Dutch Names: The current and the classic
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).
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on January 26th, 2012 at 1:12 am
I have Dutch heritage and here are some of my relatives first names: Effie (for Afje or something like that), Hyrum nn “Hy”, Sebastianus nn “Bus”, Theme (Tim), Jenette, Jacobus, Maria, Johannus, Johanna and Cornelia to name a few off the top of my head.
on January 26th, 2012 at 1:29 am
Bram is my favoritest favorite. I hope to use it for a son some day (and sooner rather than later I hope). Very interesting post!
on January 26th, 2012 at 1:40 am
Lotte is often a nickname for Charlotte, but it’s also really popular (and cute) on its own.
on January 26th, 2012 at 8:12 am
The girls are lovely! I particularly love Eline, Flore, Isa, Lore, Lotte and Sanne. And for the boys, Bram, Leen and Roel are very handsome. I’m imagining these in a Dutch accent though, they don’t quite have the same appeal in my accent!
on January 26th, 2012 at 12:44 pm
I love a lot of these names. What great gems if you have any dutch heritage.
on January 29th, 2012 at 2:08 am
My husband and I are both of Dutch heritage, so I was excited to see this post! I’m only familiar with Joost, Hendrik, and Anke. I do recognize a couple as last names, though.
A few of our family names include Wilhelmina, Baaie, Fokeltje, Gerritsdina, Tijtske, Sipkje, Wietske. Those are all girl names.
My dad’s side is the only one that has uniquely Dutch names for men, Meije and Broer.
on January 29th, 2012 at 2:10 am
I must have overlooked Jan- that is in the family tree for sure!
on June 4th, 2012 at 8:27 am
Interesting article, but with a few oddities. Jelle unisex?? Definitely not, at least not in the Netherlands, where it’s a boys’ name only. And Dries hasn’t been popular at all here, for at least several decades.
AFor most non-natives, accurately pronouncing Dutch names is very difficult indeed, and most of them can only be approximated in English, but still I would say that Wim is not pronounced WHIM at all! It’s more like VIM, with a thickly voiced Russian V. Almost all W’s are pronounced like that in Dutch. (for phonetics buffs, it’s either a bilabial or a labiodental voiced approximant – depending on region)
Oh yeah, and finally, many names ending in -tje and -kje or -ke are in fact Frisian, not Dutch.
Tice dutch | Mayasilver Said
on July 12th, 2012 at 6:53 am
[…] Dutch Names: The current and the classic – Baby Name Blog …Jan 25, 2012 … 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 … […]
on November 5th, 2012 at 4:20 pm
I absolutely love dutch names 🙂 I love aleydis
on January 24th, 2014 at 11:40 am
“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)”
I’m Dutch myself and I’ve never seen or heard of Jelle on a girl, and I doubt it’s unisex. The opposite is true for Sterre and Senne, which I believe are girl’s names. Jenne is listed as a boy’s name, but I’m pretty sure it’s just for girls. Maybe it’s different in other regions of the Netherlands, but around where I live, a boy named Sterre, for example, would definitely be made fun of.
on February 1st, 2014 at 5:29 am
My husband is of Dutch heritage and his late father Ubbo was a landed immigrant to Canada. It was apparently a family name. He came from Gronigen. His grandparents, all immigrants to Canada are Yul and Jacoba, Ytsen and Sietskina (nn Kina). His father’s sister is Siska . I like a few of what I think are Dutch names I have heard here on 2nd or 3rd generation Canadians – Marieke, Tamsin, Anneka, Thys? We are in a predominantly Dutch community so there are so many names I can’t pronounce (mostly of the middle-aged to seniors) – first and last! A young woman is Jeselina (Yayselina), but goes by Jese (Yayse). There is also a teenaged boy named Jos (Yoss).
Our last name is apparently uncommon and perhaps more German than Dutch (starts with Mein).
on March 26th, 2014 at 7:58 am
Isa and Daan are my faves from this list.
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