314. Na-apen

to imitate, to mimic, to ape [verb] [aapte na, nageaapt] ['naa-aa-pun']

An ape in Dutch is an "aap". The Dutch word "aap" translates as "monkey". The similar English "ape" translates to "mensaap" (a "mens" is a "human"). The preposition "na" usually means "after" but also indicates behaviour or movement of "following something/somebody". Even though the non-existent verb "apen" could already mean "to imitate" – based on the behaviour of apes – we still put "na" in front of it: "na-apen".

The hyphen in "na-apen" is necessary to avoid ambiguity in pronunciation since "aa" is also a Dutch vowel combination. However, the advanced readers might say that if a long "aa" was meant in the first place, then one should have written "napen". This is correct, but the rule is still as applied 🙂 .
You might also see "naäpen" – this used to be the spelling until 1995 (when a big change in spelling occurred).

"Na-apen" is mostly used informally and can sometimes have a stronger meaning than just imitation, see the Examples.

– "Toen ik klein was, aapte mijn zus mij altijd na."
("When I was little, my sister always imitated me.")

– "Een rage kan ontstaan als mensen elkaar gaan na-apen."
("A craze/mania can happen when people start to imitate each other.")

– "Mijn presentatie leek op die van Frank, en nu beweert de leraar dat ik hem heb nageaapt!"
("My presentation was similar to Frank's, and now the teacher claims that I stole his ideas!")

Related words:
– "Na-aper": an imitator.
– "Imiteren": to imitate.
– "Nadoen": to imitate.