What's in a Word | All Blogs


Dutch p(l)ay their own way

By Debra Dobbins

Finding clever headlines in the sports section is almost always a slam-dunk. Action-packed sports articles must inspire the imaginations of headline writers.

Today’s “Dutch treat” headline plays off an American idiom. An idiom is a phrase that has meaning to native speakers of a language, but it might not have any meaning for foreign speakers. English is rife with idioms.

Linguists say that Dutch treat is an Americanism that dates back to the late 1800s. It means an agreement that each person pays his or her own expenses to go out to eat or attend another social function. From that idiom came the expression, “go Dutch.”

Dutch immigrants to this country must have been a frugal lot.

Flashing forward to 2010, it has to be a delectable treat for the Dutch that their team has fought its way to the World Cup final. We’ll soon see whether the Orangemen can put either Spain or Germany deep in Dutch and return to the Netherlands with soccer’s most coveted victory.
 

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