Dictionary of terms widely used by the Dutch.


Algemene Ouderdomswet, “General penion law”. This term is also commonly used in reference to the old-age pension itself.


The retirement age. Initially it was 65 years, but was later set to gradually increase.



Basic medical insurance, compulsory for every resident in the Netherlands.


Literally “shower radar”. Dutch national weather service that monitors and predicts precipitation with high accuracy.


Collectieve arbeidsovereenkomst, collective labour agreement. Document stipulating terms applicable to (almost) every employee in the company. Such an agreement is common with mid-size to large companies with many employees.

eigen risico

Own risk, the annual amount you are obliged to pay yourself before the basic health insurance starts to cover your medical expenses.

In a broader sense, own risk can also apply for other types of insurance.


Municipality, district, borough. The smallest administrative division in the Netherlands.

This word is also often used to denote the local city/town hall.

Details: What is a gemeente?

gemeentehuis (raadhuis, stadhuis)


groente-, fruit- en tuinafval: vegetable, fruit and garden waste, a.k.a. organic waste.


National Dutch online payment system. Every significant bank in the Netherlands provides integration with iDEAL.


Originally name of a waste container manufacturer Kliko (which stands for Klinkenberg en Koster), nowadays turned into a common name for household waste containers.


Literally “Queens’s Day”.

The birthday of the ruling queen. Last occurred in 2013, is currently replaced by the King’s Day since the King Willem Alexander is on the throne.


Literally “Queens’s Night”.

The night preceding the Queen’s Day.


Literally “King’s Day”.

The birthday of the Dutch King Willem Alexander, a public holiday celebrated annually on April 27th (April 26th, should the 27th fall on a Sunday).


Literally “King’s Night”.

The night preceding the King’s Day.


Short for Nederlandse Spoorwegen. Dutch Railways, a government-owned passenger service operator.

The railway infrastructure (railways, switches and so on) is managed by another government-controlled body, ProRail.

NS Business Card


Literally “package evening”. The evening of 5 December, on which children (and sometimes adults, too) get presents from Sinterklaas.


Literally “Little Prince’s Day”.

The day when the ruling monarch of the Netherlands is addressing the general public with a throne speech. Also the day when the budget policy for the coming year is announced. Happens annually on the third Tuesday of September.

Sinterklaas (Sint-Nicolaas, Saint Nicholas)

Saint Nicholas, a Dutch version of Santa Claus. As the legend has it, he permanently lives in Spain but comes to the Netherlands every year to give presents to children on the 5th of December.

Sinterklaas is travelling with a number of aides called Black Pete.


Deposit for the packaging of a product. Statiegeld is paid when purchasing the product and gets repaid upon returning the packaging to the store.

Most commonly it applies to glass and plastic bottles and crates.


Abbreviated form of supermarkt, supermarket.


WOZ is short for (Wet) waardering onroerende zaken, the Property valuation regulation. Hence WOZ-waarde is the value of the property established according to the regulation.

Zwarte Piet (Black Pete)

Literally “Black Pete”, a companion to Sinterklaas and, lately, a source of disagreement in Dutch society because of his blackface appearance.

Zwem-ABC (Nationaal Zwemdiploma)

Dutch national swimming skills certification program, which includes unified exams and diplomas.

It recognises the following three degrees: A, B, and С. Hence the name Zwem-ABC = zwemmen (swim) + ABC.