Swedish word of the day: svamp

The Local Sweden
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Swedish word of the day: svamp
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Hope we don't swamp you with too much information on mushrooms.


Simply put, svamp is the Swedish word for mushroom, hence the terrible pun above.

More specifically though, the word svamp has three distinct but related meanings: fungus, mushroom and sponge.

It does not, as you might be tempted to guess from its spelling, mean "swamp". The Swedish word for this is mosse or träsk.

I’m no biologist, but my understanding is that a mushroom is the fleshy, “fruity” part of a fungus which can in some cases be eaten (and in others can be poisonous). A fungus is defined as an organism that is not capable of photosynthesis but gets its nutrients from the ground, tree or other organism on which it grows.

Some fungi have a “hat”, and it’s these that are referred to as mushrooms or toadstools. Some of these can be eaten.

In Swedish, you can use the word svamp to refer broadly to fungi and mushrooms alike.

Finally, sponges like bath sponges or kitchen sponges are also referred to as svamp (or svampar in plural). This is probably because the synthetic sponges used for cleaning purposes today were originally made from sea sponges, a type of aquatic fungus.


You will often see standard white or brown button mushrooms sold in Swedish supermarkets as champinjoner, from the French word champignon, meaning "mushroom", but this word can't be used to describe all mushrooms.

Champinjoner is the Swedish umbrella term for all mushrooms in the Agaricus family, many of which are edible. Other popular mushrooms sold in supermarkets are likely to be referred to by their specific names, such as kantareller for chanterelles, or ostronskivling for oyster mushrooms.


Don't worry about it too much, though. If you say jag steker lite svamp till middagen ("I’ll fry some mushrooms for dinner") you won’t be misunderstood, and if you're planning on going out mushroom-hunting, you can just use the generic word svamp, too: plocka svamp.

Example sentences

Kan du torka av bordet med kökssvampen?

Can you wipe the table with the kitchen sponge?

Han dricker som en svamp.

He drinks like a sponge.

Jag tycker stekt svamp smakar bäst med mycket svartpeppar.

I think fried mushrooms taste best with a lot of black pepper.

Don’t miss any of our Swedish words and expressions of the day by downloading our new app (available on Apple and Android) and then selecting the Swedish Word of the Day in your Notification options via the User button.

By Michael Barrett and Becky Waterton


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