Norwegian word of the day: Skilpadde

Ever practical, Norwegians have a habit of giving animals very literal names. Today's word of the day is one such example. 

Norwegians have a habit of giving animals very literal names. Caption Photo by Francesco Ungaro on Unsplash / Nicolas Raymond/FlickR

What is skilpadde

Skilpadde is the Norwegian word for turtle and is also used for the turtle’s non-amphibious cousin, a tortoise. 

Not only have Norwegians given both animals very similar names, as they essentially look the same (apologies to any David Attenborough fans reading), but it is also a classic example of animals being given very literal names in the language. 

The direct translation of skilpadde means “shield toad”. I am sure you will agree that is a pretty accurate description unless taking the bipedal Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles into account. 

Why do I need to know Skilpadde? 

Other entertaining – and very literal – Norwegian animal names include nebbdyr or “beaked animal” for a ducked bull platypus and flaggermus or “flapping mouse” for a bat. 

The giving of literal names doesn’t just apply to appearances. For example, plenty of animals are named after characteristics that define them. 

In Norwegian, racoons are called vaskebjørn due to their habit of washing their food before eating. Vaskebjørn means “wash bear”. Unfortunately, we can’t explain where the bear part comes from, so you’ll have to meet us halfway in that regard.

Squids, famous for shooting ink when threatened, are named blekkespurt, meaning ink squirt when translated into English. 

Then there is the isbjørn, meaning ice bear, for polar bear.

And perhaps our favourite literal name is for sloths. In Norwegian, the creatures are called dovendyr, meaning “lazy animal”. 

Other animals with literal names include neshorn (rhino) and flodhest (river horse). Although with these examples, these animals’ English names are also literal descriptions – English just never got around to translating them from ancient Greek, where hippos means “horse” and potamós means “river”. Similarly, the original Greek rhinokerōs comes from rhis “nose” and keras, “horn”.

Are there any literal Norwegian animal names we’ve missed? Let us know!

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Norwegian word of the day: Klein 

Feeling awkward, hungover, maybe a bit sick? This word is the swiss army knife of slang expressions. 

Norwegian word of the day: Klein 

Why do I need to know klein?

Klein is a Norwegian expression which can express several things. It can be used as an informal way of saying that you feel embarrassed, hungover or sick. 

However, the term is most commonly used to express embarrassment or, more specifically, awkwardness in a conversation.

Klein, is a way of twisting the expression kleint, which describes something awkward. While they may appear to be the same word with just a letter chopped off, there are rules for using them to ensure you are grammatically correct. 

Kleint refers to a situation. Bumping into an ex when you’re looking a bit rough is a situation that would be described as kleint

For example, when you see your ex, you’ll think something like dette er kjempekleint!” to yourself, which means “this is super awkward”.

As with the example above, you can latch an intensifier, like kjempe, onto the word to help you express the situation’s awkwardness. 

When using klein, you are referring to your own personal feelings or describing another person rather than a situation. 

Out of the two, kleint is the more commonly and widely used of the expressions. 

Use it like this

Du var skikkelig klein på møtet i dag tidlig. Hva skjer?

(You were really awkward in the meeting this morning. What’s up?) 

Jeg møtte eksen min på butikken i helgen. Jeg visste ikke hva jeg skulle si og var kjempeklein!

(I met my ex in the grocery store this weekend. I didn’t know what to say and was so awkward!)