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DANISH WORD OF THE DAY

Danish word of the day: Grineren

Never heard of this Danish word of the day? You must be having a laugh.

What is grineren?

At grine is the Danish verb meaning “to laugh”, making griner the present tense, equivalent to “laugh” or “is laughing” in English.

The -en suffix puts a word in definite form, which would make grineren translate to something approximate to “the laugher” or “the one who is laughing”.

This isn’t really what it means, though, and the key to understanding why is the use of the -en suffix in some Danish slang words.

There are a few slang words that are formed by shortening another word and adding the definite article -en on the end. These generally emerged in the 1990s when children shortened or changed the words.

The best example of this is probably nederen, which is in some ways direct the opposite of grineren. Nederen originates from nedtur, itself an informal word meaning “journey downwards” or perhaps “downer” is a better English approximation: a bad experience or dreary moment that worsens your mood. 

Nedtur becomes nederen by having -tur removed and the definite article added (the -er- in the middle of this word makes it easier to pronounce).

Other examples of this form of slang in Danish are fjerneren (from fjernsyn, television), fritteren (from fritidshjem, an after school childcare facility for older children) and even noieren (from “paranoia”).

Why do I need to know grineren?

There are two ways of using grineren to talk about something that is funny, and both will give your Danish the sense of fluency you can only get from sprinkling your speech with slang (but not overdoing it). Make sure you save it for informal situations with friends, as it might come across a little out of place at a job interview.

The more simple use of grineren is as a simple adjective to mean either “funny” or “fun”. When using it this way you can just say grineren instead of the normal Danish word for funny or fun, sjov (please note that sjov can become sjovt depending on the grammar of the sentence, but grineren does not change): Jeg var til fest i går. Det var helt vildt grineren (“I went to a party last night. It was so much fun”).

You can also use grineren when talking about laughing uncontrollably or having a fit of laughter. In this case, you need to follow it with the preposition på (“on”). Think of it as meaning something like “having my laughter on”.

Examples

Det var simpelthen for grineren, da Joey kom ind i lejligheden iført alt Chandlers tøj.

It was just so funny when Joey walked into the apartment wearing all of Chandler’s clothes.

Jeg fik grineren på i bussen. Det var så pinligt, men jeg kunne bare ikke styre min latter.

I had a fit of laughter on the bus. It was so embarrassing but I just couldn’t control my laughter.

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DANISH WORD OF THE DAY

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”).

Examples

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.

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