Dutch to English and English to Dutch – 15 False Friends (part III)

Published on October 24, 2019 at 9:22 PM

This is part III of a series, find part I and II here.

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 (also known as false cognates).

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

 

feeling

English - not only in the sense of touch (voelen) or emotions but idea, belief, attitude or opinion.

 

folder

English – first meaning is a binder for holding documents (map), Dutch – a brochure, (reclamefolder). 

 

fresh

English – newly created or picked, not spoiled, Dutch - (vers niet fris), note: fresh water is (zoetwater)

 

genie

English – a spirit of Arabian folklore (often kept in a bottle or lamp), Dutch - engineer

 

global

English – the whole world (wereldwijd, mondiaal), Dutch – not complete, total (globaal)

 

goldfinch

Dutch - not (goudvink) but (putter).

 

grandiose

English – originally the same meaning as Dutch (grandioos) imposing, impressive, but now implies pretentious or over the top.

 

grief

English – intense sorrow or mourning, Dutch – suffering (leed) or grievance (belediging, benadeling)

 

guest house

English – accommodation for paying guests, Dutch – pension not (gasthuis) which is an almshouse (hofje)

 

hairdos

English – plural of hairdo, Dutch – (kapsel) not (haardos) which is a head of hair.

 

harness 

English – set of straps etc. used to control a horse, Dutch – (tuig) not (harnas) which is armour.

 

hernia 

English – generally refers to the groin area medically described as “a protrusion of abdominal-cavity contents through the inguinal canal” (liesbreuk), Dutch – generally refers to the back “A fracture in the intervertebral disc” or (Een breuk in de tussenwervelschijf).

 

high school

English – (higher) secondary education, Dutch – not college (hogeschool).

 

hound

English – dog used for hunting, Dutch – not translation of (hond).

 

(the) last time 

Dutch – not lately (de laatste tijd) but (de laatste keer).

 

Look out for part IV soon.

Let me know if you have any comments on the above or any False Friends in Dutch/English languages that you have come across!

The Goldfinch (Dutch: Het puttertje) by Carel Fabritius, 1654.

The work is in the collection of the Mauritshuis in The Hague, Netherlands.


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