Swedish word of the day: kille

Today's Swedish word is a very common one that will help your Swedish sound more colloquial.

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

The word kille can refer to a young man or to someone's boyfriend – you can think of it as the male equivalent to the word tjej.

You can listen to how the word is pronounced below.

There's no hard and fast rule dictating when a boy stops being a pojke and becomes a kille, or when a kille becomes a man, and there are definite overlaps in terms of age. Generally, you can use it from the teenage years and to describe men in their 20s and 30s.

Context plays a part too; kille started out as a slang word and is a more informal term than man, similar to 'guy' in English, or 'bloke' in British English. However, it's becoming more and more commonly used, and unlike 'guy' or 'bloke' you'll see it in some formal contexts, such as news articles. This is probably because newspapers like brevity, and using kille instead of man gets extra information about the person's age across without using extra words.

When used with a possessive pronoun, it means 'boyfriend', so a person referring to min kille is talking about their partner. Note the difference between jag ska träffa en kille i kväll (I'm meeting a guy for a date tonight) and jag ska träffa min kille i kväll (I'm meeting my boyfriend tonight). In the first example, there's no existing relationship between the two.

And it pops up in a few compound nouns: killkväll (guys' night), killkläder (men's clothes, almost always targeting the younger demographic), and killkompis (guy friend), for example.

As for where this word comes from, it's linked to the English word 'kid', which has referred to young goats and has been an informal word for young children for several centuries. Both English 'kid' and Swedish kille come from the Old Norse word kið, which meant 'young goat', and the diminutive suffix -ling was later added to emphasize the 'young'.

In today's Swedish, killing is the word for 'kid' meaning 'baby goat', while kid means a young deer (although it was earlier used to refer to any baby animals), and kille means a young male human.

Kille is also the name of one of Sweden's oldest card games, but most of the time, you can assume it means 'guy'.


Jag och min kille har varit tillsammans i tre år

My boyfriend and I have been together for three years

En kille blev rånad på tisdagskvällen

A young man was robbed on Tuesday evening

We've included an audio recording of today's word on the suggestion of readers. Thanks for your feedback and suggestions, and remember that if you have a favourite Swedish word you would like to nominate for the series, you can 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: ockerhyra

A word of the day which makes strange use of usury.

​​Swedish word of the day: ockerhyra

Ocker is the Swedish word for usury, and not the Australian for someone who “speaks and acts in a rough and uncultivated manner, using Strine, a broad Australian accent” for the Aussies out there who might recognise the term. 

Usury, of course, is when a lender makes monetary loans which unfairly enrich them. The term is used either in a moral sense, then as a condemnation of taking advantage of others’ misfortune, or in a strictly legal sense, where ocker refers to the crime of charging a higher interest rate for a loan than that which is allowed by the law. You might know an individual who does that not as a usurer, but a loan shark

But ockerhyra has nothing to do with loans or loansharks, at least not directly. The shark, however, might still be there, as you will see.

Hyra simply means ‘rent’ – in this case the rent you pay for an apartment or any other rental property. So ockerhyra means ‘usury rent’, but how can a rent be usurious? Well, it cannot since it is not a loan. What instead is meant here, is at least part of the moral sense of the word ‘usury’, whereby someone is taking advantage of another’s situation. 

Someone setting an andrahandshyra, a second hand rent, which is unreasonably high, would be setting an ockerhyra. This is a topic which The Local has previously dealt with, and there are instances to get help with that. The main reason people can get away with this is because many are desperate to find a place in the city, often Stockholm, and therefore will not alert the authorities. But also, owing to the fact that it is not a punishable crime, all that might happen is that the person subletting their place for more than is reasonable might be forced to pay some money back.

Furthermore, the word ockerhyra does not necessarily imply this type of scenario, it can also be used to generally complain about rents being too high. And many do complain about this.

Do you feel a bit upset about the sometimes absurd rents in Stockholm or in another city? Why not make use of the word ockerhyror in a conversation on the topic?

Just remember that the word is quite strong, so try not to accuse a friend of charging an ockerhyra – might be safer to just question whether they are charging a bit much. Good luck!

Example sentences:

Alltså, det är verkligen ockerhyror på nybyggnationer! Jag är sååå trött på den här skiten.

I mean come on, the rents on new builds are outrageous! I’m sick and tired of this shit.

Duncan, varför tar du ockerhyra på stället du hyr ut i andrahand?

Duncan, why are you charging an exaggerated rent on the place you’re subletting?

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.