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Danish word of the day: Tværtimod

We’ll cut across with another word of the day.

What is tværtimod? 

An adverb derived from two different words: tvær and imod.

While the meaning of imod in English, “towards” or “against”, is quite unambiguous, the first half of tværtimod is a bit more versatile.

As an adjective, tvær is normally used to describe a person – often a small child – who is displaying a grumpy, uncooperative, or generally unsociable mood. An example of a sentence in which it could be used is: Hun var rigtig tvær da hun vågnede i morges, men hun blev glad da hun kom i børnehaven (“She was very stroppy when she woke up this morning, but was in a good mood when she got to kindergarten”).

It is also often used as a prefix in adjectives. Tværgående, for example, means “intersecting” (en tværgående vej is “an intersecting street”), while tværfaglig means “multidisciplinary”, usually used in research and academic contexts.

You can also tvære something. As a verb, the word can have different meanings, ranging from flattening or crushing something to treating somebody very harshly.

The range of uses of the root tvære described above seem to fit with the closest translation of tværtimod, which is “on the contrary”.

Why do I need to know tværtimod? 

With its dictionary meaning of “directly opposite to what was just discussed, opposite or reversed”, you can use this word to emphasise a point.

It can be placed in the middle of a sentence or dropped in at the end for extra impact:

Jeg er slet ikke træt af at spise vegetarisk indimellem, tværtimod synes jeg det er en måde, man kan bidrage til miljøet på.

I don’t at all mind eating vegetarian occasionally, on the contrary I think it’s a way to do your bit for the environment.

Min cykel er blevet stjålet og det bryder jeg mig ikke om. Tværtimod.

My bicycle has been stolen and I do not find that pleasing. Quite the opposite.

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For members


Danish word of the day: Grænsesøgende

For the daredevils amongst us.

Danish word of the day: Grænsesøgende

What is grænsesøgende? 

A grænse is a border, and søgende is the present participle form of the verb at søge, in other words, “a person who is searching”.

This makes the literal translation of grænsesøgende “person who searches for a border”.

More accurately, it is used to describe a person or a person’s actions that come close to the limits of what is either considered safe, acceptable or possible.

If you do something that is grænsesøgende, then, you are “testing the limits” or “trying your luck”.

Why do I need to know grænsesøgende?

A quick note on grammar: Danish does not use present participles in the same way as English. If you want to say “I am searching” in Danish, you would use the regular present tense jeg søger (“I search”).

The structure Jeg er søgende does not really make sense, because søgende is used more like an adjective. Jeg er den søgende means something like “I am the one who is searching”.

Other Danish adjectives have meanings close to grænsesøgende. For example, dumdristig comes from dum (“stupid”) and dristig (“brave”) and can be translated to “foolhardy”. Udfordrende means “challenging” or “willing to challenge”.

The difference between these and grænsesøgende is that there’s almost an experimental subtext to the latter word. It is used for someone who is not just being daring but who is testing the limits of what they can do, without necessarily knowing what is beyond or what the consequences might be.

This could be anyone from a child refusing to put their shoes on before going out, to a scientist putting a new theory into practice for the first time.

A possible antonym to grænsesøgende could be regelrytter.


Hun var frygtløs og grænsesøgende, og havde altid drømt om at bestige Everest om vinteren.

She was fearless and wanted to break barriers, and had always dreamed of climbing Everest in the winter.