Snails and corner shops

I have been learning Dutch for just over a week now and am enjoying it and finding it interesting. I can guess the meanings of many of the words I encounter as they are similar to German and/or English, but some are completely different. For example, I just learnt that shop is (de) winkel /ˈʋɪŋkəl/, and that shopping is (het) winkelen, which have no similarities to shop or shopping in English, or to their equivalents in German – Geschäft/Laden and einkaufen.

According to Wiktionary, winkel meant corner in Middle Dutch and Old Dutch, and comes from the Proto-Germanic word *winkilaz (corner, nook), from the Proto-Indo-European *weng- (to bend, bow, arch, curve) [source].

Winkel is apparently cognate with German Winkel (corner), and the Old English wincel (nook, corner), which is found in the word periwinkle (a type of sea snail). The use of winkel for shop is apparently derived from the meaning “corner in which merchandise is stalled”.

Related words include:

  • ijzerwinkel, ijzerwarenwinkel = hardware store (“iron (wares) shop”)
  • platenwinkel = record shop/store
  • webwinkel = online shop/store
  • winkelen = to shop; to go shopping – also boodschappen; het boodschappen doen
  • winkelcentrum = shopping centre / mall
  • winkelwagen = shopping trolley / cart
  • winkeltas = shopping bag
  • winkelassistent = shop assistant, personal shopper, sales clerk
  • winkelier = shopkeeper, storekeeper, retailer

– winkelhaak = try square; carpenter’s square

One thought on “Snails and corner shops

  1. Or Northern English Finkel that means a corner or a passage. I’m not sure how the W becomes F but you’ll find many northern towns have streets called ‘Finkle Street’.

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