Great Swedish Words

Swedish is an interesting language.  If you squint your ears, it is a bit like English, and a lot of English words were brought to England by the Vikings.  For example, ‘Window’ comes from descriptions that Vikings made of the holes in their roofs through which the smoke escaped.  You could see the clouds and smoke get pushed along by the wind through this hole, so this was the ‘wind eye’, or window.  Although this word was good enough for export, the Swedish word for window is ‘fenstre’, which you might recognize as latin.  This is why I went into the sciences.

Graham got some Swedish Rosetta Stone software and so far we are good at identifying dogs, cats, and horses.  We are doing this at home, but the most Swedish I learn is actually at work over lunch.  Here are some of my favourite Swedish words so far; I know Graham has some favourites of his own.

Hemkost this a combination of home (hem) and nutrition (kost).  It’s what you do at the end of the day: go home to dinner.  I like it because I think coming home should always include some food.  It just seems like a very nurturing word.

Hemkost could be Swedish pancakes with lingon, plumon, and vanilijsås
Hemkost could be Swedish pancakes with lingon, plumon, and vanilijsås

Lagom officially this means ‘moderation’, but in use in means ‘just right’ and ‘just enough’ and also gentle or calm, like if you’re soothing someone (and I have heard parents say lagom to cranky toddlers.)

Apelsin is an orange (the fruit, which you may recall from an earlier post about a neighbourhood cat that I decided to name Apelsin.)  Mostly I like this because it is so close to the English/Swedish word for apple/äpple.  I think it explains why in Sweden no one compares äpplenar to apelsinar, it is already confusing.


  1. Your blog is awesome – i love reading everything you post, and it is really fun to see/hear your different voices, depending on who is writing.

    I think i am going to adopt hemkost. And you made me laugh out loud with apples and oranges. Is it safe to deduce that ‘nar’ is the plural suffix?

    Love to you both.

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