Danish expression of the day: At tage sorgerne på forskud

The Danish expression of the day tells you not to worry about things that might not come to pass.

What is at tage sorgerne på forskud?

We’ll start with the easy part of this phrase: at tage means “to take” in Danish.

If something is på forskud then it is in advance or has come before the time to use it has arrived. You may be familiar with the word from Danish tax terminology: the forskudsopgørelse is the preliminary version of the Danish tax return, released in November each year for taxpayers to examine and adjust.

If you take something på forskud or take forskud på something, you have a feeling or instinct that something is going to happen in advance of the event. You can also actively do something på forskud, like taking in the washing from your garden because it looks like it might rain, even though the clothes aren’t yet dry. 

Sorg (the singular noun form of sorgerne, which is the definite plural) can mean two things. It is often heard in relation to bereavement, meaning sorrow or mourning. It can, however, also have the more mild meaning of a general concern or feeling of uneasiness and worry. This is a somewhat more old-fashioned use.

So at tage sorgerne på forskud is to engage in worrying about something before it becomes reality.

Why do I need to know tage sorgerne på forskud?

If you often find yourself awake in the small hours, wondering where your life is going, then this is a good phrase to remember. Especially if you’re worried about something that may or may not happen. What if I don’t get that promotion I’ve been hoping for? Don’t pass my exams? What if the person I exchanged numbers with last weekend doesn’t text?

There’s not a lot you can do about it at the moment, so no need to open up that can of concern right now. Ikke tag sorgerne på forskud.

A related phrase which can be used similarly, perhaps about a more concrete future scenario, is den tid, den sorg. This literally means “that time, that sorrow” and is a good approximation for the English “we’ll cross that bridge if we come to it”.


Jeg har snart ikke råd til at betale mit studielån tilbage, hvis priserne på dagligvarene bliver ved med at stige. Men nu skal jeg ikke tage sorgerne på forskud.

I’ll end up not being able to pay back my student loan if the price of groceries keeps going up. But I’m not going to worry about that unless it happens.

Du skal ikke tage sorgerne på forskud. Det ender kun med at du stresser og bliver ked af det.

Don’t worry about something that might not happen. You’ll only end up getting stressed and upset.

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Danish word of the day: Knallert

An onomatopoeic two-wheeled form of transport is the word of the day.

Danish word of the day: Knallert

What is knallert?

knallert is roughly the vehicle that you would generally call a “moped” in English — in other words, a small motorcycle with a low cc engine.

The word scooter is also used in Danish but it’s not exactly the same as the English “scooter”. This can be seen in the differences between scooter and knallert, and “moped” and “scooter” respectively.

Taking the Danish terms first, a scooter is smaller than a knallert. The difference is usually defined by the size of the wheels: if it’s 10-16 tommer or inches (the imperial unit is confusingly used in Denmark for wheel sizes), then it’s a scooter. Any larger and you have a knallert.

In English, meanwhile, a scooter and a moped can have the same appearance (with the platform on which you can rest your feet), but engine size matters more: under 50cc and it’s a moped (although this definition also applies to a knallert), more than that and it’s a scooter.

As such, “scooter” is the larger of the two in English but not in Danish. You might sometimes see a sign stating Knallert forbudt (“No mopeds”) on smaller Danish cycle paths such as country paths that don’t run alongside a road. This is because mopeds can sometimes share bicycle lanes with bicycles, but some cycle lanes don’t permit this.

While “scooter” can also be used in English to describe a child’s two-wheeled, pre-bicycle toy complete with handle bar, this has a different Danish name, løbehjul (literally “running wheels”).

Why do I need to know knallert?

The word knallert, to mean “moped” emerged in the 1950s as the small motorised bikes increased in popularity outside of their spiritual home in Italy.

It was originally a slang expression given to a bicycle that had a small motor fitted, meaning it emitted the “put-put-put” noise of such engines.

The verb at knalde (which later became slang for having sex, but that’s for another day) can be used to describe this sort of low-grade, repetitive banging noise.

Knallert thereby evolved from at knalde, before eventually become a word in its own right and not just a slang term: it is, as such, an example of “dead slang” that is no longer slang but has its own distinct meaning.