Swedish word of the day: kompis

Knowing this crucial word is sure to help you make Swedish friends.

Swedish word of the day: kompis
Do you have a good kompis in Sweden? Image: nito103/Depositphotos

Kompis is one way to say 'friend' in Swedish, as a (slightly more casual) alternative to vän. Hear how to pronounce it in the clip below:

The plural is kompisar, and you can have a lot of different types of kompis: an arbetskompis who you know from work, a skolkompis you know from childhood, and a rumskompis who you live with.

En kompis can be male or female, but you can make the gender clear by saying tjejkompis (girlfriend in a non-romantic sense; a girlfriend in a romantic sense would be flickvän) or killkompis (guy friend). 

As we mentioned, kompis has quite casual connotations, and you can often best translate it to English as 'mate', 'buddy' or 'pal'. For example, Sätt dig ner, kompis ('Have a seat, pal') or Tjena kompis! (Hello mate!).

It's a word that's often used by initiatives aiming to promote integration by encouraging Swedes and newcomers to mingle, for example the initiatives Kompis Sverige and Kompisbyrån which both organize social activities and match up new arrivals with locals.

You'll also, a bit more rarely, see kompis used in the set phrase i kompis med, which translates as 'together with/in the company of'. For example: ska vi gå dit i kompis? (Shall we go there together) or han jobbade i kompis med Lars (he worked together with Lars). However, tillsammans (med) (together) is a much more common way of expressing this: ska vi gå dit tillsammans?/Han jobbade tillsammans med Lars.

Anyone even slightly familiar with spoken Swedish will recognize -is as a common colloquial Swedish suffix, which is added to shortened forms of long words, and kompis is one of the oldest -is words. When you're talking about your best friend or bästa kompis, you can give the entire phrase the -is treatment and shorten it to bästis ('bestie').

Kompis originally comes from the word kompanjon (literally 'companion') which now has much more formal connotations when used in its full form, translating as 'associate' or '(business) partner'. Because this word has Latin origins, you'll see similarities with many words for 'friend' across Europe: compa in Spanish, copain in French, and Kumpel in German.

And 'companion' itself has a nice origin story, as it comes from the Latin com (with) and panis (bread), literally meaning 'someone who breaks bread with you'.


Du är min bästa kompis, vet du det?

You're my best friend, you know?

Att vara en bra kompis betyder att kunna lyssna

Being a good friend means being able to listen

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Swedish word of the day: foppatofflor

Love them or hate them, foppatofflor are unexpectedly coming back in to fashion. But what are they, and how did they get their Swedish name?

Swedish word of the day: foppatofflor

Foppatoffla – foppatofflor in plural – is the Swedish term for Crocs – plastic sandals or clogs which first became popular in the early 2000s.

The word foppatoffla is made up of two words. The first is foppa, which is the nickname of one of Sweden’s most successful ice hockey players, Peter Forsberg. The second half of the word is toffla, the Swedish word for “sandal”.

Foppatofflor, the Swedish term for Crocs. Photo: Janerik Henriksson/Scanpix/TT

So, what does a famous Swedish ice hockey player have to do with plastic clogs?

The story begins in the early 2000s, when Forsberg was recovering from a foot injury sustained playing professional ice hockey. When looking for a shoe comfortable enough for him to wear without exacerbating his injury, he came across Crocs, which were designed to be comfortable and ergonomic.

Recognising the shoes’ potential, Forsberg became an early investor, securing the sole rights to distribute Crocs in Sweden through his company Forspro. But Forsberg didn’t just invest in the shoes, he also appeared in adverts for them, leading Swedes to start referring to the shoes as foppatofflor.

By 2010, sales of foppatofflor were dwindling, so Forsberg shut down Forspro to focus on other investments – but not before the name had stuck.

Peter “Foppa” Forsberg. The man you can thank (or despise) for introducing Crocs to Sweden. Photo: Erik Simander/TT

The shoes are still popular as ergonomic and hygienic work shoes, particularly in the healthcare sector, although they were briefly banned in some Swedish hospitals on suspicion of causing a build-up of static electricity which disrupted hospital machinery.

They may also be coming back into fashion, gracing the Oscars red carpet and the Instagram feeds of musicians such as Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande and Pharell Williams in the last few years.

So, love them or hate them, foppatofflor seem to be here to stay. Now you know what word to use if you decide to pick up a pair for yourself this summer.

Example sentences:

Jag har precis köpt nya foppatofflor till barnen – de är ju så praktiska!

I’ve just bought new Crocs for the kids – they’re so practical!

Gud, är foppatofflor verkligen trendiga nu? Bra att jag har kvar mina från 00-talet!

God, are Crocs really trendy now? Good job I kept mine from the noughties!

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 USAmazon UKBokus or Adlibris.