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DANISH WORD OF THE DAY

Danish expression of the day: Over stok og sten

Sticks and stones (probably) won't break your bones in today's expression of the day.

What is over stok og sten?

This expression translates directly to “over stick and stone” or “over cane and stone”.

Its meaning, however, is not related to the old-fashioned (and very much debunked) English expression “sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me”.

Rather, it means to do something as quickly as possible with little thought or consideration for potential obstacles or barriers that might be in the way, with the potential to trip you up.

READ ALSO: Danish expression of the day: Spænder ben

If you go over stok og sten, then, you proceed roughshod (figuratively), even recklessly, in an effort to get to your destination or objective as quickly as you possibly can.

Similar English expressions are “at breakneck speed” or “more haste, less speed”, although the latter is more a forewarning that rushing things could cost you time in the end, rather than a simple statement that you’re making haste without due precaution.

Why do I need to know over stok og sten?

There’s a fair bit of debate about the origins of the expression, but Danish language regulator Dansk Sprognævn states that the “sticks and stones” refer to terrain and that riding over them is to ignore the possible bumps in the road ahead and speed forwards as fast as you can.

An alternative explanation is that the phrase comes from craftsmen who, in years gone by, painted trussed walls “over the (timber) posts and stones” in order to speed up the job, with the side effect of leaving the wall painted all in one colour, a less desirable aesthetic outcome.

Examples

Når hun tager opvasken går det over stok og sten. Der bliver kastet til højre og venstre med bestik og tallerkener.

She does the washing up at 100 miles per hour. Cutlery and plates fly about all over the place.

Det gik over stok og sten på vej igennem skoven, og det endte med at jeg kom til at vride om på anklen.

It was full speed ahead through the forest and I ended up spraining my ankle.

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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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