Gezellig is posted here, and this supplements that post.
How interesting that a translator, of whom I inquired, amended his explanation several times, as thoughts percolated in his head. That very fact illustrates the subtlety and scope of the Dutch word. He said,
comfy; feeling cosy
Note: and the idea of "family feeling" is there
Note: there is a real sense of "belonging" here
Note: not necessarily "family" but feeling good among friends for sure
Note or: "like a bug in a rug"
Note: "comfy" = comfortable in the widest range of contexts
One example given was, "Doe maar gezellig" (play nicely, kids).
Mother said, "Play nice, kids," and we were all filled with the homey, relaxed feeling of being in a welcoming, sheltering and tolerant place with people with whom we feel a sense of "belonging", marred only by our inability to find the untranslatable part of gezellig.
Here's what my Dutch etymological dictionary has to say that's pertinent: "Gezel znw., mnl. gheselle m. 'gezel, makker, vriend, genoot, gelijke, jongmensch, snaak' = ohd. gisell(i)o m. 'huisgenoot, gezel, vriend' (nhd gesell), mnd. geselle m. 'gezel, deelgenoot, snaak'. Wsch. is 't woord in 't Ohd. opgekomen en heeft zich van daar uit verbreid. Uit 't Mnd. weer de. gesel, zw. gesäll. *ʒe-sal-jan- is van ohd. sal (ndl. zaal) 'vertrek, woning' gevormd en beteekent oorspr. sal 'genoot'. Vgl. gezin en voor de bet.ontwikkeling vgl. kameraad, maat. — Gezellig bnw komt sedert 't Mhd. Mnd. Mnl voor."This message has been edited. Last edited by: jheem,
It doesn't mean anything. Dutch is a write-only language. In other words the text is untranslatable. But seriously, it traces gezellig back to a Proto-Germanic word *ʒe-sal-jan- meaning 'companion, friend, buddy' which is related to the German word Saal 'room, chamber, hall'. The idea being that your buddies are folks you spend time with in the (dining) room (mead) hall. Cf. the Latin etymology of companion which has to do with breaking bread together. I assume that Yiddish zelig (a proper name) is probably related to this as well, but I could not confirm it.