Local Lingo

Allemannsretten (all-eh-mahnz-ret-ehn) Norwegian – “Freedom to roam”. The right that anyone has to roam at another person’s property. Most of these originally enforced rights have been statutory since 1957 through the Outdoor Recreations Act (Friluftsloven). They are based on respect for nature, and all visitors are expected to pay attention to farmers, landowners and other users, and to safeguard the environment. Although the practice of freedom to roam has long traditions in Norway and in most Scandinavian countries, there is no distinctive Norwegian or Scandinavian phenomenon. A widespread view is that freedom to roam is a special Norwegian phenomenon. But we are not the only ones. And neither were we the first. A number of other nations, such as Austria, Switzerland, Germany and England, have a right of freedom to roam or elements of this in their legal system.

Bunad (boo-nahd) Norwegian – “Folklore costume”.Bunad is a Norwegians party dress (folklore costume) designed and inspired by Norwegian folk dresses, ie traditional apparel used by the peasant population in parts of Norway in the 17th-18th century. For almost 150 years, Norwegians have used their folklore costume on different occasions and for different purposes. The general and popular use of bunad in Norway is unique in European context. While in other countries bunads are used in the context of folk dance, bunad in Norway is a party of clothing used by most people, young and old. Today, bunad use is more popular than ever, and there are around 450 outfits and garments that are called bunad, a collection that is very rich and diverse.

Friluftsliv () Norwegian – “Outdoor life”. Friluftsliv is a Norwegian term that describes staying outdoors, being active and using nature as a living room/place. Hiking, cycling, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, lightning fire, climbing mountain peaks and sleeping in tents are examples of nature activities most Norwegians do once or more times during life. The fact that “Norwegians are born with skis on the legs” is a familiar term in Norway, and most Norwegian children learn to ski from their parents, kindergarten or school. Both cross country skiing and alpine skiing are typical recreational activities for adults and children during winter. In Norway, outdoor life is an important part of people’s lives. “The freedom to roam”, which allows everyone to travel and stay in the outskirts of Norway, gives Norwegians very good opportunities for outdoor activities.

Hygge (HUE-gah) Danish – A quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being (regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture). In both Danish and Norwegian, hygge refers to “a form of everyday togetherness”, “a pleasant and highly valued everyday experience of safety, equality, personal wholeness and a spontaneous social flow. The noun hygge includes something nice, cozy, safe and known, referring to a psychological state.  “a concept, originating in Denmark, of creating cosy and convivial atmospheres that promote wellbeing. New Yorker Article. SEE ALSO koselig (Norwegian) and mysig (Swedish)

Hytteliv () Norwegian – “Cabin life”. Many Norwegians own or have access to a cottage either on the mountain or on the coast. Norwegians often travel to the cabin on weekends and school holidays, mainly for outdoor activities and for disconnecting from everyday stress and duties. Here you will find peace and inspiration in covenant with nature. A few decades ago, the cabins were often simple without water and electricity, but today many cabins are similar to the standard of a housing house with both shower, dishwasher and TV.

Janteloven (yahn-tuh-loh-vehn) (link to post) – There are ten rules in the law as defined by author Aksel Sandemose in his novel A Fugitive Crosses His Tracks (En flyktning krysser sitt spor 1933), all expressive of variations on a single theme and usually referred to as a homogeneous unit: You are not to think you’re anyone special or that you’re better than us. These ten principles or commandments are often claimed to form the “Jante’s Shield” of the Scandinavian people. In the book, the Janters who transgress this unwritten ‘law’ are regarded with suspicion and some hostility, as it goes against the town’s communal desire to preserve harmony, social stability and uniformity.

Koselig (kosh-lee) Norwegian – a Norwegian variation on the Danish concept of hygge; also related to the Swedish mysig. Cozy, warmth; a cozy feeling spawning from enjoying simple pleasures in life, like a good evening in front of the fire in a snowed-in cabin, or a night of reminiscing with a close friend.

Lagom (lah-gome) Swedish – “just the right amount”. enough, sufficient, adequate, just right. Vogue Article.

Matpakke (maht-pah-kuh) Norwegian – “Packed lunch”. Another typical Norwegian tradition is packed lunches and thermos. Packed lunches are ready-made food packed and taken out of the house. A typical Norwegian food package often consists of bread slices with toppings. When Norwegians are out on tour, food and a thermos with cocoa or coffee are usually included. For Norwegians it is also common to have a ready-made lunch package at work for lunch, and in the Norwegian school it is common for children to bring a packed lunch, which is called school food or lunch.

Mysig () Swedish – cozy (affording comfort and warmth) pleasant, comfortable, agreeable. Related to the Danish hygge and Norwegian koselig.

Tur (toor) Norwegian – “hiking”. God tur.


“A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.