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Danish Word of the Day: Genial

Today's word of the day is regularly heard in Danish but means something quite different to its English false friend.

What is genial?

Genial literally means “brilliant” as in “of genius” (for example: det var en genial idé — ‘that was an ingenious idea’). It’s an adjective, so you can use it to qualify any noun you want to describe as genial. Like most Danish adjectives, it can be switched to an adverb with the addition of -t.

But it’s also come to mean a lot more than that. In Danish conversation, genial can mean “great”, “awesome”, “fantastic” or anything positive in exactly the same way as “brilliant” has come to be used in English.

Why do I need to know genial?

Genial or genialt is a common Danish word that has nothing to do with the English word “genial” (i.e. friendly, pleasant, cheerful). You’d probably say venlig (“friendly”) in Danish if you wanted to replicate the English “genial”.

You may also hear genial being used with the negation ikke in front of it. This can be applied to describe an action that didn’t go well or was ill-advised: Det var ikke så genialt, at han efterlod sin computer, da han skulle bestille kaffe: 
“It wasn’t a great idea to leave his computer unattended when he was ordering coffee”.

Genial is often heard in conversation and has taken on a much broader meaning than its original use.

In conversational Danish, genial can also be used on its own to respond to something or as an exclamation, again, just like ‘brilliant’ or ‘great’ is used in English: I stedet for at mødes ved banegården, skal vi ikke mødes ved biografen? —
Det er genialt – jeg bor kun fem minutter derfra.
(“Instead of meeting at the train station, do you want to meet at the cinema? — 
Great, I only live five minutes from there.”)


Mine nye løbesko er helt geniale.

My new running shoes are amazing.

Det var genialt sagt.

That was a brilliant response.

Ej hvor genialt, du har købt havremælk til kaffen.

Ah that’s great, you bought oat milk for the coffee.

Du danser genialt.

You’re a brilliant dancer [literally, “you dance brilliantly”].

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Danish word of the day: Nar

Have a look at the word of the day. You'd be a fool not to.

Danish word of the day: Nar

What is nar?

The original meaning of the word nar is similar to the English ‘jester’: a person who entertains the public or an audience by making a fool of themselves or of others.

Its use evolved at some point in the past — not recently, as it’s been around for a while — and it is now an insult. So if you call someone a nar you are slighting them and they are likely to be offended, as it’s not a word that is usually used lightheartedly, unlike some old-fashioned insults can be.

To call someone a nar, by the way, the correct phrase is din nar. This literally means “your nar“, because din is a possessive adjective or pronoun (like ‘your’ or ‘yours’). However, din nar actually means “you are a nar“. The same grammar applies with all insults: din idiot, dit fjols, din taber (you idiot, you fool, you loser) or din klovn (you clown). The latter is a slightly milder synonym of din nar.

Why do I need to know nar?

It’s a punchy putdown, but as mentioned above — be careful how you use it. It’s not really a word you can use in jest. As such, you’ll probably hear it used more often to talk about someone in the third person than aimed directly at someone.

Nar is also used in a variety of phrases to mean variations of being made a fool out of or being tricked.

For example, at gøre nar af (“to make a nar of”) someone is to make them the object of ridicule or to make fun of them. If you holder nogen for nar (“treat someone as a nar“) you could either be scamming or tricking them or, similarly to before, making them look stupid.


Han går hele tiden rundt og lyver over for folk. Han er simpelthen en nar!

He just goes around lying to everyone. He’s nothing but an asshole!

Hvorfor har du spist min sandwich? Der stod mit navn på papiret. Din nar!

Why did you eat my sandwich? My name was written on the package. You idiot!