Sexy Ants and Nitpicking

An ant in Dutch is mier. Ants are mieren. If you’re super poor, je bent zo arms als de mieren (you are as poor as the ants). Maybe you were so poor, that you didn’t have any food. And now je bent bij de mieren (dead, dood; with the ants). But don’t fret. If je wordt zo ijverig (diligent; industrious) als de mieren, you might just end up becoming erg rijk.

Also, try not to be mierzoet (ant-sweet). While it can mean “very sweet” or honingzoet, it can also refer to you being superficially romantic. Don’t wanna get that reputatie, do you?

If you’re the kind of person who tends to make a big deal out of trivial things, the kind of person who likes to split hairs, the kind to make a mountain of a molehill, generally fussy – you are what the dutch call an antfucker, or, mierenneuker (or rather more accurately ants-fucker). This is, however, strictly speaking, not a swear word despite the use of neuken.

In mid-2005, a police judge in Alkmaar decided that someone (in this case a parking attendant) should be scolded with impunity for taking offense antfucker . The great Van Dale agreed with him because in the thirteenth edition (from 1999) the word is not labeled ‘offensive’ but ‘informal’.


Side note on ‘ijverig’

Ijverig means diligent, industrious. It originally derives from the German Eifer , which meant something like “something like fiery, jealous love”. This meaning can still be seen in the Dutch word naijver (jealousy) although jaloezie is more common. With time, however, the meaning shifts from ‘fiery love’ to “dedication to labor, energy, diligence.”

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