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DANISH WORD OF THE DAY

Danish Word of the Day: Tosse

It doesn’t mean what you think it means.

What is tosse?

A noun, tosse — plural, tosser — can variously be translated to fool, idiot, weirdo or simpleton, and is as insulting and/or offensive as any of these words, depending on context.

In a compound with the Danish word for village (landsbytosse), it literally means village idiot.

When it is coupled with another word, it can mean someone who is behaving in a stupid or irrational manner over a particular subject.

This was demonstrated a few years ago when right wing politician Pia Kjærsgaard was ridiculed for calling people who consider climate change an important issue (that’s a lot of people in Denmark) klimatosser or “climate nuts”. The remark backfired due to the broad acceptance of climate change as being a serious matter.

It doesn’t have to be used discourteously. Calling someone a fodboldtosse, for example, simply means they are crazy about football.

Why do I need to know tosse?

If you live in Denmark, there’s a good chance you’ll have seen tosse or one of its compound nouns being thrown around at some point as a derogatory remark.

But the word itself is not actually as rude as it might seem to English speakers (particularly British readers, who will be used to the more offensive connotations of the English-language homonym).

There are plenty of ways of employing tosse without seeking to degrade people you don’t like — it can easily be used to spread the love.

You can also use it as a present-perfect tense verb where it literally means “have gone crazy”, but is used to say, “am crazy about” or “am in love with”: Jeg er tosset med dig therefore means “I’m crazy about you”.

Examples

Hun er sådan en Sopranos-tosse, så hun var helt oppe at køre over den nye film.

She’s crazy about The Sopranos, so she was very excited about the new film.

Jeg er helt tosset med Ed Sheerans nye album.

I just love Ed Sheeran’s new album.

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DANISH WORD OF THE DAY

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.

Examples

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!

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