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Word of the Day: hufter (ill-mannered person)

Today’s word HUFTER (/hœftə/), made a capricious journey in time. It began its life as the verb HUFTEREN in the nineteenth century somewhere in West Friesland. It meant ‘to shiver with cold’. To this day West Frisians still speak of ‘hufterig weer’. So a HUFTER was a shivery, weak person. The sense of ‘dope’, ‘idiot’, ‘twerp’ developed into a person who is coarse, crude or boorish. Synonyms of HUFTER in Dutch are ‘botterik’, ‘schoft’ or ‘rotzak’. A HUFTER with a big mouth can also be an OPSCHEPPER (‘braggart’, ‘boaster’). So be careful with this word! Most people would not like to be called a HUFTER.


Round the change of the millennium the HUFTER abuse developed unforeseen dimensions. Before 2000 the word was almost exclusively used for all kinds of people with HUFTERGEDRAG, antisocial behaviour. HUFTERS would be in the habit of urinating in public (‘wildplassen’), participating in loud noisy parties, mad driving in residential areas, tailgating (‘bumperkleven’), dumping garbage in parks, destroying tramshelters, scratching cars etcetera.

So what happened after the turn of the millennium? The website GEENSTIJL was launched in the digital universe of social media. The founders advertised themselves as: ‘tendentieus, ongefundeerd en nodeloos kwetsend’ (biased, unfounded and needlessly offensive). GEENSTIJL means ‘no style’, ‘no manners’ or even ‘not fair’; it is a shock blog professing HUFTERJOURNALISTIEK.

In 2009 this website also materialised on Dutch television under the name of PowNed. Their popular programme PowNews on NPO 3 is presented by Rutger Castricum (born in The Hague in 1979). Autumn 2012 the broadcaster KRO showed a documentary about this Dutch presenter and his new style of journalism. It was called ‘De hufter van het Binnenhof’ (‘The shithead of Dutch parliament’).

What a short but eventful history HUFTER has had! From a pitiful ‘chilly type’ through the abusive ‘asshole’ to an honorary nickname! What will the next sense of HUFTER be?

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