Top ten English words originally from Swedish


As we all know, language is organic and we constantly borrow and interchange words between languages. The word kiosk is for example originally Turkish, restaurant is French, gnu is African Knoisan and alcohol is Arabic.

But what words has Sweden contributed with that have been adpoted into English, and even into other languages?

Well, there are a few…

  1. Moped – comes from ‘trampcykel med motor och pedaler’
  2. Smorgasbord – from the Swedish ‘smörgåsbord’ meaning buffet
  3. Gravlax – from the Swedish ‘gravad lax’ meaning cured salmon
  4. Ombudsman – a Swedish word meaning representative
  5. Orienteering – from Sweden’s ‘orientering’
  6. Tungsten – Heavy stone in Swedish
  7. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday – ok, technically Norse but partially Sweden!
  8. To glean – from the Swedish dialectal verb ‘att glena’
  9. Gauntlet – from Sweden’s ‘gatlopp’
  10. Canoodle – debated, but likely to be from Sweden’s word for fornicate – ‘knulla’

This list is probably incomplete. Any other words you would like to add?

4 thoughts on “Top ten English words originally from Swedish

  1. I like that the word Window is from the old Norse word vindeye, a.k.a. Wind Eye. Still in use in norwegian. We use the german word for it instead, fönster, which comes from the latin word Fenestra. Which the Romans took from the Etruskan language.

    It’s all connected!

    1. It’s dialectal, don’t know where from, but I’ve definitely heard smålänningar say “glana”, meaning something like “windowshopping” or “just looking at things”.

  2. Weirdly enough, tungsten is not called tungsten in Swedish, it’s wolfram (from the German word meaning wolf-froth). The Swedish tungsten is the mineral where the English tungsten can be found.

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