Danish word of the day: Firkantet

Michael Barrett
Michael Barrett - [email protected]
Danish word of the day: Firkantet

Photo by Francesco Ungaro on Unsplash and Nicolas Raymond/FlickR

Is it hip to be square in Danish?


What is firkantet? 

The word firkant is a square – literally, a “four-side”.

If something is firkantet it is “square shaped” or “squared” (meaning to resemble a square, not multiplied by itself).


While this literal meaning is not incorrect and can be used and will be understood correctly in the right context, it’s not the normal use of firkantet.

It can also be used as an adjective to describe something or someone as inflexible, strict or somewhat set in their ways.

Why do I need to know firkantet?

We’ve previously written about the word langhåret (“long-haired”) which, like firkantet, has both literal and figurative meanings, and the figurative meanings are opposites in some senses, which can make them easier to remember.

While langhåret means a concept that is very abstract, philosophical, or unrealistic, firkantet is much easier to, erm, put in a box with a label on.

If a person is set in their ways and doesn’t like to change their methods, they might be described as firkantet. A set of rules which can often be impractical but always strictly applied are also firkantet.

Something very simple and without any nuance is also firkantet, making it easier to understand. It is this use that is closest to being an opposite of langhåret, in my experience.


Han er en meget firkantet mand, så du skal ikke spørge ham, om han vil købe Heinz i stedet for Beauvais ketchup.

He’s very set in his ways, so don’t ask him to buy Heinz Ketchup instead of Beauvais.

Reglerne er meget firkantede. Går du på græsset, får du en bøde. Der er ingen undtagelser.

The rules are very clear. If you walk on the grass, you will receive a fine. There are no exceptions.

I firserne så bilerne langt mere firkantet ud, end de gør i dag.

Cars had a far more square-shaped appearance in the 1980s than they do now.


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