I have been in the U.S. for almost 2 months now. I have come across a number of things the rest of the world calls ‘Dutch,’ even though the Dutch themselves have no idea what they are talking about.
Dutch courage refers to the courage that is gained by drinking a lot of alcohol. The story goes that the term was coined by the English during the Thirty Years’ War in the seventeenth century. Before a battle they would drink Dutch gin (‘jenever’), which would have bravery-inducing effects.
A Dutch oven
A Dutch oven can mean two things:
- It is the act of farting under the covers of your bed, after which you keep your wife’s or girlfriend’s head under the covers to enjoy the fumes. Can anyone tell me WHY THIS IS ‘DUTCH’?!
- It can be a thick-walled (usually cast iron but also ceramic and clay) cooking pot with a tight-fitting lid. They are called Dutch because, during the late 17th century, the Dutch way of manufacturing these cooking pots was superior to the English way, and later on became the industry norm.
The Pennsylvania Dutch
The Pennsylvania Dutch are a cultural group formed by early German-speaking immigrants to Pennsylvania. The ‘Dutch’ part here is a screw-up. These people spoke German, which in German is spelled as Deutsch. Over time, this somehow transformed into Dutch.
In turn, though, the use of ‘Dutch’ developed when the English adapted an earlier use of the words ‘deutsch’ and ‘duutsc’, which were used to refer to people from (what is now) the Netherlands and Germany.
A Dutch door
A Dutch door is a door that is divided horizontally in such a way that the bottom half may remain shut while the top half opens. They were common in the Netherlands in the seventeenth century, which is why they feature in paintings of that time.
A Dutch party or going Dutch
Going Dutch means that each person in a group event pays for him- or herself, instead of (for example) one of the persons paying for the rest. A Dutch party is an example of going Dutch – it is a party where guests bring their own drinks and snacks. The etymology is a bit unclear here, but some people claim that it is related to the Dutch stereotype of being cheapskates.