to (sit and) stare, to (take a) peek [verb] [koekeloerde, gekoekeloerd]
If you think that "koekeloeren" is in some way related to "koekoek" (cuckoo), you’re wrong. It’s a verb that is used informally to describe a somewhat dull or furtive way of looking or staring.
"Loeren" translates to "to peer/leer/spy". The etymological origin
of "koek(e)" is unknown to me (although "koe" translates to "cow"… or maybe "koek", which translates to "cake/cookie"). Readers are kindly requested to provide additional info 🙂
– "Hee makker, zit je naar mijn vriendin te koekeloeren?"
("Hey pal, are you peeking at my girlfriend?")
– "Frank zat tijdens de presentatie alleen maar een beetje te koekeloeren."
("During the presentation, Frank was just sitting and staring.")
– "Ik zit hier maar naar mijn scherm te koekeloeren, maar ik heb geen inspiratie…"
("I’m just sitting and staring at my screen, but I have no inspiration…")
– "De billenknijper stond vanuit een donkere hoek naar zijn volgende slachtoffer te koekeloeren.
("The bottom squeezer was taking a peek at his next victim from a dark corner.")
– Loeren: to peer, to leer, to spy [verb] [loerde, geloerd].
– Gluren: to peep, to peek [verb] [gluurde, gegluurd].
– Gluurder: peeping tom, voyeur [noun] [de gluurder, de gluurders].
– Staren: to stare [verb] [staarde, gestaard].
– Billenknijper: bottom squeezer [noun] [de billenknijper, de billenknijpers].
Apperently, there’s an organised tour through the red light district in Amsterdam which is called "Koekeloeren bij de hoeren" (lit.: peeping around at the hookers)…
I think it is the cow and not a cookie, because with cow it would have the same meaning as in the Polish expression “gapić się jak wół na malowane wrota” – which means “mindless staring” and literally “to stare like a bullock at the painted gate” which probably refers to the belief of the stupidity of the cows, especially young ones (sometimes we say in Polish “głupi jak cielę” – “stupid like a calf”) 🙂
What about the related German word: Gucken?
Regarding the translation of “Hee makker, zit je naar mijn vriendin te koekeloeren?” (“Hey pal, are you peeking at my girlfriend?”), is it possible that koekeloeren here means more “staring” than “peeking?”
“Peeking” usually means looking surreptitiously; typically neither the seen person nor boyfriend would be aware of the looker. In contrast, “staring” is overt; the seen person (and possibly others) can be aware of it (and may not approve).
To better understand “koekeloeren” in the example, it would be helpful to understand the nuances of “makker;” can it be positive and light-hearted, or is it unambiguously negative? Could the example be equally well translated as either of the following:
“Hey loser, are you staring at my girlfriend? Cut it out or I’ll punch you.” (i.e., strongly negative)
“Hey pal, are you looking at my girlfriend? Nice, isn’t she?” (i.e., positive)
Curious Christopher in Florida
You’re right: “koekeloeren” is mostly done in the open. Sometimes it has a negative connotation, in the case of “Hee makker, zit je naar mijn vriendin te koekeloeren?”. Sometimes it doesn’t, like in “Ik zit hier maar naar mijn scherm te koekeloeren, maar ik heb geen inspiratie…”.
The negative connotation has led to “peek” as a translation, but as you suggest, “stare” is probably a better one. I changed it in the post.
By the way, “makker” can have a negative connotation, as well as a positive connotation.
Koeken (phonetically Englisk cookeh, with a deaf ‘n’) comes from Norse as “Kukke” and was adapted to Dutch. It originally means to look with certain fixation at something/someone from a hidden or secluded place, or trying not to be noticed. Speciaally when one is alone. It can also mean just to stare, specially when sitting home alone.
“Lure” in Norse, (loeren in Dutch) means to scheme, trick or just spy on someone to a purpose”.
So you have koekeloeren, either watch with fixation trying not to be noticed (peeking), or looking into the void in misconcern.
I have been unable to find the word in the Norwegian language, but have read it in use. In Danish and Swedish I found it.