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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: 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”.