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LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

Swedish word of the day: bråttom

Here's a Swedish word that's useful in all kinds of scenarios.

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

Bråttom means 'in a hurry' or 'rushing', but there are a few things you need to know in order to use it correctly.

If you're talking about a person who's in a hurry, you would use the verb ha (to have), as in: jag har bråttom just nu (I'm in a hurry at the moment), but if you're describing a hurried situation more generally, you use the construction det är bråttom (it's a rush).

A common way of using bråttom is with the preposition med (with), for example nu är det bråttom med en lösning (now we need a solution fast) or jag har bråttom med körkortet  (I need to get a driving licence in a hurry).

This penguin is very important and has bråttomvia GIPHY

For extra colloquial Swedish points, try the more informal term brådisas we've mentioned before, cutting off the end of a word and replacing it with the suffix -is is typical of Swedish slang. 

Centuries ago, the word *brēþaz meant 'in a hurry' as well as 'hot'; it comes from an even older word meaning 'steam/vapour'. But over the centuries, the connotation of heat got lost so that in Old Norse bráðr meant 'sudden', which developed into bråd ('sudden' or 'fast') in today's Swedish. 

You don't hear bråd all that often in Swedish, and if you do, it's usually in phrases such as en bråd tid (a busy time) or en bråd april (a busy April), or the set phrase en ond bråd död ('an evil, sudden death', used to refer to a murder). There's also the compound adjective brådmogen, which literally means 'rush-mature' and refers to someone who is grown-up for their age.

From bråd comes the noun brådska, which literally means 'a hurry'. You can use it in sentences like det är ingen brådska (there's no rush/hurry), which means the same thing as det är inte bråttom (it's not a hurry). A common mistake made by English speakers is to say something like jag är i en brådska, an attempt at literally translating 'I'm in a hurry' which doesn't work in Swedish.

Instead, you just need to say: jag har bråttom.

Examples

Varför har du så bråttom?

Why are you in such a rush?

Jag har lite bråttom just nu så jag kommer inte att hinna svara på alla meddelanden

I'm in a bit of a rush at the moment so I won't have time to answer all the messages

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

Swedish word of the day: soppatorsk

In Sweden, if you run out of petrol on the road you have 'soup-cod'.

Swedish word of the day: soppatorsk

Soppatorsk is a slang word which literally means soup-cod, soppa is ‘soup’, and torsk is ‘cod’, but is not to be understood as ‘cod soup’, that would be torsksoppa. Instead the two words that make up soppatorsk have additional meanings in slang. One of the additional meanings of torsk is ‘failure’, which is the intended meaning here. The verb att torska, ‘to cod’, is to fail, or to lose, to get caught. The meaning of the noun torsk here is ‘failure’. And soppa is simply a slang term for ‘petrol’. 

The proper term for what soppatorsk means is bensinstopp, which means ‘engine failure due to running out of petrol’. It is used in the exact same way.

An additional meaning of torsk that you should be mindful of is ‘a john’, as in someone who frequents prostitutes. So you cannot call someone ‘a failure’ by calling them a torsk, that would mean calling them a sex-buyer.  

Soppatorsk is quite common in use and has been around since about 1987. The use of its two parts is also quite common. And torska, as in ‘getting caught’ or ‘losing’ is even a bit older, dating back to at least 1954. We haven’t been able to find out how long soppa has been used to mean ‘petrol’.

A few examples of the use of soppa and torska in the senses that they carry in soppatorsk are : ‘Vi har ingen soppa i tanken,’ means ‘We have no petrol in the tank’. ‘Vi torskade is a common way of saying ‘We lost’. 

Practice makes perfect, so try to use the word of the day, here are a few example sentences. 

Example sentences:

Nä, det är inte sant, soppatorsk.

No, I can’t believe it, we’re out of petrol.

Full tank tack, man vill ju inte få soppatorsk ute i vildmarken.

Fill her up please, don’t wanna run out of petrol out in the wilderness.

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. It is also possible to buy your copy from Amazon US, Amazon UK, Bokus or Adlibris.

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