Danish word of the day: Grænsesøgende

Michael Barrett
Michael Barrett - [email protected]
Danish word of the day: Grænsesøgende

Photo by Francesco Ungaro on Unsplash and Nicolas Raymond/FlickR

For the daredevils amongst us.


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.


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