Swedish word of the day: prinskorv

the word prinskorv on a black background next to a swedish flag
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
In the run-up to Christmas, we're looking at the stories behind some of Sweden's most festive words, and today it's the turn of one of the key players in the julbord buffet.

Sitting alongside the Christmas ham (julskinka) and Christmas meatballs (julköttbullar, and yes, these are just ordinary meatballs that happen to be served at Christmas), you’ll usually see a dish of mini sausages, known as prinskorv (literally ‘prince sausages’). But what’s so princely about these small savoury snacks, and where does the word come from in the first place?

The second half of the word, korv, has an easily traceable history.

The word comes from the prehistoric Nordic language and originally meant something like ‘stump’, but came to refer to the cylindrical-shaped food from around the 1500s, when the first recorded mentions of edible korv can be found. Korv describes sausages: ground meat packed into a tube shape within a skin, traditionally made of animal intestine. It was only from the late 19th century that korv began to be served warm, rather than cold.

In Sweden, you’ll find many sorts of sausage, which get their names from the type of meat used, the region the recipe comes from, or the way you prepare it. To give a few examples: grillkorv (sausages for barbecuing, or hot dogs), falukorv (a type of sausage originating from the Falun area), stångkorv (literally ‘stick/bar sausage’, named after the bars the meat was dried on in earlier times), and wienerkorv (created in Vienna, called Wien in German and Swedish).

And then there’s prinskorv.


The princely sausages. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

Prinskorv are a smaller version of the wienerkorv, a long thin sausage containing mostly pork tenderloin, but were originally called siskonkorv (or syskonkorv, literally ‘sibling sausages’) because the approximately five centimetre-long sausages were attached to each other.

The first recorded mention of their princely name came in a late 19th-century cookbook, but it was likely used in speech before that. It’s not clear exactly which Swedish prince, if any, was responsible for the name change, but between 1858 and 1865, four princes were born in Sweden, so it’s certainly possible that the siskonkorv was renamed in a nod to the royal brothers.

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See also on The Local:

Another thing to know about prinskorv is that if you buy products in Sweden with that name, they must legally contain a minimum of 40 percent meat and a maximum of 23 percent fat.

Example sentences:

Prinskorv är en klassiker på det svenska julbordet.

Prinskorv is a classic dish in the Swedish Christmas buffet

Jag har fixat prinskorv till jul.

I’ve made prinskorv for Christmas.

Need a good Christmas gift idea?

Villa, Volvo, Vovve: The Local’s Word Guide to Swedish Life, written by The Local’s journalists, is now available to order. Head to lysforlag.com/vvv to read more about it – or join The Local as a member and get your copy for free.

It is also possible to buy your copy from Amazon USAmazon UKBokus or Adlibris.


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