Swedish word of the day: stålar

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

Simply put, stålar is a Swedish slang word for money. However, it has its roots in a secret language made up by walking salesmen in western Sweden around the 1800s.


Stålar is one of a number of words in the secret månsing language used between so-called knallar traders in western Sweden to discuss matters of business they didn't want to reveal to other people present.

This consisted, essentially, of swapping certain Swedish words with other less common words for other languages, or adapting a Swedish word in some way.

Understandably, considering they were traders, a lot of words in månsing are to do with money – like stålar.

Stålar originally comes from the Swedish word stål, meaning steel, which in turn comes from the Old Norse stál. According to the Swedish Academy's dictionary, this is probably due to the knallar often paying for things with small items made of steel.

Another word from the månsing secret language which is still used in Swedish is fika, the word for enjoying coffee and cake, which was created by swapping around the syllables in kaffe, also known as back slang.


There were also specific words for different amounts of money, including spänn for a one krona coin, which is another slang word still used by many Swedes today.

Swedish vocabulary:

Det var inte mycket till stålar i den budgeten.

There wasn't a lot of money in that budget.

Man kan tjäna tusen kronor i timmen! Det är stålar det.

You can earn a thousand kronor an hour! Now that's money.

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Becky Waterton, The Local Sweden 2023/09/28 16:52
Hi Steve, I am actually from northern England (Manchester to be specific) and have never made that connection! Makes total sense now you mention it though. Best, Becky Waterton, The Local Sweden
Steve Scott 2023/09/25 13:02
In the northern English dialect, the slang term for money is "brass", a parallel with the "metallic" slang term in Swedish.

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