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Hangover anxiety, anyone? Posted by on Dec 18, 2009 in Swedish Language

It’s a well known fact that Swedish is influenced by English. Unfortunately, this relationship does not work both ways. Apart from smorgasbord and ombudsman, there’s not much Swedish influences in general English (apart from in Scottish, but that’s a whole different post). But Swedish is full of great words that pretty much speak for themselves and words that I actually miss in my vocabulary now when living in England. So, please feel free to drop suggestions if anything that could broaden my vocabulary pops into your head.

Lagom: I guess we are all familiar with “lagom” by now, the word that apparentely only exist in Swedish (possibly Finish as well) and means not too much, not too little, moderate. This appraisal of modesty and humbleness applies very well to the Swedish society and it might not be a coincidence that only exist in Swedish. But, it is also a very good and useful word.” How much spagetti would you like?” “I would like lagom.” “Is the water too hot?” “No, it’s lagom.” Moderate does not work here.

Bakfylleångest: Imagine waking up the morning after the big Christmas party with your colleagues. Your head is pounding and your mind is…blank. What on earth did you say to the boss? And the karaoke… And the… Gah! Makes you cringe, right? In Swedish, you have got severe bakfylleångest, hangover (bakfylla) anxiety (ångest). An awful state but a useful word that pretty much speaks for itself.

Söndagsångest: You know the feeling that can sneak upon you on a Sunday afternoon, when you have had a perfect weekend and you do not want to go back to work/school tomorrow? That is best described in Swedish as söndagsångest, Sunday (söndag) anxiety (ångest) and I think we all can relate to that great word in one way or another.

Träningsvärk: Okay, so after two hours in the gym when your body is tired and your muscles are sore, you have got…? Well, what have you got? In Swedish, you have got träningsvärk, work out (träning) ache (värk). A useful – and very simple – word that also speaks for itself.

Kramsnö: When the snow is hard and compact and can be squeezed into snowballs, it’s kramsnö, squeeze (krama) snow (snö). Maybe not the most useful word on the list, but sometime in the future you might end up planning a snowball fight and you might feel the need to ask the question “Is it kramsnö outside?”.
OBS! “Krama” is also the word for “to hug” in Swedish.

Ovän/ovänner: When you have an argument with your partner/friend/workmate, he or she might end up being your ovän until you have called truth. This is a tricky one to translate, but rougly it means the opposite of being friends. In Swedish, “o” is often used to create a word meaning the opposite, like the English “un” (attraktiv/oattraktiv, attractive/unattractive). The same goes for ovän, unfriend. But beware, this is not the same as the adjective unfriendly (ovänlig), the word ovän is a noun. “Enemy” is alright, but not close enough.

Farmor/farfar and mormor/morfar: My farmor is my father’s mother and my farfar is my father’s father. My mormor is my mother’s mother and my morfar is my mother’s father. Easy as pie! You might argue that it’s easier to just call all four of them grandmother or grandfather, but this can potentially cause confusion, I tell you.

Kissnödig: When you really really need to pee, you are…? In need of a wee? This state has got its own great word in Swedish, you are kissnödig, pee (kiss) necassary (nödig/nödvändig).
Genius, isn’t it?

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  1. Michael:

    Because of Facebook new words have come into English. The Merriam-Webster English dictionary now recognizes “friend” as a verb meaning to “friend” someone on Facebook — to sign up to follow their postings. It also recognizes the compound “unfriend” — v. to stop following someone or to be asked to stop following someone. But this is very different from ovän. Are their any equivalent “Facebook” words in Swedish?

  2. Rodina:

    PLEASE, check with me what you have posted in the last swedish blog. you said:
    My farmor is my father’s mother and my farfar is my father’s mother. My mormor is my
    mother’s mother and my morfar is my father’s mother.

    But I know that: farfar is father´s father( father of my father)
    and morfar is mother´s father ( father of my mother ). Aren´t they?
    Please, correct me If I am wrong.

    You might wrote it while you are so tired. I admit that your blog is a very nice and important tool that helps me learning new swedish words for beginners like me.

  3. jennie:

    @Michael: You’re right, Facebook har most certainly created new words and ways to use words. I use Facebook in English so I have no idea what the Swedish Facebook language is like, but maybe anyone else have?
    I do know that Facebook has given us some words like the ones Katja was talking about in her great post “A new trend has infiltrated the Swedisg langugae” (chilla, dissa e.t.c) like “tagga” for example, when out tag someone in a photo.

    @Rodina! So sorry for that horrible misstake!! You are perfectly right, that was a bad typo and I’m so glad you discovered it, Thank you for looking after us and once again, sorry for causing confusion!

  4. Michael:

    Using your post I can coin a word for our condition in the northeast US right now: snöångest

  5. jennie:

    Hahaha, very clever and a very good word! You are definitely entitled to some snöångest over there, it seems pretty mental! Hope it gets better.

  6. Carla:

    oooo tack! I’m going to start using some of those! I’m going on a 7-hour car ride med min pojkvän, so “kissnödig” will come in handy!

  7. Tony Ahlgren:

    Farmor=father’s mother
    Farfar= father’s father
    Mormor= mother’s mother
    Morfar=mother’s father

  8. Tony Ahlgren:

    Or another way of saying “kissnödig” is pinka which means the same, just another slang for it.