Amsterdam Slang

Recently, we published a blog entitled “Dutch slang for teens“, with vocabulary such as “faka”, and “fawaka”, originating from Surinam, meaning, “How’s it going?” This slang is used especially among teenagers and youngsters. But how can you, as an adult, blend into local culture with useful slang? Today we’ll learn you some Dutch slang, more specificly some Amsterdam Mokum slang!

Amsterdam slang example 1: Mijn Mokums Paradijs

If you’re relatively new to the city, you might be asking yourself, “What is Mokum?” Amsterdams, the Amsterdam street language or vernacular of Amsterdam, is still used to some extent by all classes and ages and has, in addition to the Surinamese influence (thanks to the Surinam colony), a Yiddish origin under the influence of the Jews who came to the Netherlands. Yiddish has left its marks on our language and on contemporary Amsterdam. Until 2015, it was even possible to study Yiddish at the UvA, the University of Amsterdam. Nowadays, Amsterdam still has the nickname Mokum, a typical Amsterdam word, but with Hebrew roots. Mokum (Makom in Hebrew) means “place”. Ajax fans also call their club “the Pride of Mokum.”

Amsterdam slang example 2: Hé gabber, hoessie?

Amsterdam derives many words from the Jewish language, but many of these words have become so deeply rooted that no one realizes if they are Amsterdam or Yiddish words. Is dat niet geinig? Isn’t that funny? (“geinig” comes from the Hebrew word for loveliness, “chen”) There is a café called “Mazzeltov” in the Oude Pijp. Once you are a regular guest, the barman will greet you with, “Hé gabber, (meaning “friend”, from the Hebrew “gawer”), hoessie? Wat wil je drinken?” (How are you? What are you having?) If you’re properly Dutchized, you then reply, “Doe mij maar een fluitje.” (I”ll have a half pint of beer.) Hanging at the bar, no one will be surprised if you order an “Amsterdammertje” (also a vase of beer) or a “bakkie troost” (cup of comfort, in a bowl of coffee). And when the evening is drawing to a close, request an “afzakkertje” (the last drink before heading home).


Amsterdam slang example 3: Daar heb ik geen sjoege van! – I have no clue!

However, you won’t find much of this local lingo in your Dutch textbooks or travel guides. So, how do you understand and speak real Amsterdamish, als je er geen “sjoege” van hebt (if you have no clue)? Geen probleem! Flowently provides live sessions for small groups that will help you navigate Mokum slang.  You can even come with all your “misjpoge”, (from Hebrew “misjpacha”, family, clan) so that we can all sing along together with Johnny Jordaan, “Geef mij maar Amsterdam, mijn Mokums paradijs (give me Amsterdam, Mokum’s paradise).” Do you perhaps prefer a one-on-one Amsterdam experience? Then check our tutor page and find “met een beetje mazzel (with a bit of luck) a “rasechte” Amsterdam tutor, (a true Amsterdammer). You can also contact us for advice.

Do you want the full experience of  learning Dutch in Amsterdam? We also offer live sessions while walking through Amsterdam


For those who want to experience the real “Jordaan-vibe”, on YouTube you can find episodes of “Bij ons in de Jordaan”, a Dutch television series based on the biography of the singer Johnny Jordaan.
And let’s not forget our dear Tante Leen, singing together with Johnny Jordaan:

Het mooiste plekje van Amsterdam
Dat is het pleintje waar ik jou tegenkwam.
{The most beautiful spot in Amsterdam
That’s the square where I met you.)

Published by Flowently, with love!

Published by: Flowently

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