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Farewell to Holland

2020 should lay to rest the qualms of many English-speaking people over the exact name of that European country between Belgium and the North Sea—the one that’s famous for being low and flat (below sea-level in places) and for growing tulips.

NL for Netherlands
NL for Netherlands. Apparently this new logo was designed to look like a (stylised) tulip.

Is it Holland? Or Netherlands (or maybe “the Netherlands”)? We know they speak Dutch, so that doesn’t help.

Official government edict to the rescue! In 2020 the name Holland to describe the country will be banished and henceforth it shall be known in English as Netherlands, or the Netherlands, or Kingdom of the Netherlands—because they have a king (or queen, sometimes). Or just NL for short—its two-letter ISO code.

And the term Holland will be left to its own and rightful devices naming a region on the west coast of the country.

Citizens of the Netherlands will continue to be known by one of the following:

  • a Dutchman
  • a Dutchwoman
  • a Netherlander
  • qualms (noun): an uneasy feeling of doubt, worry or fear
  • tulip (noun): a bulbous plant of the lily family
  • edict (noun): an order issued by an authority
  • banish (verb): send someone away from a place as an official punishment
  • henceforth (adverb): from this time on into the future
  • leave someone to their own devices (expression): leave someone to do as they wish without supervision

Written by Joe Essberger for EnglishClub January 2020
Joe started teaching English in 1991 and founded the popular website EnglishClub for learners and teachers in 1997, followed by for teachers in 1998. He is author of several ebooks including English Prepositions List.

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