June 04, 2009

Dating? Try “Going Dutch”

Inspired by a recent discussion on the NYTimes about Dating in a recession I was curious to find out the origins of the term “Going Dutch”.

Definition: When every participant in a shared activity pays his or her own way.

Etymology: First of all it appears that Dutch etiquette has always promoted the act of paying separately when going out in groups. However, during the Anglo-Dutch wars in the 17th and 18th centuries (4 in total) the rivalry inspired the English to concoct many phrases referencing the Dutch in a negative manner, “going dutch” being one of them. Other phrases include:

  • Dutch Courage: courage from intoxication
  • Dutch Oven: not the cooking pot (click here to read more)
  • Dutch Uncle: a harsh, critical advisor or educator
  • Dutch Wife: lets just say there are many definitions
  • FYI: The Dutch are not the only people to be referenced as bill-splitters. It appears we Americans inherited this reference from our British heritage. The Italians say “pagare alla romana” (Pay like the Romans) to indicate a fairly split bill. In Turkey they say “Pay like the Germans,” and in South America this practice is referred as “paying like Americans.”

    Suggested usage: Whether meeting a serious date or enjoying a summertime fling, try out this phrase by suggesting to “go Dutch” this time. This phrase could be a great way to start a conversation about anything from funny phrases to gender equality in romantic relationships. So when going out, go Dutch!

    Any other phrases popping up in your vernacular due to the recession? Please keep the conversation going by posting your thoughts below.

    Contributed by Evelyn Chapin

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