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Norwegian expression of the day: Klabbeføre

Norwegian expression of the day: Klabbeføre
Is it 'klabbeføre'? Photo: AFP
If you're planning on going skiing in Norway soon, this is a must-know. But it also works well as a metaphor for everyday life struggles.

Why do I need to know klabbeføre?

Because it’s an expression Norwegians use a lot in the winter, which doesn’t directly translate to English.

What does it mean?

Klabbeføre refers to a certain kind of weather conditions for skiing.

Skiføre is the Norwegian term for ‘ski conditions’, and when the skiføre is klabbete, it means that the snow is sticky and hard to ski across.

Klabb is not really a word itself, although the Norwegian translation of the Harry Potter books uses it about Bludgers, the big ball that’s meant to distress wizards when playing the magical (unfortunately fictional) sport Quidditch.

If you know about Quidditch, the Bludgers are not a bad way to think about klabbeføre, just think that it’s big snowballs instead of leather ones and that they are all sticking to your skis.

When there is klabbeføre, skiing is pretty tricky – unless you have the right equipment, which most Norwegians will have – and it’s probably the worst føre for first-timers to try out cross-country skiing. (Cross-country skiing is fun, I promise, but not so fun on klabbeføre).

The opposite of klabbeføre is silkeføre, ‘silk conditions’, which means your skis will glide over the mountains as sliding on silk.

Klabbeføre is sometimes used as a metaphor to talk about  other things that have nothing to do with skiing or snow.

If there is klabbeføre at an international meeting where the participants are trying to settle on new climate goals, it means the talks are not going well. Likewise, there can be klabbeføre when a business is trying to renegotiate its employees’ salaries.

Use it like this

Hvis du skal på ski i dag bør du smøre godt først, det er skikkelig klabbeføre. – If you’re going skiing today you need to prep the skis well first, it’s really sticky out there.

Jeg orker ikke mer klabbeføre. Kan vi snu? – I can stand this sticky snow anymore. Can we go back?

Først var det totalt klabbeføre under EU samtalene, men etter noen dager gikk det mye letter fremover. – At first the EU talks were not moving forward at all, but after a few days things smoothed out a lot.


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