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Do you speak Belgian? Our guide to the country's very own vocab

21:56 20/07/2019
Belgicisms can make language learning in Brussels a bit of a challenge

You can conjugate in French, you can get your tongue around most Dutch pronunciations, you might even have a smattering of German. But have you mastered Belgicisms – those words and expressions unique to Belgian French and Dutch or a mishmash of the two? Here’s a few to watch out for.

Ballekes - Meatballs

Brol - Odds and ends, a bit of a mess

Cassette - Pencil case

Chope/Pintje - Draught beer

Ça cloppe - That works

Chicon/Witloof - Endive or chicory

Couque - Pastry

Cuistax/Kwistax - Go-kart (popular at the coast)

Cul sec, à fond - Down in one, frequently used by students when drinking a chope

Dikkenek - Big-head

Douffe, cuite - Drunk

Drache - Heavy rain

Filet américain - Steak tartare

GSM - Mobile phone

Guindaille - Party with friends or fellow students

Kot - Student room

De la mitraille - Small change

Mitraillette - Baguette filled with chips, meat and sauce

Non peut-être - Yes, certainly

Pétant (de chaud) - Hot weather

Place (avoir une bonne) - Have a secure, well-paid job. What parents dream of for their kids

Rouf-rouf - Quickly, but badly done

En stoemeling - To do something on the quiet, discreetly

A tantôt - See you later

Tirer son plan - Get by/make do

Toquer à la porte - Knock on the door

Volle gaz, volle gas, volle petrol - Quickly

Wasserette - Launderette

This article first appeared in The Bulletin spring 2019

Written by The Bulletin


A couque is a breakfast pastry, not just a pastry.

Of course you could eat a couque for tea, but not really.

Jul 21, 2019 01:23

Cuistax: not a go-kart because a go-kart has an engine. A cuistax is entirely mechanical. (that's the tax - your physical effort)

En stoemelings (don't forget the s) is more than discrete, it's full fledged hiding.

Jul 21, 2019 01:36
Frank Lee

Filet américain is often shortened to "un américain," as in "Tu veux un américain-frites?" which a translation software would probably translate: "You want a fried American?"

Jul 22, 2019 13:47

Frank Lee: a fried American would be an Américain frit with a silent "T"... But the play on words still amuses me, as an American, with its cannibalistic overtones. (Not to be confused with "toast cannibal". It seems that most of the slangy, humorous Belgian expressions are Flemish, mixed in with French. They have an exotic taste, perhaps and may date from the days when the Flemish were oppressed and speaking Dutch was looked down upon in bourgeois circles...
Several of the Flemish terms seem to come from down-to-earth street life and food... Of course, the list is just a summary one, which readers could add to...

Jul 22, 2019 23:06