Danish word of the day: Nytårsforsæt

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

Photo by Francesco Ungaro on Unsplash and Nicolas Raymond/FlickR

It’s a word to remember all year round.


What is nytårsforsæt? 

Nytår is “New Year” (from ny, “new”, and år, “year”).

Forsæt is a word that is most common in legal terminology, where it means “intent”. So a forsætlig lovovertrædelse (“intentional offence”) is one that was committed on purpose and can therefore be given a harsher punishment.

In the context of nytårsforsæt, the forsæt is an intention or decision to do something you haven’t been doing up to that point. The normal word for “decision” in spoken Danish is beslutning.


This means that nytårsforsæt is a New Year’s resolution: a decision made at the turn of the year to do something new or differently from now on.

Like New Year’s resolutions anywhere else, a nytårsforsæt could be an act: eat more healthily, exercise more, read more books; or a way of thinking: don’t stress about the small things, live for the moment, be more patient.

Why do I need to know nytårsforsæt?

It’s the time of year when many New Year’s resolutions are being made (and possibly also broken), so you might have heard the term already.

However, it is sometimes replaced in everyday speech by the incorrect nytårsfortsæt – a word that doesn’t actually exist but, because fortsæt (with a “t”) means “continue”, kind of makes sense in the context of a New Year’s resolution.

If you split the word fortsæt into fort sæt, it can also mean a “fort set”: in other words, a set that can be used to make a fort (think building bricks or Lego).

People keen to point out the incorrect word might comment that their only nytårsfortsæt this year will be made from small plastic bricks, so remember to pronounce your New Year’s resolution without the t.


Mit nytårsforsæt er at være bedre til at tilgive folk, når de begår små fejl.

 My New Year’s resolution is to be better at forgiving people when they make small mistakes.


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