13 of the funniest Swedish expressions

As you walk the streets of Stockholm you may try to understand what people are saying. Maybe you’ll even figure some words out. But, like all languages Swedish has some odd expressions – ones that make those not familiar with the language scratch their head and wonder what in the world those Swedes are on about.

Last updated: September 15, 2020

In the spirit of good fun let’s take a look at some of the best – and oddest – Swedish expressions.

01

Släng dig i väggen

In English we tell someone to take a hike – Swedes tell those who annoy them to ‘throw themselves into the wall’. Swedes are nothing if not direct.

Swedish expressions: Släng dig i väggen

02

Rund under fötterna

A Swede is not ‘shitfaced’ or ‘wasted’ or even ‘trousered’. Nope, a Swede is ’round under his/her feet’. Which makes sense if you think back to the last time you were drunk.

Swedish expressions: Rund under fötterna

03

Skogstokig

Forget ‘batshit insane’. When a Swede is really riled up he or she is ‘forest crazy’.

Swedish expressions: Skogstokig

04

Klädd upp till tänderna

We get ‘dressed to the nines’, while Swedes get ‘dressed up to their teeth’.

Swedish expressions: Klädd upp till tänderna

05

Skägget i brevlådan

Swedes don’t get ‘caught with their hands in the cookie jar’, they get ‘caught with their beards in the letter box.’ Painful!

Swedish expressions: Skägget i brevlådan

06

Det ligger en hund begraven

‘There’s a dog buried here’ – the equivalent of ‘there’s something fishy going on here’. And both probably stink to high heaven.

Swedish expressions: Det ligger en hund begraven

07

Köp inte grisen i säcken

That’s right, folks, don’t buy a pig while it’s still in the bag.

Swedish expressions: Köpa grisen i säcken

08

Lätt som en plätt

We say ‘easy as pie’, Swedes say ‘easy as a pancake’. Are pancakes easier than pies? We have no answer to that question.

Swedish expressions: Lätt som en plätt

09

Måla fan på väggen

When you go too far you ‘paint the devil on the wall’.

Swedish expressions: Måla fan på väggen

10

Skita i det blå skåpet

This translates as ‘to shit in the blue locker’, meaning ‘you’ve gone too far’ – and shitting in a blue locker (why not red or yellow or green?) really would be going too far, as well as quite difficult.

Swedish expressions: Skita i det blå skåpet

11

Slå två flugor i en smäll

‘Hit two flies with one slap’. Can you guess what this one means? If you guessed ‘kill two birds with one stone’ you’d be absolutely right.

Swedish expressions: Slå två flugor i en smäll

12

Tala om trollen

We ‘speak of the devil’, Swedes ‘speak of the trolls’. Are trolls scarier than the devil?

Swedish expressions: Tala om trollen

13

När katten är borta dansar råttorna på bordet

When our cats are away the mice will play. When a Swede’s cat is away rats dance on the table. Party time, people!

Swedish expressions: När katten är borta dansar råttorna på bordet

View Stockholm hopes you have loads of fun trying out these Swedish expressions!

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