is a term for a person who issues frank, harsh, and severe comments and criticism to educate, encourage, or admonish someone. Thus, a "Dutch uncle" is a person who is rather the reverse of what is normally thought of as avuncular or uncle-like (which would be indulgent and permissive).
During the Dutch Golden Age
of the 17th century
, when the English
were building their global empires, their intense rivalry found an outlet in a wide range of popular sayings invented by each country to insult the other
In the English-speaking culture, the few volleys in this linguistic war that have survived are, naturally, those disparaging the Dutch, but even those are rarely heard today. Some, such as "Dutch uncle," Dutch treat
or Dutch courage
were probably originally meant to be more insulting than we consider them today.
One other proposed explanation is that the term, often expressed as "talk to one like a Dutch uncle," originated in the early 1800s as an allusion to the sternness and sobriety attributed to the Dutch
. Dutch behaviour is defined in the book Culture Shock! Netherlands: A Survival Guide To Customs and Etiquette
as "practical, direct, outspoken, stubborn, well-organised, blunt and thinking they are always right." According to that particular source, these are the alleged reasons behind the English term "Dutch uncle."
Still another possible origin may be the marriage of the Dutch William of Orange, who later became the head of the British throne, to the English Mary II, in the late 1600s. When the English and Dutch navy were combined during this period the English sailors viewed the Dutch with some resentment, and unwanted advice or orders from Dutch sailors purportedly were said to be from "my Dutch uncle."
- Bolt, Rodney. The Xenophobe's Guide to the Dutch. ISBN 190282525X
- Janin, Hunt. Culture Shock! Netherlands: A Survival Guide To Customs and Etiquette. ISBN 1558689486