Norwegian expression of the day: Å være midt i smørøyet

If you find yourself in a great location, it'd be fair to say that you're in 'the middle of the butter eye'. 

Today's Norwegian expression of the day
To be in the middle of the 'butter eye' means to be in a good location. Caption Photo by Francesco Ungaro on Unsplash / Nicolas Raymond/FlickR

What does it mean? 

Directly translated, it means “to be in the middle of the butter eye”, which won’t make any sense to anyone really when translated. There also aren’t many sayings in English that are similar. 

It actually means for something to be in an excellent location. Similar to our last word of the day, matpakke, where we not only explained the packed lunch, but also pålegg, we are going to need a quick lesson on Norwegian cuisine to understand the saying fully. 

So, to be in the middle of the butter eye refers to risgrøt or rømmegrøtRisgrøt is a rice porridge similar to rice pudding, and rømmegrøt is a sour cream porridge. Both are typically served with generous helpings of sugar and cinnamon, with a big knob of butter typically in the middle of the dish. The melted butter then leaves a hole known as the butter eye. 

To be in that spot is seen as being a good thing. 

Locals will typically use the saying to refer to a central location or an area with a lot going on rather than any good spot. Therefore if you find a good camping spot, you might raise a few eyebrows if you say it’s in the butter’s eye. 

Additionally, locals typically won’t use it to refer to a situation either, meaning if you are in the middle of something situationally or in the ‘thick of it’ to use an English saying, then it probably won’t work either. 

Use it like this? 

Dette hotellet har flott beliggenhet, det ligger midt i smørøyet! 

(This hotel has a great location, it’s in the middle of the ‘butter eye’/ central location) 

Vår nye leilighet i Oslo ligger midt i smørøyet

(Our new apartment in Oslo is in a super central location/ in the ‘butter eye’)

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Norwegian expression of the day: Katta i sekken 

If you've bought something online that's completely different to what was advertised, this Norwegian saying should help sum things up. 

Norwegian expression of the day: Katta i sekken 

What does it mean?  

Katta i sekken means “cat in the bag”, unlike the English expression where having something in the bag is great, you don’t want to find a cat in your sack, metaphorically speaking. 

The expression describes a scenario or situation where you’ve bought something that is different to advertised, underwhelming, or if you’ve been ripped off and paid way more than the item is worth. 

It’s used as a verb, for example, Å kjøpe katta i sekken, (To buy a cat in the bag). Also, note that it’s typically the slang katta that’s used rather katt, or katten. 

The term dates back to the middle ages, and a possible origin of the phrase is the story of Till Eulenspiegel, where a cat is sewn into a rabbit skin and sold as a hare. 

Several languages use the term or have their own version of the expression. However, some languages will refer to a pig in the sack, like Swedish, while others use cats as metaphors for the unwanted item. In English, the closest expression is “A pig in a poke.” 

What about ‘letting the cat out of the bag’? 

This term can get confusing in its similarity to “letting the cat out of the bag, ” which means revealing a secret. In Norwegian this is: katta er ute av sekken. 

You may hear someone say something like Fikk du med deg det Vilde sa? Jeg antar katta er ute av sekken. This means: Did you hear what Vilde said? I guess the cat’s out of the bag.

Therefore, if you hear someone talking about cats in bags, it’s best to pay close attention to ensure you’ve listened to the expression correctly. 

Use it like this: 

Jeg kjøpte en telefon på Siden det ikke fungerer, kjøpte jeg katta i sekken.

(I bought a phone on Since it doesn’t work, I bought a cat in the bag).