We’ve written about some Dutch names on these pages before – see now-ancient posts about Cornelius Drebbel or Guus Hiddink or (take a breath) Kees A. Schouhamer Immink. But having now lived for almost three years here in the land of windmills, tasty cheese and towns named after said cheese, I have built a whole new kind of appreciation for Dutch names.
Everywhere you look, it seems the Netherlands has blessed the world with beautiful names. Almost everywhere there seem to be towns like Wommels or Sneek or Vlaardingen which make spotting signage on road trips a true adventure. (Those trips are pretty short though as you can drive across country in about 4 hours).
So, in honor of this fine land and its finely named people, I present this list of (some) of the best names the Netherlands has brought into the world. Only some, because honestly this list could be endless, so some editing had to be done. Here are some of the finest names of Dutch people through time.
First, some art. Jacob Duck was a painter in the 1600s from the town of Utrecht. It is unclear if he painted any bird pictures, but it would be a shame if he never got around to it.
Next, Jacob Quaeckernaeck. Our second Jacob seems to flow logically from the first, sounding partially like a duck utterance, and partially like what you may say when stubbing your toe on Dutch furniture. Mr. Quaeckernaeck was a seaman and navigator, and of course the possessor of a magnificent name.
The Cornelius rule has already been immortalized in our Funny Names Theory section, stating “If your name is Cornelis, Kornelis, or Cornelius, then you are awesome.” There is no arguing that fact, certainly when it comes to legendary jurist Cornelius van Bynkershoek. I have run into some great lawyer names in my studies, from the legendary Learned Hand to England’s Lord Diplock. But a Bynkershoek is hard to beat.
Moving on to the ” pardon me, what was that?” department, we have Willem Godschalck van Focquenbroch. This delightful monstrosity is courtesy of a 17th century playwright. Be careful with the pronunciation of that last name, you wouldn’t want to slip into R-rated territory by mistake.
Staying in poetry, we also have the poet F. van Dixhoorn, which probably requires no further comment.
Which brings us logically to the world of Politics, and two consecutive Prime Ministers blessed with diplomatically promising names.
Wim Kok was PM of the Netherlands from 1994 to 2002. And he was immediately preceded by Ruud Lubbers. Can’t argue with those selections for country leadership, based on funny nameology at least.
Moving on to the world of science, where one of the inventors of the telescope, a Mr. Hans Lipperhey reports for duty. He is delightfully identified on wikipedia as a “spectacle maker”, which it can probably be said to apply to him in more ways than one.
Back to literature, where we find Beb Vuyk. She is one of the most celebrated names in Dutch literature, and not just because that name is fun to say (but probably hard to pronounce correctly).
Finally, but certainly not least amusingly, two names that can only come from the Dutch or children’s literature. Wubbo Ockels was an astronaut who became the first Dutchman in space. In a land famed for its flying citizens, Wubbo certainly flew higher than any before. And finally, we meet renaissance man Govert Bidloo, not to be confused with your favorite Star Wars characters.
We hope you enjoyed this journey through perhaps Europe’s most fruitful land for great and delightful names. Vote for you favorite below and leave a comment if I forgot one!