8 Norwegian Words That Don’t Exist In English

02 February 2023
By Sarah Angela Almaden
Japanese House
Unsplash: Marcel Ardivan

If you look behind you, you’ll see your shadow. If you read what’s in front of you, you’ll learn a series of untranslatable Norwegian words that could describe specific feelings, situations, and other things that you didn’t think had names. That’s the cool thing about words in other languages like Norwegian, is that sometimes their words can particularly express something you never knew existed, even though they don’t have a direct translation in English. Below, we’ve compiled a list of 8 extra special Norwegian words that you should know about. Just remember though, these words are more than words for they highlight the beauty and richness of the Norwegian language.

  1. Fysen
  2. Pronunciation: fee-sen
    Definition: You’re craving for something but you don’t know what you want? Well, you are experiencing what Norwegians would call fysen. This word is usually related to craving something that is deliciously unhealthy, yummyyy… ice cream, chips, burgers, beer, candy, noodles, chocolates, cupcakes…

  3. Utepils
  4. Pronunciation: ooh-ta-pilz
    Definition: ‘Tis a good day for a good, cold utepils under the beaming sun somewhere outdoors. Aaahh. How refreshing and how nice! In Norwegian, utepils which literally translates to outdoor beer, is the traditional way of drinking beer outside while enjoying the beautiful, warm weather.

  5. Forelsket
  6. Pronunciation: fo-rel-skit
    Definition: Take a trip back to memory lane when you first fell in love. Remember those fluttering butterflies in your tummy? Those endless smiles and the mushy feels that could fill you up from sun-up to sundown? Now, that’s what you call forelsket.

  7. Gruglede
  8. Pronunciation: groo-lee-ah-duh
    Definition: Gruglede or happy dread sounds like an oxymoron. But, it’s a feeling that we all get once in a while. Hmm, gruglede is more or less having that good feeling with a tinge of fear rather than actually being an anxiety feeling.

  9. Kjæreste
  10. Pronunciation: schiaah-rees-tuh
    Definition: Kjæreste is a gender-neutral term which means beloved one. Usually, the term is used when referring to a romantic partner.

  11. Døgn
  12. Pronunciation:doyn
    Definition: Ever wondered what that time between midnight and the next midnight is called? No, you’re not reading a trick question because in Norway there is a term for this measurement of time between one midnight and the next midnight. Dun dun dun… that is døgn!

  13. Matpakke
  14. Pronunciation: maad-pukkeh
    Definition: Yes, matpakke means packed lunch (with food brought from home). But this is not just your typical packed lunch because this Norwegian word describes a specific, yet simple open-faced sandwich. A typical Norwegian matpakke is made from slices of freshly baked bread, which are then topped with a variety of fillings and garnishes, occasionally adding some fruits or vegetables (brunost, caviar, boiled eggs, smoked salmon, cured cuts of ham, scrambled eggs, liver paste, a piece of lettuce, a slice of tomato, a little cucumber).

  15. Kos
  16. Pronunciation: koosh
    Definition: This three letter-word refers to anything that makes you feel warm and nice and safe and happy and cozy. It’s that intimate feeling you get when you spend time with your loved ones. It’s that warmth you feel from the orange and red flames of the crackling fire. It’s that joy and fulfillment you experience from sharing memorable moments in the little things in life. That’s kos.