Jul 20, 2012

Going Dutch

Some pejorative expressions using Dutch were created through cultural enmity between the English and the Dutch during their fight for naval supremacy in the seventeenth century. Some included: Dutch reckoning (a bill presented without any details and which gets bigger if you argue), Dutch widow (a prostitute) and Dutch feast (an alcohol-fueled event in which the host gets drunk ahead of his guests).

Others, including Dutch courage and Dutch uncle, Going Dutch, Dutch lunch, Dutch treat, Dutch party, and Dutch supper, all with closely similar meanings, are American creations from the nineteenth century.

They were used in the literal sense of a meal reflecting a particular culture. The evidence shows they were more correctly German, as in Pennsylvania Dutch. A newspaper report in 1894 mentions that for a Dutch supper to be successful everything must be “consistently expressive of the fatherland” and mentions rye bread, cabbage salad, Wienerwursts (hot dogs), and beer. Americans invented the terms based on their observations of the habits of the immigrants. Early users applied them as straightforward descriptions and not as derogatory terms. So, let's do lunch, Dutch treat.