Icelandic Language Blog

Road rage! Posted by on Jul 23, 2012 in Icelandic culture, Icelandic customs

Welcome to Iceland where the roads may be passable for driving or not, depending on the season and weather conditions. There may also be sheep on them, ice, volcanic ash or as a worst case scenario a large section of a road or even a whole bridge may be swept away by a jökulhlaup, a glacial outburst flood. Besides these dangers there’ll definitely be Icelanders driving around in their huge jeppar, jeeps, acting like they don’t have a single care for anyone else on the road.* Icelanders are notorious for their driving habits so remember to expect anything and everything from your fellow drivers in case you’d like to try driving here. You will also be needing nerves of steel and excellent reflexes.

The Icelanders’ love for cars is something unrivaled. Wikipedia knows to tell me that Iceland is currently number seven on a list of vehicles per capita and indeed, it does seem from time to time that most families own several cars, of which at least one is a jeep**. No distance is too short for driving, no speed limit convincing enough for people to obey and naturally a parking lot doesn’t have parking spots, merely guidelines***. Other people’s driving habits are under constant critique since naturally the mistakes are always somebody else’s. All this combined results in some of the most creative road raging that I’ve ever witnessed in my life****.

Since this is a great topic for a blog post I decided to interview my friends and collected the best of best of the lines they like to use. So without further ado, let’s learn how to road rage in Icelandic!

Please note that the video should not be taken 100% seriously: I’m not responsible for anyone deciding to drive through someone’s back yard just because a jeep can.

Another thing that perhaps needs to be pointed out is that cursing in Icelandic doesn’t have quite as strong an impact than f.ex. cursing in English. This means that people don’t generally limit their language very much (definitely not when they’re annoyed at other drivers) and that the first thing a foreigner learns to say in Icelandic is often some combination of andskotans djöfulsins helvítis fokking fokk, which, even if it is a mouthful, really does help alleviate some bad mood.

Interesting way of parking a bus. Why leave it at any of the designated parking areas of the parking lot when there’s plenty of room in the middle of it?


*Although to be honest once you drive big enough a jeep it may actually start feeling like that for real.

**Regadless of whether they actually need a jeep. Some people live in downtown Reykjavík and use a jeep just because.

***This is bad enough in towns but it only gets worse in the countryside. It seems that the only rule of driving that Icelanders take seriously is the zero tolerance on alcohol.

****Every single Icelander I’ve ever sat in a car with has had some colourful opinions about the traffic.


A big thank you to A., K. and Þ. for contributing to this entry, I couldn’t have put this blog post together without your help! 

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About the Author: hulda

Hi, I'm Hulda, originally Finnish but now living in the suburbs of Reykjavík. I'm here to help you in any way I can if you're considering learning Icelandic. Nice to meet you!