Norwegian expression of the day: Koste skjorta

Frazer Norwell
Frazer Norwell - [email protected] • 1 Aug, 2022 Updated Mon 1 Aug 2022 15:16 CEST
Norwegian expression of the day: Koste skjorta
Photo by Francesco Ungaro on Unsplash and Nicolas Raymond/FlickR

Norway is known for being expensive, but this expression is for when something is beyond a bit pricey. 


What does it mean? 

Koste skjorta, means that something "costs the shirt". The expression comes from koste (costs) and skjorta (shirt). 

Essentially it's used to describe something that is very, very expensive- to the point of it being a ripoff or not worth the price. This is because you typically wouldn't want to give up your shirt in exchange for something else. 

According to the Language Council of Norway (Språkrådet), the saying draws from the English expression cost you the shirt off your back.  

An alternative to this would be koste flesk which means to "cost the flesh", more specifically pork's flesh. That term exists in both Danish and Swedish. 


Both Danish and Swedish have their own versions of the expressions. The Danish version is slightly more dramatic and is koste det hvide ud af øjnene (to cost the whites out of the eye), while the Swedish version kosta skjortan (to cost the shirt also). However, the Danish version isn't super widely used to our knowledge. 

Previously it was much more common to say koste flesk, but since the 2000s, the shirt has begun to catch up. 

Use it like this: 

Det kostet meg skjorta å fly fra Oslo til Hellas i sommerferien

(It cost me my shirt to fly from Oslo to Greece in the summer holidays) 

Inger skal kjøpe ny laptop neste måned, den koster 22.000 kr. Det koster skjorta!

(Inger will buy a new laptop next month, it costs 22,000 kroner. It costs the shirt!)



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