Danish word of the day: Å

One the Danish language's single-letter words is today's word of the day.

What is å?

Å is the 29th and last letter of the Danish alphabet, although it hasn’t always been. It was introduced to the dictionary as part of a 1948 orthographic reform which also saw Danish scrap the practice of capitalising nouns — similar to how German is written today.

The reform saw å replace aa in official spelling of regular words, although proper nouns did not necessarily follow suit. This is why Aarhus was spelt Århus until 2011, but Aalborg has always been Aalborg (although many people incorrectly write it as “Ålborg”).

The letter has the distinction of having a name that isn’t just the sound of the letter: bolle-å, or “ball-å”, marks it out from the older style of writing it as aa.

Why do I need to know å?

So what does it mean? 

En å is the word for a canal, stream or brook. Å also occurs in some place names.

Gudenå, sometimes written as the River Guden in English, is Denmark’s longest river and runs across Jutland. As you can see, it uses the word for “stream” in its name rather than the Danish word for “river”, which is flod.

Ådal (“stream valley”) is the name of a natural area near Jutland town Vejle, in a region of the country a little more hilly than generally-flat Denmark has a reputation for.

A lot of streams and rivers are also simply named after towns they flow through: Aarhus Å is the name of the canal that appears in tourist photos of bars and restaurants in the centre of Denmark’s second city, but you can also follow the stream back through the countryside to its source, so you’ll see it marked as “Aarhus Å” well outside of Aarhus.

The canals in Copenhagen, notably in the Christianshavn neighbourhood, are not generally called å, but kanal. This is because they are man-made.

While not really the same word, å is also a sound you’ll hear many Danes make when they give a surprised exclamation. Usually you’ll see it written with an ‘h’ after it: Åh nej! Jeg har tabt min is (“Oh no! I’ve dropped my ice cream”).

READ ALSO: Danish word of the day: Ø


Mange bække små gør en stor å

Many small brooks a large stream make

Skal vi drikke en kaffe nede ved åen?

Shall we go for a coffee down by the canal?

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Danish word of the day: Fråderen

Today's word is a slang expression that could have you licking your lips.

Danish word of the day: Fråderen

What is fråderen?

The verb at fråde gives rise to some strong images, meaning literally “to foam at the mouth”. It’s not an equivalent to “dribble”, which is at savle, and unlike at savle, it only really has negative connotations.

You can savle in response to the smell of delicious food, for example, but if you fråder, you “secrete foamy spit in the mouth — because of aggressiveness, having a fit etc.,” according to the dictionary definition.

In fact, at fråde can also used metaphorically to mean going into a rage, skipping entirely the step where you froth at the mouth in anger.

In contrast, fråderen means something very positive or enticing, and it’s therefore important not to confuse the two, even though the latter word is derived from the former.

There are a few Danish 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, although fråderen is thought to come from a little later, around the early 2000s.

We’ve previously written about grineren and nederen, which are probably the most common slang words of this type, and elaborated a little on how the words were formed and shortened from their original, more formal guises.

Why do I need to know fråderen?

At fråde is a Danish verb you might not hear very often, while fråderen has probably given at a new lease of life by bringing it to the attention of a younger generation.

As alluded to above, fråderen is a positive adjective used to describe something that looks good, tastes good or generally seems very enticing. Presumably so much so that it makes you lick your lips in overdrive, causing the metaphorical foaming at the mouth.

Another way of using fråderen is to have fråderen på, literally (and clumsily translated to) “have a foaming at the mouth episode going on”. This means to feel excessively hungry with a particular craving for sweets or tasty snacks. A more common Danish word with the same meaning as this is lækkersulten (“tasty-hungry”).


Ej, har du popcorn med?! Kæft hvor fråderen, mand.

Oh wow, have you brought popcorn? My gosh, how enticing, man.

Kan du ikke købe de der doughnuts, når du går ned i Aldi? De er simpelthen så fråderen.

Would you mind buying those doughnuts they have when you go to Aldi? They really are quite delicious.