Dutch treat

Posted by ESC on March 21, 2000

In Reply to: Dutch treat posted by Susan Gray on March 21, 2000

: Can anyone please tell me where the term "Dutch treat" comes from?

Several phrases that use "Dutch" refer to something inferior. Like a Dutch treat is where one has to pay, so it's not much of a treat. The "Morris Dictionary of Phrase and Word Origins" has a lengthy entry about the use of the word "Dutch" in phrases. "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."

The Facts on File Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins by Robert Hendrickson states:"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." Wow! The section on "Dutch" lists three columns of phrases using the word including "in Dutch -- in trouble; in jail; this may refer to the early New York Dutch but probably refers to the Germans."