Norwegian Language Blog

100 Basic Words in Norwegian Posted by on Nov 27, 2016 in Uncategorized


(Photo courtesy of *saipal at Flickr, CC License.)

Sometimes linguists come up with stuff that’s really useful for language learners. Even if science is not your thing, I hope you’ll like the Swadesh list as much as I do. 🙂 It’s a list of 100 ”core ideas” that speakers of most languages can express – just simple things like ”sun” or ”foot”. (This isn’t the same as the most frequently used words, which have been covered in another post.) Scientists use the list to compare languages – why don’t you use it to test your Norwegian skills! 🙂

  1. jeg (I)
  2. du (you)
  3. vi (we)
  4. denne/dette (this)
  5. den/det (that)
  6. hvem? (who?)
  7. hva? (what?)
  8. ikke (not)
  9. alle (all)
  10. mange (many)
  11. en (one)
  12. to (two)
  13. stor (big)
  14. lang (long)
  15. liten (small)
  16. kvinne (woman)
  17. mann (man)
  18. person (person)
  19. fisk (fish)
  20. fugl (bird)
  21. hund (dog)
  22. lus(louse)
  23. tre (tree)
  24. frø (seed)
  25. blad (leaf)
  26. rot (root)
  27. bark (bark)
  28. hud (skin)
  29. kjøtt (flesh)
  30. blod (blood)
  31. bein (bone)
  32. fett (grease)
  33. egg (egg)
  34. horn (horn)
  35. hale (tail)
  36. fjær (feather)
  37. hår (hair)
  38. hode (head)
  39. øre (ear)
  40. øye (eye)
  41. nese (nose)
  42. munn (mouth)
  43. tann (tooth)
  44. tunge (tongue)
  45. klo (claw)
  46. fot (foot)
  47. kne (knee)
  48. hånd (hand)
  49. mage (belly)
  50. hals (neck)
  51. bryster (breasts)
  52. hjerte (heart)
  53. lever (liver)
  54. å drikke (to drink)
  55. å spise (to eat)
  56. å bite (to bite)
  57. å se (to see)
  58. å høre (to hear)
  59. å vite (to know)
  60. å sove (to sleep)
  61. å dø (to die)
  62. å drepe (to kill)
  63. å svømme (to swim)
  64. å fly (to fly)
  65. å gå (to walk)
  66. å komme (to come)
  67. å ligge (to lie [like in bed])
  68. å sitte (to sit)
  69. å stå (to stand)
  70. å gi (to give)
  71. å si (to say)
  72. sol (sun)
  73. måne (moon)
  74. stjerne (star)
  75. vann (water)
  76. regn (rain)
  77. stein (stone)
  78. sand (sand)
  79. jord (earth)
  80. sky (cloud)
  81. røyk (smoke)
  82. ild (fire)
  83. aske (ashes)
  84. å brenne (to burn)
  85. sti (path)
  86. fjell (mountain)
  87. rød (red)
  88. grønn (green)
  89. gul (yellow)
  90. hvit (white)
  91. svart (black)
  92. natt (night)
  93. varm (hot)
  94. kald (cold)
  95. full (full)
  96. ny (new)
  97. god (good)
  98. rund (round)
  99. tørr (dry)
  100. navn (name)
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About the Author: Bjørn A. Bojesen

I was born in Denmark, but spent large parts of my childhood and study years in Norway. I later returned to Denmark, where I finished my MA in Scandinavian Studies. Having relatives in Sweden as well, I feel very Scandinavian! I enjoy reading and travelling, and sharing stories with you! You’re always welcome to share your thoughts with me and the other readers.


  1. Christopher Williams:

    Hi Bjørn, please tell me more about your eduction in Scandinavian studies. It would prehaps further inspire my thoughts of taking the education as your blog have already.
    In fact, I am considering taking it in Demark where I have lived nearly 2 years between Cph and Århus, a long time ago. But after a total of 30 years in Scandinavia, I think such an education could be appropriate. Like you, I also live in Norway but roots are from USA. I speak a combination of Swedish and Norwegian. A very, very Svorsk-American concoction. Thank you in advance. Christopher

    • Bjørn A. Bojesen:

      @Christopher Williams Hi Christopher, I don’t like to go into too many personal details here – the blog is about Norwegian, not me (another blogger wrote here before me, and there’ll come another after me). But since you asked – my main study is ”nordisk” language and literature. It’s like studying English (if you want to be an English teacher or a writer) – only with Scandinavian literature and languages instead. It’s very interesting, so if you’ve got the time and the money for it, contact a university and go ahead! Good luck. 🙂

  2. Nina:

    Can’t see why you had to include ‘lus’- surely not that essential?

    • Bjørn A. Bojesen:

      @Nina @Nina – I agree. ”Lus” is not very essential. 🙂 But I had to include it, as it’s part of the so-called Swadesh list that scientists use to compare languages. (That was the starting point for this blog post…) I guess really many languages have a word for ”lus” – maybe that’s why it’s there… (Before modern hospitals etc. people were ill all the time!)

  3. Jack Twet:

    When we were small children, my Dad, who born in Trøndelag Norway, would sing lullaby in Norwegian to us.
    He would kind of “paraphrase” each song after he sang it.
    Some were sad ,others very happy songs…The big thing was that Dad took time to sing in his native Norwegian..However, like his father, he wanted us learn English…and learn it well.
    Could you perhaps type out some favorite “old” Norsk lullaby for me to teach my Grandchildren to sing their children…?
    We would all appreciate your time..og mange takk..!
    Hilsen fra,
    Jack Twet….(Norsk..Gronntvedt)

    • Bjørn A. Bojesen:

      @Jack Twet @Jack – thanks for the great idea! 🙂 It’s been added to the list…

  4. Jack Twet:

    This is a good Start!
    Is it possible to include pronunciation codes with each word as you do for your transparent Norwegian segment..Word of the Day?
    Mange takk!

    • Bjørn A. Bojesen:

      @Jack Twet @Jack – Sorry, I’m not responsible for ”Word of the Day”, only this blog. Thanks for your interest.