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From 16 November 1942 onwards, Anne Frank had to share her room with the dentist Fritz Pfeffer, who had a number of habits that Anne couldn't stand. In the German biography Anne Frank (Reinbek bei Hamburg: Rowohlts Taschenbuch Verlag, 2002), Matthias Heyl writes:

In ihrer überarbeiteten Tagebuchversion revanchierte [Anne Frank] sich damit, dass sie ihm den weder im Niederländischen noch im Deutschen schmeichelhaften Namen «Dussel» verpasste.

My translation:

In the reworked version of her diary, [Anne Frank] took revenge on him by giving him the nickname "Dussel", which is unflattering, both in German and in Dutch.

(More literally translated: "flattering neither in German nor in Dutch".)

The German Wiktionary defines Dussel as "ungeschickter Mensch" (awkward/inept/unintelligent person). Something similar can be found in the online Duden dictionary.

But as far as I know, dussel is not a word in Dutch (my native language). So why would the name be unflattering in Dutch? I am looking for evidence in a reliable offline source; I have seen too much nonsense on the Web.

  • 1
    Apparently at least one site on the Internet believes it to be a valid Dutch word too. But to be honest I'd tend to take the author's word for it if she reported that the Dutch people surrounding her were familiar with the term ... – Will Crawford Aug 20 '18 at 2:38
  • @WillCrawford The link you posted is to a German - Dutch dictionary entry that translates the German word "Dussel" as "sufferd" in Dutch. (In German, unlike Dutch, nouns start with a capital letter.) I see no evident there that "dussel" is a word in Dutch. – Christophe Strobbe Aug 20 '18 at 13:03
  • oh, it looked as though the same word was listed underneath. Confusing layout. I still think that the word of the author counts for something though :) – Will Crawford Aug 20 '18 at 13:08

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