has dropped the “n” on the end, changing from kloten - the Dutch word for testicles - to klote. Like kut, it’s extremely versatile as an expletive, an adjective or an adverb, meaning that as well as saying you feel kut, you can say you feel klote.
Godverdamme - and the toned-down versions of this phrase, gadverdamme or getverderrie - is the Dutch equivalent of “god damn it”, and is used to express frustration or disgust. Gadverdamme is regularly shortened to gadver or gatver.
Now you know how to swear in Dutch slang!
Now you know some of the most popular Dutch slang, you’ll be able to swear like a local! So, the next time you’re going to cross the road and hear an angry cyclist yell something at you in Dutch, you’ll be able to know exactly what they’re saying, and can even respond in kind if you feel like it.