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Re: Dutch courage

Posted by Victoria S Dennis on April 27, 2005

In Reply to: Re: Dutch courage posted by Smokey Stover on April 27, 2005

: : : Does anyone know the origin of the expression "Dutch courage"?

: : Dutch courage
: : :
: : : SYLLABICATION: Dutch courage
: : :
: : : NOUN : Informal -- Courage acquired from drinking liquor.

: : Dutch courage is one in a series. From a previous post:

: : From the "Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins" by William and Mary Morris (HarperCollins, New York, 1977):"Probably no nationality has come in for so consistent a torrent of verbal abuse from the English as their neighbors across the channel the Dutch...It was not always thus. Until well after Shakespeare's time, the Dutch were usually well regarded in all literary references by British authors." From the "I Hear America Talking" by Stuart Berg Flexner (Von Nostrand Reinhold Co., New York, 1976): "In the 17th century the English-Dutch hostility over control of the seas and disputed parts of the New World was intense.The anti-Dutch tradition of early English settlers persisted and gives (America) such terms as.'Dutch treat,' 1887; 'go Dutch,' 1931, no treat at all, each person paying for his own meal or ticket." From the "Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins" by Robert Hendrickson (Fact on File, New York, 1997): "The Dutch people have been so offended by the English language over the past three centuries that in 1934 their government decided to drop the word 'Dutch' and use 'Netherlands' whenever possible." The section on "Dutch" lists three columns of phrases using the word.

: I had thought that Dutch courage was specifically from gin, since it was the Dutch that invented what the English soldiers and sailors called gin and obtained from Holland. And I had supposed that Dutch treat and going Dutch referred in a non-judgmental way to the well-known and I think uncontested tendency of the Dutch to be frugal. SS

: Many of the "Dutch" phrases are definitely derogatory - e.g.
"Dutch nightingale" - a frog
"Dutch wife" - a narrow bolster put between the legs to soak up sweat when sleeping in tropical climates
"Dutch concert" - an unmusical racket
Not to mention "Dutch cap" for a contraceptive diaphragm.