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SWEDISH WORD OF THE DAY

Swedish word of the day: våryra

Valborg celebrations on April 30th officially marked the end of the winter season in Sweden, meaning that spring has begun, and summer is just a few short months away. Today's word of the day is a feeling you may have experienced in the last few days.

Swedish word of the day: våryra
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Today’s word of the day, våryra, is made up of the word var (“spring”) and yra (“happiness”, “jolliness”, “giddiness”, also “dizziness”). It can be roughly translated as “the joys of spring”, and is often used to describe the giddy feeling Swedes get when spring finally comes around and they can finally come out of their winter hibernation.

Another kind of yra is segeryra (literally: “winning joy” or “joy of victory”), which can describe the giddy feeling you get when your sports team wins a match or tournament, or the joy a country can experience following a military victory.

Våryra events are often held in early spring to welcome in the new season, featuring loppisar (flea markets), music, and games and events for children. Schools may also hold a våryra, often an event somewhat similar to a school fête or festival, usually in order to fundraise for the class to go on trips.

You might also see the term våryra in advertisements, implying that the company in question have gone “spring crazy” and are selling items at an unusually low price.

Depending on where you live in Sweden, våryra might seem a way off yet, with snow still covering much of the country.

Here where I live in the southern city of Malmö, the trees are blossoming, seedlings have sprouted, and we’re almost past the crucial last frost date needed to ensure plants such as tomatoes and cucumbers can survive outdoors – meaning I can definitely feel the våryra in the air.

Example sentences:

Det är så skönt att se alla människor ute i vårvädret nu, man känner verkligen våryran i luften!

It’s so nice to see all the people out in the spring weather now, you can really feel the joys of spring in the air!

Det är våryra på börsen idag, Stockholmsbörsen har stigit med över två procent.

There’s a spring rush on the stock market today, the Stockholm exchange has risen by over two percent.

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 USAmazon UKBokus or Adlibris.

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SWEDISH WORD OF THE DAY

Swedish word of the day: hyfsat

Today’s word will help you say that things are going alright or that Peter is okay at karaoke.

Swedish word of the day: hyfsat

It is a decent word, and okay one, rather good, and it has a well-polished past.

Hyfsat or hyfsad most often means that something is ‘okay’, ‘decent’, ‘alright’ or even ‘rather good’, which can apply to a great number of things. And its etymological cousin hyfs, is a quality of character. 

Behind both of these words and their uses lies a lesser known verb, to hyfsa. A word which is perhaps slowly becoming out of date. 

But hyfsa, in spite of its slow descent into the archaic, is a very useful word, as it has the general meaning of ‘to tidy up’. That is to say it can be used for a number of situations that imply a bit of tidying up: whether it be your own appearance, like trimming a bit of your hair, evening out your fringe; or fixing a bit in your garden, like trimming the hedge. 

You could even use it to describe a quick tidy up at home ahead of a visit, like giving a vase or some other ornament a bit of a polish, or just putting some things in their right place. 

From hyfsa we get both hyfs and hyfsat

Hyfs, as previously mentioned, has to do with character, more precisely with behaviour. Hyfs is simply to have a well-polished or presentable manner (especially toward your elders): att ha hyfs, ‘to be polite’, or att vara ohyfsad, ‘to be rude’ or un-hyfsed.

Young people might not use it as much anymore, but all Swedes know the word.

Hyfsat or hyfsad on the other hand describes the quality of something or how someone is at something. Something that is hyfsat will do, it is okay and acceptable, implying that it would be so even to the person you are addressing.

Beyond that it can also be used to describe your own or someone else’s performance at karaoke, or any other thing, if you ever get the question. It is also an appreciation of things, and can also describe something as being ‘moderately so’, ‘not too’ or ‘fairly so’, as in en hyfsat snar framtid, meaning ‘a not too distant future’. In some sense it brings to mind that ever elusive word: lagom.

Generally, one can say that it implies that something is acceptable, and by linguistic extension, its root in hyfsa, that some work has been done to achieve that. Or in other words, that whatever it is it is not entirely uncared for, lacking in effort or preparation. It has done enough to be deserving of basic approval. It is hyfsat. 

Example sentences

Hur gick det på karaoken? Det gick hyfsat bra – “How did it go at karaoke? It went fairly well.”

Är Peter bra på karaoke? Han är hyfsad. – “Is Peter any good at karaoke? He’s alright.”

Hörru, hur går det med den där rapporten? Hyfsat – “Hey, how’s that report coming along? Not too bad.”

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 USAmazon UKBokus or Adlibris.

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