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Danish word of the day: Trodsalder

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Danish word of the day: Trodsalder

Photo by Francesco Ungaro on Unsplash and Nicolas Raymond/FlickR

Anyone bringing up small children in Denmark will know this word, but it might be a mystery to other foreigners.

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What is trodsalder? 

Trodsalder is the age of toddler tantrums; what in English-speaking countries is known as 'the terrible twos', but which often extends to three and four-year-olds too. 

You'll usually see it in the definite form, trodsalderen where the final 'n' is the equivalent of English 'the'. It is a compound word combining trods, meaning 'defiance' (note: trods is also a preposition meaning 'despite’) and alderen meaning 'the age of', and therefore literally means 'the age of defiance'. 

It might be heard in Denmark as a one-word excuse from embarrassed Mums and Dads as their child lies shrieking on a supermarket floor, red-faced, hammering the ground, and refusing to be moved. 

Why do I need to know trodsalder? 

Trodsalderen is the subject of innumerable articles in newspapers, magazines and parenting blogs with titles like: Hvordan håndterer man børn i trodsalderen (How to handle children in the terrible twos), Myten om trodsalderen (The myth of the terrible twos), and Sådan overlever du trodsalderen (How you survive the terrible twos). 

You will sometimes hear the word trodsig (defiant) applied to toddlers in the trodsalderen, although it can equally describe a rebellious teenager, a stubborn adult, or even an inanimate object like a car that won’t start.

The word trods is even more commonly found in the wording på trods af, meaning “in spite of” or “despite”.

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Examples

På trods af, at hun skulle være i trodsalderen, er hun altså rigtig god til at tage tøj på.

Despite supposedly being in the ’terrible twos’, she’s actually very good at putting her clothes on.

Kender du begrebet ‘threenager’? Det bruger man om lidt større børn i trodsalderen.

Have you heard of the term ‘threenager’? It’s used instead of ‘terrible twos’ for slightly older kids.

Ordet trodsalder beskriver perioder i barnets udvikling, når det tester grænser.

The term ‘age of defiance’ describes periods in a child's development when they test boundaries. 

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