Norwegian expression of the day: Du skal ikke skue hunden på hårene

Frazer Norwell
Frazer Norwell - [email protected]
Norwegian expression of the day: Du skal ikke skue hunden på hårene
As you'll be aware, you shouldn't judge a book by its cover. Caption Photo by Francesco Ungaro on Unsplash / Nicolas Raymond/FlickR

There’s a lot more to a dog than its fur, or so Norwegians say. 


What does it mean? 

Directly translated, it means ‘You shouldn’t judge a dog on its hairs’. Almost everyone will have heard of its closely related English colloquialism ‘you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover’. 

Essentially the two mean the same thing, meaning you shouldn’t jump to assumptions about how someone or something looks on the outside and that it’s what’s inside that counts. 

Why do I need to know this? 

This saying is a classic example of how languages will often share idioms with very similar meanings, but will have slightly different wordings. 

Another example would be ‘storm i et vannglass’ (storm in a glass of water), which is an exaggeration or escalation of something not very important- similar to a storm in a teacup. 


Å grave ned stridsøksen (to bury the battle-axe) would be another example, being a close cousin of burying the hatchet. 

However, it isn’t clear whether the teacup is added to the English saying and the battle-axe added to the Norwegian one is done to add some regional flavour to the expressions. 

Use it like this: 

Min nye kollega ser ut som han ikke tar jobben sin seriøst for han kommer på morgenmøtet med joggebukser.

(It seems like my new colleague doesn’t take his job seriously. He always shows up to the morning meeting in sweatpants.) 

Det kan hende du tar feil. du må ikke skue hunden på hårene

(You might be wrong. Don’t judge a book by its cover) 

Although in this case, the person taking exception to their colleague's dress sense may be onto something. 


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