Versteegh graduated from Radboud University in 1977, the subject of his doctoral dissertation having been the influence of Greek
on Arabic. He was a lecturer in the Department of Middle Eastern Studies until 1987, when he took a position at the Netherlands Institute in Cairo for two years. Versteegh returned to Radboud in 1989, and in 2011 he became professor emeritus
. Versteegh's research and views on the Arabic language
and its evolution have been described as groundbreaking.