Swedish-English false friends


Answering a question got me thinking about false friends in Swedish-English context. For those who don't know what a false friend is, it's words the look alike but have different meanings in the languages concerced. I googled Swedish false friends and found a list on Swedish wikipedia that might come in handy :

Enjoy! /Emil

December 4, 2014


Interesting! Some of them were new to me. And I must confess that I use "illitterat" the English way.

PS. Guess that "fart" should be included :). It is a Swedish word for speed.

December 4, 2014

As a perpetual 12 year old at heart, that one never gets old.

December 5, 2014

I'd never think of the English meaning, but I might trip over the German meaning of 'drive', a vehicle trip! Some friend!

February 12, 2015

One of my favorites is gift, a homophone which means 'married' as an adjective and 'poison' as a noun.

December 5, 2014

It has a very slight accent change, though. It's not the exact same word. At least not in the Swedish I speak.

December 5, 2014

They have the same accent in the singular. But there’s a difference in accent between e.g. gifter (poisons) and gifter (marries). But all one-syllable words in Swedish always have the same accent in all dialects.

December 18, 2014

That's good to know. If I may ask, is Skånska your native dialect?

December 5, 2014

No, I'm from Lund, which is in Skåne, but it is a much less danish sounding dialect. Skåne actually has quite a lot of accents in different places. If you want to know more here's an old funny podcast

December 16, 2014

Sorry, I inadvertently deleted my previous comment. As far as I know, my Swedish immigrant ancestors mostly taught their children English. But several of their descendants learned Swedish as a second language later in life. My grandmother was the most recent one to do so. I've been interested in Sweden since childhood because of her.

January 9, 2015

Very interesting :D Well I hope you will continue learning it! And I'll be happy to answer questions.

January 19, 2015

Fun example of goat and kid – there's a discussion about them here.

December 24, 2014

"Dog" definitely needs to be included here. In Swedish, it means "died".

November 30, 2015

This is very helpful~ (and interesting) Tack så mycket!

December 4, 2014


December 4, 2014

Is there a list somewhere online that's like the opposite of the Wikipedia link in the original post? Another words, is there a list somewhere that shows "true friends" between English and Swedish? I've just started learning Swedish, but I think such a list would help me realize how many Swedish words I already know without even knowing it. I didn't have any luck finding one after doing a quick google search. Thanks!

December 2, 2015

As far as I know, there is no such list. Words that aren't false friends are true ones, I suppose.

December 3, 2015

Another hilarious false friend is "tack" ... at my workplace (in a pretzel shop), I have been teaching my coworkers some Swedish phrases, so I wrote a special order on a dry erase board: "1 original pretzel, lightly done. Tack!" ... one of my coworkers runs to the back and produces a pushpin. "Here's your tack!"

December 3, 2015

Very useful, thank you! I have been caught out by some of them in my time!

December 9, 2014

Some of these actually share meanings with the cognate. Example: Karaktär sounds like character; both mean quality but the english one also could mean a person. It's enough to help an aspirin salesman. ;-) And what in the nine worlds is a crisp?

February 12, 2015

Potato chip, maybe?

February 13, 2015

Exactly, Helen: Potato chip. They're crispy!

March 16, 2015

Du är Amerikansk?

April 25, 2015

Ja, jag är självklart Amerikansk.

April 25, 2015

'crisp' is British English; American would be 'potato chip'

September 15, 2015

You mean 'crisp' is English and 'potato chip' is American English ;-)

July 8, 2017

Thanks! German seems to be closer to swedish, I am so lucky ;)

November 2, 2015

Swedish is essentially the bastard child of Low German and Old Norse. :p

November 3, 2015

With some French words thrown in, and English on later days...

May 8, 2016

fort: fast in Swedish, "A fortified defensive structure stationed with troops." in English

September 23, 2016


January 12, 2019

I hate false friends - both meanings

January 25, 2019
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