When Swedes have diarrhoea

We’ve all been there. Those embarrassing moments when the belly rumbles and we have to race to the toilet to evacuate as quickly as possible. An all round unpleasant, and undignified, experience.

Well, February in Sweden is synonymous with sickness and right now there’s a stomach flu flying around the country. So last night at dinner, conversation moved onto sickness and landed on a colloquial Swedish word for diarrhoea.

The discussion was about where this word comes from. So, true to form, I researched it.

And I have the answer.

The word in question is the Swedish word ‘rännskita‘. One theory was that it originated from the word ‘takränna’ which is a gutter, and would reflect the speed at which the water runs down the drainpipe. But actually that’s not it.

The word is a combination of the old Swedish word ‘ränna’ which means ‘to run’ (often quickly) and the word ‘skita’ which means to shit. It’s directly translatable to the English ‘ to have the runs’.

Although it sounds like a new word, it actually entered the Swedish language in 1587! I guess it was a problem back then.

So there you go. Another fascinating foray into the Swedish language with ‘Watching the Swedes’.

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