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Norwegian expression of the day: Koste skjorta

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

Norwegian word of the day.
Photo by Francesco Ungaro on Unsplash and Nicolas Raymond/FlickR

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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For members


Norwegian word of the day: Jevndøgn

The light and the dark side are now in balance.

Norwegian word of the day: Jevndøgn

What is Jevndøgn

Jevndøgn is the term used to describe the spring (vårjevndøgn) and autumn (høstjevndøgn) equinoxes.

On the day of an equinox, daytime and nighttime are of approximately equal duration (this is true at the same time all over the planet, not just in Norway).

The word used in English, equinox, comes from Latin: aequus (equal) and nox (night). The Norwegian term is directly related to Old English and Norse. Jevn is an adjective similar to “even” and can be used to describe a physical quality (en jevn overflate is “an even surface”), as well as to mean “equal”.

While jevn is “equal” when talking about the equinox and in various other formulations related to measurement, a different word, likestillingis used to mean “equality”.

Døgn is a useful Norwegian word that doesn’t have an exact English translation but can both mean “a day” or “a 24-hour period”. It’s usually used in preference to the more common dag (“day”) when talking about the amount of time within a day and not to the day in general.

For example, a store that is open 24 hours a day is described as døgnåpent, “24-hour-open”. 

Why do I need to know jevndøgn?

September 23rd (sometimes 22nd) is the autumn equinox. From that date onwards, days include more dark minutes than light ones.

The Norwegian word for solstice is solhverv, from sol (sun) and hverv, an archaic word for “turning”.


I dag er det jevndøgn, når dag og natt er like lange.

Today is the equinox, when day and night are the same length