Home > Visitors Guide > Dutch Language > Gedogen — illegal but not illegal

Gedogen — illegal but not illegal

Gedogen1 is a Dutch verb that cannot be properly translated.

It roughly means “tolerated,” but in a wider and different sense of the word.

The word is used of a situation or activity that technically is illegal, but which is actively tolerated as a matter of government policy — since everyone knows the issue (say, prostitution or the use of soft drugs, can not be legislated away).

In short, gedogen is used in reference to something that is strictly speaking illegal according to the law, but not considered illegal in practice — as long as certain conditions and guidelines are met.

Go ahead: read that again.

Are you with me? Welcome to the Netherlands!

Cannabis plant and seeds on sale in Amsterdam

Cannabis seeds on sale during a ‘free market’ in Amsterdam

Prime example: coffeeshops — where soft drugs can legally be bought and used.

Technically, however, it is illegal for a coffeeshop to buy soft drugs. As the saying goes, “the front door is legal, but the back door is illegal.”

That it happens anyway is one of those peculiar contradictions that make ‘gedogen’ necessary.

Note:

Gedoogbeleid = policy of gedogen.
Gedoogverklaring = toleration declaration.

arrow See also: Why is Amsterdam so tolerant?

Notes:

  1. The g in dutch is pronounced so that you make roughly the sound of clearing your throat. It is the same sound as the Scottish loch. Try and pronounce gedogen as ‘chuh-dough-chuhn.’
Hello! Our original content is protected by © Copyright DutchAmsterdam .nl
Do not republish or repost. Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

GetYourGuide is our Trusted Ticket Partner

Why stand in line during your vacation? Beat the crowds by booking Tours, Skip the Line Tickets, Museums, Excursions and Activities online.

Your GetYourGuide Ticket Advantage:
Authorized Ticket Seller
Verified legal tour operators
Printed or Mobile Voucher Accepted
Skip-the-Line (if available)
Instant Confirmation
Easy Cancellation

About This Article

Category: Dutch Language, Visitors Guide
Related to: , ,

Last updated: Wednesday, January 14, 2015 at 11:07 AM, Central European Time (CET)   
Transparency:
The DutchAmsterdam website includes affiliate links. That means we get a small commission — at no additional cost to you — for each purchase you make. Your support helps us provide this site free of charge. Naturally, as our Editorial Policy states, our content is never influenced by our advertisers or affiliates.