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: March 9, 2021
In the spirit of good fun let’s take a look at some of the best – and oddest – Swedish expressions.
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.
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.
Forget ‘batshit insane’. When a Swede is really riled up he or she is ‘forest crazy’.
Klädd upp till tänderna
We get ‘dressed to the nines’, while Swedes get ‘dressed up to their teeth’.
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!
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.
Köp inte grisen i säcken
That’s right, folks, don’t buy a pig while it’s still in the bag.
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.
Måla fan på väggen
When you go too far you ‘paint the devil on the wall’.
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.
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.
Tala om trollen
We ‘speak of the devil’, Swedes ‘speak of the trolls’. Are trolls scarier than the devil?
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!
View Stockholm hopes you have loads of fun trying out these Swedish expressions!