Tthe Dutch word buiten /ˈbœy̯.tə(n)/ is one I’ve heard quite a bit while listening to Dutch radio, and though I know what it means – outside; out of – I wasn’t sure where it came from. Today I discover that it is related to uit (out, from).

Buiten also means: villa, abroad, forth, apart from, besides, outdoors, except for, but, except, other than, peripheral, external, outer – so it’s quite a useful word.

Related words and expressions include:

– buiten adem = breathless
– buiten kennis/westen = unconscious
– buiten werking = out of order
– van buiten = by heart
– buitenkant = periphery, outskirts, surface, exterior
– buitenland = foreign country
– buitenspel = offside (football); sidelined
– buitenshuis = outdoors
– uitbuiten = to exploit, utilize, rack, vamp

One thing I like about Dutch is that many compound words are made up of native roots, which makes them easy to understand, as long as you know the meanings of the individual components. There are some loan words from other languages, such as French and English, but far fewer than in English, which has layers and layers of vocabulary from different languages (Anglo-Saxon, Norman, French, Latin, Greek, Old Norse, Dutch, etc).

For example, the relationship between hydrogen and water is not obvious in English, unless you know that hydrogen comes from the Ancient Greek ὕδωρ (hudōr – water) and γεννάω (gennaō – “I bring forth”). Hydrogen entered English via the French hydrogène, a term coined by Louis-Bernard Guyton de Morveau [source]. Whereas in Dutch hydrogen is waterstof (“water stuff”). Another water-related word in English is aquatic, which comes from Latin – in Dutch this is either aquatisch or waterhoudend / waterig, (houdend = having, keeping).

This entry was posted in Dutch, English, Etymology, Language, Words and phrases.

8 Responses to Buiten

  1. David Eger says:

    “The Dutch word buiten … is related to uit (out, from)”

    It is apparently cognate with English but, connected with out (see this entry http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?allowed_in_frame=0&search=but&searchmode=none ).
    cf. German außer (= ‘except’, ‘but’), aus (= ‘out’, ‘from’).

    It is also similar to the relationship between about and out in English, then, although about is not used in the same sense, in modern English, at least.

  2. Ned says:

    Is it related to Northern English ’bout’ as in ‘On Ilkla Moor bout hat’? – both that and ‘but’ come from Old English ‘būton’. Sweet gives its meanings in Old English as ‘outside'(adv.), ‘outside, without, free from,except’ (prep.), ‘but, unless’ (conj.). Wyatt says it is a contraction of ‘be-ūtan’.

  3. David Eger says:

    “Is it related to Northern English ’bout’ as in ‘On Ilkla Moor bout hat’?”

    I assume it is. I didn’t realise that the word in the song was bout – I’ve always seen it written as ‘baht’, which, presumably, reflects the local pronunciation in the Ilkey area.

    The [aʊ] diphthong in this word is curious. Did this word undergo the same diphthongization as out ([u:t] > [aʊt]), whilst but somehow bypassed it (or underwent a different transformation)? Or does it go back to the older form, be-utan,, representing a relic of the lost vowel of the prefix.

  4. JIm M. says:

    The Dutch name of the Indonesian city of Bogor was Buitzenzorg—”outside of annoyance,” “carefree,” I believe.

  5. Shenn Ghaelgeyr says:

    I always understood that ‘baht’ is Yorkshire dialect for ‘without’, as given by Ned as one of the meanings of ‘buton’. His quotation should read “On Ilkla Moor baht ‘at” (no initial ‘h’ on ‘hat’), and thus means “On Ilkley Moor without (a) hat”.

  6. Ned says:

    Shenn is right – ’bout hat’ means ‘without hat’. In WEST Yorkshire it would be pronounced ‘baht at’ which is why the song is normally written that way – so outsiders know how to pronounce it.
    In North and East Yorkshire it would be pronounced differently.

  7. The word ‘uitbuiten’ has a very different origin. ‘Buit’ is booty or loot and -en is the verbal suffix, so literally it means ‘to loot out’, hence: to exploit etc.

  8. Nils says:

    I’m not familiar with buiten as a one-on-one synonym for villa but buitenhuis would imply that, a country house. As a noun ‘de buiten’ is southern regiolect for the countryside (northern would be platteland).

    Gaston is right about uitbuiten having a different origin, possibly related to baten (boon, benefits).

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