famous Dutchman/woman [noun] [de BN’er, de BN’ers] [‘bee-en-nur’]

“BN’er” is the abbrevation of “bekende Nederlander”: well-known or famous Dutchman/Dutchwoman. The word means exactly what is says: if you are famous or well-known by the general Dutch public and you are Dutch, then you are a “BN’er”. Read more about “BN’ers” in the Extra below.
The photo shows BN’ers Jeroen van der Boom, René Froger and Gordon.
(Photo: “De Toppers 2009” by Daniel Kruczynski – De Toppers. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Commons.)

The Dutch will also frequently speak of “bekende Nederlander” instead of using “BN’er”.

– “En, waren er nog bekende Nederlanders?”
(“And, were there any famous Dutch people present?”)

– “Ik word ziek van al die BN’ers op tv, alsof mij dat wat kan boeien!”
(“I’m sick of all those famous Dutch people on tv, as if I care!”)

– “De groep met BN’ers heeft gisteren redelijk gescoord in de ‘Nationale IQ test’.”
group of “BN’ers” scored reasonably well in yesterday’s “National IQ
test’.” Last night the “Nationale IQ test” (national IQ test) was on TV
the audience was divided into a number of groups (representing
professions or social societies / sport clubs) and one of the groups
was the group with “BN’ers”. The lowest scoring “BN’er” was Jody Bernal
(96), the highest the politician Diederik Samson (136).)

Related words:
– “Beroemd”: famous.
– “Bekend”: famous or well-known. Also: familiar.
– “Acteur/actrice”: actor/actress.

Abroad “BN’ers” are mostly unknown apart from some actors or
directors (for example Famke Janssen, Rutger Hauer and Paul Verhoeven) and the few who
have managed to cross the Dutch-German border (such as Rudi Carrell and
Linda de Mol).
Most “BN’ers” are known from television and live pretty close to the
television studios in Hilversum and Aalsmeer. The region where many
rich “BN’ers” live is called “Het Gooi”, and is roughly located in
between Amsterdam and Utrecht. Many contestants in television shows such as “Big Brother” and its rip-off “De gouden kooi” (The golden cage), “Idols” and “Holland’s next topmodel” hope to become a “BN’er”.
On the other hand, a lot of recent television shows try to make “BN’ers” even more famous by having them participate in dance or ice-dancing contests (“Dancing with stars“, “Sterren dansen op het ijs”, etc.) or reality-tv shows, for example with the singer Frans Bauer. Then we have the usual gossip programs on TV (for example RTL Boulevard and just about every Dutch-spoken show on commercial channel SBS6).

Recently, “BN’ers” have started to increase their fame by publishing
magazines carrying their name: Linda de Mol was the first one.
If you want to read everything about “BN’ers”, your hairdresser could be the place to be; while waiting you can read all the gossip
magazines that you don’t have at home (Privé and Story are the most
well-known ones). Or try the newspaper “De Telegraaf“; it is still the best sold newspaper in the country, and coincidentally also contains most gossip.

8 thoughts on “BN’er

  1. A nice cultural insight. Would footballers and football managers count as BNers? There are quite a few of those who have crossed the cultural divide. And musically Jan Akerman and Anouk have achieved some degree of fame abroad.
    Some time ago I was on a train journey through Belgium with a British friend who lives in the UK and we played a game of how many BB’s we knew. The list was unimpressively short – especially if we eliminated the ones who were dead (Eddie Mercx) or fictional(Tintin).

  2. I guess that a lot of BN’ers are not very known in Belgium either. And on the other hand, the Belgians themselves will probably know a lot more Bekende Belgen 🙂
    I can give you a number of known Belgians who most Dutch will have heard of:
    – Jacques Brel (singer)
    – Jean-Marie Pfaff (former goalkeeper, who even has his own reality show on Dutch TV “De Pfaff’s”.
    – King Albert II
    – (former) King Boudoin I
    – Paul Jambers (host of documentary TV series on ‘unusual’ Belgians, also shown on Dutch TV)
    – Goedele Liekens (former miss Belgian, former talkshow host on Dutch TV, and sexologist)
    – Urbanus (comedian, actor)
    – and many more…;-)

  3. A footballer or football trainer can definitely be a BN’er. However the first association is that of somebody who frequently appears on tv or in magazines (and that can be a footballer of course, but you know what I mean 🙂 )

  4. If you are an expat and live in the Netherlands and you have Dutch numberplates on you car, then probably it has the letter combination GN or BN. If it’s BN you are unfortunately not a “Bekende Nederlander” but a “buitenlander” (“foreigner”). If you are a GN, then you are “geen Nederlander” (“not a Dutchman/Dutchwoman”).
    This is about as creative as Dutch numberplates can get!

  5. hi Marc & Nick,
    just a small remark concerning famous Belgians.. I was talking to one of my Flemish colleagues the other day and he referred to BV’ers (‘Bekende Vlamingen’) instead of BB’ers (‘Bekende Belgen’). I guess BB’ers don’t really exist (except for the king).
    PS Former king’s name was ‘Baudouin’ by the way, I’ve never seen a more complex spelling of a name 😉

  6. ik wel steduren over footbal trainer zo iemand me advieseren waar moest ik terecht zijn
    met vriendelijkgroet

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