8 words that will help you become a true Amsterdammer

8 words that will help you become a true Amsterdammer

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So, have you been able to master a bit of Dutch but still find yourself struggling to understand and apply it in real life? You’re not alone! The Language Academy, UvA Talen's e-learning platform, explains a few slang words that you can use in your daily life to help you fit in.

"Geef mij maar Amsterdam
Dat is mooier dan Parijs
Geef mij maar Amsterdam
Mijn Mokums paradijs"

- Geef mij maar Amsterdam, by Johnny Jordaan

Applying the Dutch you’ve learned, especially on the streets of Amsterdam, can be an extremely confronting task due to all the specific vocabulary and slang used throughout the region. This article is here to introduce you to some words used mainly in Amsterdam.

Eight Amsterdam words to incorporate into your vocabulary

If you throw any of these words into a conversation, the Amsterdammers will absolutely love it! Keep in mind: a lot of typical Amsterdam words are of Yiddish origin, which is the language of the central and eastern European Jews and their descendants.

1. Gozer

Gozer is a frequently used word with Yiddish roots. The word "gozer" derives from the Yiddish word "chosen", which in English means "groom" or "son in law".

Here is an example of the word in a sentence:

Hey gozer, hoe gaat ie? (Hey dude, what’s up?)

2. Mokum

The word mokum is another popular slang word in the Amsterdam dialect. In Yiddish, the word mokum translates to “city”. The word is used to refer to the city of Amsterdam, specifically and can be used in the following way:

Ik ben geboren en getogen in Mokum (I was born and raised in Amsterdam / the city).

3. Smeris

Smeris is a word that is used to refer to a cop or law enforcement officer. The original meaning of the word means “guard” in Yiddish.

Ik weet zeker dat dat een smeris is. (I’m sure that’s a cop).

4. Mazzel

The word mazzel is another Yiddish word that is used frequently by local Amsterdammers. It comes from the older form mazl which translates to “luck”:

Ik had echt mazzel, ik heb de trein net gehaald! (I was lucky, I just made the train)

5. Moppie

Moppie is a way for Amsterdammers to refer to girls and women. It is an informal term which translates to something like, “babe” or “sweetie” in English.

If you would like to refer to your significant other, you can say:

Kom moppie, laten we naar huis gaan (Come on babe, let’s go home)

6. Pikketanussie

If you’re ever going out for a drink in Amsterdam, try asking the bartender for a pikketanussie. It is a shot of Dutch gin and is a popular drink to order in the region:

Hé, mag ik een pikketanussie? (May I get a shot of Dutch gin?)

7. Drijfsijs

A drijfsijs is a word that is used to refer to waterbirds, such as ducks or swans. Drijf means “to float” and sijs means “bird”:

Kijk daar, een drijfsijs! (Look, a duck!)

8. Paleissijs

The word paleissijs is used to refer to the pigeons that live on Dam Square, which is located next to the Royal Palace:

Wat een grote paleissijs. (What a big Palace Pigeon!)

Try out your Amsterdam slang on the street!

Hopefully, you enjoyed this short introduction to the Amsterdam dialect’s vocabulary. Good luck with putting your knowledge into practice in the urban jungle!

The Language Academy offers entirely online, self-guided courses in Dutch, English, Spanish, French, Italian and German.  All courses have been developed by language experts at UvA Talen, the University of Amsterdam’s independent language centre. The courses are comprehensive and include modules in speaking, listening, reading and writing, combining academic quality with a fast learning curve in a fun and interactive way. If you’d like the opportunity to speak with a teacher during your course, you can also opt for their Online +Teacher package!



Leave a comment

MikArtskjid2 10:24 | 17 June 2023

As an Amsterdam born native I have to correct you about drijfSijs or paleissijs. The word 'sijs'does not mean bird. It means a specific kind of bird: People use the word drijfsijs as a joke to let you know they don't have knowledge of birds therefore they call every bird a sijsje except for waterbirds. Waterbirds are called 'drijfsijs" or drijfsijsje (if they are small).