Dutch to English and English to Dutch – 10 False Friends (part I)

Published on 31 July 2019 at 18:05


What are false friends in language terms? They are words in one language that look or sound like words from another language but which have a different meaning.

Here are some of the false friends I have come across while living in the Netherlands.


English – fruit of the oak tree, Dutch – means eikel but sounds like eekhorn (squirrel),



English – real or factual (echt, werkelijk), Dutch – actueel - current or topical.


all but

English – almost (nagenoeg), Dutch - not allesbehalve (anything but).



English – a reasoned discussion point and a disagreement or row, Dutch - only reasoned discussion point, (disagreement - twist, ruzie)



English - cooked in an oven: cakes, potatoes etc., Dutch - gebakken means fried.



English - to start to be something (worden), Dutch – bekomen can mean many things as well as become: 1) Aanstaan 2) Beterschap krijgen 3) Bevallen 4) Bijkomen 5) Erlangen 6) Gewinnen 7) Herademen 8) Krijgen 9) Ontvangen 10) Uitrusten 11) Vallen 12) Verkrijgen 13) Verwerven 14) Weer tot zichzelf komen 15) Winnen 16) Worden 17) Zich herstellen.

(I leave the English translations to the interested reader!)



English - soft fruit consisting of a cluster of soft purple-black ‘beads’ (not black currant), Dutch – braam, not zwarte bes



English – having or showing courage (dapper, moedig), Dutch – (dapper translates in English to neat and well-dressed), (braaf in Dutch translates in English to well behaved).



English - the power to make decisions about something and decide what should happen (beheersen),  Dutch – Inspecteren or nakijken (check, review).



English – a contest in sport, business, etc., or, the opposition. Dutch - competitie is only the contest, the opposition would be concurrentie.

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