Swedish word of the day: nämen

Swedes are not a people prone to big reactions. But once in a while you may hear a mildly surprised Swede step out of their shell and exclaim '... nämen!'

Swedish word of the day: nämen
Nämen, what do you know! Image: nito103/Depositphotos

Nämen comes from the words nej and men which literally mean 'no' and 'but'.

It is used, often at the start of a sentence, to express mild surprise in a positive, neutral or negative sense: 'Nämen, what a cute dog!'). Or draw out the second syllable for effect: nämeeeeeeeen if it's a really cute dog.

It's a bit like going 'oh' in English, or 'gosh', or 'well, well, well!'

Nämen can also stand on its own, if said with right emphasis. If you for example run into a friend you haven't seen in a while, you can go nämen! when you spot them. With just one little word you can say 'Fancy seeing you here! Long time no see! I've missed you, old pal'. Swedish is a wonderfully efficient language.

It can also be used as one of those words at the start of a sentence before you get to what you actually want to say (much like 'well' in English). 'Nämen, should we start thinking of going home?' 


Nämen, hej

Well, hello

Nämen, vad duktig du är

Wow, you're so good

Do you have a favourite Swedish word you would like to nominate for our word of the day series? Get in touch by email or if you are a Member of The Local, log in to comment below.

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​​Swedish word of the day: sommarpratare

Today's word is from one of Sweden's most popular radio shows. 

​​Swedish word of the day: sommarpratare

Sommarpratare literally means ‘summer talker’, and the word comes from Sommar, a 90-minute show on Swedish radio channel P1, which is part of the public broadcaster Sveriges Radio. 

Sommar i P1 is one of the most popular shows in the country, and sommarpratare, that is the person that gets to host the show, are noteworthy Swedes, often people from culture, sports, or business. 

The idea of the format is such that the host tells their story, or a story of their choice, and then they choose some songs to go with it. Over the years this very free format has led to some really memorable shows, and to more than one scandal. 

When cancer-stricken musician and writer Kristian Gidlund went on 30 June 2013 he knew he would soon die, and that his sommarprat would be his last public appearance. The result was a deeply moving reflection on death. Three months later Gidlund passed away just a few days shy of his 30th birthday. 

Arguably one of the most controversial shows, with a record 70-plus reports to the Swedish Press and Broadcasting Authority, was by poet Athena Farrokhzad which aired on 21 July 2014. The show dealt with racism, class issues and political violence from what many commentators described as an extreme leftist perspective. One moderate member of the Riksdag, Gunnar Axén, was so upset that he supposedly threw out his television to no longer have to pay the public service fee, a fee which at the time was how public service was financed – today the financing is done with a tax. 

Some other noteworthy scandals include Army of Lovers singer Alexander Bard promoting the use of the drug ecstasy, ending with the quote, “The chemical brotherhood will take over in the future”, author Lena Andersson calling Jesus an authoritarian, and even author and journalist Jan Guillou accusing the long-dead former Prime Minister Per Albin Hansson of having taken bribes. 

On a more positive note was the unexpected hit of chief physician Anders Hansen’s 2019 sommarprat about the brain, which had 2 million digital streams. Hansen broke with format by not telling a personal story but instead sharing his knowledge from the field of psychiatry, talking about the importance of exercising, socialising, putting away your mobile phone, and making sure to sleep well for mental well-being.

To be a sommarpratare is considered a great honour in Sweden. Most Swedes are very familiar with the show, and they often have favourite shows that they would love to tell you about. So it is a great topic for conversation.

Summer is nearly over, the last episode airs the day after tomorrow, but the episodes are still available online. Here is a link to this year’s list of sommarpratare

Example sentences:

Lyssnade du på sommarpratet igår?

Did you listen to the summer talk yesterday?

Har du sett listan på årets sommarpratare?

Have you seen the list of this year’s summer talkers? 

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