7 Scandinavian words that will surprise you

We can’t be the only ones who feel a twang of delight on discovering a word in another language that pinpoints a feeling or experience.

Intriguing examples like the emotional hiraeth (a deep longing for home) in Welsh and the relatable kummerspeck (emotional overeating) in German take us by the hand and lead us through to other cultures.

We just wish there were words for these in English.

As a translation agency with a strong offering in the Scandinavian languages, we’d like to show you that there’s more to the Scandi lexicon than our cosy old friend hygge. This article shines a light on an array (you could even say smörgåsbord) of loveable Scandinavian words.

7 Scandinavian words you’ll love

1. Hjemve

This Danish word translates as ‘home-anguish’. It describes the exquisitely painful yearning for home or homeland. This longing can also encapsulate a nostalgia for the happier, simpler times of childhood.

2. Gruglede

A Norwegian verb that describes the fizzing excitement peppered with a hint of dread felt when taking a step into the unknown (think new parenthood or moving to a new city). Knowing you’re entering a new phase of life makes you feel alive, but there are feelings of trepidation too.

3. Kramgo

In the land where cosy reigns supreme, this Swedish word means ‘good to hug’. Cuddly, huggable vibes that fit beautifully with visions of curling up in a log cabin in front of an Insta-friendly wood burner.

4. Påtår

When you see the price of a coffee in Sweden, it often includes one of life’s small pleasures: påtår. It means that you can fill your coffee cup again without paying extra.
The påtår combines a sense of abundance with Swedish balance. You use the same cup for your refill – it doesn’t cost the coffee shop much, but it gives customers pleasure. Enjoy your second cup, or skip it without feeling you’ve missed out.

Påtår is a free refill of coffee in Swedish

Photo by Erik Witsoe on Unsplash

5. Fylleangst

The clue to the meaning of this Norwegian word is in the ending ‘angst’. Pronounced ‘foola-ahngst’ it sums up the doom of the morning after a night of heavy drinking. As you slowly unpick the things you wish you hadn’t said and done (or can’t remember doing), you may feel the clammy hand of fyllesangst on your shoulder.

6. Gökotta

A deeply poetic Swedish word that describes waking up early with a picnic to listen to the dawn chorus. In a land known for its introverted character and intense connection with nature, what better way could there be to mark the fragile beauty of dawn?

7. Bjørnejeneste

Originating from a story about a well-meaning bear that inadvertently kills his friend while swatting away flies. Bjørnjenese is a Norwegian noun for a favour that ends up hurting the person you want to help.

Capture the hearts and minds of your Scandinavian customers

As Nelson Mandela once said, “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.”

At Ampere, we have localisation and translation services in all three Scandinavian languages to perfect your message and offering for your Scandinavian prospects and customers.

We will work with you on your Swedish, Danish and Norwegian expansion plans to:

  • develop key objectives
  • consider the opportunities of your chosen languages
  • define the requirements for a successful localisation

Contact us today to discuss your needs!