Normally, I translate any Dutch words I use on the blog by putting the English translation in brackets directly afterwards. But with this particular word, that is an impossible task.

So much so, that it requires a whole blog post!


“Cosy” I hear you say…

Is it probably the closest translation? Yes. But (and it’s a big but!) gezellig is sooooo much more than that…

In addition to “cosy” just not cutting the mustard, an English speaker wouldn’t use the word cosy in the same context as Dutch people use gezellig. You would never hear an English person say, “That was a really cosy evening.” EVER.


That’s another close one. Close, but no cigar. Sure, in some instances, you could use comfortable… but “That was a really comfortable evening.” NOPE.


Again, close, but if it was ONLY fun, you’d say “het was leuk” (it was fun). Gezellig is on another level.

Gezellig is gewoon gezellig.

Here are some comments from the blog on this subject:

Rody de Groot: The word ‘Gezellig’ cannot be translated to any language in the world with the same meaning as ‘Gezellig’ means in Holland. It’s a typical Dutch word. Guess we invented ‘Gezelligheid’…

Sloeberjong: Lekker is used a lot, but I do keep wondering when your blog about “gezelligheid” will premier. It’ll be a challenge to explain that to non-Dutchies!

Tanja: No translation is proper for the word gezellig, it means that people are having a good time, but it can also mean that your house looks cosy, or comfortable. Or if people do not get along that is ongezellig.

Thomas Gresnich: What I miss is the word “gezellig”, meaning something like cosy. Everything is “gezellig”, like: come for a gezellig kopje koffie. Are you coming tonight? Ja, gezellig. How was the party? Very gezellig. Why don’t you stop smoking? I find it so gezelllig, een sigaretje (a cigarette).

Rockerriert: Cosy is only part of the meaning of gezellig. There’s no English word that covers the whole meaning.

So, just what does this word mean?

Replace gezellig with cosy, comfortable, fun or even convivial and you only have PART of the meaning. The only way I can find to explain it without having experienced yourself is with examples:

As Thomas says: People, places, buildings, parties and situations can be gezellig:

  • Utrecht is zo gezellig.” (In this context could mean quaint, enjoyable, pleasurable – or a combination!)
  • Pieter’s feestje was echt gezellig.” (Pieter’s party was really awesome, had a great atmosphere, was spent in great company.)
  • “Marcel is een gezellige man.” (Possible meanings: entertaining, friendly, pleasant.)

The atmosphere (at a pub, for example) can be gezellig.  That feeling of a pleasant, friendly ambience and having a good time.

It can also refer to the notion of belonging, time spent with loved ones, seeing a friend after a long time apart, or general togetherness that gives a warm feeling.

Hey, even smoking can be gezellig!

It encompasses such a broad range of descriptions, emotions and uses that it simply cannot be translated to any other language in one word.

And what’s this Gezelligheid you speak of?

Gezellig is the adjective form and Gezelligheid is an abstract noun. So adding -heid roughly translates to -ness: coziness, togetherness, gezelligness.

Dus, ik zei het nog een keer: gezellig is gewoon gezellig.

So, I’ll say it again: gezellig is just gezellig.

Come to the Netherlands and experience it for yourself! Lijkt me gezellig!

Hayley x

Ons huis een thuis maken

(Making our house a home.)

So, I’m officially an expat. Eek!! I moved to the Netherlands late on Saturday evening so this is my third full day living here. The past two days have been spent unpacking what seems like a million boxes! How on earth we fit all that stuff in a one-bedroom flat is beyond me…

Home is where the tea is.

Home is where the tea is.

Naturally, the first thing to be unpacked was the kettle and tea making facilities! Actually the kettle is new, can you tell? 😉

Second on the priority list was our music. The Dutchie and I are massive music fans, so our “CD wall” is one of our most prized possessions!

CD wall - before

CD wall – before

It was also a quick and easy way to empty at least 10 boxes!! After picture to follow… we need to get our London Calling framed album on the wall first! 😉

After a really early start on Sunday morning we worked hard all day and decided to get out of the house for some fresh air and something to eat about 7pm or so. It’s amazing how you forget to eat when you’re that busy!! We discovered a lovely local kroeg (pub/bar) called Het Cafe van Aemstel. I was confused by Aemstel at first but the Dutchie explained that it’s old Dutch and that the pronunciation is just Amstel – exactly the same. Phew!!

Our local - Het Cafe van Aemstel

Our local – Het Cafe van Aemstel

On Monday, while the Dutchie was at work,  I took on the role of Wonder Woman and transformed our house (at least the downstairs anyway!) into a home. Gone are ALL of the boxes and packing stuff and it actually looks like a real home, instead of a warehouse. I worked tirelessly all day and got more done than I thought humanely possible! It was all worth it though to see the reaction on his face when he got back from work – priceless!

Ons huisje

Ons huisje

The Dutchie’s Mum also came over for een kopje koffie (a cup of coffee) and paid me the ultimate Dutch compliment… that I had made the house gezellig!! If you’re Dutch, learning Dutch or have visited the Netherlands you will know that this word has no direct translation in English. It can be most closely described as cosy, comfortable or homely… but that doesn’t quite do this unique word justice. I won’t go into too much detail as I’ve explained the word gezellig here so you can read more there if you want to. Anyway, it’s a huge compliment and I was so happy that all my hard work paid off.

Hayley x

Being Dutch – Part 2: Gourmetten

At Christmas time in the Netherlands gourmetten is a popular and traditional way to eat. It involves putting a hot plate / grill in the middle of the table and then cooking mini pieces of meat, seafood and vegetables yourself. There are many styles of gourmet sets from a standard flat-bed hot plate (below) to full-on Raclette party grills which have individual pans for each person to grill things on the underside –  in addition to the shared plate at the top.



Popular ingredients to “gourmet” are:

Rundvlees / biefstuk – Beef (steak)
Kip – Chicken
Hamburgers – they must be mini ones!
Speklapjes – bacon, normally wrapped around a wooden stick
Worstjes – mini sausages
Zalmfilet – Salmon fillet
Garnalen – King prawns
Plus groenten (vegetables – stir fried types are normally used) and brood (bread) with knofloofkboter (garlic butter – mmmmm!)

Playing with fire!

Playing with fire!

Often, dessert is also cooked on the bakplaat (hot plate) …after it’s been cleaned, of course. The dish of choice is normally pannenkoekjes (pancakes) which are served with a variety of fillings / flavours including ice-cream, fruit, advocaat (traditional Dutch alcoholic beverage made from eggs, sugar and brandy) etc. Booze is optional and a slightly terrifying experience, as you can see!! 😉

My Dutch family enjoy to dine this way A LOT, not just at Christmas. It’s very sociable, fun and everyone can eat what they want… and cook it the way they like it. Supermarkets such as Albert Heijn even sell special pre-packed gourmetten sets with a selection of mini meat cuts. Of course you do get charged a bit extra for the privilege… but the convenience is worth those few extra euros in my opinion!

So, that’s gourmetten – or as the Dutch would say “gezellig tafelen voor iedereen” (cozy dining for everyone!)

Hayley x