Danish expression of the day: Tale rent ud af posen

Michael Barrett
Michael Barrett - [email protected]
Danish expression of the day: Tale rent ud af posen

Photo by Francesco Ungaro on Unsplash and Nicolas Raymond/FlickR

We’ll explain this expression like we mean it.


What is tale rent ud af posen? 

At tale rent ud af posen means ’to speak clean out of the bag’. A slight variation, at tale lige ud af posen, makes a little more sense in direct English translation: ‘to speak straight out of the bag’.

Okay, the second version doesn’t actually make much more sense than the first.


The figurative meaning of this expression is to speak directly. Both versions of the phrase are equally prevalent, so your words can come out of the metaphorical bag either rent ('clean') or lige (‘straight’).

To 'speak straight out of the bag’ is therefore to ‘shoot straight from the hip’, ‘tell it like it is’, ‘not beat around the bush’ or ‘not sugar coat it’.

Why do I need to know tale rent ud af posen? 

Being honest and saying things without omsvøb (literally ‘swabbing’ but meaning prevarication) is generally appreciated in Denmark, where people often like to get to the point and say what they mean without spending excessive time on niceties.

This could apply equally to using only two words to order a cup of coffee ("en kaffe") or telling someone straight that they have been rejected for a job or turned down for a date.

If you rip the plaster off quickly, and say things rent ud af posen, you will probably be respected for doing so.

Be aware this doesn’t mean being rude. Speaking rent ud af posen is not going around telling everyone exactly what you think of them for the sake of it. It is essentially being up front and direct (but still courteous) when telling somebody something that they will need to hear sooner or later anyway.


Nu siger jeg det lige ud af posen. Vi spillede elendigt i første halvleg.

I’m not gonna lie. We played terribly in the first half.

Hun taler altid rent ud af posen, så man ved, hvor man har hende.

She always speaks directly, so you know exactly where she stands.


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