Curt Bouterse
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Genealogy Recapitulates Etymology: Personal Musings

There are those who have done yeoman genealogical on the Bouterse family but their work is elsewhere. I have taken a different tack and approach the name itself. Some have suggested, perhaps based on the appearance of the name, that the family originated from French Huguenot emigrees and that would account for our independent, some would say stubborn, streak.

Many Huguenots came to the Netherlands and other Protestant countries and there are collections of typical Huguenot surnames which are available to scholars but the closest are Bouton, or Buton, and Boudoin, or Bowdoin, which don't appear all that similar to me.

There are also certain French names that bear a similarity to Bouterse. But though they have become assimilated into French culture and, undoubtedly, pronounced in the French manner, I have found that in every case they are derived from Germanic roots. The root of the French names spelled 'bout,' is in each case the Germanic 'bod, bodo, boto,' which means messenger.
Thus: Boutard, Boudard, Botard, Bodard [bod+hard (hard)], found in the Loir et Cher and the west.
Boutault, Boutau, Boutaud, Boutaut, Bouteau, Bouteaud, Bouteaux, and diminutives, Boutaudon, Boutaudou [bod+walden (govern, command)] in Vienne, Nièvre.
Bout, and diminutives, Boutet, Botet [bod] Indre-et-Loire.
Bouther, Bouthier, Boutier, Bouttier, Bouterin, Boutheron, Boutheyraud, and diminutive Boutherin [bod+hari (armed)] especially Doubs.

To Dutch speakers, Bouterse is a typical Zeeland name. The dialectical suffix '-se' is clearly a marker meaning 'son (of)' and is found attached to other family names. It follows the form of '-son' and '-sen' in Germanic languages in general, including English. This is, perhaps, the place to remind us all that Dutch (to be precise, Frisian) is the language closest to English. Not being a Dutch speaker and only an amateur linguist, this is one of the facts that has led (or, perhaps, misled) me in my musings in this field. So, all my conclusions are to be taken with a grain of salt and are subject to review by experts.

To approach the name from a broader perspective I decided, just as an experiment, to remove the dialectical suffix and procede with Bouters or even Bouter, both of which are still found. It seems to me the root of the name is 'bout,' which means 'bolt, deadbolt, or flatiron.' And that 'bouter' would mean 'one who makes or works with bolts, etc,' which would put it in the extensive category of occupational surnames. (There is even a Bouterman.) Having gone this far, I realized that there are other Dutch words which are identical except for the initial consonant. That is, there are many '-out' words in Dutch, as there are '-olt' words in English. (There is also the possibility that the root could be 'boud,' meaning 'bold, brave, or valiant,' but that would require a linguist to accept the likelihood of such consonant shifts, which are not always as simple as they look at first glance.)
There is a Boudens in Zeeland in 1451, a Boutens from Zeeland, 1589 (on the Mayflower!), and a Boutense from around 1790.

I decided to look up (I must confess to Googling) other forms of the word 'X-outers' where X is another consonant. I was flabbergasted. Leaving out the vowels (after all, even I could see that 'Aouterse' looked unlikely) there are 19 consonants in Dutch, excluding Q and X which are used mostly for foreign words. In all but one case the word produced was a surname; in the other it was, at least, a word. The results, with comments, are below.

B. Bouters. Also Bouwterse, from ca.1790.(See above. Also see OED under bout.)

C. Couters, from 1419. Couter, or cowter, is also an ancient English word for a type of elbow armor.

D. Douters. Douters is a coffeehouse chain: no origin known. Douter is also an antique English word for a type of candle quencher.

F. Fouters. Fouters Bistro is a famous Ayrshire pub. 'Fout' is Dutch for 'error, mistake.'

G. Gouters, from 1668. (See also OED under gout, meaning watercourse.) ['Goud' is Dutch for 'gold.']

H. Houters, from 1685. Also Houtters, Van Houters. 'Hout' is Dutch for 'timber, wood.'

J. Jouters. Jouters were also travelling fishmongers in old Cornwall.

K. Kouters. (Especially in North Brabant.) 'Kout' is Dutch for 'chat, chatter.'

L. Louters. (But perhaps from French.) Also archaic English verb, 'lout,' 'to bend, bow, or stoop,' so perhaps 'one who...'

M. Mouters. Dutch: 'malters,' as in 'mouters en brouwers,' 'malters and brewers.' From 'mout,' meaning 'malt.'

N. Nouters. (Especially in Belgium?)

P. Pouters. A Scots and English name. Also, 'one who pouts,' thus a type of pigeon, the frequency of references making it impossible to find anything else on the internet.

R. (Routers.) Another word, the frequency of which in English, both in the workshop and in computers, obscured all other references. But the English 'router,' meaning 'robber, ruffian, bully' is 16th century. See OED for other archaic meanings of 'rout.' And the Dutch word 'route,' means road, way, class, plan.'

S. Souters, from 1425. Scots dialect: souters are cobblers (Burns).

T. Touters. Dutch, 'touter,' is a 'see-saw.' Also an English word.

V. Vouters, from 1606. Also De Vouters.

W. Wouters. [Also Dutch 'woud,' meaning 'forest, wood.']

Y/IJ. Youters. One of the earliest settlers of Schnectady, NY. Also, became Yoder.

Z. Zouters. Dutch 'zout,' means 'salt, salty.' 'Zouten,' means to add salt or salt to preserve (something).

In addition to the form 'X-outers,' there is also the name 'Outters,' or its variants, Houters, Wouters, which dates from at least 1661. It seems clear, therefore, that the form 'Bouters' is so integrated into the general style of Dutch names that looking for its origin elsewhere seems contrarian, and certainly would require more concrete evidence than we are likely to find at this late date.
There is also a small town in Belgium, just 45 miles from Zeeland, named Boutersem. I wonder what that means?...