Some swedish idioms

Idioms are not only phrases or figures of speech, but they are cultural references. There are over 25,000 idioms in the English language (According to Wikipedia). Just like accents or dialects in a language idioms are not only different cross culture but even cross region. Sort of like the informal slang of a language, idioms are used to become more comfortable and confident in a new language or place. It is also the most likely part of language to be misunderstood, not only because of metaphoric references but because these phrases do not translate well. This results in some funny and interesting figures of speech that I want to share with you all. Add any that I missed and enjoy!

First, some idioms that we can relate to, the meanings are the same:

Now you’ve done it!: Skita i det blåa skåpet (To ❤❤❤❤ in the blue locker)

Kill two birds with one stone: Slå två flugor i en smäll (hit two flies with one slap)

Kick the bucket: Trilla av pinn (To fall off the stick)

Easy as Pie: Lätt som en plätt (Easy as pancake)

To have luck on your side: Ha millimetrarna på sin sida (to have millimeters on your side)

To keep your fingers crossed: Hålla tummarna (to hold your thumbs)

Heard it through the Grapevine: Höra via djungeltrumman (Heard it though the jungle drum)

I’m giving you gold: Kasta pärlor för svin (To cast pearls before swine)

Written like chicken scratch: Kråkfötter (Crows feet)

To run for it: Lägga benen på ryggen (Lay the legs on the back)

All bark and no bite: Mycket snack och lite verkstad (Lots of talk and no workshop)

To go too far: Måla fan på väggen (To paint the devil on the wall)

To knock on wood: Ta i trä (Touch wood)

To turn a blind eye: Se genom fingrarna (See through the fingers)

To kill two birds with one stone: Slå två flugor i en smäll (To hit two flies with one slap)

All talk: Stor i orden (Big in the words)

Raining cats and dogs: Stå som spön i backen (Stand like whips in the ground)

Speak of the Devil: Tala om trollen (Speak of the trolls)

To smell a rat: Ana ugglor i mossen (To sense owls in the marsh)

Have a bone to pick: Ha en gås oplockad (Have a goose unplucked)

To know like the back of one’s hand: Känna som sin egen ficka (Know like one’s pocket)

The straw that broke the camels back: Droppen som fick bägaren att rinna över (The drip that caused the beaker to overflow)

When the cat’s away the mice will play: När katten är borta dansar råttorna på bordet (When the cat’s away dancing rats on the table)

Some more that I can't find any english equivalents for:

Saken är biff: "The thing is beef" = it been dealt with, its been taken care of

Klart som korvspad: "Clear as sausage stock" = obvious, very easily understood

Det är rena grekiskan: "It's pure greek" = I don’t understand any of it, it makes no sense

Stava som en kråka: "Spell like a crow" = To make many spelling mistakes

Summan av kardemumman: "The sum of the cardamom" = The conclusion....

Glida in på en räkmacka: "To slide in on a shrimp sandwich" = Refers to someone who has it easy

Ingen ko på isen: "No cow on the ice" = No stress or danger

Ha en räv bakom örat: "To have a fox behind the ear" = To be cunning

Göra en höna av en fjäder: "To make a hen out of a feather" = To exaggerate

Lägga en pizza: "To lay down a pizza" = To vomit

Låtsas som att det regnar: "Pretend as if it is raining" = To act innocently, inconspicuously

Falla mellan två stolar: "To fall between two chairs" = When two authorities cannot cooperate, someone will be forgotten by both of them

Intresseklubben antecknar: "The interest club takes notes" = Sarcastic expression to demonstrate interest in what they perceive as unnecessary knowledge or overly detailed information

Credits to: SOMETHING SWEDISH for making this list. All I did was some small corrections, and adding some more idioms.

Please share you favorite idioms!

For more swedish idioms check out Wiktionary

March 4, 2016


"To make a hen out of a feather" sounds like the equivalent of "to make a mountain out of a molehill" to me.

March 5, 2016

Jag tycker att "Intresseklubben antecknar" är jättekul, ha!

March 5, 2016

It's a fun one!

By the way, if you clicked on the link, that picture was from a documentary from 1996 that won many prizes. There is no dialog or narration at all. Or ok, we hear him utter a few words in a scene where he answers the phone.

It's called Gubben i stugan (The old man in the cottage) and is about an old retired forest worker named Ragnar that lives alone in the forest of Dalarna in his the same house he was born in on the wooden sofa in the kitchen. You get to follow him through all the natures seasons.

Follow Ragnar the year around, through the seasons, the climate and the changes in nature, and take part of a lifestyle that was common not so long ago.

I really recommend everyone to watch it. It's something calming about it. Maybe soothing is the right word?

Its on youtube for anyone interested

March 5, 2016

"It's pure Greek" is equivalent to the almost identical English expression "it's Greek to me".

Thanks for making this post, by the way!

March 5, 2016

I once read that "Skita i det blåa skåpet" came from a film. Is that true? And does anyone know that movie?

March 4, 2016

Yes it was made famous by Janne Loffe Carlsson in the comedy classic Göta kanal

March 4, 2016
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