Five Icelandic Words We Need in English

Icelandic words are just awesome: one of my favorite things about other cultures, especially those with different ancient origins, is their vocabulary. English has some fantastic (and often confusing) slang, but slang feels more trendy than coming from a deep cultural root. You may have heard that Eskimos (Inuit and Yupik peoples, technically) have roughly 50 words for snow. Germans have the word “Backpfeifengesicht”, meaning a face badly in need of a fist. Brazilians have “Cafune”, meaning to run your fingers through a lover’s hair. While some of these are less serious than others, they all have a little bit of their culture baked in.

Iceland has some pretty fantastic words

Which of these speak to you? Have any other phrases we should start using? Leave a comment below!

Skreppa: To run off for a little while

It’s not quite a getaway, it’s not quite an escape: a skreppa is taking a step back from the world for a moment. We all have days like that, right?

Víðsýni: A panoramic view

Specifically a view that stretches on, not simply photogenic. Looking down the Grand Canyon from the base wouldn’t be considered a Víðsýni, but looking across it from the top would.

Ísbíltúr: A car drive that ends with ice cream

Fun fact: Iceland loves ice cream! So much so that they have a word for drives that end in their favorite sweet snack. If you ever visit the country, you must get at least one ice cream cone. Trust me, it’s really good!

Gluggaveður: Window-weather

We have rainy days, gloomy days, slushy days, and all sorts of weather that just makes us want to stay inside. Icelanders have one convenient and poetic word for all of the above: Gluggaveður. Sit by the window with warm drink and watch the world outside from the comfort of a nice heavy blanket.

Dragsúgur: Wind that comes through the window

Sensing a trend with Iceland, cold, and windows? No matter how used to the weather locals may be, there’s still that creeping, inescapable cold. Maybe they should invest in some tighter window frames!

Which Icelandic word was your favorite?

Take a moment to think about the words we use in our daily lives. How often do you use slang and idioms? Next time you have a conversation with someone who grew up bi-lingual, ask them about any interesting words they learned growing up. Who knows, you might find a chance to use them on your next vacation. Don’t forget to wander and ponder!

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