11 Delightful Icelandic Words and Phrases

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iStock

Hunting for new ways to express yourself that don't involve emojis? Look no further than these charming words and phrases hailing from the land of fire and ice.

1. "I COME COMPLETELY FROM THE MOUNTAINS."

Ég kem alveg af fjöllum. This phrase throws some shade at mountain dwellers, and means, “I have no idea what you’re talking about/what’s going on.”

2. "I WILL FIND OUT YOU ON A BEACH."

Ég mun finna þig í fjöru. If you're Icelandic, beware of the beach: This idiom (or threat) means, “I will get back at you,” “I’ll get my revenge,” or “Don’t make me hurt you.”

3. RATlLJÓST

If you ever need to find your way out of a cave, or just navigate to the kitchen in the middle of the night to snack on some hangikjöt, this word will come in handy—it basically translates to “enough light to navigate.”

4. GLUGGAVEÐUR

This word gets a lot of traction in Iceland: It means “window-weather.” As in, the kind of weather that’s nice to look at, but not experience.

5. "THEY SPLASH THE SKYR WHO OWN IT."

Þeir sletta skyrinu sem eiga það. Skyr is an Icelandic yogurt-like dairy product and it’s been used for sustenance as well as ammunition for years. This saying is analogous to “people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.” It’s used ironically when referencing people who think they can do anything just because they have money.

6. "THERE ARE SO MANY WONDERS IN A COW'S HEAD."

Það eru margar undur í höfuðkúpu. You might find occasion to say this anytime something strange or amazing happens. As an added bonus, it's much more elegant-sounding than “Man, the world is nutso.”

7. "TO LAY YOUR HEAD IN WATER."

Að leggja höfuðið í bleyti. While “on a pillow” might be the more logical place to rest your head, this phrase suggests you put it in water to soak when you need to spend some time working something out or coming up with a new idea. This is kind of like saying, "sleep on it."

8. "THE RAISIN AT THE END OF THE SAUSAGE."

Rúsínan í pylsuendanum. English speakers might say that a good and surprising thing that happens in addition to something that’s already awesome is a cherry on top of a sundae or the icing on top of the cake. The raisin at the end of a sausage expresses the same thought—it's a nice supplement to an already wonderful treat. Or something.

9. "NO MITTEN-GRABBING/MITTEN-TAKES."

Nú duga engin vettlingatök. When you want something done carefully and properly, this is the phrase to use.

10. "ON WITH THE BUTTER!"

Áfram með smjörið. One of Tim Gunn’s favorite phrases, “Carry on,” directly channels this Nordic saying. Keep doing what you’re doing, forge ahead, keep on keepin' on, get to work, keep moving—any of these could work on Project Runway, but “on with the butter” is definitely the catchiest.

11. VAÐLAHEIÐARVEGAVINNUVERKFÆRAGEYMSLUSKÚRAÚTIDYRALYKLAKIPPUHRINGUR

Yep, this is a word, and it means "key ring of the key chain of the outer door to the storage tool shed of the road workers on the Vaðlaheiði" from which you might be able to glean that it’s largely (OK, pretty much entirely) for show. (Go ahead—try to use it in a sentence.) The Icelandic language has a reputation for lengthy words, and this one is one of the longest of them all. Others include landbúnaðarframleiðsla, hæstaréttarmálaflutningsmaður, fjárfestingarfyrirtæki, and byggingarverkfræðingur.

This piece originally ran in 2015.

Harry Potter Fans Have Been Mispronouncing Voldemort's Name

Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. // Harry Potter Publishing Rights J.K.R.
Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. // Harry Potter Publishing Rights J.K.R.

Just last month we learned J.K. Rowling included the correct pronunciation of "Hermione" in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire to keep fans from continuing to say her name wrong. And now we find out that the vast majority of Harry Potter fans have been mispronouncing Voldemort's name for 20 years as well. We need a second to collect ourselves.

According to Cosmopolitan, List25 tweeted, “#DidYouKnow Contrary to popular belief, the ‘t’ at the end of Voldemort is silent. The name comes from the French words meaning ‘flight of death.’”

Apparently, JK Rowling also confirmed the correct, silent "t" pronunciation of Voldemort three years ago—yet many Potterheads have been blissfully ignorant to their mispronunciation.

Back in 2015, a fan messaged Rowling on Twitter, saying, "One piece of Harry Potter trivia I always forget to mention: the ‘t’ is silent in Voldemort." According to ​The Sun, Rowling confirmed the common mistake by replying, "… but I’m pretty sure I’m the only person who pronounces it that way."

What's the Difference Between Straw and Hay?

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iStock.com/dusipuffi

The words straw and hay are often used interchangeably, and it's easy to see why: They're both dry, grassy, and easy to find on farms in the fall. But the two terms actual describe different materials, and once you know what to look for, it's easy to tell the difference between them.

Hay refers to grasses and some legumes such as alfalfa that are grown for use as animal feed. The full plant is harvested—including the heads, leaves, and stems—dried, and typically stored in bales. Hay is what livestock like cattle eat when there isn't enough pasture to go around, or when the weather gets too cold for them to graze. The baled hay most non-farmers are familiar with is dry and yellow, but high-quality hay has more of a greenish hue.

The biggest difference between straw and hay is that straw is the byproduct of crops, not the crop itself. When a plant, such as wheat or barley, has been stripped of its seeds or grains, the stalk is sometimes saved and dried to make straw. This part of the plant is lacking in nutrients, which means it doesn't make great animal fodder. But farmers have found other uses for the material throughout history: It what's used to weave baskets, thatch roofs, and stuff mattresses.

Today, straw is commonly used to decorate pumpkin-picking farms. It's easy to identify (if it's being used in a way that would be wasteful if it were food, chances are it's straw), but even the farms themselves can confuse the two terms. Every hayride you've ever taken, for example, was most likely a straw-ride.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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