Swedish word of the day: loppis

Here's a word that describes a quintessential Swedish summer activity.

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

Loppis is the usual Swedish word for a flea market, and these are a hugely popular way to spend sunny weekends as people set up makeshift stalls to buy and sell secondhand items, crafts, and more at bargain prices.

It's common for an apartment block or entire neighbourhood to get together and organize a loppis, or you can head to many town squares or streets to go loppis-hunting at a weekend. There are several websites which keep track of as many loppisar as possible.

It's not hard to see why Swedes love them so much: loppisar take place outdoors and so allow visitors to make the most of the summer; the focus on re-using is eco-friendly; the low prices are always a bonus in pricey Sweden; and then there's the chance of finding a great vintage accessory or piece of furniture.

The full term is loppmarknad, or lopptorg in Swedish-speaking Finland, but as we've mentioned before in this column, it's common in colloquial Swedish to shorten words by knocking off the final syllable or two and adding the suffix -is, hence loppis.

To say 'at a flea market', you use the preposition , for example ska vi gå på loppis? (shall we go to a flea market).

The longer word loppmarknad comes from a direct translation of the US English term 'flea market', since a en loppa is a flea. This is a nod to the fact that the markets sell secondhand clothes and furniture, and that some people looked down on these and claimed they were full of fleas.

You can also use the word loppfynd ('flea market find' or 'flea market bargain') to refer to the treasures you track down at a loppis, and a bakluckeloppis (literally a 'car boot flea market') is a car boot sale, where instead of tables, items are sold straight out of people's cars. 

It's not to be confused with other compound words which contain lopp and derive from the word ett lopp ('a track' or 'a run'), such as maratonlopp (a marathon race) or well-known races including Vasaloppet and Lidingöloppet.

READ ALSO: Members' guide: Know your consumer rights when shopping in Sweden


Jag har köpt den på loppis

I bought it at a flea market

Jag vill sälja mina gamla kläder på loppis

I want to sell my old clothes at a flea market

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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Coughs, colds and flu: What to say and do if you fall sick in Sweden

It's the season when the horrible bugs strike and have us all spluttering into a tissue, so here's the vocab you need to deal with coughs, colds and flu in Sweden.

Coughs, colds and flu: What to say and do if you fall sick in Sweden

It’s not pleasant but as the temperatures fall many people will be falling victim to traditional winter illnesses, from a slight cold to a nasty dose of the flu. So if you are feeling poorly, here’s the Swedish words you need to get help.

En förkylning – a cold. You can also use the adjective if you want to say you feel like you have a cold: jag är förkyld. 

If you have a basic winter cold there are lots of treatments available without prescription in the pharmacy. They include näsdroppar (nose drops) or nässprej (nose spray) if you’ve got a blocked nose, and halstabletter (throat tablets) or halssprej (throat spray) if you’ve got a sore throat. 

Hosta – a cough. If you have one of these you may want some hostmedicin (cough medicine), which you can get from a pharmacy, although Sweden’s 1177 healthcare information website states that it’s just as effective to drink a lot of water. Unlike in English, you don’t use the article when saying you have a cough. Instead, you say jag har hosta (literally: I have cough).

Bear in mind that Swedish pharmacists do extensive medical training so are able to provide consultations and advice on a range of minor illnesses.

If you’re buying cough medicine you will probably be asked if your cough is torr (dry) slemmig (wet or productive cough) allvarlig (severe) or kronisk (long-lasting).

En feber – A fever. If your illness is a little more severe and you are running a temperature this is the word you want. Again, your pharmacist can give you over-the-counter medication for this, and will advise you to consult a doctor if they consider it more severe.

Panodil – this is the most common brand-name for Paracetamol in Sweden and can be bought without prescription from all pharmacies if you need a painkiller or something to help a fever. It’s so ubiquitous that people generally refer to simply ‘Panodil’ rather than paracetamol. 

Influensa – The flu. Flu season affects thousands of people every year in Sweden and if you’re in an at-risk group it’s a good idea to get your flu vaccine (full details of how to access it here).

Vårdcentral – literally, your “health centre”, this is where you go to to speak to a läkare (doctor), the Swedish equivalent to a family doctor or GP, one that covers all types of medicine and doesn’t specialise.

Symtomen – The symptoms. If you visit the doctor they will probably ask your symptoms and these might include svullna halsmandlar (swollen tonsils), hosta (coughing) or jag har svårt att andas (I have difficulty breathing/swallowing). If you want to say that something hurts, you say jag har ont i [insert body part here]”. 

Ett recept– A prescription. The doctor hands these out then you go to the pharmacy to collect the medicine.

One very important question you might be asked is har du något läkemedelsallergi? – Are you allergic to any medications?