The word ruggig describes the sort of damp, grey day when the cold really gets into your bones. There might be slushy rain, but probably not actual snow. There might be a chilling wind or drizzle (duggregn), and there will be little in the way of sunshine.
It roughly translates as “bleak” or “shivery”, and is more or less interchangeable with the word ruskig (although ruskig implies more rain).
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A Swede might say, “det är lite ruggigt ute” (It’s a bit bleak out today), when explaining a decision to forgo their morning run, or cancel a planned walk with friends.
It is perhaps most often used to justify spending the entire day inside doing not very much: “När det är såhär ruggigt ute finns det väl inget bättre än att tända lite ljus och bara mysa i soffan?” (When it’s this bleak out, what could be better than lighting a few candles and just chilling out on the sofa?).
But ruggig can also be used to describe other situations or things that are harsh, unpleasant, or raw.
A thriller novel or crime series which is not for the squeamish can be ruggig. A book on the prevalence of sexual violence might be ruggigt viktiga (hard-hitting and important), and discomforting statistics on the decline of pupils’ academic attainment might be described as ruggig och otäck “bleak and unpleasant”.
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A person can also be described as ruggig if they are rough, unpleasant and scary. “Usch, vilken ruggig människa!” a Swede might exclaim, in a similar way to that you might use “rough” in English.
Ruggig can also describe how you feel when you are ill, when it includes a sense of shivering.
“Jag kände mig ruggig, frusen och hade en allmän sjukdomskänsla. (“I felt rough and shivery, frozen, and had a general feeling of being ill”).
Villa, Volvo, Vovve: The Local’s Word Guide to Swedish Life, written by The Local’s journalists, is now available to order. Head to lysforlag.com/vvv to read more about it. It is also possible to buy your copy from Amazon US, Amazon UK, Bokus or Adlibris.