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Danish word of the day: Sludder

Today’s word can be hard to understand.

What is sludder? 

Sludder has its roots in the verb at sludre, meaning to speak in a way that makes no sense, is difficult to understand or is incoherent.

It can also mean to chat informally about interesting everyday topics.

Sludder is the noun form of this, so it means talk or statements that are nonsensical, illogical or incoherent. “A load of rubbish”, to use a colloquial British phrase.

Similarly to the verb form, it can also be the noun for informal chat about a topic considered to be relatively safe ground.

Although it sounds similar to the word for sleet, slud, there’s no immediate connection between the two.

Why do I need to know sludder?

There are a number of ways you might hear sludder deployed by Danes in casual conversation.

For example, someone might exclaim sludder! in the middle of a sentence if they realised they’ve got some detail wrong, like a name or a date, and need to correct themselves.

In a more confrontational situation, another person’s statement might be described as sludder, for example during a political debate.

A sludder for en sladder (literally, “nonsense in exchange for gossip”) uses sludder in combination with a similar sounding word, sladder, which means gossip. The expression means an evasive or noncommittal answer to a question, or sometimes a discussion about something inconsequential.


Vi ses kl. 16… ej sludder! Jeg får først fri kl. 19.

I’ll see you at 4pm… no that’s nonsense! I don’t finish work until 7.

Der er jo sludder at påstå, at det sjældent blæser i Danmark.

It’s nonsense to claim it’s rarely windy in Denmark.

Vi fik lige en sludder for en sladder, men så skulle jeg videre.

We had a quick chat, but then I had to go.

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Danish word of the day: Idræt

A sporty word that doesn’t quite mean “sport”, but does tell us something about shared Scandinavian identity.

Danish word of the day: Idræt

What is idræt?

Idræt means “sports” even though the word sport exists in Danish. 

In modern Danish, you’ll most likely hear it as the name of a school subject (the equivalent of P.E.), but idræt has been around since the nineteenth century and comes from the Icelandic íþrótt, which also means “sport”. 

The Icelandic íþrótt originated in the Old Norse íþrótt (“art, craft, skill, sport”) which is itself a compound of  (“work, diligence, id”) and þrótr (“bravery, strength, powers”).

So why not just sport? Well, simply put, sport is not Scandinavian in origin. The English word “sport” comes from the Old French desportdeport which meant “game, amusement” – think of the games in Olympic Games. 

Íþrótt was instead borrowed from Icelandic as a more Nordic alternative to the English-French sport during the heyday of a movement called Nordism, which stemmed from Scandinavism, also known as Scandinavianism or pan-Scandinavianism. 

Why do I need to know idræt?

So what was Scandinavism? In short, it is the idea that the Scandinavian countries should be closer, perhaps even one country. The movement was primarily literary, linguistic and cultural, promoting a shared Scandinavian cultural heritage.

Scandinavism was started by Danish and Swedish university students in the 1840s, in the southern Swedish region of Skåne, and paralleled the unifications happening in Italy and Germany during the same period. It lost its momentum after Denmark lost the Second Schleswig-Holstein War in 1864 and the King of Sweden and Norway declined to help the Danes in the conflict.

The movement also promoted the close relation of the Scandinavian languages, although not necessarily a new common “Scandinavian” language.

It should be noted here that Norwegian, Swedish and Danish are considered mutually intelligible, although any Swede spending a weekend trying to talk to Danes in Copenhagen may disagree with that assessment.

Nevertheless, some linguists go as far as to say the three are a language continuum, or in other words, dialects of the same language: the North Germanic Dialect Continuum.

Icelandic and Faroese are different enough to be regarded as separate languages, but they should perhaps also be included as belonging in terms of culture.