Swedish word of the day: kickoff

Swedish word of the day: kickoff
An English word with a distinctly Swedish meaning. Image: nito103/Depositphotos
To be totally accurate, perhaps we should call this our Swenglish word of the day.

Kickoff is one of those words that looks English, sounds English, but has a specific Swedish context.

When used in English, the term kick-off (usually hyphenated) most often refers to the start of a sports event such as a football match, but can also refer more generally to the beginning of other events and activities.

The Swedish language uses the term avspark (from av meaning 'off' and sparka meaning 'kick') for the sporting sense, and can use the verb kicka igång to mean 'to kick off/to start/to begin'.

Meanwhile, in Swedish kickoff frequently refers to an activity held at the start of the business year, such as a conference, party, or team-building session, or perhaps a combination of the three. Although you'll also hear it in some other contexts, this is the most common. It comes directly from the term 'kickoff meeting' used in English to refer to the first meeting between a team working on a project and their client, to introduce them all and start project planning. 

Kickoff has lost the hyphen which you'd see in English, because of the tendency in Swedish to favour compound nouns over hyphenated nouns.

These events usually take place in late August or early September, around the same time as the start of the academic or school year. That's largely due to the fact that many employees in Sweden choose to take the main chunk of their holiday allowance in July, both to coincide with school holidays and because Sweden's Annual Leave Act safeguards their right to do this.

READ MORE: Everything you need to know about annual leave in Sweden

What's more, this is also a popular time to change jobs in Sweden; a recent survey from Manpower group showed that 55 percent of people had taken major decisions about their career during the break, using the time off to reassess their priorities.

After the summer break, many workers are getting back into the swing of things after a few weeks' rest, while companies are also likely to be welcoming new employees. A kickoff event is a chance to set out the company's goals and priorities for the year ahead; some go all-out and make the event a huge party or even an international trip.

And so kickoff joins the ranks of words like afterwork; words which come from English but have a distinctly Swedish meaning.


Syftet med en kickoff är att stärka teamkänslan

The goal of a kick-off event is to increase team spirit

Mitt företag har planerat vår kickoff utomlands i år

My company has planned our kick-off event overseas this year

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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