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Sometimes learning Danish vocabulary can be really fun – you discover items that make you giggle or shake your head in disbelief: How could anyone even think of an expression like that? A Romanian Danish-learner I knew, was absolutely thrilled by the word agurk [uh-GOOAK] (cucumber). ”It sounds like something an alien would say!” he enthused, before repeating the word several times: agurk, agurk. Below are some words that I myself find really great. What are your favourites? Please drop a line in the comments section. 🙂
A snabel-a is the @ sign. It literally means ”elephant’s trunk a”! There really is something about Danes and elephants… A special kind of strong beer is called elefantøl, while elefantsnot (elephant’s snot) is the kind of clay you use to attach posters to a hard wall…
When you give someone elevatorblikket (the elevator stare), it means you’re scanning their entire body with your eyes.
Some Danes joke about having a rugbrødsmotor (rye bread motor). You know, they need their daily fix of Danish rye bread in order to function properly… And, speaking of Danish cravings – there’s a reason a (beer) bottle opener is sometimes called a samfundshjælper (society helper).
Have you been too long on a Danish island and got økuller (island dizzyness)? Maybe you just need to lægge hovedet i blød (”soak your head” = rack your brain) or slappe af (”slacken off” = relax) below a pensionistgrill (”pensioner grill” = slang for a heat lamp!)
Some Danish words can be really poetic, too:
• kuldskær means ”sensitive to cold”
• vakkelvorn means ”which is unstable and could easily collapse”
• hjemve literally translates as ”home-ouch!” and – of course – refers to homesickness. The opposite is udve – the urge to travel out and see the world
• døgn means ”day and night” – so a døgnkiosk is a kiosk which is open 24/7
And the Danish word for a ”blackbird” is just so beautiful – but of course I’m biased. 😉 It’s … solsort (sun black).
Update: The reader Jørgen mentions another meaning of rugbrødsmotor: In his experience, Min plæneklipper har rugbrødsmotor would mean that ”My lawn mower has no motor, so I have to push it myself”.