The Icelandic language throws up hilarious tongue-twisters, 64 letter words (yes really) and unique phrases. Almost unchanged from its Old Norse origin, the language fascinates many with its cultural expressions and makes us laugh with its plain weirdness. Saying that, here are 10 brilliant Icelandic phrases to dot down before your visit to the ‘Land of Fire and Ice’.
KEMUR ALLT MEÐ KALDA VATNINU (It all comes with cold water)
Icelandic language is all about positivity. This phrase calls us to be patient and reminds us that everything will work out. If something’s troubling you today – just remember that ‘it all comes with cold water.’
RÚSÍNAN Í PYLSUENDANUM (The raisin at the end of the hot dog)
This phrase describes a pleasant and/or unexpected surprise. It’s used cheerfully by locals. For example, ‘dinner with my old friend last night was the raisin at the end of the hot dog!’
ENGINN VERÐUR ÓBARINN BISKUP (Nobody becomes an unbeaten bishop)
Meaning hard work pays off. This one originates from the 12th century Icelandic bishop, Bishop Guðmundur Arason, who worked notoriously hard to achieve status. For example: ‘I am studying all evening because nobody becomes an unbeaten bishop.’
RELATED CONTENT: 13 strange and interesting facts about Iceland
GLUGGAVEÐUR (window weather)
We’ve all felt this. This phrase refers to when the weather outside is worse than how it looks through your window. A fitting phrase for Iceland’s extreme weather. ‘I was ready for a nice walk but then left the house and realised it was just window weather.’
GEFA UNDIR FÓTINN (give under the foot)
Used to describe flirting. You may hear this strange and amusing phrase in bars and clubs in Reykjavik. For example: ‘He was definitely giving you under the foot last time you saw each other.’
BÍTA Á JAXLINN (bite the molar)
This phrase speaks to Iceland’s Viking roots and steel resolve. It means to grit your teeth and carry on with something even when it gets tough. For example: ‘I’ve just studied for 2 hours, but will bite the molar and keep going because I have an exam tomorrow.’
RELATED CONTENT: Iceland travel guide: everything you need to know before you go
ÉG KEM ALVEG AF FJÖLLUM (I come completely from the mountains)
This funny phrase describes when you have absolutely no idea what is happening. For example ‘Wait, what are you talking about, I come completely from the mountains!’
RATILJÓST (enough light to navigate)
Are you a midnight muncher? Or a secret cave explorer? Ratiljóst describes the moment when you have just enough light to move around and do what you need to.
AÐ LEGGJA HÖFUÐIÐ Í BLEYTI (put your head in water)
að leggja höfuðið í bleyti means putting your head in water. But with many Icelandic language phrases, this shouldn’t be taken literally! Similar to ‘sleep on it’, it refers to when you need to think more to figure something out.
GET INSPIRED BY: ‘Iceland including Blue Lagoon’ tour with Trafalgar
NÚ DUGA ENGIN VETTLINGATÖK (no mitten grabbing)
Another phrase with Icelandic weather origins. This is used when describing something you want done carefully. ‘Hey, I’m cooking for my girlfriend, I need no mitten grabbing!
Well, there you have it. The Icelandic language at its weird and wonderful best! Why not tell us your favourite phrase in the comments below?