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DANISH WORD OF THE DAY

Danish word of the day: Klaphat

Something silly that you can wear.

What is klaphat? 

A klaphat (literally a “clapping hat”) is a baseball cap with two small cushions, shaped like arms, attached to the front panel.

The arms are attached to a cord which fits loosely under the chin of the wearer, who can pull it to make the hands clap.

Invented in the 1980s, the hat was originally made famous by Danish football fans who wore it to support their team at international tournaments. These fans are often referred to as roligans, a play on the word “hooligan” which uses the Danish word for “calm”, rolig, suggesting that followers of the Danish national team are likely to be calmer or friendlier than others.

It later became more widespread and can be spotted at other celebratory events, but remains most closely associated with sport.

A klaphat in use during the Tour de France stages in Denmark in 2022. Photo: Søren Bidstrup/Ritzau Scanpix

Why do I need to know klaphat?

Oddly, klaphat also began to be used as an insult in the 1990s and can still come in handy as a light-hearted rebuke.

It’s not clear whether this came about because of the unserious behaviour of football fans or for some other reason, but you can use it as an equivalent to “fool” or “nincompoop”.

A klaphat is also a different type of hat that predates the 1980s sporting invention: the chapeau claque or opera hat is a variant of a top hat that can be folded (or more accurately collapsed) using a spring system, allowing it to be packed into a small space.

The verb at klappe means both “to clap” and, when it has an object, “to fold (together)”. As such, if you klapper din hat sammen you “fold up your hat”, which explains this original meaning of klaphat.

Pronunciation

Is easy: “clap-hat”.

Example

Jeg kom til at smide mine nøgler i skraldespande, sikken klaphat!

I threw my keys in the rubbish by mistake, what a fool!

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For members

DANISH WORD OF THE DAY

Danish word of the day: Jævndøgn

The light and the dark side are now in balance.

Danish word of the day: Jævndøgn

What is jævndøgn?

Jævndøgn the term used to describe the spring (forårsjævndøgn) and autumn (efterårsjævndøgn) equinoxes.

On the day of an equinox, daytime and nighttime are of approximately equal duration (this is true at the same time all over the planet, not just in Denmark).

The word used in English, equinox, comes from Latin: aequus (equal) and nox (night). The Danish term is directly related to Old English and Norse. Jævn is an adjective similar to “even” and can be used to describe a physical quality (en jævn overflade is “an even surface”), as well as to mean “equal”.

While jævn is “equal” when talking about the equinox and in various other formulations related to measurement, a different word, lighed or ligestilling, is used to mean “equality”.

Døgn is a useful Danish word that doesn’t have an exact English translation but can both mean “a day” or “a 24-hour period”. It’s usually used in preference to the more common dag (“day”) when talking about the amount of time within a day, and not to the day in general.

For example, a store that is open 24 hours a day is described as døgnåbent, “24-hour-open”. If you arbejder døgnet rundt you work all hours of the day.

Putting jævn and døgn together gives you the Danish word for equinox, jævndøgn, literally “equal 24-hours”.

Why do I need to know jævndøgn?

September 23rd (sometimes 22nd) is the autumn equinox. From that date onwards, days include more dark minutes than light ones.

The longest night of the year will fall on December 21st, the winter solstice, when Denmark can expect 17 hours of darkness. The Danish word for solstice is solhverv, from sol (sun) and hverv, an archaic word for “turning”.

On March 20th the spring equinox or forårsjævndøgn, things switch back as spring approaches and there is once again more light than dark.

Pronunciation

The “j” in jævn is pronounced like the “y” in “yellow and the “v” as a “w”, giving you “yæwn”.

To say døgn, imagine you are saying “boy” but replacing the b with a d. Then add an “n” at the end.

Example

I dag er det jævndøgn, hvor dag og nat er lige lange.

Today is the equinox, when day and night are the same length.

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