9 Great Danish Words We Need in English Now!


Do you know any Danish? It’s a North Germanic language which has its fair share of weird and wonderful quirks. In fact, some Danish words are so specific to their culture that there’s no translation for them in English. Amazing, right?

Here’s a rundown of our top 9 Danish words that have no translation. What do you think they reveal about Danish culture?

Danish words. Image of Bagstiv.

1. Bagstiv

We all know this feeling! Perhaps you went out last night and drank a few Danish lagers. The following morning, you’re still in that drunken haze. That’s exactly what ‘bagstiv’ is – waking up drunk from the night before.


2. Sympatisk

Danes are known for being naturally friendly people. So, it’s obvious why they have the word ‘sympatisk’ in their vocabulary. It means when you have a good gut feeling about someone you have just met. What a great first impression!

Danish Words. Image of Træls.

3. Træls

This word is native to a specific part of Denmark called Jutland. It’s used to describe something which is a nuisance or inconvenience.


4. Tanketorsk

‘Tanketorsk’ is playful Danish word which literally translates as ‘thought cod’. You might be able to guess what this one means. The Danes use it to describe an inadvertent mistake or gaffe.

Danish Words. Image of Tanketorsk.
Danish Words. Image of Forelsket.

5. Forelsket

Ah, ‘forelsket’. This word describes the euphoria you experience when you’re first falling in love. And, what a beautiful word it is!


6. Hygge

You’ve probably heard of this one before. In fact, ‘hygge’ was officially welcomed into the English lexicon last year when it became part of the Oxford English Dictionary! But, what exactly does it mean? Often, this word is loosely defined as a feeling of cosiness. This is certainly part of it, though it encompasses so much more! It is a feeling of being content in the situation you are in. That could be wrapped up warm and cosy with lots of cushions, throws, and beautiful posters (check ours out!) Alternatively, it could be drinking some wine with a good friend. Or, reading a book on your own sitting in the sun. Whatever makes you feel content is ‘hygge’.

Danish Words. Image of Hygge.
Danish Words. Image of Arbejdsglæde.

7. Arbejdsglæde

It makes sense that the Danish have a word for this feeling as they often top surveys as the happiest workers in the world! ‘Arbejdsglæde’ means when your work is the source of your happiness!


8. Orke

In sharp contrast to our previous word, this one means when you can’t be bothered to do something. It’s used a lot within the same phrasing - ‘Jeg orker det simpelthen ikke’. This translates as ‘I simply can’t be bothered’. We all have to take days off, don’t we?

Danish Words. Image of orke.
Danish Words. Image of Jo.

9. Jo

Our final pick is a really handy word we could definitely use in English! It means ‘yes’ but is only ever used in response to a negative question or statement. For example, ‘you didn’t wash the dishes last night, did you?’ ‘Er, jo!’ - I did!’ ‘Jo’ can also be used in the middle of a sentence to add emphasis, though this is almost impossible to translate!


We hope you enjoyed our list of the top 9 Danish words we desperately need in English. There’s so many more feelings we can express, if only we have the right words to do so!


Written by Jessica Slater.

Illustrations by Anna Abram.