Swedish Insults & Swear Words: The Ultimate Guide

Last Updated on Categorized as Language
hero swedish insults
hero swedish insults

It’s a well-known unwritten law across this globe of ours that one must learn how to insult someone and swear in a foreign language before one truly is accepted among the locals.

You may scuff and exhale abruptly at this statement, but research shows that swearing can be a sign of higher intelligence, so let’s not discount its’ merits just yet.

The tricky thing with insults though, is that some can be fun and jovial while others can be harsh and hurtful. To avoid workplace mishaps I’ve divided these insults and swear words into the following severity levels:

  • SFW = Safe For Work
  • SFW-ish = Sometimes Safe For Work, Sometimes Not
  • NSFW = Not Safe For Work

I also want to clarify that this list is not intended to offend or hurt anyone, but rather to shine a light on this lesser-known side of Swedish linguistics, as well as celebrate all the weird ways language can emphasize emotion and build relationships among us humans.

If you don’t particularly care for foul language, no worries! In that case, I’d suggest hopping over to this article featuring a more general look on each Nordic language and how they all compare in ease of learning, beauty, practical benefits, and more.

And for those of you who want to keep exploring the dark and murky seas of Swedish insults and swear words: let’s dive right in, shall we?

1

A Guide to Swedish Insults

Swedes can be very PC sometimes — especially in certain workplaces — so use these insults at your own risk. But if you say any of these in a joking way towards a friend, you’re unlikely to get into any trouble but rather produce a laugh or two instead.

These insults do work especially well in relaxed environments and with friends who are usually up for some banter, like sports teams, tightly-knit work teams, etc.

The Classic Swedish insults (SFW)

The following classic Swedish insults can be used to verbally and jokingly acknowledge when someone has made a mistake or said something that falls in the not-so-bright category:

  • Där är inte plogat hela vägen fram till dig = The snow plow didn’t make it all the way to you” (alludes to someone not using their full brain capacity in one way or another)
  • Du är inte den vassaste kniven i lådan = “You aren’t the sharpest knife in the drawer” (suggests that someone isn’t among those who generally excel in one way or another)
  • Har du tomtar på loftet? = Do you have elves in the attic?” (questions whether someone has lost their mind in one way or another)
  • Du har inte alla hästar hemma eller? = “You don’t have all your horses in the stables do you?” (questions if someone has lost heir marbles, so to speak)
  • Hissen går inte hela vägen upp = “The elevator doesn’t reach the top floor” (suggests that someone might not be utilizing and/or consulting with their brain properly.)
  • Du har inte bägge årorna i vattnet = “You don’t have both oars in the water” (suggests someone might be conducting a task incorrectly)
  • Lamporna blinkar, bommarna är nere, men det kommer inget tåg = “The lights are flashing and the barriers are down, but there’s no train coming” (suggests that despite appearing otherwise, someone might not be operating at their full mental capacity)
  • Det är inte riktigt rätt möblerat på övervåningen hos dig = “Your top floor is not properly furnished” (suggests that someones mind might be a mess in one way or another)
  • Du har inte alla .rar-filer i releasen = “You don’t have all the .rar-files in the release” (alludes to not having all the tools or elements necessary to complete the task at hand)
  • Du är ju helt bakom flötet = “You are behind the float” (behind the curve)

Regional Insults On the Lighter Side (SFW)

Skåne:

  • Ditt ålahue = “You eelhead, you” (alludes to someone displaying the intelligence of an eel)
  • Va inte en sånn pattaglytt = “Don’t be such a teet-sucker (alludes to someone acting in a childish manner)
  • Du är en riktig klydderöv = “You are an a#$ who likes to make things harder than they are
  • Din jävla fubbick = “You damn moron

Top 30 Swedish One-Word Insults Ranked (SFW-ish)

  1. Stolpskott = Post-hit (i.e. being denied a goal in soccer by the goal frame)
  2. Skitstövel = S–t-boot
  3. Rikspucko = National fool
  4. Skojare = Dishonest person
  5. Pellejöns = Clumsy person (Pelle and Jöns are both names with no negatiove connotations)
  6. Pajas = Clown
  7. Sopa = Trash
  8. Klåpare = Someone faking a skill
  9. Spån = Sawdust
  10. Fiskmås = Seagull
  11. Slashas = Lazy person
  12. Knäppgök = Goofy cuckoo bird
  13. Fåntratt = Silly funnel
  14. Sumprunkare = The lowest-ranked fisherman staying behind on a docked boat, responsible for rocking the boat to let fresh water flow over the catch (Derogatory term for someone deemed to have less than average intelligence)
  15. Lymmel = Dishonest person
  16. Snorvalp = Snotty pup (Inexperienced person)
  17. Korvryttare = Sausage rider
  18. UFO = UFO
  19. Pappskalle = Paperhead
  20. Tölp = Rude man
  21. Flöte = Float
  22. Amöba = Amoeba
  23. Drummel = Clumbsy person
  24. Byfåne = Village idiot
  25. Pottsork = Annoying child
  26. Deghög = Pile of dow
  27. Dumbom = Mean person
  28. Bondlurk = Poor person from the countryside
  29. Fähund = Dishonest person
  30. Knäppskalle = Goofyhead

Hostile Swedish One-Word Insults (NSFW)

  • Avskum = Scum
  • Rövhatt = A#$hat
  • Ynkrygg = Coward
  • Fanskap = Devilish thing
  • Odugling = Unworthy person
  • Kräk = Vomit
  • Skit = S–t
  • Kötthuvud = Meathead
  • Ärthjärna = Peabrain
  • Drägg = Sediment
  • Arsel = A#$
  • Idiot = Idiot

Clever (But Fairly Hostile) Swedish Insults (NSFW)

  • Du är inte dum, du har bara otur när du tänker = “You’re not stupid, you’re just unlucky when you think”
  • Jag hoppas din dag blir lika trevlig som du är = “I hope your day will be as unpleasant as you are”
  • Du är inte lika stark som du luktar = “You’re not as strong as you smell”
2

A Guide to Swedish Swear Words (With Level of Severity)

SFW Swedish Swear Words

  • Vid Odens skägg! = By Odin’s beard!
  • Attans! = Dang!
  • Jäklar! = Darn!
  • Nedrans! = Doggone!
  • För bövelen! = For devil’s sake!
  • Sjutton gubbar! = Seventeen old men!
  • Vafalls! = What the heck!
  • Far och flyg! = Flee and fly!
  • Rackarns! = Rascal!
  • Järnspikar! = Iron nails!
  • Jösses Amalia! = Jeez!
  • Gudars skymning! = Dusk of the Gods!

SFW-ish Swedish Swear Words

Fan! = F–k!

Skit också! = S–t!

Helvete! = Hell!

Piss! = Piss!

Satan! = Satan!

NSFW (But Also Funny) Swedish Swear Words

Balders balle! = Balder’s d–k!

Satfläsk! = Devil’s pork!

Vid Odens ollon! = By Odin’s glans!

Kukens vrede! = The wrath of the d–k!

Pro-Tip: Swedes Love to Combine Swear Words For Maximum Effect

  • Helvetes skit
  • Helvetes jävla fanskap
  • Satan i helvetes jävla skit
  • Helvetes jävla skit-helvete
  • Jävla skitfan!
3

Insults and/or swear words that are considered taboo in Sweden

And thus not included here
  • Racial slurs are never acceptable for the majority of Swedes
  • Degrading sexist slurs may be prevalent within certain crowds, but are generally frowned upon by most Swedes


Sources:

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090713085453.htm

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By Karl Andersson

As a native Swede with a Finnish mother, Karl identifies as both Nordic and Scandinavian. He left Sweden at 19 to explore the world, and stayed abroad for almost 8 years—during which he backpacked, worked every job there was, earned a degree from UC Berkeley, and met the future mother of his children. He ultimately returned to his native Malmö with his love, where they now have 3 Swedish-American boys eager to explore the world.

5 comments

  1. I arrived here searching for some swear I hear frequently in Swedish movies when they find a dead body or something goes wrong. It sounds like fee fan but I can’t find the fee part anywhere!

    1. Fy fan!

      It’s a fairly versatile curse that can be used in amazement, disgust, pleasure, etc.

      “Damn” is what I would translate it to, because they share a similar root (hell/lucifer), are used commonly, aren’t considered very harsh, and are equally versatile.

  2. My father recalls an incident when he was small when his father, upon hitting his thumb with a hammer, uttered something that sounded (phonetically) like “twi foracken!” My grandmother got after him for the bad language. Do you have any idea what it the word or words could be, and what they mean?

    1. Hmm maybe “Fy för attans!” (pronounced “fee for ah-tuns” and equates to “damn it!” or “for crying out loud”) or something along those lines? My dad and his brothers say it all the time when they wack themselves by accident with hammers and various other tools. 🙂

      Could also be “Fy för fanken” (“fee for fun-ken”) but I have not heard this as much down here in southern Sweden.

  3. I wish you would have included a list of taboo words, including the bigoted and sexist ones. For someone who’s trying to learn the language, it would be helpful to recognize these insults so we know if we’re being insulted by others using them. It’s also helpful to learn which words to avoid using. Teaching these words doesn’t promote their usage in people who wouldn’t ordinarily use such words in their own native language otherwise. Teaching them provides a heads-up so we know if we’re being insulted by them, if it ever happens.

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