Dutch swear words: the guide to insults and cursing in the Netherlands

Need some Dutch swear words? Don’t care about cycling but do care about cursing in the Netherlands? Dutch profanity? CHECK! Welcome to DutchReview’s swearing guide where we’ll teach you all the Dutch insults you will ever need during your life in the Netherlands.

I still remember the first time I biked past a red light in The Netherlands. It was my first week in the ‘Orange Country’ and I knew little of biking etiquette. After almost crashing into a bakfiets full of 2-year-olds, I had my first experience with Dutch swear words. The woman riding the bakfiets yelled out ‘Lul!‘ as we just barely missed each other.

That was years before I knew how to speak Dutch, so I was a bit confused because I thought she yelled out ‘LOL!’. Little did I know that she was in fact not ‘laughing out loud’; she called me a ‘penis‘ for almost killing her children. Fair enough.

Lul‘ is one of the many creative ways to curse at someone in Dutch. In a language where normal words like Scheveningen already sound like unforgivable curses from Harry Potter, it’s good to at least recognize some of the basic ones.

So whether you want to yell at a misbehaving Brit in Amsterdam, or you want to deepen your Dutch-learning experience, here we’ll show some of the best Dutch swear words. DutchReviewof course, does not condone the use of any of the following Dutch curse words, profanity or phrases. We’re just trying cover as many aspects of Dutch culture for you, our international reader fan-base. Having said that, let’s begin kut! And just like eating only one stroopwafel from the package (instead of all of them at the same time like a giant sandwich), it would be a crime not to start with the infamous ‘disease-based curses’.

Before we get going, we’d really like to thank Bart de Pau from Learn Dutch for working together with us on all these beautiful ugly words of Dutch. Check out Learn Dutch (and their supreme Youtube channel) if you’re serious about learning Dutch!

Cursing with diseases

Have you ever been so angry at someone that you verbally express your desire for them getting cholera? No? How about typhoid fever? Still no? That’s weird… It’s weird at least for some Dutchies, because Dutch swearing involves diseases sometimes.

That’s right, it is a well-known fact that wishing an illness upon your enemies is a common way to curse in Dutch. Why? Well, that’s a great question. A quick Google search revealed that ‘high-levels of individualism and low levels of masculinity’ (see Hofstede’s dimensions of culture), may explain why Dutchies are so keen to wish typhoid fever or tuberculosis upon people when they swear. Not always, of course.

Swearing with diseases sounds pretty bad. Well, that’s just because it actually is pretty bad. I think it’s needless to say that the following type of Dutch swear words and phrases are very much frowned upon by Dutch society. In fact, you should only use these if you’re alone in your room and there’s no around you in a radius of 50km.

The only other situation where you should use one of these is never. Alas, we’re trying to expand your knowledge on all things Dutch, so here’s a list of Dutch curse words/phrases that involve crippling, life-threatening diseases:

  • Krijg de…! (get the…!): tyfus (tuberculosis); klere (cholera); pest (pest)
  • Kankerlijer: (cancer sufferer).*
  • Tering! (tuberculosis!)
  • Pleur op! (another way to say ‘fu** off!’ But using another variant of the disease tuberculosis)

When are these appropriate to use: You stub your little toe on the corner of a desk at 7am, and you are somehow alone on an uninhabited island. Someone casually mentions that Jar-Jar Binks and the Ewoks are an adequate addition to the Star Wars saga.

*Serious disclaimer: we know we’re having a laugh here, but especially using cancer/kanker in your Dutch swearing is more than frowned upon. Big no-no there. Find other no-nos here.

Thankfully, there are other ways to swear in Dutch that don’t involve diseases. ‘Friendlier’ Dutch swear words exist and can be used to express anger without making life-long enemies.

Everyday swear words in the Netherlands

In a country where you can literally bike next to tulip fields, it’s hard to think of situations where you would want to curse. Of course, things like the weather or other inconveniences of life might incite you to curse under your breath. Without the need for slurring out diseases, there are words/phrases you can say to express your discontent.

  • Rot op! (go away).
  • Potverdorie! (goshdarnit, it’s what Ned Flanders would use if he were Dutch)
  • Pannenkoek (All-time favourite. It literally means pancake. Yes, you can call someone a pancake)
  • Stommert (dumb)
  • Shit (the Dutch like swearing in English)
  • Franse slag (literally: French job. When a task is done with the least amount of effort or is done inappropriately, you call it a ‘Franse slag‘).
  • kut! (Vagina! The Dutch kut isn’t very decent but nowhere near as offensive as the English C-word)

When are these appropriate to use: Someone eats the last bitterbal at the borrel and/or double dips said bitterbal in the mustard cup. Someone does not signal a turn when riding a bicycle.

Female and manly insults in the Netherlands

You just don’t insult a Dutch person without using the appropriate form of gender, that would be rudeSo let’s get you up to speed with some of the most heard curses to sling at Dutch men:

  • Zakkenwasser (bags-washer or ballsack-washer, a Dutch favourite and meaning douchebag)
  • Klootzak (Ballsack, this is one of the most common Dutch swear words against fellas, more or less the same as asshole)
  • Kloothommel (scrotum bumblebee, we really like our junk here in the Netherlands)
  • And of course the infamous mierenneuker, meaning ant-screwer which can also be used on ladies (although I’m not sure if that would be ‘mierenneukster’)

And now the ladies (sorry mum):

  • Kutwijf (vagina lady)
  • Heks (Witch)
  • Trut (bitch)
  • slet (slut)
  • and the beautiful Dutch word of lellebel (also slut, but a bit more cute)

Special attention goes to the word ‘hoer‘ (whore), which you can modify with all kinds of other words in front of it — like moffenhoer (German-loving whore).

When are these appropriate to use: when someone steals the last seat on a train from a pregnant lady or when your Dutch partner cheats on you.

Racist swear words in the Netherlands

Jeeh, this is not a happy-go-lucky article. Despite the progressive outward-image of the Netherlands, racism runs deep, and there are plenty of ethnic slurs in the Dutch language to prove it. However, we don’t think that publicising these is going to benefit the world in any way — if you really want to know Dutch racial slurs (why?) we’ll let you Google that yourself.

Appropriate alternatives to Dutch swear words

Obviously we all need to vent a bit every now and then, even when you’re among your Dutch inlaws. Just imagine someone using the knife on the cheese instead of the ‘kaasschaaf‘ without cursing something decent. So here are a couple of Dutch swear words that are almost totally fine to utter every now and then:

  • Potjandosie (goshdarnit)
  • Verdorie (darn it, sort of)
  • Pindakaas! or even better ‘helaas pindakaas‘ which translates to ‘too bad peanut butter’ which means ‘ah that’s too bad’
  • Verdikkeme (another gosh darnit)
  • Lomperd (a rude/insensitive person)
  • Tandjes! (little teeth! It’s what teachers and parents say instead of ‘tering‘)
  • Deugniet (a naughty person)

And we haven’t even talked about besodemieteren (scamming it) and oppleuren (go away!).

Dutch swear words

Foreign swear words in the Dutch language

Obviously, the Dutch being great English speakers, they have adopted their fair share of English profanity into the Dutch language: bitch, fuck and shit have really made it here. Luckily some other swears haven’t, and most Dutchies know better than to use the N- and C- words.

Thanks to Narcos the Dutch have also a soft spot for hijo de puta and the German SCHEISSE. However other ones like ‘putain‘ and mierda/merde have never made big inroads here.

Profanity in the Netherlands

Profanity in the Netherlands, the unholy grail of the Dutch pronunciation challenge. Let’s skip right to the famous goddamnit of the Netherlands: godverdomme.

The thing you have to know about godverdomme is that you can also just repeat it in the same word when you feel like uttering profanities. Then it will be godverdegodverdomme.

That all when it comes to profanity in the Netherlands? Well, there’s Jezus who gets the same treatment as ‘Jesus’ in the English language, but that’s about it.*

*Thank god, I’m going to watch some movies of little kittens playing 

I want to learn Dutch and master the art of swearing in Dutch

Obviously, our foul souls and profane puns can only teach you so much Dutch. If you really want to make an effort of learning Dutch we can highly recommend Bart de Pau and his excellent ‘Learn Dutch‘ website. He’s the one we called to explain all the tiny but important nuances of swearing like a Dutch sailor to us (sorry for cursing so much on the phone Bart!)

Bart and Learn Dutch have an excellent summer school in Amsterdam where they’ll actually teach you useable Dutch instead of a string of Dutch swear words:

If you can’t make it to his summer schools then there’s a better-than-good Youtube channel to subscribe too as well, with over 77,000 people hitting subscribe before you it’s probably the smart, and easiest way to start learning Dutch.

And heck, otherwise you can at least enjoy his nice videos on the experience of learning Dutch.

What other Dutch swear words do you know? Did we cross the line? Are you my mother and do you want to berate us for all these Dutch swear words? Let us know in the comments.  

Feature Image: Ryan McGuire/Gratisography
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in July 2018, and was fully updated in August 2020 for your reading pleasure.

Renan Alejandro Salvador Lozano Cuervo
Renan Alejandro Salvador Lozano Cuervo
Pannenkoek en poffertjes connoisseur/expert. Mexican that came for the graduate education, stayed for the stroopwafels and bikes. Ask me how to make the perfect guacamole, and about the hot spots in The Hague.

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  1. I think this article about Dutch swear words is pretty mild. I think most Dutch speaking people (including me) know more and worse words than covered in this article. Anyway my opinion about the Dutch using diseases in their cursing is because there are not many other taboos left in The Netherlands.

  2. Haihai, stommerd is with a d.
    😛 Not to mention, the tiles are pretty funny, but ‘lekker pik’ is more like; Delicious/tasty, dick.’
    The ‘pik’ refers to the person, not the bodypart.
    But it’s not as funny on a tile that way, so I understand 😛

    Also, you kindof forgot to mention the added swearwords. It’s often the case that people combine the words together. Like; ‘Godvertyfesteringklotekutzooi!’ Or ‘vieze vuile tering tyfeslijer!’
    It’s never just one word, it’s a sentence.
    And you could’ve mentioned ‘Krijg toch allemaal de kolere’ from Ciske de Rat. But it’s a great piece anyway.
    Oh and thanks for the * on the cancer one. It’s often used by the a-social type of teenagers, but it’s indeed very very frowned upon by most people. Byebye

  3. […] You will often get frustrated because at the beginning the learning process is fast, and then you seem to reach a point where you are stuck. Where you are not learning anymore, where you seem to be making no progress. I think this is where you absorb and really learn. Because after that, I promise you, if you keep your efforts, there’ll be a click, and suddenly you will find it easier to start talking, you will notice you understand people around you, you will lose the fear. […]

  4. When I was 7yo my dad named my cat “Klota Cat”. I have been trying to figure out WTF it meant. Very difficult because my dad was born in Amsterdam and I’m USA, and phonetically it is completely different. “Hut fa dumma” is what the woman in the boat used. Now Swarta Pete? That is like using “Santa Claus” as a swear word. At least I know what klot sac is now. BTW my cat was a boy…..

  5. Hi, I my former partner was Dutch and he used to say things like lul, klootzat, the k word, and he also loved the word Verdomme. This last one sounds great to my Spanish ears, same, as the English b*ll*cks, but the latter example is another story.

    Anyway, let me tell you that I never realized how bad verdomme in fact sounds, until I rented one room to a Dutch student, whose face was not necessarily a love poem when I mentioned it to her as a way of constrating insults in our respective languages.
    That insult contrating talk, let me thinking: No wonder my partner and I are no longer together! I should have learnt Dutch while I still was with him to get a whiff of what was going to come, but he did not have enough patience to teach me, alas!

    Ah, let me add something about the narco language of above, regarding hijo de puta. Here in the south of Spain we just say ‘ió puta’, is shorter, easier to pronounce and….stronger in effect!

  6. Hmm, I kinda like “klootviool” (see kloothommel here above) and “gratekut” is also a very apt description for an anorexia suffering female basket case.

    Anyway, anybody wanting to delve into Dutch curse words should study this fine book by mr. Hans Heestermans: LUILEBOL het Nederlands scheldwoordenboek.

    Originally mr. Heestermans wanted the boek to be titled “Gratekut”, but his publisher convinced him that asking in a bookstore for a copy of “Gratekut” would influence sales negatively. So it became Luilebol. Also an excellent word.
    Happy reading. Edmond

  7. Lellebel looks like a variant of “Jezebel” which is an insult with biblical origin that has the same connotation as “slut” in many many ocountries

  8. I love the word, pannekuk (not sure if that’s the correct spelling) I’ve been called one in Amsterdam while inadvertently straying onto the cycle path. The rather large built man on the bike shouted: hey pannekuk, you trying to get yourself hit by a bike? Get out off of the road, verdomme.

  9. Moffenhoer was used in WWII. Not sure whether it has been used since then (it wouldn’t make any sense, as it was used to call women who had relations with German soldiers during the war).

    It’s not “Lekker pik”, but “Lekker, pik” and the literal English translation is what Emma mentioned in her comment. It means something like “Well done, mate”, but it can also be pronounced in a sarcastic way when you mean the opposite.

    PS The Dutch translation of “tasty dick” would be “Lekkere pik/lekkere lul”.

  10. It is very mild almost friendly.
    I was born in Rotterdam and swearing there is almost an art form.
    Anyways, a lot of Dutch swear words are hard to translate into english.

  11. Not racist
    Use to live in eindhoven
    Folks from tilburg were called kruikenzeikers
    Helmond was kattenmeppers
    Rotterdam was botenwerkers
    Eindhoveners were lampendraaiers
    Or BOEREN!
    Mostly terms used at voetbal games

  12. You forgot the words betweter, downie and pokke. Dutch people use the word betweter when some one thinks he knows some thing better or when he corrects you whole the time. downie means downie and is used when some one acts very stupid. pokke is most used when some thing won’t work then its used like ‘pokke ding!’ or when you try to make a scentence like ‘Klere pokke tyfus…!’

  13. My parents spoke Dutch in the home – we live in CA now – but it was a real fun show to watch and listen to the words they would throw against each other when they argued or got mad at one another ..
    Godverdomme – I love the Dutch swear words

  14. My dad used to yell this Dutch phrase when he was mad about something. I eas just a kid, and what it sounded like to my 8 year old ears was, “Hot verdamme, kanordian too”. I have no idea how the words were spelled in Dutch, and my parents would never tell us what it meant, not even as adults. I thought it might’ve meant, “God damn it, and you, too.”. Does any know what it means and how it’s actually spelled in Dutch? Thanks!

    • My closest guess would be “Godverdomme, (something) nog aan toe!”. Which means “God damn it, (and something) yet to come!”.
      The something can be replaced by many words (bliksems/lightning, duivels/devils, or the usual variety of diseases), so I’m not sure which specific one your dad must’ve used.

  15. Anyone know what “shanna ditza” means. The spelling i know is not right but thats how it sounds in English. The Amish told me it means something but I’m sure they are just messing with me. And nowhere online can I find a translation.

    • I’ve no clue — are you sure that’s the correct pronunciation? I know “Ditza” sounds vaguely like “Dikzak” which means “Fatso” (lit. “fat bag”).

  16. I’m a 36-year old Amsterdam native, and I’ve never heard anyone use the term “Franse Slag” in my entire life.

    • I’ve heard my parents using it, quite an old-fashioned (and mild) term. Probably from the time that the Netherlands was occupied by the French (early 19th century)? Groningen native – so you’d probably call me a “boer”? 😉

  17. The language is elvolving tho, cancer is becoming more and more common. Most youth don’t bat an eye anymore when they hear it. (to my personal distaste)

  18. Hello I have a friend that speaks Dutch and he told me that I cannot find any the “good” swear words in Dutch!can someone please tell me that words because whatever I find he says to me that’s nothing!

  19. Hello I have a friend that speaks Dutch and he told me that I cannot find any the “good” swear words!can someone please tell me that words because whatever I find he says to me that’s nothing!


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