Netherlands - The Dutch Language (National Institute)Edit This Page

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The original content for this article was contributed by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies in May 2012. It is an excerpt from their course Research: Dutch Ancestors in the Netherlands  by Susanna de Groot, PLCGS. The Institute offers over 200 comprehensive genealogy courses for a fee ($).

Dutch and Frisian are the two official languages of the Netherlands. Dutch is a Germanic language and many words are similar to German and English words. You will also find some are the same or similar to French words.


The Dutch Language

Frisian is the language of the northern province of Friesland. This language is often mistaken as a dialect of Dutch. It is not. To be able to research your Dutch ancestors you will have to learn how to read some Dutch, but it is not necessary to learn Frisian. The civil registration records from Friesland are written in the Dutch language.

In general, Dutch civil registration and population records follow a standard format throughout the country.

It is necessary to learn to read some Dutch to understand the information in the records. However, it is not necessary to write in Dutch when requesting information from archives in the Netherlands. Many people can speak, read and write English. A word of caution, if you have found someone who may be a relative and they are elderly, it is likely they cannot communicate with you in English. The older generation does not speak English fluently.

It is recommended you find a good Dutch-English dictionary to assist you with the translation of the language. A dictionary purchased from a used bookstore can be most useful (for example, Engels Woordenboek, Nederlands-Engels, 17th Edition; Groningen, Nethelands: H. D. Tjeenk Willink, 1974). The North American published dictionaries seem to lack entries. Dictionaries published in the United Kingdom (UK) seem to be better. The same applies to maps of the Netherlands. You will find much more detail in maps and atlases that are published in the UK and the Netherlands. So be sure to check the used bookstore!

Online Translation Dictionaries

There are many online translation dictionaries that are available to you. Translator is one of the many websites available. The Verbix website will be of great help when you need assistance with conjugating Dutch verbs. There are a number of online translation sites that you could use to help translate your documents. One such website is Bing Translator.

Learning Dutch

Perhaps you would like to learn the language of your ancestors. This too can be done online! Learn Dutch is one such website. You can even test your proficiency in Dutch on the Transparent Language website.

FamilySearch has the Netherlands Language and Languages webpage that provides a Dutch Word List. If you are researching records prior to 1814, you may also want to see the French and Latin word lists available on the same webpage.

Dutch Word List

To assist you in becoming familiar with Dutch words, below is a list of words that you will encounter often in your research. It is also advised that you start your own list of frequently used Dutch words and terms. This list will assist you in saving time when translating documents. With all these tools, you will soon easily extract genealogical details about your Dutch ancestors from the documents!

Dutch English
achternaam surname
achterneef great-nephew, second cousin
achternicht great-niece, second cousin
adressen address
akte act
algemeen rijksarchief general or state archive (national archive)
alhier here, at this place
ambtenaar officer, civil servant
arrondissement district
beambte official
begraafplaats cemetery
begraven bury
behuwd zoon brother-in-law
benoeming appointment
beroep occupation
bevolkingsregisters population registers
binnen within, inside
broer brother
bruid bride
bruidegom bridegroom
bureau office
burgemeester major
burger citizen
burgerlijke stand civil registration
buurt neighbourhood
collectie(s) collections(s)
dag day
dagteekening date
dat that
datum date
deel part, volume
deze this
dochter daughter
dood dead, death
doop baptism, christening
doopregisters baptism register
Doopsgezinde Mennonites
doos box, case
dopen baptisms
echtgenoot husband, spouse
echtgenote wife, spouse
echtscheidingen divorce
emigratie emigration
erkende acknowledge
Evangelisch Luthers Evangelical Lutheran
fol. abbr. page
folio page
geeboorte(n) birth
geboren born
gedaan done
gedoopt baptized
gegeven given
gemeente city, municipality
gemeentearchief city or municipal archive
genaamd named, called
geshied(en) happen, occur
geslacht family
geslachtsnaam family name
gesloten declared
getuige witness
getuigen testify
gezindte denomination
gezinskaart(en) family card(s)
gild(e) guild
graf grave
grootvader grandfather
handteekening signature
heben to have
heeft have
heden today
hervormd(e) reformed
Hervormd Lidmaat Reformed Church Member
huis house
huisvrouw housewife
huwelijk marriage
huwelijken marriage registers
huwelijksaangiften marriage intentions
huwelijksackte marriage registration
huwelijksafkondigingen marriage proclamations
huwelijksbijlagen marriage supplement
huwelijkstoestemmingen marriage consents
jaar year
kanton canton
kantoor office
kerk church
kerkmeester church warden
kind child
klapper index
koninkrijk kingdom
laatstleden last
levenloos lifeless
lidmaat (church) member
man husband
mannelijk male
meerderjarige of age
middags midday, noon
militair military
minderjarige under age
moeder mother
naam name
naamsaanneming name adoption
natuur kind natural child
Nederlands Gereformeerd Dutch Reformed Church
Nederduits Hervormd Dutch Reformed
notariële protocollen notarial records
oma grandmother
ondertekening signature
ondertrouw marriage intentions
ondertrouwd publication of the banns
ongehuwd unmarried
ontbonden dissolved, ended
oom uncle
op on
opa grandfather
opgemaakt made up
oud old, aged
ouder older, elder, parent
overheid government
overleden deceased
overlijdens deaths
persooonskaart(en) person card(s)
persoonslijst(en) person list(s)
plaats place
polder drained land protected by dikes
register register
rijksarchief provincial archive
stadsarchief city or municipal archive
stadshuis town or city hall
stadtholder governor
stamboom family tree, pedigree
steden towns
stiefdochter stepdaughter
stiefzoon stepson
straat street
streek region, district
streekarchief regional archives
tegenwoordigheid present, present day
toestemming consent, assent, permission
trouw marriage, wedding
tussen between
tussenvoegsel interpolation
uit out of
uittreksel extract, abstract
ure hour
vader father
verklaard(e) declared
vermelding state
vertrek departure
verstiging establlishment, settlement
volkstelling census
voltrokken execute, solemnize
voodg guardian
voor before
voorgelezen read
voorletters initials
voornaam given nane
voorouder(s) ancestor(s), forefather(s)
vrouw wife, spouse
vrouwelijk female
waarvan of which
wed. abbr, widow or widower
weduwe widow
weduwnaar widower
weeskamer orphans chambers
weld(e) which
wethouder adderman
wijk town district or quarter
wonen live, reside
woonplaats home, residence
zonder without
zoon son
zwager brother-in-law

Days of the Week

Dutch English
zondag Sunday
maandag Monday
dinsdag Tuesday
woensdag Wednesday
donderdag Thursday
vrijdag Friday
zaterdag Saturday


Dutch Old Dutch             English           
januari            louwmaand January
februari sprokkelmaand February
maart lentemaand March
april grasmaand April
mei bloeimaand May
juni zomermaand June
juli hooismaand July
augustus oogstmaand August
september herfstmaand September
oktober wijnmaand October
november slachtmaand November
december wintermaand December


Numbers are written in words on the documents you will use for your research.

No. Dutch No. Dutch
0 nul 20 twintig
1 een, één 21 eenentwintig
2 twee 22 tweeëntwintig
3 drie 30 dertig
4 vier 31 eenendertig
5 vijf 32 tweeëndertig
6 zes 40 veertig
7 zeven 50 vijftig
8 acht 60 zestig
9 negen 70 zeventig
10 tien 80 tachtig
11 elf 90 nengentig
12 twaalf 100 honderd
13 dertien 101 honderd een
14 veertien 110 honderd tien
15 vijftin 200 twee honderd
16 zestien 300 drie honderd
17 zeventien 1,000 duizend
18 achttien 2,000 twee duizend      
19   negentien    3,000   drie duizend


You will find that ordinals are used in documents; mostly in dates and street addresses.

Ordinal     Dutch      Ordinal     Dutch        
1st eerste 6th zesde
2nd tweede 7th zevende
3rd derde 8th achste
4th vierde 9th negende
5th vijfde 10th tiende


The Dutch use ordinals to express dates. Here are a few examples of how you may see a date written.

Dutch English
één juli the first of July
op één juli on the first of July
twintig maart twentieth of March
opl twintig maart on the twentieth of March


In many of the Dutch civil registration records, you will find that the time of day that an event occurred has been included in full words. When the time is written in numbers, the 24-hour clock is used.

Here are some examples of time:

Dutch English
één uur one o'clock
tien uur ten o'clock
vijf over één five past one
tien over twee ten past two
twintig over één twenty past one
kwart over twee quarter past two
half drie half past two
tien voor twee ten to two
kwart voor vier quarter to four
twaalf uur 's middags noon
middernacht midnight
's morgens A.M.
's middags P.M.

Calendar Changes in The Netherlands

The Gregorian calendar was adopted by different areas of the Netherlands at different times. The chart below provides you with the dates the Gregorian calendar was adopted and the dates that were omitted to make the correction in the calendar.


Date Gregorian Calendar Adopted

Dates Omitted to Correct Calendar Error
Brabant, Zeeland and most of Limburg 14 December 1582 15-24 December 1582
Holland (most of present day North and South Holland) 1 January 1583/30 June 1700 2-11 January 1583
1-11 July 1700
Utrecht and Overijssel 30 November 1700 1-11 December 1700
Friesland and Groningen 31 December 1700 1-11 January 1701
Drenthe 30 Apr 1701 1-11 May 1701

The area of Groningen actually first switched to the Gregorian calendar 10 February 1583 and dropped the dates 11 to 20 February 1583. However, they reverted back to the Julian calendar in November 1594. The switch to the Gregorian calendar was again made on 31 December 1700.

French Republican Calendar

As if this is not confusing enough for you, remember some areas of the Netherlands were part of the French Empire. The French Empire used the French Republican calendar from 1793 to 1805. It is possible to find dates that relate to this calendar. For more details on the French Republican calendar, see the FamilySearch Wiki page, French Republican Calendar.

To assist you in identifying if the French Republican calendar was used in your ancestors’ record, the following chart provides you with the names of the months in English, French, Dutch and Latin.

Months of the French Republican Calendar

Autumn months:

English French Dutch Latin
grape harvest     Vendémiaire     Wijnoogstmaand     Menis vindemiarum      
fog Brumaire Mistmaand mensis brumarum
frost Frimaire Rijpmaand mensus frimarum

Winter months:

English French Dutch Latin
snow         Nivôse      Sneeuwmaand       mensis nivium
rain Pluviôse Regenmaand mensis pluviarum     
wind Ventôse Windmaand mensis ventorum

Spring Months

English French Dutch Latin
germination  Germinal       Kiemmaand         mensis germinum
flowering Floréal Blœmaand mensis florum
pasture Prairial Grasmaand mensis prætorum

Summer Months

English French Dutch Latin
harvest        Messidor       Oostmaand         mensis messium
heat Thermidor or Fervidor Hittemaand mensis thermarum
fruit Fructidor Vruchtmaand menis fructuum


Information in this Wiki page is excerpted from the online course Research: Dutch Ancestors in the Netherlands offered by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies. To learn more about this course or other courses available from the Institute, see our website. We can be contacted at

We welcome updates and additions to this Wiki page.


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  • This page was last modified on 30 April 2013, at 17:52.
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