Swedish word of the day: tangorabatt

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

What do Errol Flynn and a flowerbed have in common?


Sometime in the 1880s in Rio de la Plata, along the borderlands between Argentina and Uruguay, the famous tango saw the first light of day. This is where the tango in tangorabatt comes from.

The second part of the word, rabatt, is not as straightforward. Rabatt can mean two things, either "discount/rebate" or "flowerbed". Almost all compound words containing rabatt are of the first case, a "discount" of some sort. Here, however, it is "flowerbed". 

So, you might ask yourself, what does a sensual dance have to do with a flowerbed?  


Following the development of the tango, a certain style developed along it. One of the elements that quickly became a hallmark of the new sensual dance was the modern moustache style popular among turn-of-the-century Latin American men. It was a smaller, thinner kind, much like the one Hollywood star Errol Flynn wore at the time. If you are still wondering what that has to do with a flowerbed, then ask yourself, what the shape of a flowerbed is. Long and thin. 

Adding to that is most likely the fact that the Latino men that popularised it mostly had dark moustaches, which adds to the look of a flowerbed filled with dark soil.

If you want to see some sexy Argentinian tango, it still regularly appears whenever there is need for a hot dance scene in a Hollywood movie, but as someone living in Sweden you should know that there is also a Finnish derivation called Finnish tango, which you might be able to enjoy close by. 

Finnish tango is quite popular in Sweden, most likely because there is a considerable Finnish minority in the country. And perhaps befitting the Finnish temperament, the Finnish tango, unlike other forms of tango, is almost exclusively performed to music in minor keys and follows established conventions of Finnish folklore.


Tangorabatt is a funny word in Swedish, often used with a bit of humor. For instance you can make fun of your friend’s moustache by calling it a tangorabatt. This has happened to yours truly more than once, and perhaps not surprisingly it is my Finnish friend that keeps referring to my moustache as a tangorabatt. 

Example sentences

Nämen, sicken härlig tangorabatt du lagt till med!

My oh my, what a lovely tangostache you’ve put on

Ska du ut dansa med den där tangorabatten? 

Are you going out to dance in that tangostache?


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