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Meaning

"Going Dutch" is a term that indicates that each person participating in a group activity pays for himself, rather than any person paying for anyone else, particularly in a restaurant bill. It is also called Dutch date, Dutch treat and "doing Dutch".

Etymology

One suggestion is that the phrase "going Dutch" originates from the concept of a Dutch door. Previously on farmhouses this consisted of two equal parts (Sullivan 2010).

Dutch door

A Dutch door (American English), or stable door (British English), or half door (Hiberno English), is a door divided horizontally in such a fashion that the bottom half may remain shut while the top half opens.

reference

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Going_Dutch

Help me connect the dots.

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    A Dutch door comes in two equal parts; if you split the check with your boy- or girlfriend (I am fairly sure that originally "going Dutch" was not used for large parties, but only for going out on dates), that also comes out to two equal parts. – Peter Shor Aug 11 '13 at 14:59
  • Yes, but that really sounds like an ex post facto derivation. Here's another: Going Dutch is another use of the epithet Dutch as 'thrifty, parsimonious, cheap'. – John Lawler Aug 11 '13 at 15:06
  • @John: that is undoubtedly the correct derivation, but the OP's question was about the politically correct derivation. – Peter Shor Aug 11 '13 at 15:16
  • @PeterShor okay, so that's what it means, 50-50! I didn't thought of sharing between 2 people in "going Dutch"! Thanks, now how can I mark that as answer? mind posting it as an answer? – user49404 Aug 11 '13 at 15:33
  • That's actually the case with most fixed phrases -- the ones that last, anyway. Different people generally have different internal meanings which overlap others' in most common usage. Sometimes wildly different. There's no one single "the correct derivation" for most language features in real languages; like anything alive, they've just evolved over billions of generations. – John Lawler Aug 11 '13 at 18:57
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The reasoning for this etymology is as follows: A Dutch door comes in two equal parts; if you split the check with your boy- or girlfriend (I am fairly sure that originally "going Dutch" was not used for large parties, but only for going out on dates), that also comes out to two equal parts.

As John Lawler remarks in the comments, the real etymology is more likely to be derived from the derogatory epithet where Dutch is used to mean thrifty, cheap.

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Just to supplement Peter Shore's answer, the corresponding images for each expression.

Dutch door (UK Stable doors)

Dutch door

Going Dutch

enter image description here

  • This time, two pictures worth two words, Dutch door! – user49404 Aug 12 '13 at 14:01

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