14 Swedish words that give me the giggles

Tell a Swede you’re learning Swedish, and within 30 seconds you’ll be sucked into a deep, nuanced explanation of what “lagom” means. It’s practically a rule of nature. If you’re familiar with the story of Goldilocks and The Three Bears, you’ll understand lagom. It’s when things are not too big, not too small, not too hot, not too cold, not too much, not too little… when things are just right.

Once you get a little deeper into Swedish, however, you’ll start finding a treasure trove of hilariously strange words and unexpected combinations. Jump on a bus, and you’ll find yourself on a journey to—horrors!—some unexplained slutstation… or last stop. Driving a car? Make sure you know the difference between an infart and an utfart, and breathe a sigh of relief when you finally get through yet another stretch of highway construction: fullfart ahead!

Those are just the tip of the iceberg. Here are some of my favorite Swedish words that make me giggle, even more than a year in!

Bra: Not what you think it is! Bra just means good.

BH: Now that’s a bra! Even better, BH stands for brösthållare, which literally means “breast holder.” Yes. Who wouldn’t get turned on by a sexy breast holder?

Tandkött, Bröstvårta: Your gums, I hate to tell you, are nothing but “teeth meat.” And your nipples? Breast warts. This is helping you love your body, right?

Slutspurt: Oh, baby, oh, baby! Every time I see a slutspurt, I get in a shopping mood. That’s because slutspurt is usually used in a context that means “final sale.” What were you thinking?

The slutspurts are just out of control in Sweden!! Photos: Kate Wiseman, Katie Harger

Tjuvtitta, Tjuvlyssna: Att tjuva is to steal, so tjuvtitta is to “steal-look,” or peek at something you’re not supposed to! Similarly, tjuvlyssna is to “steal-listen,” or eavesdrop. What perfectly descriptive combinations.

Sockergris: In English, the slightly sugar-addicted might have a sweet tooth. In Sweden, the candy fanatics among us are called “sugar pigs.” I swear to all that is holy, the diet starts now.

Trivselbit: You know your great-great-aunt, the one who hosted three hour family dinners on real silver dinnerware and looked disapprovingly at you if you stole the last cookie from under her watchful eye? Well, she was teaching you a valuable life lesson for living in Sweden—don’t ever be the one to take the last piece of whatever it is you’re serving. That last pastry or piece of cake is the trivselbit, the comfort or security piece, and leaving it in peace is a sacred rule of Swedish table manners. Take the second-to-last piece, though, and you’re fine.

This photo documents the night I learned “trivselbit.” We ordered three appetizer plates for a party of 19, and at the end of the course, there were three lonely appetizers left at the bottom of each plate. Unplanned, uncoordinated. Photo: Kate Wiseman

Kiss, puss: When is kiss not a kiss? When it’s pee. When is puss not a word that would result in X-rated search results? When it’s a kiss. You’ve been warned.

Gift: Gift (pronounced like “yift”) means “married.” Gift also means “poisonous.” Perhaps I am moving my relationship to the United States.

Nattuggla: Such a fun word to say: not-oogla!  It means “night owl,” someone who likes to stay up late at night. Cuteness.

Kock: The Swedish word for “cook,” as in a Top Chef cook. Apparently this poses a fairly common Swenglish problem (or at least a common situation to joke about) given the way its pronounced. Imagine you’re on vacation somewhere and you have just the most delicious meal ever. What do you say? My compliments to the kock…

Mästerkock on Channel 4 is one of my favorite shows! It means “Top Chef,” of course… Photo: Screenshot from Tv4.se

Farthinder: Yes, I have a 12 year old boy’s sense of humor. Fart means speed, so a farthinder is a speed bump. Not that this will stop me from making ridiculous jokes involving beans.

Blåmärke, blåögd: A bruise, taken literally, is a “blue mark.” Calling someone “blue-eyed,” or blåögd, is not just a physical description—it means he or she is naïve.

Kackerlacka!: I love this word. Kackerlacka, kackerlacka, kackerlacka!!! Too bad it means cockroach instead of something fun like “surprise” or “birthday party.”

That’s it for now! What other Swedish words make you laugh?


UPDATE: I wrote a follow-up post to this article. Follow the link to read 25 MORE Swedish words (and phrases) that make me giggle!

  • Kelsey Formost

    Kate! This is absolutely hilarious…so excited to follow your adventures!

    • http://www.transatlanticsketches.com Kate

      Hey Kelsey! Thanks so much for reading! Hope NYC is still treating you well :)  

  • http://missmeadowsvintagepearls.blogspot.com/ Miss Meadows

    I’m Swedish – born and raised here. But even I have never heard the word “trivselbit”. I do know what it means tho…We Swedes have a problem taking that last piece ;) I love to hear how people from other countries experience Sweden and our language tho. You’re so used to things you have grown up with, but how do OTHER people experience it?! Lovely! This last year I have gotten a few American and English friends, who now live in Sweden. One of them wrote on Facebook a while ago: “Well, this is it for tonight…Or as they say in Sweden “slut”…”. One of his english friends asked him if “slut” in swedish meant the same thing as in english…Not quite… :)

    • http://www.transatlanticsketches.com Kate

      Hey Miss Meadows! I’ve only heard trivselbit used once, when I was out at a restaurant with a bunch of friends. We had ordered three appetizers to share, and twenty minutes later, when the waiter came back, there was one lonely fried vegetable fritter in each basket. I was amazed. Sometimes Swedish manners really crack me up! 

      Thanks so much for reading! :)  

  • Lizardek

    Geggamoja has always been my favorite Swedish word. But I admit farthinder always gives me a giggle.

    • http://www.transatlanticsketches.com Kate

      Geggamoja! Now *that* is a great word. I had never heard of it before but now… I think I’m in love! Sounds like it should be a battle cry from badgers the Redwall books: GEGGAMOJA!

  • Monica-USA

    Tack for the giggles Kate!!! Farthinder is definitely a new fun word now!!! :o )

    • http://www.transatlanticsketches.com Kate

      Varsågod, Monica! :)  

  • Tomas

    Kom ihåg, det är inte farten som dödar, det är smällen .. or in swenglish:
    Remember, it’s not the fart that kills, it’s the smell  ;)

    • http://www.transatlanticsketches.com Kate

      Haha yes! Love it! Thanks for that… will be pulling this fun phrase out at the next family dinner. :)  

  • Malin

    Haha sjukt roligt, men du ska veta att jag sitter inne på massor av konstiga ord;)

  • Annasaunders

    Prick! En rolig prick!

  • Anna Schröder

    I wonder if ‘trivselbit’ is specific for Skåne (or southern Sweden) because I’ve *never* heard that one before. Nor has it ever been a “crime” in my parts of Sweden to take the last piece, you just ask if anybody else wants it and if not, you’re free to dig in. If anyone else wants it too, you split the piece and share.

    And ‘puss’ is more of a peck, I would say. A ‘kyss’ is a kiss (the k pronounced like ‘sh’).

    • Anonymous

      I never heard the word either, but the custom still exist or at least existed. People have tried to get ride of it since I was a kid (30 years ago) but it still in many people that considered it bad tone to take the last piece unless you been explictily asked by the hostes (or host), some even condieed it bad tone to take the last piece unless you been explictily asked at least twice by the hostes (but those are a dwindeling minority, thank good).

      • http://www.transatlanticsketches.com Kate

        Being the American in the group, I have an excuse for violating all these rules that my nice friends follow. Last piece of cake? SNATCH! Oh, sorry, was I not supposed to do that?? Oops… :)

        Thanks for reading!

        • wayne anderson

          All that does is reinforce the stereotypes of americans being pushy and rude. Way to go.

          • Unisebra

            I’m from Estonia and here we say that “kes lõpu sööb, see uue toob” – meaning: the one who eats the last bit, brings the new (cake) on the table.

          • http://www.transatlanticsketches.com Kate

            Yes! This is so awesome. I like this approach much better… more cake for everyone! Thanks so much for reading! :)

          • Unisebra

            It is my pleasure. It is one of the most wonderful blogs I have happened to read lately. As I am going to Sweden for a month (at first) and learning swedish now, then your blog’s topic is very fascinating to me. And your style somehow reminds me very much of a person I used to know years ago…a confident, witty young woman. Yei! Love the language, love the counrty…keep up the good work. (:

      • Thea

        I haven’t heard the word either, but I’m of course familiar of the phenomenon. However, I think you can take the last piece if you’re with family or close friends, but you have to ask them if it’s OK or if you have to share the “trivselbit” with them. So, we’re about to overcome it… But it takes some time…

      • Fredrik

        But I think it’s always okay to split the last piece in half and take one of the smaller pieces. The next person can then split the remaining piece again etc.

    • http://www.transatlanticsketches.com Kate

      Maybe calling it a “crime” is a little bit of an exaggeration… :) Thanks for reading!

    • Cecilia Jackson

      i never heard “trivselbit” before, but i agree on the social observation on the taboo of taking the last piece of food, cake or what have you. i have a swedish/ kurdish friend that calls
      that last bit that is always left on a swedish servingplate “Svenskbiten”

      • http://www.transatlanticsketches.com Kate

        Haha, love it! Will be using that the next time I’m out with friends. Thanks for reading!

    • http://herrborjesson.wordpress.com Börjesson

      I’m another Swede (from Göteborg) who’s never heard the word “trivselbit”. I like it and will start to use it from now on!

      The concept of the reluctancy to take the last piece is familiar, though. My mother is German, and she always calls it “Anstandshappen” or sometimes “Anstandshäppchen”. Apparently, it means something like “decency piece”. So I guess it’s not a uniquely Swedish peculiarity!

  • Anonymous

    “Slutspurt” in the right picture is danish or norwegian, it is definitely not swedish. “Herresko” is danish, so I think “slutspurt” is also danish.

    • Guest

      “Slutspurt” is used here in Sweden as well.

      • Anonymous

        I wrote “…in the right picture…”

        • PA

          lol, I read that “right” as in correct.. not as in right, the opposite of left… was confusing….

    • Ingrid Forsberg

      You’re right that the right picture is in danish or norwegian, but the left picture is in swedish. That is – “slutspurt” is both a word in swedish and norwegian/danish!

      • http://www.transatlanticsketches.com Kate

        Yep, exactly! Thanks for reading :)

    • Darth_smurf

      What are you talking about? It is definitely Swedish. Only comment I would make is that it’s not strictly related to sales. It comes from the final part of a race, where one rushes (“spurtar”) to the finish line.

      • Anonymous

        You obviously missed the part where I wrote “in the right picture”.

      • http://www.transatlanticsketches.com Kate

        Thanks for adding that! Since I don’t run track or watch much sports on tv, I haven’t heard it that often in that context. Good to know, though!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=579421568 Anders Gardebring

      While that is true we do use “slutspurt” in Sweden as well.

      • Anonymous

        I know and I never disputed that.

    • http://www.transatlanticsketches.com Kate

      You’re right about the picture. We took it in Copenhagen! Nice eyes with the “herresko.” And thanks for reading!

  • http://twitter.com/dabitch Åsk Dabitch

    BH stands för bysthållare. Not brösthållare. Still funny, just not quite as naughty.

    • http://www.transatlanticsketches.com Kate

      Thanks for the correction :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=651342065 Mattias Berge

    C’mon people, let us all agree that’s “slutspurt” originated in Skåne, be it Danish or Swedish ;)

  • Anonymous

    Tjuva is not to steal (at least not if you’re over 8). Stjäla is the correct word. Thief, however, is called tjuv, which explains tjuvlyssna: to listen like a thief.

    • Anonymous

      Actually it is. It is not the proper word in educated company, but it is used almost as much as ‘stjäla’ in common speak.But quite a bit less in writing.

      • Cecilia Jackson

        i guess it depens on which part of the country you are in. in the far south, like skåne or småland, tjuva might be more common. but in Stockholm nobody older than 8 would use it…

        • Ericsson

          Stockholm speaks the “normal” way haha

  • Ola

    Slutspurt actually means “home strech”. But in this case, instead of meaning “the last part of a race” it quite logically means “the last part of a sale”. I’d say it’s used more often in athletic situations than in sales though.

    • http://www.transatlanticsketches.com Kate

      Thanks for the extra explanation! I shop more than I watch sports on tv, so it’s good to know about the other contexts of this word.

      Thanks for reading!

  • Jacob Karlsson

    Det är inte farten som dödar, det är smällen.

    • http://www.transatlanticsketches.com Kate

      Haha! Totally memorizing that one and using it at the next family dinner. Thanks for reading!

      • Henric

        It kind of works in enligsh as well. “It’s not the fart that kills, it’s the bang! Ha, ha…

        • Seal

          Well Henrik, it is obviously the smell of the fart, that kills.

        • Christina

          It is acually “It’s not the fart that kills, it’s the smäll.” :D
          And thanx a lot to the author for a great reading!

          • Fredrik

            exactly, and said with a strong swedish accent so people get the swenglish word play :)

  • Christian Sommer

    hahaha its too funny, thanks for making me laugh on this grey and dreary day:D. I had some problems with words like trött, being Dutch the way its pronounced as trut, means bitch for us. I just couldnt get myself to say it while learning Swedish at SFI. It did make for some hilarious lessons though.

    Most difficult word: Undersjuksköterska, my lord!

    • http://www.transatlanticsketches.com Kate

      Oof, that one is terrible. For some reason, I also find möjligt really hard to pronounce! Something about all the bending your mouth has to do really throws me for a loop!

      Thanks for reading!

    • Henric

      Not a word. Either Sjuksköterska or Undersköterska… still not easy to pronounce for a non-native I’m sure ;-)

  • Asdasd

    “gift” actually just means “poison”, “poisonous” would be “giftig”.

    • http://www.transatlanticsketches.com Kate

      My Swedish teacher is going to fail me retroactively for that. Thanks for the help! :)

  • Pingback: A Lesson in Swedish | the swedish adventure

  • http://www.runawaybrit.com Runaway Brit

    I just love the way that Swedish is so particular, take ‘hoover’ for example. Dammsugare Dust Sucker. Genius!

    • http://www.transatlanticsketches.com Kate

      Hahaha I love that one! So good! :)

      • Dutchie

        Obviously english is the odd one out here. As “Staubsauger” and “Stofzuiger” in German and Dutch respectively have the same literal meaning as the swedish word.

        • http://xn--ssongsmat-v2a.nu rotsee

          Like Norwegian, ”støvsuger”.

          • mkbest

            In Polish it’s called “odkurzacz” which mean “unduster”. :)

    • Thewayneanderson

      Hoover is an Americanism- due to the Hoover brand. In other english speaking countries it’s called a ‘Vacuum cleaner’

      • safferinsweden

        I have to disagree with you on that one.. in Britain and even South Africa “to hoover” means to vacuum we dont say vacuum cleaner.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1545888902 Lisa Spencer Piephoff

          Exactly, right. I’m from American and all the folks I know would think I was going to float around if I said I was going to hoover.

          • Mollyburtx3

            I think you mean “hover”, not “hoover”.

      • Pluto

        Actually the other way round… It’s veeery English to hoover.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Nathan-Vaughn/515218053 Nathan Vaughn

    No room for “slida”? As in, I’d like to slida into one?

    • http://www.transatlanticsketches.com Kate

      Had never heard of that one before! The given definitions at ord.se are priceless… Thanks for reading!

  • guest

    I think the male name Dick is rather funny also…

    • http://www.transatlanticsketches.com Kate

      Hehehe, yep!

  • Aaa

    What about “fartkamera” :D

    • http://www.transatlanticsketches.com Kate

      Hahaha that’s a good one! :D

  • Anna

    Another particular word is Löpband which translates to Run-tape (A treadmill in english) :)

    • http://www.transatlanticsketches.com Kate

      Yes! That one is awesome! I love the picture I get in my head with that one :)

  • Jen

    The picture of sales on shoes are not from Sweden. It´s from Denmark or Norway…

    • http://www.transatlanticsketches.com Kate

      Yes, that’s true! We took that photo in Copenhagen. Sharp eyes! It’s the same word in Swedish though, so I thought I’d include it.

  • jammy

    BH acctually stands for ”Byst hållare” = Bust holder.. -.-’

    • http://www.transatlanticsketches.com Kate

      Shoot! Close but no cigar. Still funny though :) Thanks for reading!

  • http://twitter.com/glebbsan Jakob Gleby

    Anyone English-speaking trying to learn Swedish must have a fun time!

    • http://www.transatlanticsketches.com Kate

      You know it! :) Thanks for reading!

  • http://ccchampagne.wordpress.com/ CC Champagne

    We do love to correct foreigners, don’t we? *big smile* After all, our language is such an important one in the grand scheme of things (and I am Swedish, so I am entitled to say that – though I’m sure others may not like it). Good on you for trying to learn though, so many others don’t bother! This was a hilarious read and I’ll definitely be following your blog in the future!

    • http://www.transatlanticsketches.com Kate

      Favorite comment yet. Thanks so much for reading and for the encouragement! Very much appreciated. :)

  • Bevanjf

    I still think Fönsterkitt is the funniest Swedish word….window putty!! A boring product, but when the swede’s call it “window shit” then it’s awesome

  • http://woodge.com woodge

    I love this post! And I have just a couple things to add. I feel sorry for any girl with a last name of Foster since “missfoster” means freak. And I also like how “grabben” means kid since it seems to apply to well to my own two youngsters. (I am an American currently living Ljunghusen.)

    • Cecilia

      You’re correct about the meaning of missfoster, but foster alone means fetus. Not much of a fun last name either..

      • http://woodge.com woodge

        Nice! The Fosters can’t win!

  • http://woodge.com woodge

    Oh, one more thing: Years ago when my wife went to school here, her American father gave her a sweatshirt from the University of Pittsburgh. It simply had the word “Pitt” on it. Since that commonly means “penis,” she was advised by her Swedish mother not to wear it to school.

    • http://www.transatlanticsketches.com Kate

      Haha… ouch! Talk about inconvenient false friends! :)

  • http://twitter.com/FireheadLtd Carrie-Jean Walker

    I like “infart”. I mean, like how do they do that?…

  • Monica-USA

    Thanks for all of the giggles between kiss meaning pee on occasion to farthinder!!! Oh boy I can only imagine the giggles in the Swedish lessons classes each time they begin. :o )

  • Lahlily2003

    slickepott… the thing you icing cakes with. love it!

    • http://www.transatlanticsketches.com Kate

      So good!! :) Thanks for reading!

  • Alex

    On the topic of swedish words and phrases translated to “english” by some of our less than fluent english speaking countrymen, there’s this litte gem:

    “He took off with a great fart, and vanished like a prick in the air!”

    • http://www.transatlanticsketches.com Kate

      Hahaha niiiiiiice Swenglish :)

    • Kristoffer Kjellin

      AAH, FUCK!!!! STOP IT, OMG!!!!! x’D

  • Christoffer Blomdahl

    Well there is some english words that I find rather funny, like….pineapple. sure doesnt sound very fun except that it does grow on a pinetree. And that they are alone with the word
    http://lfl93.tumblr.com/post/4234093714/ananasz-ananas-ananas-ananas-pineapple kinda shows what I mean :D

    • http://www.transatlanticsketches.com Kate

      Hahaha I love it! Thanks for sharing! :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Lars-Wallin/1278829317 Lars Wallin

    Slask, swedish for slush, is wonderfully onomatopoetic. Any word with an “u” or “ö” in it seems to be a challenge for the english speaking. Kontorslampa means desk lamp, but could be interpreted as office slut.

    • http://www.transatlanticsketches.com Kate

      You are so right about slask–didn’t know that word before! Some sounds that I think are hard are the difference between “o” and “u” (skola sounds like skula to me) and g/j sounds at the end of a word (torg, familj).

      Also, kontorslampa… my Swedish boyfriend laughed for 15 minutes about when he read that. Took me a little while to understand it, but I guess that means that I’m behind on my insults. Thanks so much for sharing!

  • http://twitter.com/avadeaux Jesper Larsson

    I wonder what it has done for the image of Sweden, Swedish film in particular, in English speaking countries that the final image of Swedish films used to be the word “SLUT”. Perhaps that’s part of the explanation for the legend of Swedish women being particularly promiscuous.

    One funny word is “leg.”, short for “legitimation”, which means “ID”, as in “please show me some ID”. To Swedes this sort of sounds like it’s English (a lot of English abbreviations have been absorbed in Swedish), so people frequently use it when they speak English. Imagine a pair of young women going into a nightclub, and the doorman, wanting to verify that they are not under-aged, tells them: “show your legs”. I wouldn’t be surprised if that happens somewhere every day.

    • http://www.transatlanticsketches.com Kate

      Interesting question. I have not watched that many classic Swedish movies, so that final image never affected my idea of Swedes. I don’t know that it’s directly related to Swedish women being considered promiscuous, but maybe…

      Good point with leg, too! Had never thought of that! :)

  • Pingback: Danegeld links 10-14 October: 1 in 40 plus Middelfart at Danegeld

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=537503941 Jonas Kruse

    Haha Kate, du är grym! Vad många sjuka ord vi har i svenskan som jag aldrig egentligen har tänkt på!
    “When is kiss not a kiss? When it’s pee. When is puss not a word that would result in X-rated search results? When it’s a kiss. You’ve been warned.” Hahah

    • http://www.transatlanticsketches.com Kate

      Tack, Jonas! Thanks so much for reading :)

  • Anonymous

    Loved this post! I have been keeping a similar list (and can I just say that “utfart” has gotten a LOT of mileage in my family?) I like two words (not necessarily what they mean, just how they sound or how the meaning is even better when translated literally. So, I like “bortrövad” (abducted) and “oavgjort” (a tie score). My Swedish is far from perfect so someone correct me if I am not translating them correctly!

  • Pingback: The Expat Blog’s Swedish Citizenship Test

  • Pingback: 25 More Swedish Words (and Phrases) That Make Me Giggle

  • hihi

    snorkråka – snot crow (booger)
    bärfis – carry fart (stink bug)
    tåfis – toe fart (feet sweat)
    tåbira – toe beer (feet sweat)
    snorgubbe – old snot man (booger)

    • http://www.transatlanticsketches.com Kate

      Hahaha these ones are awesome!! Thanks so much for adding them to the list! :)

    • Besserwisser

      Bärfis would actually translate to “berry fart”, it stems from them often sitting on berries.

  • dd

    rullstolsbunden – tied to a wheel chair
    efterbliven – created afterwards/later (retarded)

    btw one of the oldest swedish texts that is still in possession is called Codex Bildstenianus. Which means kind of Codex Picture Stone In Anus.

    • TA

      Since this blog is for not native speakers: rullstolsbunden is not used any more in Swedish, it´s rullstolsburen, carried by a wheel chair. Efterbliven is also out of use, utvecklingsförsenad, being delayed or slow in ones development, is more politically correct.

      • http://www.transatlanticsketches.com Kate

        Thank you for the clarification! I would not have known this and I appreciate the help :)

      • Rapoz

        I would not say that rullstolsbunden is the most common used word when spoken, at least when spoken. When being more formal they most likely have better words for it.

        Efterbliven is quite harsh word and it is commonly used as a bad word, most regions have different ways of dealing with that, I have never heard anyone using utvecklingsförsenad when speaking.

        • Henric

          I agree, never heard of it either. Besides, utvecklingsförsenad sounds like they will catch up later, which is most likely not the case…

  • littlesilver

    Infart and utfart. :D

    • http://www.transatlanticsketches.com Kate

      I know!! :D

  • Juha E

    oomkullrunkelig is my favorite word in swedish. Look at that! I have hard time to translate it. Maybe another can can do that. /Juha

    • http://www.transatlanticsketches.com Kate

      Hahaha what?!?! Will definitely be taking this to someone at the office and making them translate. That is awesome. Thanks so much for reading!!

      • Bjorne

        Oomkullrunkelig: Very stable and solid, “impossible to jerk into falling”, sort of. Runka (popular for wanking) originated as a a word describing a rocking movement too, just like the word jerking. This comment is un-push-into-a-fall-wankable. Extremely entertaining stuff, Kate!!!!

        • http://www.transatlanticsketches.com Kate

          What a word!! Thanks so much for the translation. I forgot to ask someone to explain it to me, and this was too funny! I’ve only ever heard runka in its inappropriate sense, so it’s so strange to see it as part of an unrelated word. Thanks again for the explanation!

  • stina

    I’m Swedish but I’ve never heard the word “trvselbit” either, I’ve heard “svenskbit” or even “skämsbit” though. The funny thing with this is that even if it such a widely spread social rule/taboo, it’s very unlikely that anyone actually would feel offended if it were to be broken, it’s more likely that the others around the table would be relieved and say something encouraging like “finally!” if someone took the last piece.

    • http://www.transatlanticsketches.com Kate

      You are so right about people being relieved when someone takes the last bite! Love it. I’ve also heard “svennebit”… it’s probably all regional differences. Thanks for reading! :)

      • Joel

        Nice blog! It’s always fun to see someone from the outside world reflect on ones own language!
        A variant on the “leaving the last piece” behaviour is the “dividing the last piece in half indefinitely” behaviour, which I find quite funny (and Swedish). :)
        “Trivselbit” was a new word for me as well!

        • http://www.transatlanticsketches.com Kate Reuterswärd

          Haha I love it! So true! Thanks a lot for reading :D

  • Henric

    As a native Swede, who lived many years in the US, I must say I had the same reflections when I first moved to the US. Then I started thinking about funny words and expressions in swedish. Do you have any English gems you want to share?
    First time I heard “fork in the road” I was a bit confused… and so on ;-)

  • Johanna

    Another funny work is fackförening. Of course its spelled differently but when you say it out loud, it sounds like a f-ck union. My english Dad always thought that word was really funny!

    • http://www.transatlanticsketches.com Kate

      Haha awesome! So true!

  • Chrisse


    I remember the Baths in my small home town that have big letters spelling “BAD”. I guess no foreigners wanna go there… :D

    • http://www.transatlanticsketches.com Kate

      Haha you are so right! :)

  • Pippi

    Picture from the shoestore is not from sweden probably Norway or Denmark bu the language on the window !
    Nice blog for me from swden it is funny how somebody else thinking about my language :)

    • http://www.transatlanticsketches.com Kate

      You’re absolutely right. It’s from Copenhagen. Slutspurt is the same in Swedish and Danish though!

  • lagom

    “Lagom is best” as we say in sweden!

    • http://www.transatlanticsketches.com Kate

      Ohh yeah! :)

  • Anonymous

    oh my i will never be able to read the word slutspurt again without giggling, never thought of it! i’m swedish but my boyfriend just moved here from the states so we have a lot of these discussions now. someone mentioned fackförening, reminded me of a hilarious story a friend told me about her mother shopping for a bag in turkey. She wanted one with lots of pockets/compartments/whatever (fack in Swedish) and didn’t know the word.. “lots of.. fack” got her some strange looks!

    • http://www.transatlanticsketches.com Kate Reuterswärd

      Haha that’s awesome! Love it. Congrats to you and your boyfriend on the big move, and thanks for reading! :)

  • ix

    I find svartsjuk interesting, meaning jealous, of course, svart=black, sjuk=ill, so jealousy is a black illness in swedish, which seems accurate to me. :) I don’t understand why “det spelar roll” means “it matters”.

    • http://www.transatlanticsketches.com Kate Reuterswärd

      absolutely correct on the svartsjuk! det spelar roll and det spelar ingen roll relates to, i think, whether something “plays a role” in something. like, “i can offer you coffee but it’s instant.” and then the person might think, “oh, that doesn’t play any role (in my decision).” at the very least, that’s the crazy connection i’ve come up with! thanks for reading the blog! :)

      • ix

        I haven’t thought of that but it seems logical. Anyway, it’s a great blog.

  • http://profiles.google.com/thelander.martin Martin thelander

    Another one is facktist, pronounced fuck this. It kinda means actually and exactly.

    • http://www.transatlanticsketches.com Kate Reuterswärd

      Good one! I like it :)

    • http://jwk.myopenid.com/ JwK

      spelled “faktiskt”, I sometimes pronounce it fuckthis’t when I’m bored, so far noone has noticed.

  • jeff wardell

    can i ask a swedish female friend said to loce love can you tell what it means thanks

  • Anonymous

    a female friend from sweden said to me close love what dose it mean

  • Anonymous

    a sedish female friend of mine said to me close love what dose it mean


    I was barely twenty when I moved to Europe with my five month old baby. This was 1968. There was no internet then, of course. We are so lucky it exists now. It facilitates life in every way. It wasn’t even that it was difficult to access information although that was true, it was that lots of information didn’t yet exist! In terms of every day life and how the internet functions, there used to be no finding an apartment to live in, or car to buy, or directions to an address, no books how how to raise a baby, no recipes online, no YouTube. It was an entirely different way to live. Anyway, I like this blog. I so miss living in Europe. My grandfather’s family came from Sweden just before he was born, my father was half Scots-Irish, half French. Anyway, I’m working on a painting and want to use Swedish in the title for it. It hadn’t occurred to me until just now that you might be able to help, but here it is: I want to suggest that the two children in the painting have something to do with harrowing (a task when farming). Originally it was “Persephone’s Children” so it also might suggest the descent/ascent from hell. If you can help, if you will, thank you. And thanks for the blog. It makes me homesick!

    • http://www.transatlanticsketches.com Kate Reuterswärd

      Hi! Thanks so much for your comment. I feel so lucky to be living abroad now rather than 40/50 years ago–I would have felt so much more isolated. Here I can still be relatively in touch with my family and friends back in the States… not so bad.

      Unfortunately, I’m not good enough at Swedish to come up with a wonderful and appropriate name for your painting. Maybe you could check out the Swedish language blog at Transparent.com (http://www.transparent.com/swedish/). Good luck!

  • Pixiemom

    Very funny!!! Thanks for sharing…brought back some fun memories for me!
    I was asked at my friends dinner table what we, in English, called the thing in the middle of a cherry. My friends father knew full well what my answer would be….when I said pit…my girlfriends brother (who was 12 at the time) turn deep red and almost passed out at the table in embarrassment!! After, everyone else was able to control their laughter, they told me what “pitt” was in Swedish…I then wanted to die (I was 17 at the time).

    Tack….one of my favs…”thanks/thank you” not something you use to hang a poster on the wall!!

    • http://www.transatlanticsketches.com Kate Reuterswärd

      Hahaha I love this!! Too funny :)

  • Fanny

    About “sockergris” or “sugar pig”. :) I’m not sure, but it might have something to do with the pig being the figure for gluttony (one of the seven deadly sins). And because “sockergris” is a word for someone who gorge in sweets, I think it could be an explanation of the words lineage. Just a thought to consider. :)

    • http://www.transatlanticsketches.com Kate Reuterswärd

      Very cool! Thanks for the extra tidbit :)

  • http://kakuidori.blogspot.com/ Kakuidori

    haha we have that ‘nattugla’ in german language, too, same with bh :-)

    thank you for your blog, given me some good laughs and new words to my swedish vocabularies! two years to go until i want to start that big adventure :-D

  • Monjuchowdhury.

    very fine

  • Monjuchowdhury.

    sweden is world of the countery.I like this counter very nice people tack.

  • ri

    ya svenska roken

  • Paulfuni

    Thanks for all the laughs, Kate!

  • Scott Chandler

    When I was learning Swedish, I would use as many Swedish words as I knew and throw in the occasional English words when I didn’t know the Swedish word. Example: I was with a Swedish friend that was acting a little strange and silly. I said to him, “du ar en stor _____” Not knowing the Swedish word for weirdo or goofball I went with an English word I knew and said “kook.” He stopped in his tracks and didn’t know why I would call him that. We had a good laugh about it when he told me what that word meant in Swedish (different spelling) and I told him what the English word meant.

    • http://www.transatlanticsketches.com Kate Reuterswärd

      Hahahahaha! That is AWESOME! Can’t wait to tell that one to my friends. :)

  • John Hultengard

    One of my favourite words are “gröpa ut”. It basically means hollowing out something, for instance, if you have an avocado, you can hollow out/gröpa ut the green stuff inside with a spoon. Lovely word.

    • http://www.transatlanticsketches.com Kate Reuterswärd

      Oh, that’s a really good one! I’ve never heard that (or maybe never recognized it being used), but now I’m going to have to make that a regular part of my vocabulary. Thanks, John!

  • Kristoffer Kjellin

    Did you know that… “sex”… actually means “six” in swedish? xD

    • http://www.facebook.com/baseemah.kristal Baseemah Bassi Kristal

      actually it means both six and sex :)

  • Astrid

    HahahaXD. I’m of Swedish heritage and that’s soo funny

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001287004286 Stuart Owen

    I was watching the Story Lady starring Jessica Tandy with Swedish subtitles…I nearly fell off the sofa when she said ‘The End’…I will be giggling about this FOREVER!!!!

    • http://twitter.com/kwise321 Kate Reuterswärd


  • Nim







    • http://twitter.com/kwise321 Kate Reuterswärd

      I need translations for some of these!

      • http://jwk.myopenid.com/ JwK

        Rugguggla – Somone Ugly.
        Vörtbröd Bread made with Vort.
        Dråplig = unexpected and somewhat dark event. dråp = manslaughter.
        Rafflande = boasting
        Kanalj = villain-ish.
        Snylta = using someones elses something instead of buying it yourself.
        Brain is not with me today, but that is fairly close.

  • Nim

    Inälva = means intestine but translates as “inside-elf”

    • http://twitter.com/kwise321 Kate Reuterswärd

      Ooh, that is so weird!!

  • Marlenevarzu

    LOL that’s funny “kackerlacka, kackerlacka” hahaha I remember they have an expression like Hoyhoyhoyh.

  • Cindi

    I never knew where my Father came up with the thing about the last piece! His grandparents were Swedish!

  • truck

    i’m dutch, and i found it hilarious when i learned the swedish word for car. if you’re english the word ‘bil’ might not say a lot but because i’m dutch, i directly associated it with the dutch word ‘bil’ which would mean buttcheek. if you know that the word ‘last’ is dutch for bother, imagine what i thought when i saw the word ‘lastbil’ in swedish. for me, it doesn’t say truck, it says bother butt.

    • http://twitter.com/kwise321 Kate Reuterswärd

      Haha! That’s hilarious!

  • Bullfidde

    One word that english speaking people seems to find funny is godsexpedition.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=521203225 Göran Söder

    I am a swede and when I was down in Australia back in 1989 I was recording a tape to send back home to Sweden. While I was recording and talking, an australian guy started to laugh at me. I had to pause and ask him what he laughed about. He said… “You are saying ‘fuck this… fuck this’ all the time”. I started to laugh as well cause then I knew he refered to the word “faktiskt”. “Faktiskt” means “acctually”. But it sounds exactly like “fuck this”.