Swedish words that will change how you look at life

Photo: Colin W


Swedish words that will change how you look at life

They say you can tell a lot about a culture by the words that they use. The fun-loving and nature-appreciating Swedes have many words that show their approach to life.

Sure they have a word that means “that feeling you get when you sit in a warm seat,” which is an expression we wish we had in the English language. However, their special words go deeper than that.  When you have a word to explain an entire experience, it helps you to see the world a little differently. Here are a few examples:

Livsnjutare –

Some would translate this to simple hedonism but it is more than this. It’s an absolute love for life and living life to its extreme. We could all use a little livsnjutare in our attitudes.


When your language has a verb meaning to “take a coffee break,” it becomes obvious that the Swedes know that more work, does not mean better work. That philosophy is something we Americans could definitely learn from. In fact, Swedes fika daily to socialize, have a break and enjoy the company of friends and colleagues alike. Fika traditionally is accompanied by sweets and cinnamon rolls. Often management will even join and both personal and professional matters will be discussed.

Smultronställe –

We love this one, and it illustrates the whimsical nature of the Swedish culture. It means “place of wild strawberries” but it can mean any hidden spot that makes you happy and feel free of sadness. This can be a favorite tree or even an out-of-the-way café. Do you have a smultronställe in your life?

Gökotta –

If you haven’t picked up on it, there is a running theme here, and gökotta is no different. It means “to have a picnic at dawn to hear the first bird’s song,” or to simply appreciate nature. How can you not love this!

Mångata –

Have you ever gazed appreciatively at the road-like reflection the moon makes in the water? If so this is mångata. It’s a mesmerizing trance of Shakespearean proportions on midnight summer’s eve. One ponders and contemplates the beauty and ethereal nature of the world.


Energy, vitality, strength. The ability to manage. You might think that it sounds like Orks from lord of the rings, and while Orks are symbols of strength and vitality, orka is not just having lots of energy and strength. It’s having passion, being capable in what you do.

Yes, words truly shape who we are and how we perceive life. Did you ever even think about having “a picnic at dawn to hear the first bird’s song” till you read this?

Do you have a special place that you have struggled to describe, what it means to you? These Swedish words are expressions of living – it’s worth the effort to pronounce these tongue twisters for the joy these words deliver. You will find yourself, refreshed and rejuvenated with greater orka and appreciating livsnjutare in your special smultronställe. Words to truly live by.

© 2023 Swedish Match. All right reserved.

icon_facebook icon_twitter icon_email

Log in with your credentials

Forgot your details?