Dutch people should be proud. Very proud. For such a tiny little country, they’ve managed to successfully penetrate the English language.
Have you ever noticed how often the Dutch are referenced in English expressions? No? Well, below is a little list to get you started!
Dutch bargain: a bargain made when you are too drunk to know better (first recorded in 1654)
Dutch defence: a legal tactic whereby you rat someone out in order to get off free (first recorded in 1749)
Dutch courage: booze-induced bravery (first recorded in 1826)
Dutch gold: a cheap gold-like alloy
Going Dutch/Dutch treat: where everyone pays for their own meal (so essentially no “treat” at all 😉
Dutch widow: prostitute
Dutch oven: a thick-walled (usually cast iron) cooking pot (braadpan). However, we’ll let you google the contemporary usage of the term 😉
As you can see, the majority of English expressions using the word “Dutch” aren’t too positive. Most of them, in fact, pack quite the punch and seem to foster more than a little animosity.
Why so? The Dutch had quite a prolific history of sea-faring, trade and war. The Anglo-Dutch wars of the 17th and 18th centuries resulted in the Brits not feeling too much love towards the Dutchies. These phrases thus reflect the opinion of the time that the Dutch were a slightly boozy, slightly cheap folk that were not to be trusted.
Of course, I will be the first to admit that some of these phrases still do make perfect sense. Take “Dutch Uncle” for instance.
Dutch uncle: “a term for a person who issues frank, harsh, and severe comments and criticism to educate, encourage, or admonish someone. Thus, a “Dutch uncle” is a person who is rather the reverse of what is normally thought of as avuncular or uncle-like (which would be indulgent and permissive).” (Source: good ol’ wikipedia)
It is safe to say, that sometimes the entire country feels like its populated by Dutch Uncles! I would recommend, however, that you go take a swig of Dutch courage before you pull a Dutch oven on your sweet-heart tonight (and no, we ain’t talking about a cooking pot)!