Names such as Saar, Zoetje and Suus might seem unfamiliar. This is not surprising because these names do not exist in the English language, and yet these are traditional girl names in the Netherlands.
This guide to Dutch girl names will cover traditional names as well as modern names, and common names as well as rare names.
A traditional Dutch girl name is often short, and very simple to understand and pronounce. The list of traditional Dutch names is very long, however, some names are simply more common in the Netherlands than elsewhere.
The roots of the following Dutch names certainly lay in the Netherlands or are unknown in any other country.
The province of Zeeland is known to have its own set of names for girls. This is because they are in the south and attached to Belgium, which influenced their traditional names. Some typical girl names from Zeeland are:
During most of the 20th century the process of giving names was dramatically different: it was common in the Netherlands to name a girl with a diminutive of a boy's name.
Typically, this would be the diminutive of the father's name. In Dutch, a diminutive is made by adding the suffix '+je' or '+tje'. Here are some examples:
Jan, Klaas and Piet are some of the most common Dutch names for boys. By adding the suffix '+je' or '+tje', Dutch girl names were produced.
Nowadays in the Netherlands, a girl name that derives from a boy name is considered an old-fashioned. It is not a common practice anymore to give a child such a name.
The Netherlands might be a small country, but it is full of culture and languages. One of the Northern provinces called “Friesland” actually has its own official language.
This language called “Frisian” is considered the second official language of the Netherlands and has its own traditional girl’s names.
The Frisian name culture is completely different from the Dutch one. Names are very short and often consist of merely one or two syllables with not more than seven letters in total.
Frisian girls names often end with '-e' or '-je'. Some traditional girls names from Friesland are:
If a girl is called one of the names above, or another popular Frisian name, the rest of the Netherlands can often understand that she is from the province of Friesland.
In the Netherlands there are several motives for giving a child a certain name. The most important motive is to name a child after a family member. This is often the name of the grandmother or grandfather of the child.
Sometimes the name is not completely the same, but it is clear that the name derives from one of the grandparents’ names. This name might be the first, second or even third or fourth name of a child.
Some examples of Dutch girl names that may come from a grandmother but have been modified, are:
The Netherlands was once a very Christian country which means that many Dutch names come from the Bible. Therefore, there are many Dutch names that are derived from Hebrew, Greek or Latin.
Giving a child a Christian name is common practice in many countries around the world. However, the Netherlands often uses Dutch versions of these names. Some examples are:
An important motive to pick a certain name is because it is a unique or unusual name. In the Dutch culture, people are encouraged to think outside the box and therefore do not always like to go with the mainstream.
This resulted into some very original Dutch girl names, for example:
Typically, a beautiful Dutch girl name that ends with the letter “a” is found to be very feminine. Nevertheless, there are plenty of examples of Dutch girl names which do not end with the letter “a”, but which still have a feminine sound.
Examples of beautiful Dutch girl names that end with the letter 'a', are:
The last two names, Amalia and Alexia, are also the names of two of the princesses of the Netherlands. The third princess is called Ariane, which is quite a pretty Dutch girl name with a very feminine sound to it.
Naming a child after a plant or flower happens in several other cultures. Flower-based names are widely popular and come with their own Dutch versions.
Below are some examples of popular flower-based Dutch girl names and their English equivalents:
When asking a Dutch person what a common Dutch girl name would be, it is likely that they will give the same answers.
The names in the list below are some of the most common names in the Netherlands, and have been for quite some time:
The number one name that has been at the top for many years is the name Emma. This is not a surprise as Emma is a very practical name: easy to write, easy to understand and suitable in an international environment.
This practicality is typical for the Dutch culture as they are very direct and efficient by nature.
Some Dutch names for girls might seem a little strange in English because the English language has the same words, but they are more commonly used for boy’s names or have another meaning in English.
Some examples of Dutch girl’s names that sound like English words, are:
In 1810, the Netherlands was part of France and this had a great influence on the giving of French girl’s names. Names such as Jeanne, Marie, Jacqueline and Anne were very popular for girls at this time.
Since the south of the Netherlands is connected with Belgium, French names are still popular in this area.
Because of the Christian nature of the Netherlands, it was (and still is) common to give a child two or more first names. This resulted in long and difficult names and therefore it became practice to give a child a nickname.
Around the 1940’s it became popular to choose a nickname that ends with '-ie' or '-y'. Some examples of girls’ nicknames are:
After the 1970’s, English names such as Kelly, Romy, Wendy or Demi became tremendously popular in the Netherlands.
It is still a fairly common practice to give a child an English name for practical reasons, such as being able to go abroad without having any difficulties with their names.
Every year, statistics are gathered for the number of times a name is given in the Netherlands. From these statistics, rare Dutch girl names can be identified.
Here are some examples of rare Dutch girl names:
Some Dutch people put a lot of importance in picking a name with a beautiful meaning. However, some names are so old that it is unclear where they came from.
Because Dutch is a Germanic language, comparisons have been made with Germanic and Old Saxon words. A few examples of common Dutch girl names and their meanings are:Maud
Maud is derived from the Germanic name Mathilde. The first part of the name comes most likely from the Old Saxon word “math” which means power (macht). It could also come from the word “magath” which means virgin (maagd).Isa
Isa is most likely the female version of the boy’s name Ise. In Old Germanic this name meant iron (ijzer) or ice (ijs) and probably has something to do with strength and power.Amalia
Amalia is a name with Germanic roots that has been latinised. Amal means “effort in battle”.
As can be noticed in the examples above, there is a clear method of naming girls which is different from before. Where long flower or plant derived names are popular, the most popular names are very simple and short. Names often just consist of one or two syllables and commonly end with the letter “a”.
A new trend that has been spotted in 2022 is gender neutral names. As it became more and more necessary for people to use gender neutral names for their child, it became a big trend in children’s names.
Some examples of gender-neutral Dutch girl / boy names are:
Dutch is a Germanic language that falls in the classification Low Franconian language. The Dutch language was brought to the Netherlands approximately 1600 years ago, when the Germanic colony in Northern-Germany started to break up and spread throughout Europe.
When the Dutch language started to form, there was a clear relation between the Germanic language and the names that babies were given.
Some of these names are still used today, such as Karel, a boy name that comes from the word “kerel” (meaning: guy) or Senna, a girls name that comes from the Old-Norwegian word sennr, which means “truth”.Conclusion
With ever changing trends and developments in the Dutch naming culture, there will always be new names to consider. However, it is clear that Emma has been the most popular name for years for practical reasons that fit the Dutch efficient culture.
Because the Netherlands is such a small country it was highly influenced by other cultures and languages around it such as French and English. Therefore, there were periods where French and English names were very popular. Many pretty Dutch girl names that are unique and popular today are therefore derived from these languages.
Other trends to consider are naming your child after a flower or plant for extra femininity, or using a gender neutral name instead. For a beautiful gender neutral name, names such as Sam, Robin or Charlie are great options.
Hopefully this guide has been helpful in finding a Dutch baby name, finding the origin meaning of the name of a friend or any other reason.
This guide to Dutch girl names has a companion guide which covers Dutch boy names.
Editor's note: You can use our free language tool to make your own vocabulary lists, and record your own phrases.