Danish rooms

My lodgings in Aarhus

Recently I learnt that there are two different words for room in Danish: rum [ʁɔmˀ], which is a general room, and værelse [ˈʋæʁɑlsə], which is a room for spending time in, at least according to Memrise. Is this correct?

Værelse comes from være (to be) and -else (a suffix that turns verbs into nouns) [source].

Subspecies of værelse include:

  • soveværelse = bedroom
  • badeværelse = bathroom
  • arbejdsværelse = study
  • børneværelse = nursery
  • hotelværelse = hotel room
  • klasseværelse = classroom
  • loftsværelse = loft
  • gæsteværelse = guest room

[source]

A related word is tilværelse (life, existence).

Rum means room, comparment or space, and comes from the Old Norse rúmr, from the Proto-Germanic *rūmaz (roomy, spacious, open), the same root as the English word room [source].

Subspecies of rum include:

  • omklædningsrum = changing room, locker room
  • møderum = meeting room
  • siderum = (small) chamber, side room
  • tørrerum = drying room
  • haverum = garden room
  • gårdrum = courtyard

[source].

Other Danish words for rooms include lokale (room), stue (living room), sal (hall) and køkken (kitchen).

2 thoughts on “Danish rooms

  1. The distinction between “rum” and “værelse” as defined by Memrise is perfect! It should be noted that “rummet”, the definite singular of “rum” often means “space” as in the Universe.

    Rather than “møderum” for “meeting room”, we tend to use “-lokale” instead.

    And I don’t think I’ve ever heard “arbejdsværelse”, but rather either “arbejdsrum” or “kontor” (“office”).

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