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For a lot of you, your first words in Dutch probably weren’t in the 1000 most common vocabulary list. Like people do when they learn a new language, they look for swear words (scheldwoorden).

Disclaimer: be aware all the words in this text are swear words, so be very careful if you think of using any of them in everyday life.

“You are such sweet people, how can you use such bad words”

The students in the video immediately start talking about one specifically Dutch thing, and that is swearing with diseases. The one they hear the most is kanker (cancer).

This word is not only used to express negative feelings like anger or pain but it’s also combined with other things.

Like it said in the video:

Kankerlijer’ which means cancer patient. 


Although this word is used a lot, a lot of people really don’t like this term. In fact, there have been several campaigns to prevent the use of this word.

More diseases

And it doesn’t stop with this one disease. Actually it’s not a new phenomenon. Most of the diseases used are now pretty old-fashioned words:

  • tyfuslijer (someone that has typhoid)
  • tering (tuberculosis)
  • klere (cholera).

For you, as a foreigner, this swearing with diseases is probably strange and offensive. But the fact is, that’s how the Dutch do it.


According to the students, another word that is used frequently is ‘God’:

  • Godver
  • Godverdomme

Godverdomme literally translates to the English ‘goddamnit’.

The way people use ‘asshole’ in English, is klootzak in Dutch. The female versions would be kutwijf or the English loanword bitch.

Other examples given in the video are:

  • Pik
  • Homo
  • Flikker maar op
  • Mietje

These were the bad ones.

There is also a different kind of category. Swear words that are more funny than insulting. But still I would like to point out that these words are still swear words. So if you want to use them, be aware of their meaning.

So here they are: some 10 funny Dutch swear words.

  1. Mierenneuker

Literally this one means ‘ants’ (mieren) ‘fucker’ (neuker).

And it’s not just a swear word you can use anytime. This one is used especially when someone is really annoying and looking for small mistakes.

  • Doe niet zo moeilijk, mierenneuker!
  • Don’t be so difficult, mierenneuker!
  1. Pannenkoek

A pancake; just a typical Dutch dish. But also something you can call someone.

An Ajax-fan, Ajax is the biggest football club in the Netherlands, made this one nationally popular in the 2000’s when he called one of the most famous Dutch players, Marco van Basten, a pannenkoek. The Dutch trainer was making a mess of his situation at the club.

Calling someone a pannenkoek means he doesn’t really know what he is doing.

  1. Gehaktbal / bal gehakt

In the same food category, there is ‘meatball’ (gehaktbal or bal gehakt)

The meaning of this word relates to pannenkoek. Calling someone gehaktbal is not really offensive, although the person knows you’re not happy with how things are going.

  1. Klootviool

The origin of this word is not known. But kloot is the same ‘kloot’ as in klootzak. And a klootzak is a common Dutch swear word which means something like scrotum or ball sack.

Viool is a violin.

Combine these and you are a klootviool.

The first person who put these two together must have felt really creative!

  1. Luiaard

This is just a lovely animal. The sloth.

But be aware if you don’t do your homework in school. Your teacher might call you a luiaard.

  • He luiaard, je ligt al de hele dag op de bank te slapen.
  • Hey sloth, you’ve been sleeping on the couch all day.
  1. Mafketel

Maf is Dutch for crazy. It’s a bit the more old-fashioned version of gek. And the ketel is a kettle. Someone is acting strange, he’s a mafketel.

If this person is a man, you can also call him mafkees, after the Dutch first name ‘Kees’. The plural is mafkezen.

And no, there is no female version of a mafkees.

  1. Babbelkont

Babbelen is a verb which means to chat. And your kont is your ass. Other words for kont?

  • achterste
  • achterwerk
  • billen
  • bips
  • derrière
  • gat
  • krent
  • reet
  • zitvlak
  • Je kunt niet stil blijven he, babbelkont!
  • You cannot stay silent, right, you babbelkont!

Don’t be shy and be creative like the Dutch, babbelbips!

  1. Zacht ei

Foreigners coming to the Netherlands are often surprised by the Dutch weather. It changes so often, and often this is combined with rain and showers.

If you think this is an excuse for not using your bike, you’re wrong.

  • Ik denk dat ik thuis blijf, het regent te hard.
  • I think I’ll stay home, it’s raining too hard.
  • Doe niet zo moeilijk, je bent toch geen zacht ei?!
  • Don’t be so difficult, you’re not a zacht ei?!
  1. Kaaskop

A cheese head; this sounds like something completely Dutch right?

Originally a kaaskop (cheese head) was a wooden, bowl-shaped cheese mould into which an Edam cheese was pressed.

But later, kaaskop was actually used to characterise someone as a stubborn, close-minded, typical Dutch person. And, more specifically, this is best used by someone who is from Holland (the two provinces North and South Holland), the cheese area of the Netherlands.

So it might occur that people from the south, like Limburg or Noord-Brabant, which have less of a history with the famous cheeses like Gouda or Edam, call someone from Noord-Holland a kaaskop.

  • Mijn broer eet alleen maar boerenkool en frikandellen. Het is een echte kaaskop!
  • My brother only eats kale and frikandellen. He’s a real cheese head!
  1. Viespeuk

Vies is dirty. A peuk is the remainder of a cigarette or cigar when it is smoked. In the Netherlands, the term can also refer to a cigarette.

‘Dirty’ here is more in relation to indecent acts or saying dirty things.

  • Iemand valt mij lastig met naaktfoto’s. Echt een viespeuk!
  • Somebody’s bothering me with naked pictures. A real pervert.

Bart de Pau
online Dutch teacher & founder of the Dutch Summer School & Dutch Winter School