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Word of the day: groen (green)

Happy St Patrick’s Day all you Irish people all over the world and all ‘gelukkige Sint Patricksdag’ everyone who feels Irish. I am a Nederlander by birth, but an Irishman in spirit. The Dutch and the Irish go very well together. Both our countries are very green, GROEN, yes green…


Today’s word GROEN is a tribute to Ireland’s patron saint. In the fifth century Patrick spent six years as a slave and shepherd in Ireland. There he learned the Celtic language. After he escaped he returned to his family in Britain and became a cleric. He returned to the green emerald Isle to convert the Irish to Christianity. See here.

GROEN and ‘green’ go back to the same roots. And those roots lie in the early Middle Ages. They go back to Patrick’s days. Green is the colour between blue and yellow in the spectrum, but the word carries many more meanings: fresh, youthful and inexperienced. Green food is raw or untreated. Vegetables in Dutch are ‘groenten’ (greens).

When Shakespeare writes ‘greene and pale’ in Macbeth, he refers to sickness because the sickly colour is thought to be the result of excess of bile. If you have green meat (groen vlees), don’t cook or eat it. Green here means rotten.

In Dutch the topographical names Groningen (green field) and Groenlo (green forest) may have green in them.

GROEN (green) is probably related to ‘gras’ (grass) and ‘groeien’ (to grow). And now I leave you for its time to imbibe some green Guinness before it’s too late. Have a great Irish evening.