Swedish Language Blog

Useful Words: Jobbig Posted by on Jul 29, 2008 in Grammar, Vocabulary

In every language there are words that you either just love or simply hate for whatever reason. Personally, I’m not a fan of words that are difficult to spell, and unfortunately the English language is full of them. Like “assassinate”. The only reason I remember how to spell it is because it has two of “you know what” in it.

I much prefer words that are useful and good at describing whatever it is that they mean. And the Swedish language is full of them! Like “jobbig” for example.

See? One look at it and I don’t think I need to explain what it means. It means exactly what it looks like what it sounds like.

My Swedish-English dictionary does not bother to provide a translation for “jobbig”. Instead, it gives an example:

  • jobbig – det är jobbigt – it’s hard work

But c’mon now! “Jobbig” is so much more than that. It describes a situation, or a task perfectly. In case you haven’t noticed, “jobbig” is an adjective, so its job is to describe. And describe it does. When you hear that something is “jobbig” you know it’s a tiring, boring, mundane, difficult task. A task you’d sell your left foot to avoid. It just makes you sigh with desperation. And in fact, “jobbig” does sound like a sigh.

So what can be “jobbig”? It depends on a person and that person’s individual dislikes. For me it’s cleaning the bathroom floor drain. Jobbig! Pretty much anything that has to do with cleaning is “jobbig” for me. Preparing tax returns is definitely “jobbig”.

It’s easy to see that the word comes from “job”, which in Swedish is spelled with two “b”, hence – “jobb”. And even though it’s spelled with a “j”, you may hear (in fact I’m sure you will certainly hear) Swedish people pronounce it as “yob”. It’s because in Swedish “j” sounds like “y”. It’s the same with “Jenny” aka “Yenny” and “Jon” aka “Yon”. And of course, with “jobbig”, or rather “yobbig“, as it sounds in Swedish.

As you’ve seen above in the example from my dictionary, “jobbig” acquired a “t” ending and became “jobbigt”. And why is that? It behaved like most Swedish adjectives do. They get a “t” ending when paired with “ett” nouns. And “det” is an “ett” noun of sorts. When an adjective describes a noun in plural, it gets an “a” ending.

So this is how it would look in a Swedish-Swedish dictionary:

  • jobbig, jobbigt, jobbiga – som gör att man blir trött eller irriterad; arbetsam; besvärlig – what makes a person tired or irritated; laborious, tiresome

And all those explanations are fine, but none get even close to the impact of “jobbig”.

So next time when you’re faced with a particularly mundane task that makes you tired even thinking about it, you know what to say. Det är jobbigt!

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  1. Rebecca:

    In fact, I am reading this to avoid a particularly dreadful jobbigt!

  2. Rebkin:

    Being a Swede living abroad, I read this blog with great interest…I enjoy it A LOT! When you’re constantly speaking a second language you sometimes find yourself missing being able to say nifty little expressions like this [han/hon är så JOBBIG!!!]

    Another word in this category got to be «LESS»! It doesn’t just mean ‘bored’…it’s a whole concept…

  3. admin:

    ‘Chato’ may touch some similar areas in Portuguese, though I suspect jobbig has quite its own meaning.

    ‘Chato’ literally means boring, but really is often used to mean tiresome or even annoying.

    In common American English parlance, ‘chato’ may well be translated as ‘lame!’


  4. Anna:

    Hi Rebecca,
    so, how did it go with your particularly jobbigt jobb? 😉

    Ah, I didn’t even go into the fact that people can be jobbig, too – like my MIL for example. The expression I missed when outside of Sweden was “jag orkar inte…” I think I should write a post about this one as well.

    “chato” huh? VERY handy to know, indeed! But then I’m sure different varieties of Portuguese have their own little ways of expressing “chato”, too.

  5. Rebkin:

    «Jag orkar inte för jag är så less» LOL

    ‘Jag orkar inte’ is probably the one I miss the MOST. I can’t find anything really good that corresponds to it.

  6. ceci:

    ok, my work in this moment is jobbigt! because i dont like what i do…
    you may say also: det är inte jobbigt???

  7. Rebecca:

    I managed to complete my jobbigt by setting a computer alarm that said “Restart jobbigt” every 15 minutes!

    I would really like to know about “jag orkar inte…” Tack so myket!

  8. Anna:

    Hi Rebecca,
    I noticed that you use “jobbig” as if it were a noun. Please remember it’s an adjective, OK? 😉
    And there will be upcoming posts about other “essential” Swedish phrases! No worries!

  9. Rebecca:

    Ok, Anna, I am confused. “Jobbigt” sounds like a noun – is it?

    So work is jobbigt? How about jobbig work (using as adjective)? Help!!!!

    I guess the real problem is that I am still thinking in English instead of Svenska!

  10. Rebekah:

    Today I came across a new site that, in the long run, could be both useful and a lot of fun. Thought perhaps I could share a link here: http://tyda.se

  11. Mo:

    I TOTALLY LOVE your blog, you’re so much help !! You explain so clearly, I just found out about it and I’ve been checking it every 5 min, I’m actually much more motivated now !

  12. Gabriel Mckee:

    The translation I’ve heard is “too much of a pain in the ass.” Such a useful word!