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Danish expression of the day: At få blod på tanden

Why do Danes compare painting their apartments to tasting blood?

What is at få blod på tanden?

At få blod på tanden literally means ‘to get blood on your tooth’.

The blood in question refers to a predator’s prey, although the expression itself is figurative and has little to do with actual teeth and blood, but is rather about being motivated. 

Specifically, at få blod på tanden refers to the special kind of determination that a wild animal gets after smelling blood.

Why do I need to know at få blod på tanden?

A Dane saying jeg fik blod på tanden (“I got blood on my tooth”) is really saying that they really got into something and couldn’t stop until it was finished: Det var planen, at vi skulle male ude på badeværelset, men så fik vi blod på tanden og endte med at male hele lejligheden (“We meant to paint the bathroom, but then we got carried away and ended up painting the whole apartment”).

At få blod på tanden is not something you say if you indulged or splurged, however.

A Dane would not, for example, say Jeg tog én lille chip, fik blod på tanden og spiste hele pakken (“I had one small crisp, got my teeth into it and ate the whole bag”). That is because at få blod på tanden is not really about excess.

As well as passively getting “blood on your teeth” a person or thing can also give someone else blood on their teeth.

For example, if you try out rock climbing for the first time and the experience gives you such as taste for the sport that it becomes your biggest hobby. Or if your best friend encourages you to try writing that short story you’ve been talking about, and you listen to them and throw yourself into the task: they gave you “blood on your teeth”.

At få blod tanden, then, expresses determination and drive. Like when you start cleaning your apartment, realise how filthy it is and keep on going until it’s all bright and shiny.


Jeg løb mit første 10-kilometers løb i København i 2017. Det gav mig blod på tanden og jeg begyndte at træne til marathon.

I ran in a 10-kilometre race for the first time in Copenhagen in 2017. It gave me a passion for the sport and I started training for a marathon.

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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.