False friends in Dutch

False friends or false cognates are words that sound and/or look the same in two languages but  different meaning. Dutch and English are quite closely related and have many similar words, but not all familiar sounding words in Dutch mean the same as they do in English.

The following Dutch words sound like English words but have different meanings:

  • actueel = topical (actual = eigenlijk)
  • bad = bath (bad = slecht)
  • bang = afaid (bang = knal)
  • kap = hood (cap = pet)
  • dier = animal (deer = herten)
  • folder = brochure (folder = map)
  • grime = make-up (grime = vuil)
  • leg = lay (leg = been)
  • list = ruse (list = lijst)
  • meet = finish (meet = ontmoeten)
  • mes = knife (mess = rommel)
  • offer = sacrifice (offer = aanbieden)
  • pet = cap (pet = huisdier)
  • pit = spirit (pit = kuil)
  • put = well (put = paatsen)
  • ramp = diaster, catastophe (ramp = drempel, oprit)
  • rug = back (rug = kleedje)
  • stage = work placement (stage = toneel)
  • stout = naughty (stout = gezet)
  • trap = stairs (trap = val)
  • vest = cardigan (vest = hemd)
  • wip = see-saw (whip = zweep)

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