Tag Archives: svenska

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.

Lagom

(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.

Knullruffs

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?’

Poronkusema

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).

Fika

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.

Tandsmør

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.

Pilkunnussija

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’.

Jamsk

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).

Utepils

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

Juoksentelisinkohan

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

Kabelsalat

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

Forelsket

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.

Linslus

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

Palla

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.

Slutspurt

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.

Klämdag

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.

Sliddersladder

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

Buksvåger

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

Ogooglbar

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’.

Attitydinkontinens

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.’

Fredagsmys

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).

Badkruka

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

Gökotta

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

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15 ways you know you’re a real Swedish ex-pat

October 22, 2014 | 1 Comment

1.    All other Swedes are your best friends when you meet them out on the town. Even that weird guy with the Viking tattoo who sings ‘Du Gamla Du Fria’ really slowly, with his eyes closed.

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2.    You go on and on and on about how A-MA-ZING Sweden is but don’t really know how to reply when people ask you why you left.

3.      You take three inter-connecting city buses AND a train on a Saturday afternoon just to get to Ikea so you can eat meatballs and sit in a sofa named after your home town.

4.  Fridays at 4 pm you start humming ‘Fredagsmys’ in the office and start thinking of dill chips.

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5.     You shake your head at everybody else’s snow problems. It’s just not like home. They just don’t understand ‘real’ snow.

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6.   You argue with your partner whether to watch Kalle Anka on Christmas eve Swedish time or local time (even though it’s on DVD and you’ve seen it every Christmas since 1982)

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7.   You correct other people’s pronunciation of IKEA. It’s just not right. Eee-kay-ah. Yes, really.

8.   You get real tears in your eyes when you see the first Julmust of the year.

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9.   You finally accept that Korv Stroganof is not the original version of Stroganof.

10.   You have a Spotify playlist entitled ‘Heja Sverige’.

11.  You suddenly realise you no longer know the name of your Prime Minister as you’ve been out of Sweden longer than you ever lived there.

12.   You happily label any non-Swede a coward for not eating fermented herring – despite there being no chance in hell you’ll ever eat it yourself.

13.   You are no longer surprised when Non-Swedes tell you they don’t actually use a cheese slicer.

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14.    Severe liquorice withdrawal symptoms, resulting in hour long trips across cities just to get hold of some ‘really good stuff

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15.   And when you go back home to Sweden, things seem sort of just… different.

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