Boys' Foreign-Language Clothing Glossary: Dutch Language Terms

Figure 1.--We are not positive, but I believe this is a Dutch boy. He wears a sailor suit with a destinctive cap. I'm not sure what the shoulder patch represents, but I notice a crown woven into the design. Presumbaly this will offer a clue as to nationality. The Dutch term for sailor suit is "matrozenpak".

HBC has done quite a bit of work on Dutch children's clothes. We have, however, justr begun to compile a list of Dutch clothing terms. Hopefully this will help our Dutch readers find the garment and other important pages that they are looking for. Our Dutch readers are incouraged to submit additional imprtant terms. In additiion, if you do not think the Dutch terms are translated properly, please let us know.


Afrikaans is one of the official languages of South Africa. It evolved from the language of the Dutch who began to colonize Cape Town in the 16th century. It ios primarily derived from the South Holland dialect of the mid-17th century as many Dutch settlers emmigrated from Holand at this time. It is thus fundamentally an archhaic variant of Dutch. Many words were incorporated from the languages spoken by other European settlers (English, French, and German) as well as African languages. Afrikaans gradually was simplified as language endings in the original Dutch were fropped. There were also phonetic changes. The Durch word for shoe (schoen) became skoen in Afrikann as "sch" in Dutch became "sk" in Afrikaans. Until the mid-19th centiry, Afrikaans was a spoken language and letters and diocuments were written in Dutch. With the established of the Boer Republics and economic development, there was an increasing demand for publications in Afrikaans. Gradually the language was used in newspapers schools and churches. It became an official languager for South africa in 1924, replacing standard Dutch. A Dutch reader writes, "Afrikaans tickles one's funny bone, because it seems such a primitive, child-like language, derived from 16th-17th century Dutch, enriched with some native African and Malayan words. But they always make up new words that make a lot of sense, like refrigerator = ijskassie (ice box), automobile = wa (from the word wagon), etc." HBC of course has a Dutch glossary, but not one on Afrikaans for clothing related terms. We suspect that the clothing terms are quite similar. Both languages continue to be spoken in South Africa, but the black majority strongly prefers English, in part because most associate Afrikanns with Apartheid.

Standard Dutch

Badjas : Also kamerjas mean bathrobe.


Blouse-suit: Blouse jacket. A shirt-like garment with matching pants. A 1935 article shows it being worn as a dressy garment.

Bobbed kraag: A Dutch translator asked HBC what a "Peter Pan collar, which was in a novel he was translating meant. We supplied the information, but asked what the Dutch translation was. She replied, "Thank you so much for your very fast and very adequate reply. In my translation, I used "a small rounded collar", (in Dutch, of course) and it looked okay. I think the right word in Dutch is a "bobbed kraag", but i'm not entirely sure about it. I used to do fashion design in a grey past and looked through my books with patterns, but it was lost somehow." HBC has seen the Peter Pan collar used in Dutch children's clothes.

Boerenkiel : Smocks in the Netherlands are called "boerenkiel" (kiel=smock for boeren=peasants) and were common in rural areas until about the mid-1930s. There are also less commonly referred to as "boezeroen". HBC has prepared an assessment of the different Dutch words used for different kinds of smocks.

Borstrok : Undervest. This is an old-fashioned term. no longer in use.

Broek : The Dutch word for pants or trousers is " broek ". The term in Dutch, broek, is not used in the plural as it is in English. Short pants are korte broek, again not used in the plural. Other special type of pants are broek with an adjetive added.

Bretels : Suspenders (Americn) or braces (British).

Colbert : Jacket, especially a suit jacket.

Corduroy: The English word corduroy is one of the several words for corduroy in Dutch.

Das : Tie and also scarf.

Fluweel : The Dutchword for velvet is "fluweel. Velvet is generally considered a luxurious fabric made. True velvet is quite expensive and made from silk. The image of a Fauntleroy suit is generally associated with velvet for boys wear, but velvet suits were worn well before the late 19th Century. Velvet is still considered a luxurious fabric, but now commonly made of synthetic fibers.

Hemd : Shirt

Jak : The longer longer variant of a boerenkiel worn by the little boy are called a "jak". HBC has prepared an assessment of the different Dutch words used for different kinds of smocks.

Hoed : Hat

Hoofddekse : Headgear or hreadwear

Kamerjas : Also badjas mean bathrobe.

Kiel / kieltje : There are several different words for smocks in Dutch. Thus the translation is somewhat complicated. Smocks are called "kiel" in Dutch. A Dutchman (or Flemish) would not refer to a schoolboy's smock with "boerenkiel" since that would imply that it's being worn by a farmer. The word used most often in Holland would be "kiel" or the diminutive "kieltje". The plurals are "kielen" and "kieltjes". HBC has prepared an assessment of the different Dutch words used for different kinds of smocks .

Kleppet: In the late 19th and early 20th century Dutch boys also commonly wore military looking caps with a hard viser or bill. These caps were called "kleppet". It was a characteristically Dutch style. I'm not sure of the origins of those caps.

Klompen : The Netherlands is famous for wooden shoes. They were, however, worn in many other countries besides the Netherlands. The Dutch word is "klompen", presumaby the origin of the English word "clomp"--to walk clumsdily or make a lot of noise while walking.

Korte broek : The Dutch word for short pants or trousers is "korte broek". Various styles were worn by Dutch boys, including button-on styles and suspender shorts have specific terms.

Klomp: Wooden shoe

Kous: Stocking

Kraagje : Collar

Kruippakje : A "kruippakje" is a suit to crawl in. The difference with "speelpakjeis" is not one of fabric or construction but mainly of age. KruippakjeIt is a common word for much the same garment when worn by very young children.

Laars: Boot

Lange broek : The Dutch term for long pants or trousers "lange broek".

Little Lord Fauntleroy-pak(je) : A Dutch reader tells HBC that he is not aware of any specific Dutch-language term for a Little Lord Fauntleroy suit. He thinks that Dutch speakers would just translate it literally -- " Little Lord Fauntleroy-pak /Little Lord Fauntleroy-pakje . "Pak" is suite. Adding "je" to any word makes it a dimunitive, which are used a lot more often in Dutch than in English.

Manchester : The Dutch term for corduroy was "Manchester", named for the English town that was known for the manufacture of the fabric. Dutch readers tell us that the term is still used, but that there are several other words that are common. Manchester is the word for the heavy material kind of corduroy. Ribfluweel (fluweel-velvet) is used for the velvet kind of corduroy. Ribcord is used for corduroy too. Corduroy is a common word in dutch also.

Mantel : Coat

Matrozenpak : The Dutch word for sailor suit is rather straightforward, "matrozenpak". Few boys' clothing styles have been as imortant or so widey worn as the sailor suit. The sailor suit is certainly one of the classic styles for boys' clothing. Originally conceived in England, it oon became an internatiinally acepted style, easily criossing national obrders. The classic sailor suit has changed little over time, although the pants worn with it have changed. While the classic style has changed little, there have been many variation on the classic style worn first by the British princes and subsequently by royals and commoners throughout Europe and America.

(Een) moffenbroek : A derisive term for lederhosen is "een moffenbroek" which you might translate as "Jerry pants". My dictionary says that "mof" is equivalent to "jerry", "hun" or "kraut". Just pick the most offensive term.

Muts : Muts is a general term for headwear including verets and bonnets like the svcotting tam.

Nachthemd : Nightshirt

Nethemd : Singlet

Onderbroek : Undershorts, briefs

Onderhemd : Undershirt

Pagekopje : The Dutch refer to the bangs or fringe hair style as a "pagekopje" (page boy cut).

Pak : Suit

Pantoffel : Slipper, house shoe

Pet : Cap

Piama : Pyjamas

(Een) plusfour : A pair of knickers is "een plusfour" (singular, like almost all Dutch names for trousers). In English plusfours are a particular kind of knickers which have extra material and are very baggy. I'm not not sure if the Dutch term has the same significance.

(Een) pofbroek : Another name for knickers is "een pofbroek", litterally "puff" trousers.

Regenjas : Raincoat

Ribcord : Ribcord is another term for corduroy.

Ribfluweel : Ribfluweel (fluweel-velvet) is used for the velvet kind of corduroy.

Riem: Belt

Rijbroek: "Rijbroek" meaning litterally riding trousers is a pair of long pants/trousers blousing at the thigh and close-fitting from the knee to the ankle. Most have a leather seat. The British call them "jodhpurs" after the city of Jodhpur in Rajasthan. Dutch rijbroek should not, however, be confused with British jodpurs which were mostly worn by children for riding. This mean a relatively small number of children from affluent families. Most British boys never wore jodpurs. A Dutch reader tells HBC that rijbroek were commonly worn by Dutch boys during the winter instead of short pants and not just for horseback riding.

Sandaal : Sandal

Schoen : Shoe

Schort / schortje : "Schort" is another Dutch word that could be used for school smock. There is a regional difference. It is indeed used more often in Flanders than in Holland. The reverse is true for kiel. Schort also means apron, with the same frequency in both countries. The plural of schort is "schorten". "Schortjes" is the plural of "schortje", the diminutive of schort. HBC has prepared an assessment of the different Dutch words used for different kinds of smocks.

Smoking : The Dutch (and the French) say 'smoking' for what the British call a dinner jacket and you, if I am not mistaken, a tuxedo. This is probably from the English "smoking jacket" which is, however, a totally different thing. In times when men were heavy smokers (and women were not, or were not supposed to be), they retired after dinner to a another room and enjoyed cigars. They changed into a smoking jacket usually made of velvet so as not to incommode the ladies with the smell. The nearest equivalent is 'huisjasje' in Dutch and 'veste d'intérieur' in French, but these words do not necessarily imply that they are being worn for smoking.

Smokwerk : The English word "smocking" is "smokwerk" in Dutch and "smocks" (plural) in French. It refers to the smocking, or sectioning of gathered fabric, used to control the fullness of a smock. Some smocks with this smocking had decorative embroidery as early as 15th Century.

Sok : Sock

Speelpakje There is no Dutch word with the precise meaning of rompers. The English term rompers mean a loose outer garment combining a waist and short bloomer-like pants. Commonly they were shorts with elastic gathered leg openings. They were often play suits, some were made into more formal outfits. The Dutch say "speelpakje," a suit to play in or play suit. This could include a variety of different outfits, some of which would not be called rompers in English. This link goes to rompers.

Speelpakje : This links goes to playsuits in general.

Sporttrui : The Dutch word for sweatshirt is "sporttrui", but "sweatshirt" is also used, pronounced like in wet, and written as one word.

Stropdas : Neckties

Tjelana nonjet: One HBC reader tells us that "in some instances I would not hesitate, even in a Dutch text, to use the Malay/Indonesian expression 'tjelana monjet' (little monkey shorts). These garments were well known to Dutch boys in the tropics up to the 1969s. They were rather like loose "speelpakje," always without the elastic gathered leg openings common in the European variety. There is a large body of Dutch-East-Indian literature in which the difference between settlers/Eurasians and newcomers plays an important part. In these stories, having a character speak of a 'speelpakje' could be one way of qualifying him or her as a very recent newcomer to the colonial society.

(Een) tuinbroek: One Dutch reader tells HBC that jeans translates as "tuinbroek", literaly garden trousers. A Dutch reader uses the American term "dungarees". Another Dutch reader insists that tuinbroek has nothing to do with jeans, though they may occasionally be made of jeanswear. The Dutch word tuinbroek refers to trousers with a bib worn by children or as a fashion garment. Our Dutch reader reports that he didn't know the word dungaree until recently. "I learnt it it while traveling in Australia in 2000."

Trui: The Dutch winters can be quite cold. Thus sweaters ("trui") have proven to be very popular garments in the Netherlands.

Vest: Vest I believe in the american sence of a waistcoat.


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Created: September 22, 2001
Last updated: December 26, 2003