Swedish word of the day: vobba

Our chosen word of the day is a colloquial Swedish term that you're likely to start hearing a lot around this time of year.

Swedish word of the day: vobba
'Vobba' season is upon us. Image: nito103/Depositphotos

Att vobba is a handy Swedish verb which means, roughly, “to work from home even though you've taken a paid day off to take care of your sick child”. Allow us to explain.

Picture this: because of the current cold weather, your child is sick and you have to stay at home to look after them. In Sweden, parents of young children benefit from a generous policy allowing paid days off in such cases, but if the work is piling up on your desk, a day off may not be practical, especially not once flu season starts.

That's where vobba comes in. It's a portmanteau or mash-up of two words: in this case the verbs att vabba (to take care of a child) and att jobba (to work).

Att vabba is also a recently coined word, which comes from the abbreviation VAB (vård av barn or 'care of child'). This is the official term for time off granted to care for a sick child, as part of Sweden's family-friendly work culture preventing parents from income loss.

Vobba on the other hand refers to a combination of working and looking after an ill child. Officially, it's not possible to vobba if you've taken a VAB day, the reason being that you can't claim a salary and VAB benefit at the same time. But an employer may be understanding if you choose to work from home to be with the child if you're still able to carry out most of your duties (therefore caring for your child but not claiming VAB), or you can choose to claim VAB for only part of the workday and work the rest of the time. 

These options are actually becoming more popular than the tradition VAB, so the chances are this word will be sticking around in the Swedish lexicon for a long time.


Mitt barn är sjuk; jag måste vobba.

My child is sick; I have to work from home to look after them

Jag skulle egentligen vabba men vobbade istället

I was supposed to stay at home and take care of my child, but I worked from home instead

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Swedish word of the day: sommartid

The clocks are springing ahead this weekend, marking the beginning of daylight saving time and the end of Sweden's dark winter period. Aptly described in Swedish as 'sommartid', here is the history of how the practice came about.

Swedish word of the day: sommartid

The phrase will come in handy this weekend if you want to lament a lost hour of sleep in the morning or celebrate the extra hour of daylight in the evening. 

Sommartid translates literally to “summertime” and refers to daylight saving time, which begins this weekend in many European countries, including Sweden. At 2:00 am on Sunday, the clocks will spring one hour ahead.

In the UK, this period is known as “British Summer Time” – one hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time – while in North America, daylight saving time is used more commonly.

The first time sommartid was officially trialled on a national basis was in 1916, when the German Empire along with other countries such as Austria-Hungary, the UK and Sweden introduced the practice in order to conserve fuel during World War I, with the idea being that the extra daylight would reduce the use of artificial lighting, allowing the surplus fuel to be put towards the war efforts.

In the following years, the practice spread to Australia, Russia, and the US, too.

After the war, daylight saving grew unpopular in Europe, especially among farmers, whose schedules were – and still are – dictated by nature and sunlight rather than the clock.

It wasn’t used on a large scale again until World War II, when Germany again popularised the practice. But a few years after the war ended, it fell out of favour for the second time. It only picked up again when France reintroduced it in 1976, in response to an energy crisis sparked by the oil embargo in 1973.

By 1996, the EU standardised daylight savings, which now runs from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October. 

But the future of daylight saving time looks uncertain once again. In 2019, the European Parliament voted to abolish the practice, however efforts to actually implement this measure have stalled. So at least for this year, sommartid will continue.  

Example sentences: 

När börjar sommartid? 

When does daylight saving time start?

Kom ihåg att sommartid börjar på söndag, så man behöver stå upp en timme tidigare.

Remember that summer time starts on Sunday, so you need to get up an hour earlier.

Villa, Volvo, Vovve: The Local’s Word Guide to Swedish Life, written by The Local’s journalists, is available to order. Head to to read more about it. It is also possible to buy your copy from Amazon USAmazon UKBokus or Adlibris.