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English has no analogues for these seven Danish words

English has no analogs for these seven Danish words

Officially, more than 5 million people speak Danish. Despite the fact, that it’s Scandinavian, it’s a bit like English and German.

Well, Danish is open to new words, to which it is rather easy to find the equivalent. The formation of new words is ongoing, and this process enables the language to develop.

But along with words with an analog, there are purely Danish words. These are culturally specific words that cannot be found in the English language. 


If you have ever tried sandwiches in Copenhagen, it will be easy for you to figure out what we’re talking about. This is a smørrebrød – a piece of bread, usually generously stuffed with different goodies. This stuffing is called “pålæg”. It can include cold cuts, slices of cheese, fish, and salad. This is literally everything that is put on top of the bread. All Scandinavian sandwiches are open, so could contain a lot of stuffing. So in this context, there is no such a word describing “stuffing” in the English language.

Along with the standard Danish sandwich, there is its dessert, so-called “sweet” version. In the original language, this name is written as «pålægschokolade» and means the same smørrebrød, but with a thin layer of chocolate on the heated bread. The sandwich turns into a delicious dessert and is prepared very quickly. 


It’s another word that some Danish publishers add to English texts. This word creates a certain “highlight” in the text. Altså has many options to use, for example, instead of the words “accordingly”, “in this way”, “therefore”, “really” or “I mean”, but you can also use it while telling the story, when there is a pause and it sounds like “erm…”.


The interesting word “overskud” is used in two meanings. According to the first one, this word means surplus money or profit. Its second meaning relates to non-material things, such as energy, forces, resources. So, to indicate the physical impossibility of doing something, you can use this word. For example: “I won’t join your trekking in the mountains tomorrow since I don’t have an “overskud”. This will mean that you don’t have enough energy for that activity. Another example concerns the material part: “This month I won’t be able to buy a dishwasher, as I have no “overskud”.


You can use English words such as “friendly”, “congenial”, “pleasant” instead of this strange one, but none of them exactly conveys the Danish meaning. You can also use sympatisk to indicate trust or good mood in relation to the person you are with.


“Jo” is translated into Danish as “yes”, but this form is different from the usual positive answer. It’s used only if you are asked a negative question or something is affirmed in a negative form.

Here are some examples when instead of Danish “ja”, the word “jo” is used:

“Didn’t you buy a train ticket at the station?” – “Jo, I did it at the box office for online orders.”

“You didn’t buy a ticket at the train station.” – “Jo, I bought a ticket.”

Also, sometimes “jo” is used in the middle of a sentence, adding an accent to the phrase. Only in this case, its translation into English becomes completely impossible.


The word “Træls” came to Danish from Jutland. It is used to explain something unpleasant or inconvenient, it can be either a physical process or any other. For example, back pain or some kind of nuisance. Thanks to træls you can express an emotion of frustration and discontent.

Look at the following example:

“My car ran out of gas, we can’t get to the gas station.” – “Oh, how træls it is!”. 


From a technical point of view, the word “Hygge” is also an English word. This word is translated as “comfortable” or “a feeling of condolences,” but no direct analogue of the English word hygge was found.

As for the fact that this word is the easiest to translate on this list, you can still argue… Indeed, in most contexts, its translation is “to have a good time”. But it’s not that simple. 

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