Fries or fries: why are there 2 names?

Fries or fries: why are there 2 names?
Fries or fries: why are there 2 names?

Perhaps you sometimes have the discussion yourself: is it fries or fries? The outcome of the discussion probably depends on where you are in the Netherlands at that moment. But why are there actually 2 names? And which one is correct?

Fries or fries

In the Netherlands there are 2 well-known names for the fried potato strips: fries and fries. French fries are preferred in the north and fries in the south. But neither of the 2 is wrong. Jan Don, associate professor of Dutch Linguistics at the UvA, tells the magazine LINDA. that both names are correct.

Where does the name come from?

But where do both names come from? According to the professor, this has to do with the official term from 200 years ago: French fries or French fries. Here fries is the noun and it means potato. Fries here means fried or fried and is the addition.


The term patates frites, says Jos Swanenberg, the language and culture researcher at Tilburg University, most likely originated in a Franco-Flemish region. Because the word is quite long, they decide to abbreviate it. The north opts for fries. “When abbreviating words, the noun is usually chosen. That is in patates frites de patates, potato. That is why the abbreviation French fries in the north was chosen.”

French fries different meaning

But why don’t people in the south say the same thing? According to Swanenberg and Don, this is because they already have meanings for that name in the south. There, fries mean potato, but also a slap. “’You can get fries’ there means that you get a blow in the head,” Don tells the magazine. So for the south it does not make sense to have a third meaning and preference is given to fries.

(Source: LINDA, Omroep Brabant, RTL Nieuws, Willem Wever. Photo: Shutterstock)

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