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LEARNING SWEDISH: How to talk about the weather with Swedes

Emma Löfgren
Emma Löfgren - [email protected]
LEARNING SWEDISH: How to talk about the weather with Swedes
A rainbow (regnbåge) over Stockholm. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

The Local's vocabulary guide to some of Sweden's most essential weather words and sayings.


Sweden-based readers have probably heard the saying "det finns inget dåligt väder, bara dåliga kläder" (there's no bad weather, only bad clothes) approximately 999,342,849 times.

But there are plenty of other weather phrases in the Swedish language that describe all situations from strandväder (beach weather) to regn och rusk (rain and nasty weather).


Let's start with the four seasons (årstider): vår (spring), sommar (summer), höst (autumn) and vinter (winter).

In summer, you're probably hoping for vackert väder (beautiful weather), with solsken (sunshine) and grillväder (barbecue weather) on those ljumma (balmy) evenings. Dygnsmedeltemperaturen (the average daily temperature) will rise thanks to the högtryck (high pressure), causing you to feel a bit svettig (sweaty), and northern Sweden will experience midnattssol (midnight sun, when the sun doesn't set in summer).

Remember that en svala gör ingen sommar (one swallow doth not a summer make).

In sensommaren (late summer), there may be some åska (thunder) and blixtar (lightnings), but if you are lucky you might see a regnbåge (rainbow).

If the warm weather lasts into early October, it is called Brittsommar (Indian summer, literally Britt summer) after Saint Bridget of Sweden, whose national day falls on October 7th.

READ ALSO: Ten Swedish phrases you only hear in summer


Come autumn the weather will turn grått och trist (grey and dull), mulet (overcast), molnigt (cloudy), and blåsigt (windy). It's time to get your paraply (umbrella) out, and maybe even your regnjacka (rain coat) and gummistövlar (wellies).

Low-lying dimma (fog or mist) over fields is sometimes referred to as älvdans (fairy dance).

There are several words for nederbörd (precipitation), including duggregn (drizzle), regnskur (shower), hällregn (downpour) or ösregn (heavy rain).

If it's raining cats and dogs you say that regnet står som spön i backen (literally, the rain stands as rods on the hillside).

November will be here sooner than you think, and it might prompt you to exclaim Usch! Vilket väder! (Ugh! What miserable weather!) or even Vilket jävla skitväder! (literally, and apologies to readers, What devilish shit weather!).

If Anders braskar, julen slaskar. That means that if the weather is rainy with plenty of slask (slush) on November 30th, Saint Andrew's Day, the saying goes that there will be a vit jul (white Christmas).

Finally, it's winter and snöflingor (snowflakes) will start to fall. As you might imagine, there are plenty of words for snow in Swedish, including blötsnö (wet snow), pudersnö (powder snow), nysnö (new snow) and snömodd (slush, but often mixed with mud and not as far along in the melting process as slask).

Kramsnö literally translates as "squeeze snow" and refers to snow that is just wet and firm enough to make excellent snöbollar (snow balls).

Skare refers to the crisp surface on snow, which is formed when the top layer melts and then freezes again.

You think that it is never going to end, but sooner or later you will see the first dagsmeja, when the sun is strong enough to melt the snow or ice, despite it still being below 0C.

That's when you know that is on its way, when the mercury edges above 0C and the snow melts, causing vårflod (spring flood) and islossning (when the ice breaks apart).

Efter regn kommer solsken (after rain there's sun), and soon you will see spring flowers emerging, such as vintergäck (eranthis hyemalis) and snödroppar (snowdrops), followed by tussilago (coltsfoot), vitsippor (wood anemone) and krokus (crocus).

Enjoy the vårsol (spring sun)! Finally, remember to inte tala om den snö som föll ifjol (not talk about the snow that fell last year, meaning that you should let bygones be bygones).


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