Norwegian word of the day: Vår

Frazer Norwell
Frazer Norwell - [email protected]
Norwegian word of the day: Vår
Caption photo by Francesco Ungaro on Unsplash / Nicolas Raymond/FlickR

The days are getting lighter, and spring is in the air in Norway, which brings us to our latest word of the day.


What does vår mean? 

Vår means the season of spring in Norwegian. Vår can be confusing when learning the language as it can be easily confused with var, which means was in the past tense. Once you learn the difference between å and a, however, this shouldn't be a common occurrence. 

The word vår comes from the Old Norse várr. Várr originated from Proto-Indo European *wésr̥, which is actually also the root of the Latin word for spring, vēr. You can see words originating from Proto-Indo European *wésr̥ in multiple other languages, such as Ancient Greek ἔαρ (éar, meaning "spring"), Lithuanian vasara ("summer"), Sanskrit वसर् (vasar, "morning") and वसन्त (vasantá, "spring"), Persian بهار‎ ‎ (bahâr, "spring"), Old Armenian գարուն (garun, "spring"), and Russian весна́ (vesná, "spring"). 


Much like when using spring in English, it can be used to form other words and nouns. For example, vårlok (spring onion), vårull (spring roll), or vårdugnad (dugnad means volunteering or collective effort for the greater good, but in this case, refers to an apartment block coming together to "spring clean" the communal areas). 

One of the first signs of spring in Norway is gåsunger, directly translated to goose children. Its more proper translation is gosling. But, in this case, the gosling refers to the small, plump, almost-fur-like collection of very small flowers found on willows and other plants. In English, these are called catkins. 

Gåsunger bloom early, so it is considered one of the first signs of spring in Norway. Spring itself means warmer, longer days – which are welcomed with open arms by Norwegians. 


Jeg gleder meg til våren med sol, markblomster og lysere netter. 

I look forward to spring, with sun, wildflowers and lighter nights. 

Vår er min favorittårstid. 

Spring is my favourite season. 

Det blir deilig med vår. Forhåpentligvis blir det snart varmt nok til at man kan ta årets første utepils! 

It will be lovely when spring arrives. Hopefully, it will soon be warm enough to have the first beer outside.


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