Flemish also called Flemish Dutch, Belgian Dutch, or Southern Dutch is a Low Franconian dialect cluster of the Dutch language, as spoken in Flanders, a historical region in northern Belgium, by Flemings, the dominant ethnic group of the region. Along with Flanders, it is also spoken to some extent in French Flanders and the Dutch Zeelandic Flanders by approximately 6.5 million people.
The term Flemish itself has become ambiguous. Nowadays, it is used in at least five ways, depending on the context. These include:
  1. An indication of Dutch written and spoken in Flanders including the Dutch standard language as well as the non-standardized dialects, including intermediate forms between vernacular dialects and the standard. Some linguists avoid the term Flemish in this context and prefer the designation Belgian-Dutch or South-Dutch
  2. A synonym for the so-called intermediate language in Flanders region, the Tussentaal
  3. An indication of the non-standardized dialects and regiolects of Flanders region
  4. An indication of the non-standardized dialects of only the former County of Flanders, ie the current provinces of West Flanders and East Flanders, Zeelandic Flanders and Frans-Vlaanderen
  5. An indication of the non-standardized West Flemish dialects of the province of West Flanders, the Dutch Zeelandic Flanders and French Frans-Vlaanderen
MultiTree considers Flemish to include the four principal Dutch dialects in the Flemish region : Brabantian, East Flemish, West Flemish and Limburgish as well as three other dialects. Glottolog considers Flemish to be a separate language, which includes the dialects French Flemish and West Flemish. Ethnologue considers Limburgish and West Flemish to be separate languages.


Dutch is the majority language in northern Belgium, being used in written language by three-fifths of the population of Belgium. It is one of the three national languages of Belgium, together with French and German, and is the only official language of the Flemish Region.
The various Dutch dialects spoken in Belgium contain a number of lexical and a good amount of grammatical features that distinguish them from the standard Dutch. Basic Dutch words can have a completely different meaning in Flemish or imply different context. As in the Netherlands, the pronunciation of Standard Dutch is affected by the native dialect of the speaker.
All Dutch dialect groups spoken in Belgium are spoken in adjacent areas of the Netherlands as well. East Flemish forms a continuum with both Brabantic and West Flemish. Standard Dutch is primarily based on the Hollandic dialect  and to a lesser extent on Brabantian, which is the dominant dialect in Flanders, as well as in the south of the Netherlands.


The supra-regional, semi-standardized colloquial form of Dutch spoken in Belgium uses the vocabulary and the sound inventory of the Brabantic dialects. It is often called an "in-between-language" or "intermediate language," intermediate between dialects and standard Dutch. Despite its name, Brabantian is the dominant contributor to the Flemish Dutch tussentaal.
It is a rather informal variety of speech, which occupies an intermediate position between vernacular dialects and the standard language. It incorporates phonetic, lexical and grammatical elements not part of the standard language but drawn from local dialects.
It is a relatively new phenomenon that has been gaining popularity during the past decades. Some linguists note that it seems to be undergoing a process of standardisation or that it is evolving into a koiné variety.
Tussentaal is slowly gaining popularity in Flanders because it is used a lot in television dramas and comedies. Often, middle-class characters in a television series will be speaking tussentaal, lower-class characters use the dialect of the location where the show is set, and upper-class characters will speak Standard Dutch. That has given tussentaal the status of normalcy in Flanders. It is slowly being accepted by the general population, but it has met with objections from writers and academics who argue that it dilutes the usage of Standard Dutch. Tussentaal is used in entertainment television but rarely in informative programmes, which normally use Standard Dutch.


The English adjective Flemish, meaning "from Flanders", was probably borrowed from Old Frisian. The Old Dutch form is flāmisk, which becomes vlamesc, vlaemsch in Middle Dutch and Vlaams in Modern Dutch.
The word Vlaams itself is derived from flâm, an Ingaevones word, from the Germanic flauma, which means 'flow or current'. The name Vlaanderen was formed from a stem flâm-, with a suffix -ðr- attached.