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Norwegian word of the day: Jern

Frazer Norwell
Frazer Norwell - [email protected]
Norwegian word of the day: Jern
Today's Norwegian word of the day means iron. Caption photo by Francesco Ungaro on Unsplash / Nicolas Raymond/FlickR

Jern is the Norwegian word for iron, but it's used in a number of compound words and everyday phrases.

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Jern originates from the Old Danish word jarn, which in turn comes from the Old Norse járn, which has its roots in a Proto-Germanic word, the same word English iron and German Eisen come from.

The reason it likely originates from the Old Danish version of the word is due to the massive influence of Danish on the Norwegian language. This is due to Norway being in union with Denmark for many centuries. 

Such was the influence of Danish on Norwegian, there have been several attempts to try and make the Norwegian language more "Norwegian". The most prevalent of these is Nynorsk, meaning new Norwegian. 

Jern can be used to refer to the metal and chemical element iron, as well as golf irons, but it is also commonly used in compound words referring to some sort of tool or appliance made of metal, just like in English.

Some examples of these are an iron used to iron clothes, which is a strykejern, as well as a waffle iron (vaffeljern). There's also støpejern (meaning cast iron). 

The Norwegian word for Railway (jernbane) means iron track. If you need to roll up your sleeves and get something done properly you will gi jernet (give it the iron). 

Smi mens jernet er varmt means to "forge while the iron is hot". This is the same as the English language equivalent of striking while the iron is hot. You can also describe someone who is trying to do too many things as having mange jern i ilden (many irons in the fire). 

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Examples 

Jeg skulle lage vafler i morges, men fant ikke vaffeljernet vårt

I was going to make waffles this morning, but couldn’t find our waffle iron

Hun er god, hun gir alltid jernet og står på til jobben er gjort. 

She's good, she always gives her best effort and keeps on until the job is done.

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