Our top picks of the 36 ‘new’ words that defined Sweden in 2021

a child playing with letters of the alphabet
Which of the Swedish words below is your favourite? Photo: Tomas Oneborg/SvD/TT
A new list of the 36 words that defined Swedish society this year have been unveiled. Unsurprisingly, the Covid-19 pandemic dominated Swedish discourse in 2021.

At the end of every year, the Swedish Language Council and language magazine Språktidningen choose a selection of words that became part of daily conversation over the last 12 months. 

Although it’s called “the new word list,” the words aren’t always completely brand new, and quite a few of the words are English loans.

This year, 36 words made the list, with most having something to do with the impacts of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic or the climate crisis. Here are The Local’s 10 favourites: 

Coronabubbla

One of the government’s main recommendations during the pandemic was to keep a distance from others and avoid spending time with people from different households. This meant people had to choose who would be in the tight circle of friends and family they could spend time with, or their “corona bubble”.  

Kommer du att vara i min coronabubbla? – Will you be in my corona bubble?

Coronahund

Did you get a dog this year? You’re not alone. According to the Swedish Kennel Club, the number of registered dogs in Sweden increased by 11 percent in 2020. But a dog is for life, not just the pandemic. As people head back to working from an office, kennels are struggling to keep up with demand. 

Han är min coronahund – He’s my corona dog

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See also on The Local:

Domedagsskrollande

Bad news sells, and there’s been no end to the bad news in the last few years. We can’t stop ourselves from scrolling through negative news, mainly via social media. In English, we’ve taken to calling this doom scrolling. In Sweden it’s been called “doomsday scrolling”. 

Jag kan inte sluta mitt domedagsskrollande – I can’t stop my doom scrolling

Fono 

Remember when FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) was the new word one everyone’s lips? Well, now it’s FONO. Rather than missing out, it’s a Fear Of Normality that people are struggling with, if we ever return to more normal circumstances. 

Jag kan inte gå tillbaka till jobbet, jag har fono – I can’t go back to work, I have FONO

Gangfluencer

“If the gangsters of old were careful to keep a low profile, today’s criminals belong to a different school,” wrote Swedish magazine Allas in May. “They flash their money, expensive watches and designer clothes on social media and post stories from exclusive holiday trips.”

Gangfluencers lyxlivstilar finansieras av illegala aktiviteter  – Gangfluencers’ luxury lifestyles are funded by illegal activities

Generation corona

While it’s older people whose health has been disproportionately impacted by Covid-19, “Generation C” is increasingly defined by crises. Young people are reporting that they’re struggling with mental health and motivation for online learning. Those born after 1999 are coming of age in the midst of an unprecedented crisis and it’s their education and job prospects that are suffering. 

Det är en tuff tid för generation C / generation corona – It’s a tough time for generation C

Metaversum

The metaverse is a virtual reality where all digital content exists in an infinite multidimensional space. The word metaverse was coined in 1992 by American author Neal Stephenson in the novel Snow Crash. Today it looks more like online giants such as Facebook – newly renamed “Meta” – ruling over the entire internet. 

Jag vill inte vara med i Mark Zuckerbergs metaversum! – I don’t want to be in Mark Zuckerberg’s metaverse!

Snällvägg

A nice news word! Växjö is among the growing number of cities that have a “nice wall” where you can give away winter clothes that you no longer need and pick up a coat if you need one. According to Språktidningen, the word is a translation loan from Persian ‘dīvār-e mehrabānī. The phenomenon originated in Iran in 2015 and has since spread around the world.

Jag skänker min gamla jacka till snällväggen – I’m donating my old jacket to the nice wall

Spökkök

This translates to “ghost kitchen”. It’s not that kitchens took Halloween extra seriously this year, but during the pandemic, famous restaurants relocated from city centres to offer take-away menus closer to where people live. People have been eating out less and taking away more, so kitchens are becoming quieter, and spookier.  

Det har förvandlats till ett spökkök – It’s turned into a ghost kitchen

Återförvildande

This is the Swedish word for “rewilding”; restoring nature to its so-called original state, before it was affected by human activity. But what that looks like remains to be decided.  

Vi borde återförvilda landsbygden – We should rewild the countryside

Here is the full list of this year’s 36 new words (in Swedish).

Do you want to learn more Swedish words? 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 – or join The Local as a member and get your copy for free. It is also possible to buy your copy from Amazon USAmazon UKBokus or Adlibris.


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