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From Middle Dutch suster, from Old Dutch swester, from Proto-Germanic *swestēr, from Proto-Indo-European *swésōr. The sense “nurse” developed around 1900 due to nuns' activity in institutional care, especially from the mid nineteenth century until the mid twentieth century.


  • IPA(key): /ˈzʏstər/
  • (file)
  • Hyphenation: zus‧ter
  • Rhymes: -ʏstər


zuster f (plural zusters, diminutive zustertje n)

  1. (somewhat formal) sister (female sibling)
    Synonym: zus
  2. sister (fictive female kin member)
  3. sister (nun)
    Synonym: non
  4. (female) nurse (woman who provides care for the ill)
    Synonyms: pleegzuster, verpleegster, ziekenzuster

Usage notes[edit]

  • (female medical nurse): Zuster generally is not used anymore as a job title in medical organisations, where verpleegkundige, verpleger or verpleegster (the latter specifically for women) are the usual titles. It remains a common term in everyday language, however.

Derived terms[edit]


  • Afrikaans: suster
  • Berbice Creole Dutch: sosro, sosoro
  • Indonesian: suster
  • Skepi Creole Dutch: soster