9 Interesting Danish Phrases

by Sydney Whitman

The recent worldwide trend of Hygge - the feeling of happiness that cannot be translated,- warmed up the interest to Scandinavian culture.

Spatial changes mean changes in dialect, phrases, idioms, expressions and for those new to a country, these things are very confusing. The article talks about that.

In our daily lives we frequently use expressions like, ‘Hey what’s up?’; ’How you doing?’; ‘Oh man!’; ‘Yikes!’ and a lot like these.

A benefit for the English speakers is the similarity between what you hear and what you read in print. However, when it’s the language of the Danes you are talking about, the disparity between print and sound exceeds the similarity. Adding on to this, the Danes tend to gobble up their words which do not make it less confusing for English speakers, at all.

In order to provide some respite to the teeming linguistic confusion of the foreigners (English speakers mostly) travelling to Denmark, this article jots down some of the interesting and popular Danish expressions.

Say hey

‘Hey!, What’s up?’, ‘How do you do?’ and similar expressions used when you meet someone, someone you know, is ‘Hva’ så?’ in Danish (pronounced ‘vassuh’). Literally translated it means something like, ‘So what?’ or ‘What then?’ but it is used more in a way to ask of a person’s condition.

More than welcome

Velbekomme means welcome (can be easily made out) in Danish. One can often see that it is being used in culinary spaces: restaurants, diners, eateries, etc. in a sense to wish that the person has a happy meal (much relatable to the French ‘Bon Apetit’). Moreover, if you’re lodging with a Danish family you might hear them ‘Velbekomme’ you to ‘dig in’.

Make it happen

If one is industrious and he or she is willing to tussle and toil in the ground to make progress, the Danes will refer to it as hyppe kartofler, which means to ‘earth up potatoes’. For instance, pulling an all-nighter to get the homework done.


For English speakers, one is burdened down by the multitude of work but not for the Danes. If you are too busy or engaged with something you just lie horizontally in the air or at least that is what Jeg ligger vandret i luften means. To break it down it could be understood as one being so busy that he is like the air, always flowing and never still.


The Danish word Hvaffornoget (pronounced vaffuhno-eth) is used in order to ask about something, as in ‘What is this?’. But the usage is more of the ‘what?’ which is used to express a feeling of shock, amazement, excitement and so on.

Hairy problem

To express a conundrum Danes use the expression of Håret/skægget i postkassen which means to have ones hair or beard in the mailbox.

This is for the males. For women the expression goes fletningerne i postkassen meaning the same except for braids in place of hair in the mailbox. Say for an instance where you ask someone do my assignment and they forget to bring it in class, on the last day of submission and marking

Like a shrimp

Jeg har ikke en rød reje or ‘I don’t have a red shrimp’ is what is said to express ones condition of being broke or unemployed. Like when one does not even have a red shrimp to pay for online homework assignment solutions.

Thanks for the ...

An expression meant to show wonder at a piece of information is pretty much similar to that of ‘thanking for coffee’ or in Danish, ‘tak for kaff!’ (pronounce targ-fuh karf). It is similar to the English expressions of ‘Wow!’, ‘You don’t say’, ‘Well what do you know?’


Be it with a group of friends, with family, at home or outside, a state of well-being, a state of comfort or coziness is what the word ‘Det var hyggeligt!’ mean (pronounced huu-guh). It can also be expressed as a way of saying goodbye as in ‘It was cozy’ as in ‘I had a nice time’.

Every country has its own socio-cultural norms, many of which get expressed in linguistic traits.

Proverbs and idiomatic expressions are meant to express some basic human truths and life lessons arising out of practical experiences. They are meant to cater to a better living.

Moreover, such expressions tell a lot about one’s cultural background. The article lists just a handful of the numerous popular phrases and expressions that are popular amongst the Danes.

About the writer

Sydney Whitman is the progressive Academic Coach. In her free time, she helps with assignments at homework service MyHomeworkDone.com. She started her career teaching English language and moved closer to the communication with students itself. “Being helpful in studying means more than just a job. I daily meet a variety of worlds in students eyes.

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