Swedish word of the day: höstmys

Catherine Edwards
Catherine Edwards - [email protected]
Swedish word of the day: höstmys
Truly the best thing about the month of October. Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Our chosen Swedish word of the day is perfect for anyone who's secretly glad that summer is coming to an end and looking forward to digging their knitwear out from the back of the wardrobe.


Höstmys is a Swedish noun best translated as "autumn cosiness", but what exactly it means depends on who you talk to.

En höst is the Swedish term for "autumn", which English speakers may be interested to know shares its roots with the English noun "harvest": both derive from the Old Norse word haust. Haust originally referred to gathering, but became used as the general term for the season in which farmers gathered their crops.

In the UK, as populations moved away from rural living, haust was overtaken by "autumn" from the Latin term autumnus in general speech, and from the 1500s onwards "harvest" took on a narrower, specifically agricultural meaning. 

Scandinavian countries remained largely rural farming societies for much longer, and were influenced by Latin to a lesser degree, which is why they kept the same term for the season between summer and winter (Swedish höst is related to German der Herbst and Norwegian haust).

As for mys, it's related to the adjective mysig (cosy) and the verb att mysa (which means something along the lines of "to have a cosy time", "to cuddle", or "to snuggle"). This is a big concept in Sweden, so you'll see "mys" tacked on the end of lots of words: fredagsmys, lördagsmys, kvällsmys, julmys, and so on.


Höstmys is therefore about whatever makes the colder, darker nights more bearable for you, whether it's lighting candles, tucking up under blankets, or spending evenings on the sofa with a glass of mulled wine and the people you care about most.

As is the case with a lot of Scandinavian lifestyle concepts, the simple idea has been co-opted by brands and Instagram influencers who might try to convince you that true höstmys involves splurging on home furnishings or vacation rentals. You'll see countless headlines like saker som du behöver för att maxa höstmyset ("things you need for maximum autumn cosiness") but rest assured that there's truly no right or wrong way to mysa.


Så inreder du för ultimata höstmyset

Here's how to decorate for the ultimate autumn cosiness (another typical headline)

Nu börjar löven falla av träden vilket betyder höstmys

Now the leaves are starting to fall from the trees, which means autumn cosiness

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