Swedish word of the day: torsk

Becky Waterton
Becky Waterton - [email protected]
Swedish word of the day: torsk
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

You may already know this word's most common translation, but have you heard of the more obscure meanings of the word?


The first and most common meaning of the word torsk in Swedish is "cod", a white fish popular for eating. You may see dishes such as stekt torsk med potatis (fried cod with potatoes) or ugnsbakad torsk (baked cod) on a lunch menu, or come across it in your local supermarket.

Other popular fish in Sweden include rödspätta (plaice), lax (salmon) and abborre (perch).

However, torsk does have a few other meanings in Swedish.

One of these is, bizarrely, the word for a man who buys sex from a prostitute. This may have evolved from an outdated meaning of the word torsk as an insult for someone stupid or easy to trick, similar to calling someone a "loser" in English. Att torska can also be used to describe the act of buying sex.

Att torska can also mean you have lost in a particularly embarrassing way, so it's important to be clear about context if using this verb, although usually it would be followed by the word för (by) or mot (against), unlike in the previous example.

Examples of this meaning include att torska mot bottenlaget ("to lose against the team at the bottom of the league") or att torska för snuten ("to be caught by the cops").

Torsk can also mean an addiction or obsession for something, such as in the phrase torsk på något (literally: "cod on something"). Being torsk på spel would mean being addicted to gambling, or torsk på ABBA would mean an obsession for ABBA.

Finally, torsk or muntorsk ("mouth torsk") is also the Swedish name for oral candida or oral thrush, a yeast infection in the mouth which often affects infants.


Example sentences:

Britterna gillar panerad torsk med pommes.

Brits like battered cod with chips.

Det är olagligt att torska i Sverige.

It's illegal to buy sex in Sweden.

Spelberoende kallas också för att vara speltorsk.

Being addicted to gambling can also be referred to as being a speltorsk (literally: "gambling cod").

Villa, Volvo, Vovve: The Local’s Word Guide to Swedish Life, written by The Local’s journalists, is now 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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