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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Invented in the 1980s, the hat was originally made famous by Danish football fans who wore it to support their team at international tournaments.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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DANISH WORD OF THE DAY

Danish word of the day: Uoverskuelig

For when you just can't deal.

Danish word of the day: Uoverskuelig

What is uoverskuelig? 

This word contains skuelig, a substantive from of the verb at skue, which means “to view” but is not common in spoke Danish, where at se på or at kigge på (“to look at” in both cases) are more likely to be used to refer to looking at or viewing something.

At skue is often used in a more literary sense and can be compared to saying “consider” or “regard” when talking about looking at something. If you “cast your eyes upon” an object or landscape, you skuer it.

With the prefix over- , overskuelig means something that is possible to get a clear view of, to comprehend its full extent. Figuratively, this means to fully understand, master and be in control of something – not just to look at it.

The negation particle u reverses this meaning, giving you something that is hard to comprehend or deal with, so much so that you don’t really know where to start.

Why do I need to know uoverskuelig? 

It’s a curious and very commonly used word but one that is notoriously difficult to translate accurately into English.

As a side point, I think the double vowel at the start gives it a nice aesthetic. Lots of negated words are like this – uuholdelig (“unbearable”) and uafbrudt (“uninterrupted”) to name a couple of examples.

If you have a task – or more broadly, a day – ahead of you that you just don’t feel you have the energy or knowledge to deal with, you can say it’s uoverskuelig. In verb form, jeg kan ikke overskue means the same thing – approximately, “I can’t deal/cope with”.

Not being able to overskue something can be related to its size or complexity, but can also reflect your own condition – if you are feeling extremely tired, even a trip to the supermarket can be uoverskuelig.

It is also commonly used without the negation: Kan du stå for aftensmaden i dag? – Ja, det kan jeg godt overskue (“Can you take care of dinner today? – Yes, I can handle it”).

Examples

Jeg skal have kigget min forskudsopgørelse igennem, men det er lidt uoverskueligt.

I need to look through my tax return, but it’s quite complex.

Jeg kan aldrig overskue at tage på arbejde om mandagen.

I never feel like going to work on Mondays.

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