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Danish word of the day: Trivsel

A word that expresses a feeling of well-being.

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”.

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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.