Dutch Courage - bravery gained from intoxication

Updated: Apr 7, 2020

A bartender pouring a beer.
Amber Dutch Courage

I am fascinated by the history and the meaning of words. I recently heard this word used by a friend, "I need a drink to give me some "Dutch Courage". Dutch courage – bravery that comes from the bottle – is a phrase dating back to the 17th century when Britain and Holland were competing for supremacy of the seas, as well as for overseas colonies. Wits of the period used Dutch as an adjective symbolising everything they had in contempt. Phrases like "Dutch treat" – which was, of course, no treat at all – and "do the Dutch, "Meaning to commit suicide, became very common. The phrase "Dutch courage" may also have been influenced by the popularity in Britain of Holland gin. Historians suggest that Dutch Gin was used by English soldiers to calm their nerves before going into battle. Another version is that English soldiers believed the bravery of Dutch soldiers was due to the intoxicating effects of Dutch Gin.

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