Regarding The Dutch

I recently learned that the Dutch weren’t big on surnames until Napoleon came through in 1811, conquering and forcing people to do paperwork. Until then they’d utilized patronymics – using their Father’s name as their own last name – or occasionally just the attachment of a profession or physical attribute: Abel The Baker, Jans The Friggin’ Huge, etc.

Once Napoleon arrived, he forced everyone to register their names in the format utilized by the French. Many of the Dutch thought the registry would be quickly forgotten, so they opted for comical names – allowing me to link to this fantastic example table from wikipedia.

Dutch surname Explanation English
De Keizer probably a wordplay on Napoleon when people registered their name; Who are you? I’m the emperor. Lit. “emperor”.
Rotmensen rot, adjective meaning “rotten” + mensen “people” Lit. “rotten people”.
Poepjes poep, noun meaning “poo/feces”, + jes plural diminutive Lit. “excrement; poopie”.
Piest piest, third-person singular form of the verb piesen meaning “to urinate/to piss” (He/She/It)“pisses/urinates”
Naaktgeboren naakt, adjective meaning “naked”, + geboren meaning “born” Lit. “born naked”
Zeldenthuis zelden, adverb meaning “seldom”, + thuismeaning “at home” Lit. “seldom at home”