Swedish word of the day: älvdans

Catherine Edwards
Catherine Edwards - [email protected]
Swedish word of the day: älvdans
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

This beautiful Swedish word translates as 'elf or fairy dance'. Here's why it is our word of the day.


Älvdans is a wonderful word. It is used in Swedish to describe low-lying mist or fog, of the kind that usually appears on grey autumn days.

But älvdans makes it sound anything but dreary, transforming a miserable day into something mystical.

Today we know that this kind of mist is caused by moist air condensing and forming droplets that float, typically over meadows or still water.

But in times gone by, people in Scandinavia believed the cause was fairies gathering to dance and casting their spells.

Early-morning mist... or fairies? Photo: Roger Vikström/FLT-PICA

In Nordic folklore, elves (älvor in Swedish) were associated with fields and meadows. Generally peaceful, they are still capable of mischief. In Swedish art, elves usually appear as women, usually in floaty white dresses.


Titta! Älvdans över ängen

Look! Beautiful mist over the meadow/The elves are dancing in the meadow

Jag såg lite älvdans vid soluppgången

I saw beautiful mist at sunrise


Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

[email protected] 2020/11/20 08:24
It would be great if the audio of the word is added along with the post which would be easy for the newbies to learn Swedish;)

See Also