Similarly to German, the Dutch language is great (or confusing) because you can put multiple words together to create one new, potentially really long word. Whereas something like “children’s clothes” is two words in English, for example, in Dutch, you combine kinder and kleding to create one long word: kinderkleding.
So it’s not all that surprising that you can have some obscenely, borderline annoyingly long words in Dutch. But what’s the longest Dutch word?
The longest word in DutchThere is some debate about what the longest word in Dutch is, as the nature of the language and the fact that language continues to evolve means that words can be put together to create new long words.
The longest Dutch word according to Van DaleOfficially, according to the number one dictionary in the Netherlands, Van Dale – which is also responsible for selecting the country’s word of the year every December – the longest Dutch word is meervoudigepersoonlijkheidsstoornis (35 letters) which, when plural, becomes even longer: meervoudigepersoonlijkheidsstoornissen (38 letters).
Meervoudigepersoonlijkheidsstoornissen directly translates to “multiple personality disorders” in English – but how? Let’s break it down:
Meervoudige: multiple Persoonlijkheids: personalities Stoornissen: disorders By putting these three words together, the Dutch language creates what looks like an intimidatingly long word of 38 letters.
Other long Dutch wordsThere is some debate about what the longest word in the Netherlands is. Let’s break down some of the other contenders for the title.
The longest Dutch word according to OpenTaalJust from looking at it, you can probably tell that aansprakelijkheidswaardevaststellingsveranderingen is an even longer word than meervoudigepersoonlijkheidsstoornissen.
According to the free OpenTaal dictionary, the longest word in the Dutch language is aansprakelijkheidswaardevaststellingsveranderingen, coming in at a very impressive 50 letters. What a mouthful! But what does it mean, we hear you ask? Well, it’s made up of four different words, and directly translates as “liability value determination changes” or, more simply put “liability valuation changes.”
The longest Dutch word according to LingoBack in 2007, the popular Dutch TV show Lingo held a competition where viewers could submit their entries for the longest word in the Dutch language. The winner of said competition was (brace yourself) kindercarnavalsoptochtvoorbereidingswerkzaamhedencomitéleden at a whopping 60 letters!
Breaking it down, kindercarnavalsoptochtvoorbereidingswerkzaamhedencomitéleden directly translates to “children’s carnival parade preparation work committee members.”
There are a couple of variations of this word that have, in the past, been cited as the longest word in the Netherlands. For example, the word kindercarnavalsoptochtvoorbereidingswerkzaamheden (“children’s carnival parade preparation work”) was featured in the Guinness Book of Records as the longest Dutch word at 49 letters.
Famous Dutch tongue twistersAs the name suggests, tongue twisters can be notoriously tricky, no matter what language you try them in. The interesting nature of the Dutch language, though, is that you can have whole tongue twisters (or tongbrekers) that are made up of just one word. Who needs “she sells seashells on the seashore” when you’ve got hottentottententententoonstellingsterrein, right!?
HottentottententententoonstellingsterreinThis is a pretty famous word in the Netherlands, as for a while people believed it to be the longest Dutch word, but it turned out that it had just been made up to be as convoluted and confusing as possible. Now, it’s known more commonly as a fun (or not so fun) Dutch tongue twister.
Feeling a little overwhelmed? Not to worry, let’s break it down before you have a go at trying to say it out loud. Hottentottententententoonstellingsterrein is made up of four words:
Hottentotten: Khoekhoen (the indigenous population of southwestern Africa) Tenten: tents Tentoonstellings: exhibition’s Terrein: grounds So really, all it refers to is the grounds for a Khoekhoen tent exhibition – not so scary after all!
Achthonderd achtentachtig ‘s-Gravenhaagse gereedschapsschuurtjesThis is another pretty famous Dutch tongue twister that really tests your ability to pronounce the “g” and “ch” sounds in Dutch. This one directly translates to “eight hundred and eighty-eight tool sheds in The Hague.”
Feeling brave? Have a go at achthonderd achtentachtig ‘s-Gravenhaagse gereedschapsschuurtjes!
Get to grips with all the Dutch words by learning Dutch!You might have mastered dank je wel and alsjeblieft, but there is so much more to explore when it comes to learning Dutch. Why not enrol in a Dutch course, or put your knowledge into practice by watching some Dutch films on Netflix?