These 33 words entered the Swedish language in 2018

Catherine Edwards
Catherine Edwards - [email protected]
These 33 words entered the Swedish language in 2018

A list of 33 new words that entered the Swedish language and helped define Swedish society in 2018 has been unveiled by the country's top word experts. Here's a look at all the new entries and just what they mean.


Many of the words had a political theme, such as mandatpingis (literally 'electoral seat ping-pong) and whataboutism, which entered Swedish vocabulary in the run-up to and following the September election.

Several more relate to climate issues, which have been a major topic in Sweden this year after a summer of wildfires linked to drought and climate change. Flygskam (flying shame), for example, describes the embarrassment felt by some climate-conscious regular fliers, while bokashi was imported from Japanese to describe a new method of composting.

Some of the words, such as explainer and techlash, have been transferred directly into the Swedish language from English or other languages, and are known as 'loan words'.

READ ALSO: 12 untranslatable Swedish words they didn't teach you at SFI

12 untranslatable Swedish words they didn't teach you at SFI
Photo: pressmaster/Depositphotos

Others have been slightly modified to fit the Swedish grammatical system, such as dm:a, in which the English term DM (direct message) has lost its capitalization and received the infinitive verb ending 'a'. Still others are 'loan translations' or direct translations of English terms, such as stöddjur which means 'support animal' and cyberhygien (digital hygiene).

The list is put together each year by some of Sweden's top linguists at the Swedish Language Council and language-related magazine Språktidningen.

The word experts behind the list highlighted that while the new words show many examples of Swedish borrowing from other languages, the Swedish language continues to have an international influence. Ola Karlsson, editor of the list at Språktidningen, said two Swedish words in particular had made waves around the globe in 2018.

"One example is plogga, which is to jog and collect litter at the same time. At first it sounded a bit silly, but then lots of municipalities organized plogging activities. Now I've seen the word on lists in the UK and Norway," Karlsson told TT.

"Dödstädning [death-cleaning] was also a new word last year and it's spread around the whole world."

READ ALSO: 'Swedish death-cleaning is something we should all think about – and enjoy'

2018's new Swedish words

Aquafaba - Water in which legumes, like chickpeas, have been cooked. It can be used as a vegan replacement for egg whites in many recipes, and with veganism becoming ever more popular in Sweden, it's a word you may hear more and more.

Beslutsblindhet - Choice or decision blindness, used to describe the phenomenon of making decisions without being aware of how your choice has been manipulated or steered.

Bokashi - A loan word from Japanese, describing a specific method of composting using micro-organisms.

Cyberhygien - Cyber hygiene, or good digital security practices such as having strong, varied passwords that you change regularly and installing antivirus software on your devices.

Digifysisk - Used to describe things combining digital and physical presence, such digifisiskvård (care carried out both digitally and physically) which has boomed in Sweden thanks to several apps offering online doctors' appointments.

Dm:a - To send a direct message via a social media platform such as Instagram or Twitter. The term DM is loaned from English and transformed into a Swedish verb by adding 'a'.

E-krona - A hypothetical digital currency (digital krona is another word for it) which, as The Local has reported, is an idea that Sweden's central bank is looking into. It's not clear exactly how e-krona would work; possibly in a blockchain-style system, or in a more traditional value-based system using an app or a card 

Explainer - Borrowed from the English, but it has a specific sense, referring to a short video or picture series used to explain a concept or event; usually breaking down something complex into digestible chunks for the average viewer.

Flossa - To do 'the floss', a dance move supposedly resembling using a giant piece of floss and featured on video game Fortnite. We'll leave it to Zlatan to demonstrate:

Flygskam - 'Flying shame' or being ashamed of flying due to the impact on the climate. This one was apt this year as studies showed that while Swedes may be more climate-aware than many other nationalities, they fly far more often and further than average.

Förpappring - Literally this would be 'over-papering' and it describes a culture or system which has an excessive amount of paperwork and bureaucracy.

Gal-tan-skala - The Swedish name for the GAL-TAN scale, which has been used in political research since 1999 but in Swedish debate only in the past few years. It's a way of measuring where different parties stand, with the two ends of the scale standing for Green-Alternative-Libertarian and Traditional-Authoritarian-Nationalist.

Gensax - Literally 'gene scissors', referring to the technology used for genetic modifications.

Incel - An English term meaning 'involuntarily celibate', often used to refer to people who believe they can't find a partner due to societal structures and values that disadvantage them. Originally coined as a term for a singles' support group, it is now more often associated with violent misogynistic behaviour.

Intryckssanera - Meaning something like 'impression sanitizing', this refers to creating visual environments that are easier to concentrate in, specifically in classrooms, for children with ADHD or autism. It might mean keeping walls less full of pictures and texts that might be distracting, or having the possibility to put screens up to promote good focus.

Lårskav - Irritation or chafing of skin on the inner thighs. Not exactly a new phenomenon, but perhaps it was this summer's unusually prolonged heatwave which prompted the Swedes to coin their own term for it.

Mandatpingis - Mandat refers to a seat or electoral district and pingis means ping pong, so this term was coined to refer to one seat which switched to and from two of Sweden's parties during recounts after an exceptionally close election result.

Menscertifiera - To show, especially in workplaces, that care has been taken to show consideration towards women while on their period (mens). For example, whether women are able to take breaks in order to change sanitary protection, and whether sanitary materials are available.

Mikrootrohet - 'Micro-infidelity': basically, letting down or betraying your partner, but in a much less serious way than sexual infidelity. There has been debate in Sweden this year about which actions may fall into this category, for example, sending flirty messages or even nude photos to other people via social media.

Nollavfall - A literal translation of 'zero waste', referring to a lifestyle or policy of producing no waste that can't be recycled or composted.

Någonstansare och varsomhelstare - Literally 'anywheres and somewheres', taken from a book by journalist David Goodhart to refer to different types of people, where the 'somewheres' or någonstansare have a close tie to a particular place and local issues, and the 'anywheres' or varsomhelstare have no strong link to a place. It's a concept that's been used to describe lots of voting patterns and national divide, from Brexit in the UK to the supporters of the Sweden Democrats.

Nätläkare - net doctor, or an online service offering medical care. Like digifysiskvård, this has become more common.


Several apps allow you to be seen by a doctor online. Photo: Janerik Henriksson / TT

Pyramidmatta - Literally 'pyramid mats', these are rubber mats with pyramid shapes which have been used by the Swedish Transport Authority on railways in areas where people often cross the tracks, in order to deter them from doing so.

Självoptimering - Self-optimization. Think of this as the opposite of Swedish lagom; it's the pursuit of self-improvement in every possible way, from physical fitness to productivity at work and other 'life hacks'.

Språkplikt - Literally 'language obligation', used to refer to a political policy under which asylum seekers or other immigrants are required to learn the local language (Swedish) in order to achieve certain benefits, such as social welfare or citizenship.

Spårpixel - Tracking pixel. Sometimes, after visiting a certain website or searching for information about a certain topic, you'll see the same items or topics popping up again and again in targeted ads on completely different sites. It's all down to tracking pixels, a small bit of code which can track your behaviour online and give advertisers data.

Stöddjur - Emotional support animal; an animal such as a dog or cat, but also a horse, duck or any other creature that provides mental health support, especially when flying.

Swishjournalist - A journalist who supports themselves at least partially through receiving payments using online app Swish, and therefore relying on direct support from readers rather than a salary or fee per article.

Techlash - A snappy term for backlash against the dominant role of technology in modern life, and particularly the prominence of a few large tech companies.

VAR - Video-assisted refereeing, meaning that in sports, referees can check video replays of an incident in order to verify if a rule was infringed, for example.

Välfärdsbrott - 'Welfare crime', or crime related to defrauding the social welfare system

Whataboutism - A loan word from English, referring to political arguments where one person challenges an opponent's point by comparing it to something else rather than directly addressing the original point itself.

Can't get enough of Swedish words? Learn a new one every day with The Local's Swedish word of the day series HERE





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