nitpicker [noun] [de mierenneuker, de mierenneukers] [‘mie-run-neu-kur’]
This word is composed of “mieren” (“ants”) and “neuker” – derived from “neuken”. Originally “neuken” meant “to knock / thrust” but is currently only known in its translation of “to f*ck”. That’s why some people may consider “mierenneuker” to be foul language. Although its use is mostly informal, this word is not meant to have an offensive connotation. In fact, a man was acquited after charges were pressed against him for calling a traffic warden a “mierenneuker”, see also Extra.
The related verb is “mierenneuken”: to nitpick.
– “Ik vind Frank een enorme mierenneuker!”
(“I think Frank is a huge nitpicker!”)
– “Als het gaat om de lay-out van een DWOTD post, kan Sander een echte mierenneuker zijn.”
(“When it comes to the layout of a DWOTD post, Sander can be a real nitpicker.”)
– “Het nastreven van orde en precisie kan toch niet als mierenneuken bestempeld worden?”
(“Striving for order and precision can’t be called nitpicking, can it now?” This sentence was obviously added by Sander 🙂 )
– “Muggenzifter”: (lit.: “mosquito sifter”) niggler, hairsplitter. Synonymous to “mierenneuker” but never considered rude.
– “Kommaneuker”: (lit.: “comma f*cker”) nitpicker. Synonymous to “mierenneuker”, and equally informal.
Calling an overzealous traffic warden a “mierenneuker” is allowed in The Netherlands. This was the verdict of judge in Alkmaar. A driver had parked his car on the sidewalk for quickly withdrawing some cash from an ATM (“pinnen“). When the man got back to his car, a traffic warden was already writing out a fine (“bon“). The man got angry and called the traffic warden a “mierenneuker”, at which the traffic warden felt offended and threatened, so he had the driver arrested by the police. The driver refused to pay the 220 euro fine and went to court with it…
The judge decided that the driver was right! Based on the authorative Dutch dictionary Van Dale, he concluded that the word “mierenneuker” is not offensive. According to the judge, a “mierenneuker” or a “muggenzifter” is a person who is very meticulous at his job. The judge found the remark inappropriate, but the traffic warden coud have interpreted “mierenneuker” as a compliment too…