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Danish word of the day: Pæredansk

Today's word of the day is as Danish as rugbrød, candlelit rooms and disappointing weather.

What is pæredansk?

Pæredansk means to be typically or thoroughly Danish. It appears to be a compound of two words: pære which means pear (and can also mean light bulb), and dansk, Danish.

According to Dansk Sprognævn, the regulatory body of the Danish language, the origins of the word in fact have nothing to do with pears the fruit. The prefix pære in pæredansk is not in fact a noun but is a corruption of the Latin pure, which can also be found in English where it has the same meaning as in the older language: to be unmixed or consist entirely of.

As such, pære in pæredansk functions as a reinforcing adjective. Comparable prefixes in Danish include ærke- (“arch-“) and ægte- (“genuine”). Although pære- is uncommon, it is found in at least one other Danish word, pærelet (“very easy”).

Why do I need to know pæredansk?

Denmark is a multicultural society and it’s not uncommon to hear people whose heritage does not extend outside of Denmark use the word to be inclusive of elements of society or culture that have come from other parts of the world. “I’m pæredansk, but I’d much rather eat pizza than smørrebrød,” for example.

Although its meaning can be translated to “purely Danish”, pæredansk does not, in my experience, seem to be a word used by politicians who oppose immigration or multiculturalism. They would reject the idea that a national identity can change and are therefore likely to see pæredansk and dansk as being the same thing, and therefore only use the latter to refer to Danish heritage.

Viewed through this lens, it seems that pæredansk is a recognition, rather than rejection, of Denmark’s multiculturalism. However, this is just how I (a European non-Dane who lives in Denmark) have personally experienced and interpreted its use, and I’d be happy to hear from anyone who sees this differently.

It’s worth remembering that pæredansk doesn’t have to have political or racial connotations. You can say rainy summer weather, toasted rye bread and lighting candles at the dinner table are all pæredansk because they are very typical parts of Danish life.


Jeg ser pæredansk ud med mit lyse hår og blå øjne, men jeg kommer faktisk fra Skotland.

I look like a typical Dane with my blonde hair and blue eyes, but I’m actually from Scotland.

Nogle politikerne mener, at jobansøgninger skal gøres anonyme, fordi der har været meldinger om at ikke-pæredanske navne bliver sorteret fra.

Some politicians think that job applications should be anonymous because there have been reports of non-typical Danish names being rejected.

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Danish word of the day: Overordnet

We'll try to give you an overarching explanation of today's word of the day.

Danish word of the day: Overordnet

What is overordnet?

While we covered the meaning of over previously (spoiler: it means “over”), you’ll also need the translation of the verb at ordne to get a sense of how to use overordnet.

Because it has its roots in Latin, at ordne (from the Latin “ordinare”) is easy enough to understand for an English speaker. When used in Danish, it signifies to sort, place in a correct order, tidy or fix something. It can also mean to take care of a problem, conflict or situation: Lejligheden sejlede da jeg kom hjem, så jeg ordnede den lige hurtigt (“the apartment was a mess when I came home, so I gave it a quick sort-out”).

Getting back to overordnet, which is an adjective in the form of a past-tense verb, the prefix suggests something ahead in a certain order. In other words, overordnet can be someone of a higher rank, such as in the military or at a work place.

It can also mean a higher meaning or context, similar to how you might use “overall” in English — an overordnet strategi, for example, can be a company’s long-term business model, around which it builds its more immediate aims.

Why do I need to know overordnet?

While it’s a good example of an adjective that is formed from a rarely-used verb (at overordne), it’s also a word that will help you to convey nuance and give sentences in spoken Danish a sense of articulacy (provided you don’t overuse it, then you might end up sounding like a proponent of ‘management speak‘).

You can some up your thoughts on a certain subject by saying overordnet set (approximately, “generally speaking”) or say that you have been thinking up an overordnet plan (“overall plan”).

Like all good “over” words, overordnet has and “under”-based antonym. Underordnet is an even more expressive word than its superior (in a literal sense) opposite, and is usually used to dismiss something as irrelevant: det er underordnet, om det tager fem minutter eller en time, bare jeg får tid til en gåtur hver dag (“it doesn’t matter whether it takes five minutes or an hour, as long as I get a chance to take a walk every day”).


Jeg forstår ikke, den overordnede betydning med universet.

I don’t understand the overall meaning of the universe.

Jeg kan desværre ikke svare på dit spørgsmål, inden jeg har talt med min overordnede.

I’m afraid I can’t answer your question until I’ve spoken with my superior.