Marvel’s new character launch in 2020 was teased on Twitter alongside the slogan “Knull is coming” – Knull being the name of the new villain.
There clearly weren’t any Swedes working on Marvel’s social media team, otherwise they might have realised that knull is the Swedish word for an act of sexual intercourse – specifically a crude word, probably most accurately translated into English as “fuck”.
As you can expect, Swedes on Twitter found this hilarious, with the hashtag #knulliscoming quickly going viral.
Interested in the etymology of the word knull? Here’s our word of the day from back then explaining it all.
Kosås is an American makeup brand started in 2015. According to the design studio behind the name, they chose the name Kosås: “for its international sound that universally reflected the client’s desire to incorporate both art and science in a unique name that didn’t hold a meaning in any language before its creation”.
Clearly, nobody had told them that kosås does mean something in Swedish, as Twitter user JoeDNoonan pointed out: “cow sauce”. Not the most appealing name for something you apply to your face.
The brand seem to have quietly rebranded, with the Swedish letter “å” replaced by “a” in marketing materials and on their packaging. There’s no way of knowing whether this is due to Kosås’ alternate Swedish meaning, but either way it was probably a good idea if they’re ever considering expanding to Sweden.
Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT
Those who were in Sweden back in 2001 may remember the story of the Honda Fitta – Honda’s compact car which was highly publicised before its planned launch across Europe.
Unfortunately for Honda, fitta is a rather rude word for female private parts in Swedish. If that wasn’t bad enough, the car’s slogan was “small on the outside, big on the inside”.
Luckily for Honda, they rectified this mistake before the car was actually launched. The car was quickly renamed and launched as the Honda Fit in the US and China, and the Honda Jazz in Europe, the rest of Asia, and Australia instead.
British company Runk offers natural body care for runners, including lip balms, bath salts, massage bars and foot creams. Their slogan is “run kind, be kind”, which may also explain the origins of the company name.
They also offer clothing, such as sweatshirts and T-shirts printed with the words “running runk club”.
It might be a good idea to hold off on buying one of their T-shirts if you live in Sweden, though, as runk is a rather rude Swedish term for male masturbation. You’d most likely get some odd looks on your local running route announcing your membership of a “runk club” on your T-shirt.
Askul is the name of a Japanese company selling office supplies such as paper, pens, batteries and office furniture.
The company was established in 1963, according to their website, although it is unclear why they chose the name askul, or indeed what it means in Japanese. Luckily for Askul, their name doesn’t have any rude connotations in Swedish.
The Swedish word askul is often translated as “great” or “hilarious” – so the only downside of the name could be some disappointed Swedish office managers in Japan who expected Askul to offer something more entertaining than office supplies. The word is bizarrely made up of as (“corpse”) and kul (“funny”, “nice”).
Askul went through a rebrand in 2005 in collaboration with Stockholm Design Lab so are perhaps embracing their new Swedish identity – although it’s unclear whether they knew about the alternate meaning of the name before this.
Another example from Japan is hotel chain APA, who have more than 500 hotels all over Japan. Their boss, Toshio Motoya, was estimated by Forbes in 2020 to be the 27th richest person in Japan with a net worth of about US$1.45 billion.
If you’re wondering why APA are included in this list, it’s because apa means “monkey” in Swedish.
Any Swedes already planning a trip to one of Japan’s monkey hotels will be disappointed. The name has nothing to do with monkeys, and is instead an acronym, based on the phrase “Always Pleasant Amenities”.