Å ha bein i nesa
Translation: To have bones in your nose
Meaning: To be determined and capable.
Jeg har en høne å plukke med deg
Translation: I have a hen to pluck with you
Meaning: To have an issue with someone that you want to discuss with them; to have a bone to pick with someone.
Å være født bak en brunost
Translation: To be born behind a brown cheese
Meaning: To be stupid (brown cheese or “mysost” is a Norwegian national treasure, a type of almost caramel-like goat’s cheese).
Å være midt i smørøyet
Translation: To be in the middle of the butter eye
Meaning: To be in a great place (the smørøye is the lovely buttery hollow left by the melting scoop of butter atop a warm bowl of porridge such as risgrøt).
Å koka bort i kålen
Translation: To boil away/into nothing in the cabbage
Meaning: When an idea or plan comes to nothing through waffling. It is thought to come from meat being reduced to nothing when cooked in cabbage stew for a long time.
Å tråkke i salaten
Translation: To step in the salad
Meaning: To make a faux pas.
Å grave ned stridsøksen
Translation: To bury the battle axe
Meaning: To bury the hatchet. And similarly…
Å røyke fredspipe
Translation: To smoke a peace pipe
Meaning: To make up with someone following a disagreement.
Å være pling i bollen
Translation: To be a ping in the bowl
Meaning: To be empty-headed/stupid (from the “ping”-like noise an empty bowl makes when you tap it).
Å få blod på tannen
Translation: To get blood on your tooth
Meaning: To become inspired/driven to do something.
Å stå med skjegget i postkassa
Translation: To stand with your beard in the post box
Meaning: To have ended up in a stupid situation, possibly cheated into it.
Å være helt Nils
Translation: To be completely Nils
Meaning: To be silly/stupid (Nils is a male name. No idea what poor Nils has ever done).
Man skal ikke skue hunden på hårene
Translation: You shouldn’t judge the dog on its hairs
Meaning: You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.
Å skrive noe bak øret
Translation: To write something behind the ear
Meaning: To make a mental note of something; to make sure to remember something.
Å snake rett fra leveren
Translation: To speak directly from the liver
Meaning: To speak plainly/truthfully without sugar-coating.
Der er ugler i mosen
Translation: There are owls in the bog
Meaning: There is something secretive/sinister about a situation. Originally “Der er ulver i mosen” (there are wolves in the bog).
Å sette det lengste beinet foran
Translation: To put the longest leg in front
Meaning: To hurry/run.
Å ta beina på nakken
Translation: To put your legs on your neck
Meaning: To run away from something.
Å ha en finger med i spillet
Translation: To have a finger included in the game
Meaning: To play a part in something (often something sneaky).
Det er helt Texas!
Translation: That’s completely Texas!
Meaning: That’s crazy! (From associations with the Wild West from old Western movies.)
Many Norwegian sayings are the same or similar to ones in Danish or Swedish. To stay within Norwegian borders and get to know this ski-loving, Viking-like, polar bear-infested nation, take a peek at stereotypes that Norwegians hate.
Featured image by Arnstein Bjone.