Danish word of the day: Vogn

Becky Waterton
Becky Waterton - [email protected]
Danish word of the day: Vogn

Photo by Francesco Ungaro on Unsplash and Nicolas Raymond/FlickR

This word of the day translates easily to English as ‘wagon’, but its frequent use in compound words makes it a great Danish word to have in your vocabulary.


Vogn originally comes from the Old Norse word vagn, meaning a cart or wagon, which has the same root as the German word Wagen. It's a common gender word, meaning you would say en vogn for "a cart" or vognen for "the cart". 

The word vogn can still be used in Danish to talk about a cart, wagon, carriage or any wheeled vehicle pulled by an external force, like a horse-drawn cart or hestevogn, or a train carriage. If you’ve ever taken a train in Denmark you’ve probably seen the word vogn followed by a number on your ticket or on the display inside the train, showing you which carriage you’re in or where your seat reservation is located.

It can also refer to a car, although this usage is less common in modern Danish, but you may still hear it in the phrases ringe efter en vogn (call a taxi) or tage en vogn (take a taxi).

There are a number of idiomatic phrases which use the term vogn. One of these is han/hun er ikke tabt bag en vogn (literally: he/she is not dropped behind a cart), which essentially means that the person in question is not stupid. 

Another is med på vognen, which is similar to the English phrase ‘on the bandwagon’. You could for example say someone had hoppede med på vognen (hopped on the bandwagon) if they were following along with some sort of trend.


You might see the word used in the phrase at være tredje hjul på vognen, the Danish version of the phrase ‘to be a third wheel’, particularly in a romantic relationship, although vognen is often left out here.

Another version of this phrase is at være femte hjul på vognen, which essentially means that the thing or person in question is out of place or an unnecessary addition to whatever it is you're talking about.

Although it’s useful to know these phrases, vogn is an especially handy word to know in Danish as it is so often used in compound words - some of which can even be shortened to just vogn in speech, if it’s obvious from context what kind of vogn you’re talking about.


For example, a buggy or stroller in Danish is a barnevogn, literally: ‘child wagon’ or a klapvogn (‘fold wagon’) in the case of a foldable stroller. 

A hotdog van is a pølsevogn or ‘sausage wagon’, and a shopping trolley is a customer wagon, or a kundevogn.

A van is a varevogn or ‘wares wagon’, and a tank is a kampvogn or ‘fighting wagon’.

Can you think of any other Danish words which include the word vogn?


Skal vi tage vognen med os i sommerhuset? Nej, vi kommer nok ikke til at gå så meget.

Should we take the buggy with us to the summer house? No, we’re not really going to be walking that much.

Jeg er hamrende sulten, tror lige jeg køber en pølse fra vognen derover.

I’m starving, I think I’m going to grab a hotdog from the food truck over there.

Ej det regner, jeg gider sgu ikke cykle. Skal vi tage en vogn?

Ugh it’s raining, I really can’t be bothered cycling. Should we take a taxi?


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