17 dialect words you'll need to know to survive in southern Sweden

Emma Löfgren
Emma Löfgren - [email protected]
17 dialect words you'll need to know to survive in southern Sweden
Southern Swedish 'vindmöllor'. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Struggling to understand Sweden's southern 'skånska' (or Scanian) accent? Here's our guide to some of the regional words.


You know the feeling. Just when you think you've mastered Swedish, you run into someone from the south and all your language skills go out the window. The Local Sweden's editor, who grew up in Skåne, lists 17 dialect words to at least help you fake being a local. When it comes to diphthongs, you're on your own.


In Swedish: Pojke

In English: Boy


In Swedish: Flicka

In English: Girl


In Swedish: Skottkärra

In English: Wheelbarrow


In Swedish: Kvarn, usually väderkvarn

In English: Mill, usually windmill

Mölla, or vindmölla, is also used to describe a modern electricity-generating wind turbine ('vindkraftverk' in Swedish).

A photo from Simrishamn in southern Sweden. Photo: Conny Fridh/


In Swedish: Födelsedagsbarn

In English: Birthday boy/girl

The literal meaning of födelsedagsgris is 'birthday pig'.



In Swedish: Cola (i.e. Coca-Cola)

In English: Coke

Most Swedes will ask for a 'cola' when they want a glass of the fizzy beverage. To southerners it is known as a 'coca', which as you probably guessed the average Swede associates more with cocaine.

Malmö is the biggest city in Skåne. Photo: Aline Lessner/

Uppåt landet

In Swedish: No real equivalent. What southerners call everything north of Helsingborg.

In English: Up north, literally up in the country.


In Swedish: Smuts/skit

In English: Dirt/shit


In Swedish: Släpa

In English: Drag


In Swedish: Balle (but not really, see explanation below)

In English: Buttock/Penis

The tricky thing about this one is that in most of Sweden 'balle' refers to a man's genitals, whereas in southern Sweden it is fairly child-friendly slang for buttock. Sometimes this gets very awkward.

READ ALSO: Twelve Swedish words with awesome literal translations

Skåne even has its own flag. Photo: Håkan Dahlström/Flickr


In Swedish: Grina (but again, not really, see explanation below)

In English: Laugh/Cry

Here's another confusing one. In standard Swedish "jag grinade på min farmors begravning" means "I cried at my grandmother's funeral". In southern Sweden it means "I laughed". So be careful there.


In Swedish: Otålig

In English: Impatient


In Swedish: Äcklig

In English: Disgusting

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Think Scanian is too easy? Take the Öresund Bridge to Denmark. Photo: Silvia Man/


In Swedish: Idiot

In English: Idiot


In Swedish: Idiot

In English: Idiot (literally: eel head)


In Swedish: Krånglig

In English: Awkward, Difficult


Long explanation: Literally, this means that someone's got a "pointy mouth". Southerners tend to speak quite far back in the mouth, while those speaking standard Swedish keep their tongue closer to the lips. So someone who is 'spissflabbad' is someone southerners feel speaks in a posh and slightly affected way.

Short explanation: Stockholmer

What's your favourite Swedish word? E-mail [email protected]!


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