Advertisement

​​Swedish word of the day: kränkt

Alex Rodallec
Alex Rodallec - [email protected]
​​Swedish word of the day: kränkt
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Today's word of the day is one born out of a medieval code of honour.

Advertisement

The word kränkt describes when someone considers themselves to have had their personal honour attacked in words or action. 

Kränka, the verb form, can also mean ‘to violate’, as in a violation of someone’s rights. De kränkte mina rättigheter means ‘they violated my rights’. 

The word has been used as an adjective since at least 1756, but is much older in the verb form. Kränka goes back as far as 1420–50, when the Old Swedish kränkia, meant 'to weaken, disgrace, or transgress'. The verb is taken from the Low German krenken, 'to weaken'.

Advertisement

But the history of kränkt does not end there.

The word has gained new life and meaning in the modern Swedish debate on gender and race. There it has become an epithet aimed at someone who feels disparaged for supposedly no legitimate reason. 

The primary target is white men, as in the expression vita kränkta män (‘white, affronted men’), which gained traction thanks to a Facebook page of the same name.

Advertisement

Kränkt, then, no longer describes simply a person who has actually been dishonoured, but anyone whose opponents wish to mock for being upset about something. 

For example, feminists and anti-racists might mock white men for feeling affronted by having to share power with women and people of colour, even though their targets might not agree that having to share power is what they are upset about. 

On the other side, feminists and antiracists get mocked for being kränkta over the wrong use of certain words, which their opponents perceive to be completely harmless, or for calling everything sexist or racist.

Again, the feminists and antiracists would neither agree that the words are harmless or that they call everything sexist or racist.

Whether you feel kränkt, or have in fact been kränkt, or are yrkeskränkt (an uncommon but interesting usage describing those who make a living off of feeling affronted, usually by writing about it), it is not a nice word to use about someone else. 

Try not to kränka anyone, but do alert the proper authorities if you feel that someone has kränkt your rights.

And if you feel upset about something someone has said or written or is trying to do, make sure you are certain about how you feel. That way you will not care about anyone mocking you by calling you kränkt for feeling indignation at something you know to be wrong. 

Example sentences:

Asså, hur kan man va så kränkt?

I mean come on, how can you be that easily slighted!

De kränkte mina rättigheter!

They violated my rights!

 

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 US, Amazon UK, Bokus or Adlibris.

More

Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also