I learnt a cute Dutch word today – ietsiepietsie. It means a little, a little bit, teeny tiny or a teeny tiny bit, and is also written ietsie pietsie, ietsje pietsje or ietsjepietsje [source].

Itsy Bitsy Katydid

You could also translate it as itsy-bitsy, itty-bitty or teensy weensy Do you know any similar expressions in English or other languages.

It is a reduplication* of ietsje (somewhat, a little bit), a diminutive version of iets [its] (something, anything), which comes from the Middle Dutch iet (something, anything, to any degree, a little, somewhat, sometimes, perhaps), a contraction of iewet, from the Old Dutch *iowiht, from the Proto-Germanic *ne (not) plus io (ever) plus *wiht, from *wihtą (thing) [source].

*Reduplication is “a morphological process in which the root or stem of a word (or part of it) or even the whole word is repeated exactly or with a slight change.” They’re not very common in Dutch. Other examples include taaitaai (gingerbread), tamtam (fanfare, grapevine) and bla-bla (blah-blah, talk) [source].

They’re more common in English. Examples include easy-peasy, hoity-toity, hurdy-gurdy, raggle-taggle, tut-tut, chit-chat and knick-knack [source].

2 thoughts on “Ietsiepietsie

  1. My late twin brother taught with a man who had attended college with a girl from TyTy, a town in the US state of Georgia (it actually exists). Her name was Lulu Bobo, a family name I don’t find odd as I grew up with many folks by that name. The “game” that was played because of the name was to see how many words could be worked into her biography which we reduplications. Needless to say it was played after several drinks. For example, her favourite book was “Aku Aku”, she had gone to university in Walla Walla, she adored recipes for mahi mahi ,and when she married, the couple didn’t know whether to go on their honeymoon to Baden Baden or Pago Pago. The possibilities are endless!

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