Swedish word of the day: badkruka

Our Swedish word of the day is the kind of insult you really only get here in Scandinavia.

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

A badkruka is someone who dislikes or refuses to swim, usually in an open body of water and often due to the low temperature of said water.

The word comes from bada ('to swim' – it shares roots with the English verb 'to bathe') and kruka, which literally means 'pot' or 'jug' but is also a slang term for 'coward'. So you could translate it as 'bathing coward'.

This brave pup is anything but a badkrukavia GIPHY

As you might have noticed if you've ever spent the summer in Sweden, you're usually expected to spend a large portion of the season outdoors and engaged in active pursuits: hiking, climbing, and swimming.

These activities are typically done based on the time of year rather than the weather, so you'll find many Swedes leaping into extremely cold water just because 'it's summer', and using badkruka as a good-natured insult aimed at those who refuse to join them.

Note than in Swedish, the verb simma (which also means 'to swim') is usually used when the focus is on the movement, for example when describing athletes who are racing or someone swimming from one side of a lake to the other. Bada usually refers to more recreational swimming, for example someone who jumps into a lake but swims around without any clear destination.

Bada can also be used in the same way as English 'bathe', describing someone in a bath or body of water, with the aim of cleaning themselves or recreation.

As for why kruka means 'coward', it actually comes from a much older Swedish word, kruker, which also meant coward and came from a dialectal verb kruka, meaning 'to bend over/to crouch'.


Hoppa i, badkruka!

Jump in, scaredy-cat! 

Jag är ingen badkruka, jag älskar att bada

I'm not scared of the water, I love to swim

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: 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.