Kalsarikänni, or Getting Drunk in Your Underwear, Is Finland's Version of Hygge

iStock/CatLane
iStock/CatLane

Hygge, the Danish term that loosely translates to "coziness," doesn't have an exact English equivalent, but that hasn't kept the concept from gaining an international following. It has even made it into the Oxford English Dictionary. Hygge has opened the world up to a whole universe of comforting concepts—often, but not always Scandinavian or Nordic in origin—that encompass the full breadth of amazing, underrated life experiences. Enter kalsarikänni, a Finnish term that we just learned about from The Guardian.

Kalsarikänni is the Finnish concept of taking off your pants and getting sloshed on your couch. The term roughly translates to "pantsdrunk" and means drinking at home, alone, in your underwear. Whereas terms like hygge or the Swedish lagom (meaning "just the right amount") imply a certain wholesomeness, kalsarikänni (here's how to pronounce it) celebrates an activity that is indulgent, selfish, and so, so satisfying.

Though the term involves staying home, you don't necessarily need to be totally alone to enjoy kalsarikänni. It can also be accomplished with a good friend, roommate, or partner. And while you can do it in your underwear, pajamas are also acceptable. It just has to be comfortable.

Take it from Miska Rantanen, whose new book, Pantsdrunk: Kalsarikanni: The Finnish Path to Relaxation, is all about the subject. (Its UK title is the more descriptive Pantsdrunk: The Finnish Art of Drinking at Home. Alone. In Your Underwear.) Here are the steps he suggests in The Guardian:

"Pack the fridge full of budget-brand artisanal beer, stock up on dips, crisps and chocolate—and make sure you have the latest psychological drama ready to watch on Netflix. When you get home, immediately strip off your outer layers of clothing (the basic rule: take off anything that's even mildly uncomfortable or formal). Dressing for pantsdrunk generally means undressing. Gradually you'll reach the most pleasurable moment of your striptease: the slow peeling off of your sweaty socks from your feet, a sensation that deserves its own Scandi expression. Now saunter to the kitchen and grab one of the cold beers from the fridge. Sink down on the sofa in your underwear and let out a deep sigh of relief."

Doesn't that sound wonderful? We know what we'll be doing tonight, that's for sure.

And yes, there is an emoji for it.

[h/t The Guardian]

Why 'Run' Is The Most Complex Word in the English Language

iStock.com/VectorStory
iStock.com/VectorStory

English can be hard for other language speakers to learn. To use just one example, there are at least eight different ways of expressing events in the future, and conditional tenses are another matter entirely. For evidence of the many nuances and inconsistencies of the English tongue, look no further than this tricky poem penned in 1920. (For a sample: “Hiccough has the sound of cup. My advice is to give up!”)

As author Simon Winchester wrote for The New York Times, there’s one English word in particular that’s deceptively simple: run. As a verb, it boasts a record-setting 645 definitions. Peter Gilliver, a lexicographer and associate editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, spent nine months sussing out its many shades of meaning.

“You might think this word simply means ‘to go with quick steps on alternate feet, never having both or (in the case of many animals) all feet on the ground at the same time,’” Winchester writes. “But no such luck: that is merely sense I.1a, and there are miles to go before the reader of this particular entry may sleep.”

This wasn’t always the case, though. When the first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary was published in 1928, the word with the most definitions was set. However, the word put later outpaced it, and run eventually overtook them both as the English language's most complex word. Winchester thinks this evolution is partly due to advancements in technology (for instance, “a train runs on tracks” and “an iPad runs apps”).

He believes the widespread use of run—and its intricate web of meanings—is also a reflection of our times. “It is a feature of our more sort of energetic and frantic times that set and put seem, in a peculiar way, sort of rather stodgy, rather conservative,” Gilliver told NPR in an interview.

So the next time you tell your boss you "want to run an idea" by them, know that you’re unconsciously expressing your enthusiasm—as well as all the other subtleties wrapped up in run that previous words like set failed to capture.

[h/t The New York Times]

11 Little-Known Words for Specific Family Members

iStock.com/kali9
iStock.com/kali9

The words we use for family members in English are specific about some things, and vague about others. Our vocabulary marks a distinction between our mother and her sisters (some languages use one word for mother and maternal aunts), but doesn't say whether siblings are older or younger (some languages have different words for brother and sister depending on their age relative to you). We lack words that pick out particular family members (we have cousin, but what about child-of-my-father's-brother?) as well as certain general terms (we have siblings for brothers-and-sisters, but what about nieces-and-nephews?)

If you look hard enough, you can find some words to help fill in the gaps. Here are 11 unusual English kinship words for family members.

1. Patruel

This one means "child of your paternal uncle." Also, a child of your own brother. It hasn't gotten a lot of use in the past few centuries, but it was once convenient to have a term for this relationship because it factored into royal succession considerations. The first citation for it in the OED, from 1538, reads, "Efter his patruell deid withoutin contradictioun he wes king."

2. Avuncle

Your mother's brother. Latin distinguished between patruus, father's brother, and avunculus, mother's brother. (There was also amita, father's sister, and matertera, mother's sister.) It's the root of the word avuncular, meaning "having to do with uncles" or "uncle-like" (i.e., kind and friendly, like an uncle). You won't find the word avuncle in the dictionary, but it has been used in anthropology texts and in papers concerning royal matters.

3. Niblings

Your nieces and nephews. You won't find this in the dictionary either, but use of this term seems to be growing among favorite aunts and uncles who want an easy way to refer to their little bundles of sibling-provided joy in a collective or gender-neutral way.

4. Fadu

Your father's sister. Latin amita covers this relationship, but we don't have to reach that far back to find an English equivalent. Old English made a distinction between aunts and uncles depending on whether they were maternal or paternal. We lost all that when we borrowed the more general aunt and uncle from French.

5. Modrige

"Your mother's sister," from Old English.

6. Fœdra

"Your father's brother," from Old English.

7. Eam

Your mother's brother. It survived in some dialects as eme, with a more general meaning of uncle or friend, into the 19th century.

8. Brother-uterine

Your half-brother from the same mother. This is a term used in old legal documents or other discussions of inheritance and succession. Half-siblings of the same mother are uterine and of the same father are consanguine.

9. Brother-german

Full brother, sharing both parents. Nothing to do with Germany. The german here is related to germane, which originally meant "of the same parents" and later came to mean just related or relevant.

10. Double cousin

Full first cousin, sharing all four grandparents. This comes about when a pair of sisters marries a pair of brothers, among other circumstances.

11. Machetonim

The parents of your child's spouse. Your child's in-laws. Ok, this is a Yiddish word, but one that, like a lot of Yiddish words, has poked its way into English because it fills a gap. When it comes to marriage, this can be a very important relationship, so it’s good to have a word for it. If your parents get along with their machetonim, the family—the whole mishpocheh—will be happier.

This story was republished in 2019.

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