An interesting Dutch word I learnt yesterday was grasduinen [ˈɣrɑsˌdœy̯.nə(n)], which means to do something with relish, to enjoy working (on something), to enjoy searching (through, in), to delve (into something), to dabble or to browse (the internet) [source].

Grasduinen comes from grasduin (grassy dune) from and gras (grass) and duin (dune). So it literally means “to grassdune”, and grassy dunes were historically considered a delightful place, apparently. It is in fact a contraction of the phrase in grasduinen gaan (to go in the grassy dunes).

More about this expression (in Dutch).

Words with similar meanings to grasduinen include:

  • snuffelen = to snuffle, to sniff (around), to poke around, to search for something haphazardly [source]
  • rondsnuffelen = to sniff, snoop, poke around [source]
  • neuzen = to browse, peruse, snoop, peek, peep [source]
  • rondneuzen = to poke, snoop nose around, to look for something special [source]

Are there interesting words for browsing, snooping, sniffing around, etc in other languages?

Duinen bij Hargen

One thought on “Grassduning

  1. Your headline for this article made me smile: “to do something with relish”. Normally what I would do with relish is to put it on hot dogs or mix it with mayonnaise to make tarter sauce for fish. (“Relish” is finely-chopped sweet pickles.)

    It is funny how seemingly ordinary words can have totally different meaning when placed in different contexts.

    I was thinking this morning how phrases accumulate over time based on culture rather than logic. In the U.S. it is common to refer to northern parts of the country (or of a state) as “up North”, and likewise there is “down South”. But we often say “back East” and “out West”. Why “back” and “out”? Because the U.S. was first settled in what is called the “eastern seaboard”, the eastern-most states. When the country developed to the west, people were said to go “out West” because they were going “out” of the developed area into undeveloped ones. If people returned to the eastern part of the country, they were going “back” to where there original states were, so they were said to go “back East”.

    In more modern times, the western part of the U.S. is sometimes referred to as the “left coast” in a derogatory manner (at least by conservatives), since areas like California are known for liberal political positions.

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