Norwegian word of the day: Ukultur 

Frazer Norwell
Frazer Norwell - [email protected]
Norwegian word of the day: Ukultur 
Photo by Francesco Ungaro on Unsplash and Nicolas Raymond/FlickR.

Today's Norwegian word of the day is all about noticing a pattern of recent or long-running lousy behaviour. 


What is ukultur

Ukultur is the Norwegian word for bad behaviour or a lack of culture and education. The use of the word is incredibly far-reaching and versatile. In equal parts, it can mean uncultured or having a hostile culture. However, the first use is the most common. 

It is derived from the word kultur, translating into culture in English. The prefix u is often used in Norwegian as a form of negation. For example, lykkelig (happy) becomes ulykkelig (unhappy), mulig (possible) becomes umulig (impossible) and so on.

It can also be used as a prefix to denote an abnormal, extreme form of the root noun, implying judgment from the speaker. For example, the word udyr means 'beast' or 'monster' from u + dyr (animal).

Ukultur can cover everything from organisational practices (think a company with terrible working conditions – hopefully not your job) down to individual behaviour. It can refer to everything from corruption to discrimination, such as sexism, racism and homophobia.

For organisations, it may refer to a set of practices of institutional discrimination, sexual harassment or bullying. Typically, organisations that have these kinds of practices don't have a proper reporting system or don't take concerns seriously, this is also its own form of ukultur

For example, the Norwegian Army has been accused of having a negative culture due to accusations of bullying and sexual harassment in its ranks. 


Norway's parliament has been accused of having an economic 'unculture' due to a commuter housing scandal, which meant many MPs were hit with large bills for underpaying the taxes on the benefit of having state-paid for accommodation. Several also had homes in Oslo they were renting out while living in state-owned apartments.  

Typically, with large organisations, issues surrounding ukultur are only brought to light by whistleblowers. 

However, the practice doesn't just apply to individuals and organisations. It can also be used to blanket an entire industry. Norway's creative industry, essentially the sector for 'culture' has been criticised for the amount of unpaid work that is expected. 


Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also