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Word of the Day: beslommering, worry, bother

Yesterday’s post on ROMPSLOMP must have struck a chord. So far this was the most popular word of the sixty or so I mused on in the Direct Dutch Facebook Group over the last two months. In non-virtual life (the real one, out there, where the birds are singing and the trees are budding!) I heard that some of you have a clear preference for the word BESLOMMERING. The two words sound similar, but they have no relation that I know of. So, for all you moody brooders and worriers, here is your favourite word BESLOMMERING.


The Hague author Simon Carmiggelt (King of Brooders) once wrote:

‘Er valt op deze wereld niets te lachen, maar als je daar nu maar van uitgaat, valt er nog een hoop te lachen.’

(On this world there is nothing to laugh about, but once you’ve taken that for granted, there is still a lot that can be laughed about.)

So give up the moody brooding, for BESLOMMERINGEN can lead to a lot of joy, once you’ve accepted the absurdity of life.

The word BESLOMMERING has a fascinating history. In the sixteenth century it meant ‘to obstruct someone’s freedom’ or ‘to trouble someone’. Its core is the word SLOM meaning ‘awkward’, ‘crooked’, ‘bad’. Somewhere along the line the Dutch language lost SLOM, but we still have the related SLIM. Except that SLIM lost its negative meaning ‘awkward’ and ‘shrewd’ in the 17th century, and ended up positively as ‘smart’ or ‘clever’.

Dutchbuzz’s programme this week starts off on a cheerful note that ‘spring certainly has sprung’. So: Pak al je beslommeringen in je oude knapzak en lach, lach, lach! (Pack up your troubles in your old kit-bag, and smile, smile, smile!)