Dutch Treat (1885)

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Wed Nov 6 18:05:22 UTC 2002

At 2:08 AM -0500 11/6/02, Dodi Schultz wrote:
>I gather that "Dutch treat"--along with other "Dutch ____" terms such as
>auction, bargain, concert, courage, wife--is part of that ignoble English
>tradition of Dutch disparagement (dating from the 16th or 17th century, I
>think) which we continued in the US. All, describing things that fell short
>or were decidedly *not* the thing thus modified.
>One such, apparently dropped by the 20th century (I don't find it in later
>dictionaries), was "Dutch gold," defined as not gold, of course, but as
>"copper, brass, and bronze leaf, used largely in Holland to ornament toys."
>(from M-W 1864)
I don't have my Farmer & Henley _Slang and its Analogues_ on me, but
they list many many such entries, all traceable back (they note) to
the 17th century Herring Wars between England and Holland for
supremacy of the North Sea fishing grounds.  A sampler (note that
there's a bit of sex-based as well as national chauvinism revealed

dutch auction:  a sale at minimum prices
dutch bargain:  a bargain all on one side
dutch-clock:  a bedpan; a wife
dutch concert, dutch medley:  a hubbub, whereat everyone sings and
plays at the same time
dutch consolation:  Job's comfort; unconsoling consolation
        (e.g. "Thank heaven it is no worse")
dutch courage:  pot-valiancy, courage due to intoxication
dutch feast:  an entertainment where the host gets drunk before his guests
dutch treat:  an entertainment where everyone pays his own shot
dutch uncle:  an uncle of peculiar fierceness
        (I'll talk to him like a Dutch uncle   = 'I will reprove him severely')
dutch widow:  a prostitute
dutch wife:  a bolster (on a bed)
That beats the Dutch:  a sarcastic superlative
to do a dutch:  to desert, run away
to talk double-dutch:  to talk gibberish, nonsense
I'm a Dutchman if I do:  a strong refusal (= I'm damned if I will)


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