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Word of the Day: pierewaaien, go out on the town, lark about, live it up

The Scheveningen Pier with its dismal past and its gloomy future inspired today’s festive word PIEREWAAIEN. Context: ‘They worked hard, now it’s time “om te pierewaaien”‘. At first sight the word seems to come from the two words PIER, pier and WAAIEN, blow (of wind or storm) and you picture yourself on a Sunday afternoon strolling along the pier arm in arm with the one you love (‘die je lieft’) while a mild breeze ruffles your hair and the sun smiles at a flowering romance. WRONG! WRONG!


PIEREWAAIEN is a word that was borrowed from the Russian language. As early as the seventeenth century. In theory, the famous Dutch philosopher Spinoza could have used it, though this is extremely unlikely in view of his introverted character.

PIEREWAAIEN is a corruption from the Russian verb ‘pirovát’ which has the noun ‘pir’ (feast, festive meal) at its core. Etymologists assume that the word was imported into the Dutch Republic by sailors who had reached the port of Arkhangelsk safely and then celebrated by having a spree and running wild. The Dutch have two lovely sayings for PIEREWAAIEN that are fully Dutch: AAN DE ZWIER ZIJN (go on a spree) and DE BLOEMETJES BUITEN ZETTEN (literally: to put the flowers outside). We’ll come back to them at a later stage.