In both Belgium and the Netherlands, the native official name for Dutch is Nederlands, and its dialects have their own names, e.g. Hollands ("
Hollandic"), West-Vlaams ("
West Flemish"), Brabants ("
 Sometimes Vlaams ("Flemish") is used as well to describe
Standard Dutch in Flanders.
 Over time, the Dutch language has been known under a variety of names. In
Middle Dutch Dietsc, Duutsc or Duitsc was used.
 It derived from the Old Germanic word
theudisk, which literarily means "popular" or "belonging to the populace". In Western Europe the term was used for the language of the local Germanic populace as opposed to
Latin, the non-native language of writing and the
 In the first text in which it is found, dating from 784, theodisce refers to
Anglo-Saxon, the West Germanic dialects of Britain.
 Although in Britain the name
Englisc replaced theodisce on an early age, speakers of West Germanic in other parts of Europe kept on using it as a reference to their local speech.
Owing to commercial and colonial rivalry in the 16th and 17th centuries between England and the Low Countries, the English cognate of theodisk developed into the
exonym Dutch, which came to refer exclusively to the people of the Netherlands. Although the wider definition of Dutch that included "German" continued for a while longer in the US and survived there in the name
Pennsylvania Dutch, a local German dialect. In the Low Countries on the contrary, Dietsch or Duytsch as
endonym for Dutch went out of common use and had been gradually replaced by the Dutch endonym Nederlands. This designation started at the
Burgundian court in the 15th century, although the use of neder, laag, bas and inferior ("nether" or "low") to refer to the area known as the Low Counties, goes back further in time. Earlier the Romans have been referring to the region as
Germania Inferior ("Lower" Germania).
 It is a reference to the Low Countries' downriver location at the
Rhine–Meuse–Scheldt delta near the
Vlaemsch, Hollandsch or Brabantsch were locally used endonyms to refer to the Dutch language as a whole.
 Apart from these, the name Nederlands received since 1551 strong competition from the name Nederduits (literally "Low Dutch", i.e. "Dutch"). It is a
calque of the before mentioned Roman province Germania Inferior. Early grammarians linked the name of the Dutch language to the Romans, in an attempt to give it more prestige. In addition, the Dutch exonym Hoogduits (literarily "High Dutch", i.e. the Germanic dialects spoken on higher grounds) for the German standard language came into use.
However, the 19th century saw the rise of
dialectology and the categorisation of dialects. German dialectologists termed the Germanic varieties spoken in the mountainous south of Germany as Hochdeutsch ("High German"). Subsequently, Germanic varieties spoken in the north were designated as Niederdeutsch ("Low German"). These were in the Dutch language area calqued as the exonyms Nederduits and Hoogduits and referred now to the Germanic spoken in the German state. As a result, the Hoog ("High") was dropped in the Dutch exonym Hoogduits in the sense of the German standard language, meaning that Duits narrowed down as Dutch exonym for German. Moreover, Nederduits lost its meaning as endonym for Dutch, and Nederlands prevailed as sole Dutch endonym.