Swedish word of the day: julpynt

Merry Christmas! Today we're exploring the story of one of the most festive words in the Swedish language.

Swedish word of the day: julpynt
Image: nito103/Depositphotos

Julpynt is a way to say 'Christmas decorations'.

You probably know that the prefix jul means 'Christmas', and pynt comes from the verb pynta. Pynta comes from an old Swedish word which meant 'to put in order' (ordna in modern Swedish). Swedes used to use it with a wide range of meanings, including 'to cook', 'to build', 'to prepare', 'to clean' and even 'to dirty', but over the years its meaning grew narrower and narrower. 

From the early 19th century, pynta was used to mean 'to decorate/embellish' more specifically, and was used about people (hon pyntade sig – she made herself look nice) and objects. Pynta also has Nordic relatives: in Danish and Norwegian, pynte means 'to embellish' or 'to decorate'.

In Swedish, the term is usually used in relation to Christmas, but the verb pynta is heard much less often than the noun julpynt.

The term juldekorationer also exists as an alternative, but the big grammatical difference between the two is that julpynt is an uncountable noun. That means you can't have två julpynt or många julpynt, you can only have mycket julpynt ('lots of decorations' but literally translating as 'much Christmas decorations').


Vi älskar att dekorera huset med ljusslingor och annat julpynt

We love to decorate the house with fairy lights and other Christmas decorations

Barnen tycker att man inte kan ha för mycket julpynt!

The children think you can't have too many Christmas decorations!

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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