Top 7 Swedish Words that Do Not Translate Literally

28 Oct

I’m starting a new series called the Top 5. Top 5 things about anything. Fun, easy to read and perhaps educational, but that’s a bonus.

My first ode to Top Fives is about Swedish words. This list is of seven Swedish words do not mean the same thing in the English language, known as “false friends”. If you translate the word as what you hear, you’d be in for a treat.

And since this is the first post in the series, I say screw it, let’s do sju instead of fem. Because sju is that much cooler to say.

1.  Bra
Meaning “good” not the bra you put on to hold your boobs up.

2.  Kiss
Pee. To pee is kissa.

3.  Puss
Kiss. Don’t confuse kiss with kiss.

Left – cc licensed flickr photo by Blue Barnacle
Right – Manneken Pis, Bruxelles. Photograph by Ed Holden

4.  Gift
Ask a man, it means poison.
Ask a women, it means marriage.

5.  Sex
Translates both ways but mostly used as the number six.

6.  Fan
Because you’re hot, need a fan, you scream FANNNN! (FUCKKK!). Fan is interjected at all levels of conversations in Swedish society, unlike f’uck which is used by bad mouth people.
swedish word translate fail - fan

7.  Slut
Meaning “stop” or in presentations, “the end.” Could you tell a slut to sluta though?

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13 Responses to Top 7 Swedish Words that Do Not Translate Literally


Carl McElwee

October 28th, 2011 at 08:44

You forgot kaka.. yum!



October 29th, 2011 at 12:26

I like this! However, if you write fannnn! it looks like you’re saying fann, found. To emphasis fan you write faaaan! (And it means “devil”, although I guess fuck is a better translation anyway of how the word is used.)



October 29th, 2011 at 13:38

Another classic, FART!



October 29th, 2011 at 13:45

Liv, really good point. Let me try to fix the image.



November 4th, 2011 at 19:17

And FACK! Another classic! I have read thru your blog and I really like it. I am a Swede from Stockholm now living in the DC area with my american hubby and bi-lingual daughter. It is so interesting to get an American woman’s view of living in Stockholm. I can only imagine how hard and weird it has got to be for you at times.
I love fall in the US. It is the best time of the year, halloween, apple orchards, the colors, the mild weather and Thanksgiving.
I will come back and read more!
Take care,
Annika in Reston, VA.



November 5th, 2011 at 14:59

Hi Annika – Thank you! I’m glad you enjoy reading the blog. It should give you a good laugh and don’t take any insults about Sweden personally :)

Fall in America is the best. I miss cider mills and pumpkin patches so much!

How do you enjoy living in the US? I don’t read/find much about Swedish women in America with a family (mixed family that is) so I’d love to hear your thoughts…

To all – D’oh!!! I forgot fart, fack, and kaka! I’ll put it in the funny swedish words to pronounce. Hehehe, kaka.



November 7th, 2011 at 06:35

Very funny! Det låter bra. I think Swedish language is very interesting… :)


9 Words That Do NOT Translate Literally from Swedish to English

November 10th, 2011 at 00:10

[…] took this from inspiration from my original post, with the funny photos, on Lost in […]



December 18th, 2011 at 02:08

Dont forget kock! Which means chef, not cock.


The Swede

December 21st, 2011 at 20:26

Swedish-english joke:

It’s not the FART that kills, it’s the speed!

God jul



December 27th, 2011 at 00:42

Sweden is the only place a guy can be called a kille, sounds like killer and not get prosecuted.

In past, farm girls were called piggor, and pigg means frisky and has nuthin’ to with pigs, unless its a healthy lil’ hog.

Another name for the guys in pog, which sounds like Irish pogue..but the expression pogue mahon(kiss my butt) in Ireland is meaningless in Sweden.



December 27th, 2011 at 01:03

The swedish word for a law, is lag, pronounced like log in anglo. Items made of wood, coming from logs, are called trä, which sounds like anglo tray.

If an amareekin visits south sweden called Skåne, whatever Swedish you may have learned goes right out the window ‘cuz the local dialect down there is actually Danish, modified to resemble Swedish.

Folks in Skåne consider themself the real ‘thang’, when it comes to all things Swedish. They say, we have our own national language, called Skånsk. our own national beverage called Skäne rost coffee, our own national flag, our own music called Skåntry, ‘cuz it resembles hybrid dansband C+W. Folks there are the closest thing a swede can get to being called a redneck…swedish style.

Folks in Stockholm always sound like they have a serious life long sinus plugged head cold, AND are recovering from a nasty drinking binge hangover, due to the way they slur their words and add a -sch sound all over the place They are called null-attor ‘cuz of the local phone dial code-08. The common saying goes…ya can always tell a 08’or ‘cuz ya can’t tell them anything …hehehe



December 30th, 2011 at 11:43

@The Swede: The common version is “It’s not the FART that kills, it’s the SMELL!” Its not the speed that kills, its the bang!”

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