25 Swedish Words that every foreigner should learn

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There are many Swedish words which have no equivalence in English or other languages, and those are usually integrated deeply into Swedish society.

So in order to get to know the Swedes deeper and feel more integrated, learning these Swedish words will definitely make a difference, no matter if you’re traveling or moving from abroad to Sweden. 

Learning Swedish phrases and words is more fun than useful though since almost every Swede speaks English.

Lagom

Lagom means just about right, but it goes beyond that, and it’s a word stuck to the bones of many Swedes. It’s the perfect amount of anything, not too much and not too little.

Somehow, every Swede will know what other Swedes mean when they reply with Lagom. 

Example use: Someone asks you how much you want of something, let’s say how much salt should I put in the food? A Swede would typically reply to this by saying “lagom” and the other person (if a Swede) will know exactly how much salt they should add. 

Skogstokig

This might not be an essential word to learn, but it’s one of the funny words in Sweden that doesn’t exist in English. The literal translation of Skogstokig would be “Forest Crazy”. 

How to use it in a sentence: Jag blir skogstokig på grannens katt som bajsar på min gräsmatta (I’m so fed up (raging) with the neighbor’s cat, who poops on my grass)

Fika

Fika is a Swedish word which is more of a concept rather than a simple word. It basically means having a coffee with friends, family, colleagues or by yourself. Fika usually involves socializing of some sort and a break from what you’re doing. 

Most will also eat some cookies or pastries with their Fika. 

How to use it in a sentence: Jag fikar med mina vänner (I’m having a fika with my friends). 

Swedish Fika

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Najs

This is slang from the English word Nice and literally means that something is nice. However, it does have an added strength and a relaxed vibe, and you usually say it when describing something that is really nice. 

How to use it in a sentence: Vilket najs väder det är idag (The weather is really nice today).

Mysa

Mysa is the Swedish word for “to cuddle” and it’s great to know if you’re dating a Swede. You can also use the word “Mysigt” to describe that something is cozy. 

How to use it in a sentence: Ska vi mysa? (Do you want to cuddle?).

Hinna

Hinna is used to describe that you won’t make it in time. 

How to use it in a sentence: Jag hinner inte med tåget (I won’t make in time to the train).

Hinna

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Vabba

If you’ll have kids in Sweden, this Swedish word might come in handy. Vabba is slang for “Vård av Barn” and it basically means “to be at home because your kids need taking care of, but you still get paid for it from the government” 

Planka

When someone “Plankar” they don’t pay for public transportation, usually by not buying a ticket or jumping over the barrier. 

Orka

Instead of saying I don’t have the energy to go to the supermarket, one could simply say “Jag orkar inte gå till mataffären”. Orka basically means that you don’t have the energy, and then you just add what you don’t have the energy to do. 

Orka

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Duktig

Duktig is the Swedish word for being good at something or being talented. It can also be said about someone when they have done something good or in a sarcastic way when they finally did something they should’ve done a long while ago. 

Pant

This is the Swedish word for receiving money after recycling your plastic bottles and cans. When buying a Coca Cola or any other soda or beer, you’ll pay a fee called Pant, which will be returned to you when you recycle the can or bottle. 

Badkruka

This is a funny Swedish word which is used to describe someone who thinks it’s too cold in the water to go for a swim. If you’re a foreigner, you’ll likely think that it’s too cold in the water most of the year, and maybe even in the summer. 

Water temperatures rarely reach more than 23 degrees, and during winter it can even drop around zero. So remember, if you’re not going for a swim in Sweden, you might be called a Badkruka. 

Swedish Word badkruka

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Typ

You’ll hear this word a lot when speaking to Swedes from the younger generations. It basically means “kind of” or “almost” and is usually a filler word when describing something.

The word “Typ” could also refer to a certain type of something. 

Faktiskt

Many foreigners will confuse this word as “F**K this” because the pronunciation can sound similar to an English speaking person. However, it means “actually” and it’s used quite frequently by Swedes.

Example use would be “Det är faktiskt sol idag” Which would translate to the sun is actually shining today, and could be an answer to if someone asked if it was raining. 

Liksom

Liksom is another Swedish filler word which is used quite frequently by younger Swedes. It means “kind of” and you can use it when explaining something.

Jobbig

This is used to explain that something is hard or tiresome to do. But it could also be used to describe an annoying person. 

How to use it in a sentence: “Du är så jobbig när du klagar”, which means you’re so annoying/tiresome when you’re complaining.

Sjukhus

The literal translation for this would be “sick house” and it’s the Swedish word for a hospital. No matter if you’re a tourist or a future expat, this word might come in handy sometime.

Apotek

Apotek is the Swedish word for Pharmacy, and you can find these everywhere with a sign saying “Apotek”. 

Apotek is the Swedish word for Pharmacy

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Other Useful Swedish Words

The above-mentioned words in Swedish are more advanced but are good to know for understanding Swedish society. And the ones below are more basic Swedish words for everyday use. 

Hi/HelloHej/Hallå
Yes/NoJa/Nej
Thank youTack
You’re welcomeVarsågod
Big/smallStor/liten
GoodBra
BadDåligt
MorningMorgon
AfternoonEftermiddag
EveningKväll
NattNight
BeautifulVacker
UglyFul
EasyLätt
BeerÖl
CoffeeKaffe
WaterVatten
WineVin

How to translate words in Swedish

Google Translate is actually quite reliable when it comes to translating Swedish Words into English or vice versa. As long as you enter a single word it will display the correct word in most cases.

However, it’s also worth noting that several words in Swedish can have various meanings even though it’s spelled in the same way. 

Frequently Asked Questions about Swedish Words

“Asså” is a colloqual spelling of “Alltså” which has various meaning depending on the situation. It can be used as a filler word when you don’t know what to say before speaking.

It can also mean “Thus”, “That is” or be used to start explaining how something is, such as “look.. It’s like this”.

The Swedish word for love is “Kärlek”.

Nord-väster-sjö-kust-artilleri-flyg-spanings-simulator-anläggnings-materiel-underhålls-uppföljnings-system-diskussions-inläggs-förberedelse-arbeten is the longest word in Swedsh. 

Swedish words can often be put together to form a different meaning, an example would be Husbilskompisar, which is a composite of Husbil + Kompis, which means friends with a campervan/RV.

The Swedish word for happy is “glad” or “lycklig”. 


Do you want to learn more Swedish words? Leave a comment below!

August 26th, 2019|

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Swedish Nomad

Hello! I’m Alex Waltner — A Swedish Travel Blogger & Photographer.

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2 Comments

  1. Marcus 08/28/2019 at 2:36 pm - Reply

    “Hinna” and “orka” can be used in positive ways too. For example ” Jag slutade tidigare från jobbet så nu hinner jag handla innan jag åker hem” or “Klart vi hinner ta en öl innan filmen börjar”

    • Alexander Waltner 08/28/2019 at 2:40 pm - Reply

      Indeed, great addition on how to use those two words. Just to clarify for international readers, “Jag slutade tidigare från jobbet så nu hinner jag handla innan jag åker hem” means I was able to finish my work earlier, so now I have time to go to the store before I go home. And “Klart vi hinner ta en öl innan filmen börjar” can be translated as, of course, we have time to get a beer before to movie starts.

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