Dutch Language Facts

Interesting Dutch Language Facts

If you’re thinking about learning Dutch it’s always good to know a little about the origins and history of the language you are learning. Here, Cactus Language offers up our most interesting Dutch language facts:

1. The Origins

The Dutch language is a West Germanic language derived from the Frankish language, which also influenced Old French. The earliest documents written in Dutch date from the 12th century.

2. The Speakers

There are 28 million Dutch speakers worldwide, including 22 million native speakers. Dutch is mostly spoken in the Netherlands and Belgium, where it has official status, as well as in the Dutch Antilles and Suriname.

3. The Loanwords

Several Dutch words made it into English, often via the Dutch colons settling in the American colonies in the 17th century. Examples of Dutch loanwords include apartheid, bamboo, bazooka, blink, bluff, brandy, coleslaw, cookie, cruise, drill, gherkin, gin, iceberg, Santa Claus and waffel.

4. The Longest Word

As a Germanic language, Dutch has numerous compound words, that is words created by adding up several smaller words. Such words include:

  • Kindercarnavalsoptochtvoorbereidingswerkzaamhedenplan, deemed the longest Dutch word, and meaning “preparation activities plan for a children’s carnival procession”;
  • Vervoerdersaansprakelijkheidsverzekering, standing for “carriers’ liability insurance”;
  • Overeenstemmingsbeoordelingsprocedures, meaning “conformity assessment procedures”;

5. The Melting Pot

Dutch has incorporated many foreign words. Borrowed words actually account for 75% of Dutch, with most words originating from French. Many of these still have the same spelling as in French, for example capuchon (“hood of a coat”), chantage (“blackmail”), horloge (“clock”), jus d’orange (“orange juice”), pantalon (“trousers”), and plafond (“ceiling”).

Dutch Courses

Cactus offers Dutch Group Evening Language Courses in London, and private and corporate Dutch language tuition throughout the world. For information on our courses check our Language Course Questions page, call us on 01273 830 960 or email us. Our multilingual team will be happy to answer any question you may have.




  • SKY1