Swedish word of the day: långkörare

Catherine Edwards
Catherine Edwards - [email protected]
Swedish word of the day: långkörare
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Let's take a look at a noun that can be positive or negative depending on the context – and is very relevant at the moment.


Swedish is full of interesting compound words that describe a specific thing or concept, and en långkörare is one of them. It can be broken down into two components: lång (long) and körare, which means something like "driver" or "runner", from the verb att köra

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Att köra is a very versatile verb. While it sometimes means "drive" in a literal sense (att köra en bil – to drive a car), its purpose is often simply to signify momentum. This is clear in expressions such as nu kör vi! ("off we go!") and klara, färdiga, kör! ("ready, set, go!"), where köra implies action rather than being linked to a specific type of movement or direction.

The noun långkörare is commonly used to describe a TV programme that ran for several years with multiple seasons, or occasionally a long-running theatre production. In this context, it's usually a positive thing since it shows the ongoing popularity of the show.

But långkörare has another meaning which makes it particularly appropriate this month. When you're talking about business or political negotiations, the term refers to drawn-out dealings, or an issue that crops up time and time again. An English translation would be something like "a long-running issue" or "long-running saga".

Exactly how long something has to take for it to be worthy of the term depends on the issue, but the key is that it lasts longer than is either necessary or desirable.

For example, Sweden is now expected to soon join Nato after Hungary ratified it on Monday. But that comes nearly two years after it handed in its application, with both Turkey and Hungary dragging their feet on ratification. You could say it has been a real långkörare.



Förhoppningsvis blir det inte någon långkörare

Hopefully it won't become a long-running saga

Den främsta långköraren i svensk TV är förmodligen Rederiet

The biggest long-running series in Swedish TV is probably Rederiet (a 318-series soap opera)

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