in Dutch Etymology

Breaking up the word vrijbuiter (pirate) gives us two roots to work with – vrij and buiter. Buiter- is a dead-end so let’s explore vrij-


πŸ’‘ vrij- is the Dutch root for “free”

πŸ”Ά vrij (adj.) = not busy, without (eg: alcoholvrij)
πŸ”Ά vrij (adv.) = rather, quite, enough

✏️ De jongen is vrij lang voor zijn leeftijd. / The boy is rather tall for his age.

πŸ”Ά nogal / tamelijk means the same as vrij in this context
✏️De jongen is nogal / tamelijk lang voor zijn leeftijd. / The boy is rather tall for his age.
πŸ’‘ leeftijd = live / living + time


πŸ”Ά het vrijaf = day off, holiday (free-off)
πŸ”Ά vrijheid = freedom, liberty (free-hood) [See more on -heid]

As in English, ‘free’ is used in some similies in Dutch as well:
πŸ”Ά zo vrij als een vogeltje in de lucht= as free as a bird in the sky, i.e., free to do whatever one wants [See more on lucht-]

πŸ”Ά In Dutch, there is a difference between ‘free’ as in ‘freedom’ and ‘free’ as in ‘cost-free’ (unlike in English). Gratis is the word you would use for ‘cost-free’


The original meaning of the word ‘vrij’ is ‘love’, as is still recognizable in the old derivation β†’ friend. In the continental West Germanic languages, the meaning has shifted to “courting (a woman), lusting (a woman) and / or loving”. In High German this ultimately led to the current meaning of ‘marrying, getting married’, while in Dutch the meaning shifted to ‘having a love affair, loving each other’ and ultimately ‘making love, having sexual intercourse’.

M. Philippa, F. Debrabandere, A. Quak, T. Schoonheim and N. van der Sijs (2003-2009) Etymological Dictionary of Dutch , 4 volumes, Amsterdam

πŸ”Ά vrijen (verb) = to make love, cuddle [word is becoming uncommon now and is seen as old-fashioned]
πŸ”Ά vriend = friend
πŸ”Ά Vrijdag = Friday (originally, from Freya / Frigga the Goddess of Love, among other things, in Norse Mythology)


Niet vrij

πŸ”Ά To be busy is to be bezig or druk, but the busy / crowded street is de drukke straat and never bezig. But if something is really crowded, it is druk bezet or druk bezocht.
πŸ”Ά De druk also means ‘the pressure’ (eg: luchtdruk = air pressure, see lucht-). So drukken means ‘to press’ or ‘to print’. De afdruk is the print or impression.

✏️ Het terras met uitzicht over de rivier is altijd druk bezet. / The terrace overlooking the river is always crowded


Days of the Week

Having explored Vrijdag, let’s also quickly take a look into the other days of the week.

πŸ”Ά Zondag = Sunday (from zon, sun)
πŸ”Ά Maandag = Monday (from maan, moon)
πŸ”Ά Dinsdag = Tuesday (from Odins‘ day, which is different from English, where Wednesday is more Odin’s day)
πŸ”Ά Woensdag = Wednesday
πŸ”Ά Donderdag = Thursday (originally donnerdag, i.e, Donar’s / Thor’s day)
πŸ”Ά Zaterdag = Saturday (Built off of Saturn)


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