Swedish word of the day: dricks

Catherine Edwards
Catherine Edwards - [email protected] • 20 Apr, 2021 Updated Tue 20 Apr 2021 10:11 CEST
Swedish word of the day: dricks
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Today's word is one to know before going to a bar, cafe or restaurant in Sweden.


Dricks means "tip", as in the extra money you give to some service workers beyond the bill. 

It's a shortening of drickspengar ("drink money"), although you'll almost never hear this longer form, which is similar to the German term, das Trinkgeld. You can also use it as a verb: dricksa (to tip).

It's related to the word dryck ("drink": noun) and dricka ("to drink": verb) and according to the late Swedish etiquette expert Magdalena Ribbing, it has its origin in the custom of giving a small amount of money to a service worker so they can buy a drink for themselves.


Tipping culture varies between cultures and industries, and in Sweden it is relatively unusual to tip.

But you will still see tip jars in cafes and bars, and often when paying by card the reader will prompt you to enter the amount, allowing you to round up if you want to.

Sweden's tourism board says it is "unlikely anyone will be offended" if you don't tip, but says five to ten percent of the total bill is a "nice tip", or alternatively that you could round up to an even sum, for example by paying 400 kronor if the bill is 380. It is generally not considered necessary to tip in Sweden, but it's more common at more formal restaurants. 

Two things to be aware of about tipping in Sweden are, firstly, that you can't be sure how the tips will be divided between staff, and secondly that several trade unions are actually against tips – they say that this erodes their collective bargaining power and that it's better for service staff to have higher wages and good working conditions than to rely on tips which may fluctuate. 

Example sentences:

Ska vi dricksa?

Shall we leave a tip?

Att lämna dricks är vanligast på restaurang.

It is most common to tip at restaurants.

Villa, Volvo, Vovve: The Local’s Word Guide to Swedish Life, written by The Local’s journalists, is available to order. Head to to read more about it. It is also possible to buy your copy from Amazon USAmazon UKBokus or Adlibris.


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