Tag Archives: language

Useful Scandinavian words to start using in English

February 26, 2015 | 19 Comments

Image: The utterly brilliant satwcomic.com

The best untranslatable Scandi words you need to include in your everyday use from now on and forever

We have some great words that deserve to be used. Thank you to everybody who wrote in with suggestions – we got far too many words to use them all, but we have included our best ones here.


(pronounced [ˈlɑ̀ːɡɔm]). A very Swedish word. It means not too much, not too little. Just the right amount. You can have a lagom amount of coffee, for example. How many meatballs do you want? Lagom, please. Your shower can be lagom hot. Your coffee lagom strong.  It expresses a sense of balance and satisfaction with having your needs met without needing excess.


A Swedish word meaning ‘messy hair after having sex’. Yes, we have a word for that. ‘Hi Brenda, you have knullrufs today – I guess your date went well last night?’


An old Sami word meaning ‘the distance reindeer can travel before needing to urinate’. Used as a distance measure, as in “ There’s a Poronkusema to his house’ (7 kilometres, in case you were wondering).


A Swedish word meaning ‘ to meet up for a cup of coffee and a bun/cake. You can Fika as a noun or verb – to fika or go for a fika. It’s casual, but you can fika with your friends, or even have a fika date. You can fika with colleagues at work or even fika with your family. It’s a social thing: you can’t really fika alone.

Hygge (hyggelig)

The ultimate Danish word. It means a state of lovely cosiness, on your own or with people you like. Doesn’t have to involve food, but it involves good feelings and happiness. You can hygge in front of the telly, or you can hygge at the local café. In front of the log fire with a good book is a nice place to hygge, too.

Same word in Norwegian is Koselig.


A Danish word, meaning ‘tooth butter’. Meaning: There is so much butter on your bread that your teeth leave bitemarks.

Sambo and Mambo

In Sweden, if you live with your partner, you have a sambo. Samman = together and Bo = live. If you live at home with your mother, you Mambo. Yes, really.


A great Finnish word, literally: a comma fucker. A pedant; a person who corrects trivial or meaningless things. A person who believes it is their destiny to stamp out all spelling and punctuation mistakes. As in ‘Seriously, don’t be such a pilkunnussija’.


A Danish dialect word that describes feeling under the weather, a little bit tired and just not quite right and have no desire for food. (Pronounced with a soft j, not a hard one).


A brilliant Norwegian word that simply means: To sit outside and enjoy a beer.


A Finnish word that means: “I wonder if I should run around aimlessly?”


Norwegian. Literally, Cable Salad. When all your cables and leads are mixed together.


Norwegian and Danish word that means: That intoxicatingly euphoric feeling you experience when you’re first falling in love. Pre-real-love. More than fancy, less than love.


A Swedish word, meaning ‘lens louse’ – Someone who always wants to have their face in a photo.


Swedish. To steal fruit off trees. Eg. ‘Hey Kalle, let’s go palla in Andersson’s garden– they have pear trees and plums, too’.

No doubt word enthusiasts will now email us saying the English word is “scrumping”. But as far as we could work out, you can only scrump apples. Let us know if we’re wrong about that, though.


The Danish word for ‘clearance sale’ (you can find this one almost always somewhere written largely across the store’s front windows). Literally: Race to the end.


Swedish word, literally meaning Squeeze Day. If there is a bank holiday then a working day and then another day off, that working day will become a ‘squeeze day’ – and we’ll all be off work.


A Danish word for gossiping and chitchat. (The d is soft)


What you call someone who has had sex with someone you’ve already had sex with. A useful Swedish word.


Swedish for ‘ungoogleable’ – something you cannot Google.

Orka / Orke

Danish, Swedish, Norwegian: This verb is a tremendously common word meaning “to have the energy”: ‘Do you orka to go into Oxford Street this weekend? No, Kalle, I don’t orkar it’.


A Swedish word, literally meaning “attitude incontinence,” meaning: Inability to keep one’s opinions to oneself. As in: ‘Sorry for that long comment I left on your page, I guess I had a case of attitydinkontinens.’


Swedish. Every Friday, we do this: Fredagsmys means Friday Cosy. Eat nice food, sweets, get cosy. Only on Fridays, though. Usually involves tacos (for some reason).


Swedish for someone who refuses to enter the water. As in: ‘Get in the lake, you badkruka’.


Swedish – to wake up in the morning with the purpose of going out to hear the birds sing.

What a great collection of words – feel free to add more in the comments.

Bye for now

The Kitchen People




Great Scandinavian idioms

October 7, 2014 | 68 Comments

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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