For members


Danish word of the day: Omstridt

We hope you’ll agree this is a word worth knowing.

What is omstridt? 

Omstridt is an adjective meaning something around which there prevails a lot of disagreement or conflict. This could be a topical discussion related to politics, or a physical conflict.

The word is made up of the adverb om, which usually means something similar to “around” or sometimes “again”; and the verb at stride, meaning to fight a battle or be in conflict.

Examples of these two components individually are at lave noget om, meaning to “start something again from the beginning”; and at vende om, which is “to turn around”. The latter is more important in omstridt.

If something is said to stride imod something else, the two sides contradict each other. Det strider imod min moral means “that goes against my morals”.

Two opposing sides can strides against each other: Frankrig og Argentina strides om VM-pokalen (”France and Argentina are battling each other for the World Cup trophy”).

In this last sentence strides and om are next to each other, giving the same effect as the composite word omstridt.

Why do I need to know omstridt?

It’s a word you might commonly see in print, particularly news coverage. This is because it describes something around which there is an ongoing conflict where there are two (or more) clearly defined, opposing camps.

The conflict maybe over an idea or it may also be a physical one, thus omstridt is also used in war reporting.

In the context of a debate, the disagreement or discussion is more likely to be described as omstridt the longer it has gone on for.


Stort flertal vedtager omstridt ghettoplan

Large parliamentary majority passes divisive ghetto bill

Sydkorea udvider luftforsvarszone i omstridt område

South Korea extends no-fly zone in disputed region

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For members


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.