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Danish word of the day: Uhørt

Have you ever heard of this Danish word before?

What is uhørt? 

At høre is the verb “to hear”, so if something is described in the past tense form hørt it has been heard.

The u is a negation prefix, meaning uhørt is “unheard”.

However, this word is not really used in its literal sense. If you want to say you didn’t hear something, you would probably say det kan jeg ikke høre (“I can’t hear it”) or det hørte jeg ikke (“I didn’t hear it”).

A more passive expression is to describe a sound or noise using the adjective hørbar (“audible”). An example of this might be der var en rumlen, som næsten ikke var hørbar, men så blev den højere og højere (”there was a rumbling that was almost inaudible, but then got louder and louder”).

Why do I need to know uhørt?

If you’re not using uhørt to describe whether a sound is audible, what’s it for?

Uhørt is normally negative, describing behaviour or an incident that is unprecedented. In this sense it’s quite similar to “unheard of”. But whereas “unheard of” can also mean unknown or obscure, this isn’t the case for uhørt.

So while the meaning “so unusual it’s never been heard of before” is accurate for uhørt, it only applies in a negative sense.

When someone is giving a speech, by the way, you might find a member of the audience breaks out with a shout of hørt! This is not anything to do with uhørt, but is a way of expressing agreement with the speaker, like saying “hear, hear!” in English.


Det er helt uhørt, at regering fjerner en helligdag.

It’s shocking that the government has abolished a public holiday.

Den uhørt høje inflation har ramt mange borgeres privatøkonomier i Danmark.

Unprecedented high inflation has damaged many people’s private finances in Denmark.

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For members


Danish word of the day: Trivsel

A word that expresses a feeling of well-being.

Danish word of the day: Trivsel

What is trivsel? 

Trivsel is a noun which is difficult to pin to a direct English translation. It comes from the verb at trives, which is a little easier, meaning “to thrive”.

At trives is used in a broader range of situations than “thrive”, however. You can say han trives til fodbold (“he’s thriving at football practice”), but also han trives i sin nye skole.

This latter sentence literally means “he’s thriving at his new school” but doesn’t exactly mean “thriving” in the way you’d understand the word in English. As well as growing physically or mentally, trives can also mean to find yourself in a generally good situation, to feel at home in your surroundings or to be comfortable and able to develop in the work or school situation you are in.

So han trives i skolen doesn’t necessarily mean “he’s getting good marks and learning a lot at school”, although this may also be the case. Instead, it can mean something closer to “he likes his school and is happy to go there”.

Why do I need to know trivsel?

As the noun form of at trives, trivsel is normally used to describe the level of well-being of someone in a particular context. It’s common to hear it used about children and young people, but it’s not limited to that particular topic.

You might have read a sentence such as det er afgørende for børns trivsel, at man kan komme i skole og være sammen med klassekammerater (”it’s crucial for the well-being of children that they can come into school and see their classmates”) during the Covid-19 pandemic, when there was discussion about the impact of lockdowns on young people’s development and mental health.

The opposite of trivsel is mistrivsel. This is even harder to translate unless you just think of it as being an opposite. “Lack of well-being” or a “well-being deficit” loosely convey its meaning, and it can also just mean “feeling bad”.

Man risikerer mistrivsel blandt børn og unge, hvis skolerne bliver ved med at lukket på længere sigt is a negated way of saying the previous example sentence: ”You are at risk of damaging the well-being and development of children and young people if schools remain closed in the longer term”.