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Go to the forest! Swedish phrases to use when you're angry

Catherine Edwards
Catherine Edwards - [email protected]
Go to the forest! Swedish phrases to use when you're angry
Use these phrases with caution. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

There's nothing more infuriating than not having the right words to express your anger. Worry no longer, these are the phrases to learn and save for those occasions when you need to get angry in Swedish.


People in Sweden tend to show anger less often, or at least less openly, than is common in other countries. But sometimes you just can't avoid confrontation, and when it happens you'll need the right vocabulary.

We've kept this guide relatively clean without the most explicit swear words, but you should still wield these with caution.

Lägg av – lay off/cut it out

If you want someone to stop doing or saying something, and it's getting on your last nerve, this is the phrase to use. Put the emphasis on the av.

It doesn't have to be angry. Said with a smile it could be a response to friendly teasing or imply you don't believe what someone's saying, translated in English as "ah, come on!"

But you can also use it to let someone know you're really losing patience. Follow up with sluta! (stop it!) if needed. 

If you're in a position of authority, for example a parent or teacher talking to children, you might start with a stern det räcker nu ("that's enough now") instead. This emphasises that you're the one who decides, whereas lägg av and sluta are often used between equals.

Är du seriös? – Are you for real? 

This can also be exchanged for skämtar du med mig? or skojar du? (are you joking?) to express disbelief. They're not always used to show anger, and could be used if someone gives you news that sounds too good or surprising to be true, but combined with a warning tone they can be used to show you're getting fed up with what the other person is saying.

Det skiter jag i! – I don't care/I don't give a shit

This literally translates as "I shit on that" but it's not quite so vulgar in Swedish. Skit is used a lot in Swedish, often as a colloquial word for "stuff" or "thing". Still, this phrase could definitely burn some bridges so only use it when you're certain you don't care.

For example: Vi kommer bli sena. Det skiter jag i! (We're going to be late. I don't give a shit!)


Du har satt din sista potatis – you have planted your last potato

This very Swedish saying might not sound all that menacing, but Swedes love their potatoes. With no more left to plant, what's the point of anything any more? It's basically another way of saying "I've had enough of you", "That's the last straw". 

It's slightly old-fashioned, so be prepared for your target to laugh rather than cower in fear.

Du retar gallfeber på mig – you make bile rise in my throat

If someone's really getting on your nerves, in the way that every little thing they do provokes an almost physical reaction from you, this is the phrase you want.

Han retar gallfeber på mig means something like "he's driving me crazy" – you reserve it for things you really can't stand. A milder variant is han går mig på nerverna (he's getting on my nerves).

Fan också! – Damn as well!

Like skit, fan is a relatively tame Swedish swear word so you should moderate your usage in polite company, but it shouldn't raise any eyebrows among friends or even in some workplaces – as long as your expletives aren't aimed directly at a coworker.

Adding också (also) after a swear word is a common way of adding emphasis, perfect if you want to express anger but also show off your growing fluency at the same time.


Lämna mig i fred! – leave me alone

Literally "leave me in peace", and you can substitute it with låt mig vara (leave me be) if you're so furious you just need some time to cool off.

Sköt dig själv – mind your own business

Literally translating as "look after/care for yourself" (and sometimes used in neutral contexts too), this can also be useful if dealing with someone nosy.

Håll käften – shut up

This literally means "shut your mouth", but you would usually not use mun, the usual translation for "mouth" in this phrase. Instead, you use käft (which also means "jaw") or you can say håll truten, using another slang term for "mouth". 

Dra åt skogen – go to the forest

Swedes spend a lot of their free time having a perfectly pleasant time in nature, but this phrase isn't about that. It's a toned down form of dra åt helvete (go to hell).


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