Danish word of the day: Myrepatter

Michael Barrett
Michael Barrett - [email protected]
Danish word of the day: Myrepatter

Photo by Francesco Ungaro on Unsplash and Nicolas Raymond/FlickR

If you want to describe the sensation of a tingle down your spine or are feeling unseasonably cold, you'll be needing today's word of the day.


What are myrepatter?

Myre is the Danish word for ants. 

Patter needs a slightly longer explanation. While its original meaning is the nipple on animals' udders, it has also become a (now outdated and politically incorrect) slang term for breasts. It's also worth noting that the Danish word for mammal is pattedyr, literally meaning animals that can secrete milk to feed their young.


An ant is, of course, an insect and not a mammal, so the word myrepatter in itself is an oxymoron. As such, it's unsurprising to hear that it doesn't have a literal meaning, but is the equivalent of the English 'goosebumps': the feeling of raised hairs or tiny bumps on your skin in response to an exciting experience or feeling particularly cold.

Why do I need to know myrepatter?

'Goosebumps' in fact has a closer Danish counterpart than myrepatter. Gåsehud, literally 'goose skin' is used in the same contexts -- experiencing tiny bumps on the skin when experiencing a breathtaking or surprising moment, or when very cold.

The two Danish words are exact synonyms as far as we can tell, but given that myrepatter is less recognisable from English, you might impress a little more with your Danish knowledge if you use it.

You might come across patter and connected words like yver, meaning udder and (bryst)vorte, which means nipple but also wart, in an agricultural context, but are less likely to do so in general conversation.


Jeg fik myrepatter over hele kroppen, da Nick Cave gik på Orange Scene på Roskilde Festival.

I had goosebumps all over when Nick Cave went on the main stage at the Roskilde Festival.

Det var en kæmpe fejl at gå en tur uden jakke, selvom det er august. Det var så iskoldt, at jeg fik myrepatter.

It was a huge mistake to go for a walk without my jacket on, even though it's August. It was so freezing cold out that I got goosebumps.


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