Great Scandinavian idioms

Posted by Bronte Aurell | Community, Fun stuff, Scandi Life

Great Scandinavian idioms is something we’ve been meaning to write about for ages. Thank you to all those who shared their favourite idiom on Facebook the other day – we laughed so hard we cried at some of these.

We also realised we frequently use some of the expressions and idioms when we’re speaking English in the shop – and no wonder people look at us as if we’re a bit weird when we say things like ‘no cows on the ice’.

Enjoy the list.

The Kitchen People


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‘Låtsas som att det regnar’ (Pretend that it’s raining) (Swedish)

Meaning: To act normally, so as not to attract any attention


Finns det hjärterum så finns det stjärterum (If there’s room in heart there’s room for the arse) (Swedish)

Meaning: Everybody can fit in here)


Skägget i brevlådan – Caught with your beard in the mailbox (Swedish)

Meaning: “To be caught with your pants down.”


Näytän sulle, mistä kana pissii  – Let me show you where a chicken pees from (Finnish)

Meaning ‘Let me show you how it’s done’.


At træde i spinaten –  “to step in the spinach” (Danish)

Meaning: To make a mistake


Jeg er kold i røven – I’m cold in the ass (Danish)

Meaning: I don’t care


Dra dit pepperen gror – Go where the pepper grows (Swedish)

Meaning: Go to hell.


Även små grytor har öron – even small saucepans have ears (Swedish)

Meaning: the kids might hear

Det ligger en hund begraven här” –  there is a dog buried here (Swedish)

Meaning: there’s something fishy going on.



Det blæser en halv pelican – Its blowing half a pelican (Danish)

Meaning: It’s really windy


Født bak en brunost –  born behind a brown cheese (Norwegian)

Meaning: the person is a bit slow


Hej hopp i blåbärsskogen! – Hello jump in the blueberry forest!

Meaning: A cheerful expression to be used when you are a bit surprised (Swedish)


Han har taget billeten – he has taken the ticket (Danish)

Meaning: He’s dead


Oma lehmä ojassa – Own cow in the ditch  (Finnish).

Meaning: Someone has an ulterior selfish motive behind an action


Nu har du skitit i det blå skåpet: Now you have shit in the blue cupboard (Swedish)

Meaning: When you really have made a fool out of yourself.


Att lägga lök på laxen – To put onion on the salmon (Swedish)

Meaning: To make things even worse…


Bæsje på leggen – poop on your calf (Norwegian)

Meaning: Make a mistake


Inte för allt smör i hela Småland – Not for all the butter in Småland (SW)

Meaning: Not for all the tea in China.


Å svelge noen kameler  – To swallow some camels (Norwegian)

Meaning: to give in


Ligeved og næsten slår ingen mand af hasten – almost and close doesn’t knock a man off his horse (Danish)

Meaning: Close, but no cigar


å være midt i smørøyet – To be in the middle of the butter melting in the porridge (Norwegian)

Meaning:  to be in a very favourable place or situation


kiertää kuin kissa kuumaa puuroa – To pace around hot porridge like a cat (Finnish)

Meaning: To beat about the bush


Under isen – meaning “Under the ice” (Swedish)
Meaning: feeling a bit depressed


At hoppe på limpinden – to jump on the Prittstick (Danish)

Meaning: To take the bait


Ingen fara på taket – no danger on the roof (Swedish)

Meaning: No worries


Han tog benene på nakken. He took his legs on the back of his neck (Danish)

Meaning: He hurried


Der er ingen ko på isen – There are no cows on the ice (Swedish, Danish)

Meaning: Nothing to worry about


Han har stillet træskoene – “He took off his clogs” (Danish).

Meaning: “He died”.


Du er helt ude og cycle – You’re completely out cycling (Danish)

Meaning: You’re completely wrong


Dra dit pepperen gror –  Go where the pepper grows (Swedish)

Meaning: Go to hell!


Du har virkeligt skudt papegøjen – you’ve really shot the parrot (Danish) Meaning:  You’ve been lucky


Ingenting att hänga i julgranen – Nothing to hang on the Christmas tree (Swedish)

Meaning: Not special enough


Han har roterende fis i kasketten –  He’s  got rotating crap in his cap (Danish)

Meaning: He’s not quite all there


Er det hestens fødselsdag? – Is it the horse’s birthday? (Danish)

Meaning: The rye bread is too thick on my open sandwich


Sånt är livet när kjolen är randig – That’s life when the skirt is striped (Swedish)

Meaning: Such is life


Jeg aner ugler I mosen – I suspect there are owls in the moss (Danish)

Something fishy going on


At være oppe på lakridserne – to be up on the liquorices (Danish)

Meaning to be very attentive or busy



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