There are many unfamiliar but intriguing Dutch names, and today’s native-born guest blogger, Veronique, gives us an inside picture of what’s hot today in the Netherlands and Flanders–and how to pronounce them.
What makes a name Dutch? A name that is typically Dutch is one that occurs frequently in the Netherlands and/or in Flanders, the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium. In recent years many of the names in the Top 20 have been international names like Emma and Marie for girls and Lars and Luca for boys, so my main focus won’t be on those names that originated elsewhere.
As you may know, Dutch names can be quite hard to pronounce for non-native speakers of Dutch. Actress Famke Janssen changed her last name from Beumer to Janssen because Americans pronounced it as ‘bummer.’ And when Matt Lauer and his wife welcomed their third child, a son named Thijs, they explained that the name was pronounced as ‘tice.’ Now that is not entirely true: if you ask for ‘tice’ in a Dutch speaking country, chances are you will get Thai food. The correct pronunciation lies somewhere between ‘tice’ and ‘tayes’. Because ‘eu’ or ‘ij’ are so hard to pronounce for non-native speakers of Dutch, I’m excluding names that contain those sounds from my list of typical names that might appeal outside the Dutch culture.
Anke (AHN-kuh) – Popular both in Flanders and in the Netherlands.
Famke (FAHM-kuh) / Femke (FEM-kuh)– classic girls’ names
Fien (FEEN) / Fiene (FEEN-uh) – Short forms of the Dutch name Jozefien (yo-zuh-FEEN). Similar sounding names are Lien (LEAN), Liene (LEAN-uh), Sien (SEEN), and Stien (STEEN).
Flore (FLOH-ruh) – Typical Dutch girls’ name.
Leen (LAYNE) – While this is a typical girls’ name in Flanders, it’s also used as a boys’ name in the Netherlands.
Lente (LENN-tuh) – This currently popular girls’ name means ‘spring’ in Dutch. Winter is also being used as a name for both boys and girls, but the other seasons ‘herfst’ (autumn) and ‘zomer’ (summer) are not. A similar sounding girls’ name is Jente (YENN-tuh).
Sanne (SAH-nuh) – In Flanders this girls’ name’s popularity decreased from the 1990s onwards, but in the Netherlands it was at the height of its popularity at the beginning of the twenty-first century
Briek (BREEK) – The name Briek is far more popular in Belgium than it is in the Netherlands, mainly because it reminds people of late Flemish cyclist Briek Schotte, whose real name was Albéric.
Daan (DAHN) – Last year this name was in the Top 5 both in Flanders and the Netherlands. While the name is typically considered to be a boys’ name in Flanders, it’s also being used for girls in the Netherlands.
Dries (DREES) – Mainly popular in the 1980s in Flanders, but still relatively popular in the Netherlands. Dries van Noten is an internationally known Belgian fashion designer.
Emiel (ay-MEAL) – Dutch variant of the French Émile. Other variants are Miel (MEAL) and Mil (MILL).
Harpert (HARPERT) – Boys’ name that can be a nice variant of the popular Harper (which rarely occurs in Dutch-speaking regions).
Jelle (YELL-uh) – Unisex name. Similar sounding names are boys’ names Seppe (SEPP-uh) and Jenne (YENN-uh) and unisex names Sterre (STER-ruh) and Senne (SENN-uh).
Leen (LAYNE) – While this is a typical girls’ name in Flanders, it’s also used for boys’ in the Netherlands.
Mees (MACE) – Very popular in the Netherlands, less so in Flanders. It means ‘chickadee’ in Dutch. Another similar sounding name is the more old-fashioned Kees (KASE). The famous Dutch artist Kees Van Dongen was born Cornelis.
Pim (PIM) – Used for both boys and girls, mostly in the Netherlands, less so in Flanders. But the name dropped in popularity as Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn (extreme right) came on the scene. Similar sounding boys’ names are Wim (WHIM) and Tim (TIM).
Veronique was born (and raised) in Flanders to a Flemish mother and a Dutch father. After having graduated from college with a degree in English and French literature and linguistics, she is now working as a freelance writer and translator. You can follow or contact her through Twitter (@Veronique__D).