What I Like About Danish Vol. 1

I took a walk down memory lane, and I realized that I have yet to talk about some very pleasant and funny moments in Marina’s life with Danish. Wow, that sounds like a radio show or something.


I just felt like switching to something that doesn’t involve subtle nagging and complaining about the hardships of learning Danish, but instead embraces the good sides by giving you some of my favorite Danish words and phrases!

My choice was based on an equal amount of weirdness, awesomeness and practicality, three qualities that Danish language seems to embody so well.

So, here goes:

1) Tillykke med fødselsdagen: Honestly, I’m fighting the urge to complain about the unpronounceability of these words, with my teeth and fists clenched. But I will just focus on the meaning of the phrase instead: it stands for ‘happy birthday’, but word for word it equals to ‘congratulations with the birthday’. That’s right. Congratulations. They congratulate you because you were one tough gal/guy and you were born. I mean, how awesome is that? I believe this should be established as the primary birthday wish everywhere!

Congratulations! You are one awesome human being!

2) Danish compound nouns: OK, I love Danish compounds! For me it’s what makes this language beautiful. Danish compounds are so practical and simple that they make you feel stupid because you haven’t thought of that particular word combination before. They’re just so obvious!

Some examples include:

Spisestedet, which is actually the name of a restaurant in Aarhus. The verb at spiser means to eat, and the noun stedet means the place. No more fancy or trendy restaurant names; the place to eat is the obvious solution!

Flyvemaskine, which literally translates to flying machine, and yes it only means airplane, so no, the definition does not include Doctor Who’s flying telephone booth.

Æggekage, which literally translates to egg cake. Obviously almost all cakes contain eggs, but Danes use this beautiful compound for our beloved omelette. Which if you think about it, IS an egg cake. That’s what I’m going to  call it from now on. My friends and family will just have to deal with it.

Smølfespark, which- brace yourselves – means Smurf kick. Oh yeah. It looks cute and funny and indeed it is. See, a smurf kick is when you put your index finger and your thumb together before letting your index finger flick. So basically it’s a tiny kick with your fingers!

Finally, one of my all-time favourites…

Vaskebjørn: which is not literally a washing bear, but a raccoon- (although a washing bear is a delightful thought). I don’t know why they named the raccoon like this. I just openly accept each and every Danish compound there is!

I swear to write a new post, solely for the weirdly awesome and beautifully simple Danish compounds! They do deserve a separate chapter of their own.

3) Fartkontrol: …you got that right?! This word makes serious and professional adults laugh secretly. I’m guessing you can understand why! In Danish it means a speed check, but I swear if I ever get stopped with my hypothetical car, and a hypothetical policeman tells me that I exceeded the permitted fart, I think I will burst out laughing. I mean, you can think of so many things to say as a response to that…

4) The word gift. This word has two meanings: it can either mean poison, or married. When I first heard about it my thoughts were: Huh, I wonder if someone put these two definitions together on purpose…

Who knows.

5) The eternal miscomprehension of kylling, killing and kælling:

Danes sure do seem to enjoy words that almost sound the same, don’t they?

Just to clarify, kylling is chicken, killing is a kitten (sounds a bit brutal…) and kælling is a rude term for a woman that no one should use, ok?!

To make things more interesting,here’s a very short dialogue I had with a Danish friend:

Hvad spiste du til aftensmaden?

Killing med kartoffler


Obviously I ate chicken, not a kitten, but sadly my pronunciation of that word was closer to killing.


I’m sorry kitty! 

Well, there you have it. A list with some of my funniest/weirdest Danish words and phrases! Do you have any favorites? Be sure to let me know with a comment below!

Vi ses,



One thought on “What I Like About Danish Vol. 1

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