Danish idioms with the devil

The Danish language uses ‘the devil’ in really creative ways. Here, we have collected some of the funniest ones.

Devil related Danish idioms

Before the devil puts shoes on

The Danish language is quite rich in expressions, sayings and swear words that involve the Bible’s bad boy in one way or another.

Why? You may ask. Well … that's a very good question. Most languages have at least a few idioms and expressions with 'the devil'. He/She is after all the one leading us into temptation and responsible for all the nasty stuff. Right?

But the Danes have taken expressions with 'Mr. Beelzebub' to the next level and use him for various Danish sayings in really creative ways. I sometimes doubt that we are still talking about the same 'Prince of Darkness' we all know and fear.

The devil is popular in the Danish language
Illustration by Chiara Nicola

The devil is loose on Salmon Street

Here we have collected some of the funniest Danish idioms with 'the devil'. Remember that the words between the brackets are a purely word by word translations!

For fanden [For the devil] ...  Damn! This is one of the most used expressions to state that something is going wrong.

 Det har fanden skabt [It has the devil created] … When something is a nuisance/ torment/ plague.

 Det tror fanden [It believes the devil] … I should bloody well think so!

 Fanden er løs (i Lakse Gade) [The devil is loose in Salmon street] … There will be the devil to pay. There is going to be a lot of trouble, punishment, anger etc. Fun fact – Lakse Gade is a real street in the center of Copenhagen.

 Langt fanden i vold  [Long the devil in rampart] …Danes use this expression when saying something is miles from anywhere.

 Fanden og hans pumpestok  [The devil and his pump cane] … All kinds of stuff/ and what not.

 Fandens fødselsdag [The devil’s birthday] … Quarter day / date of payment. Personally, we couldn't think of a better day to celebrate Lucifer's birthday.

 Før fanden får sko på  [Before the devil gets shoes on] … At the crack of dawn.

 Give fanden i noget [Give the devil in something] … When you don’t care!

 Male fanden på væggen  [Paint the devil on the wall] … Look on the dark side, or immediately think the worst about something or someone.

 Snakke fanden et øre af [Talk the evil an ear off] … When somebody talks too much.

 Som bare fanden [As just the devil] ... Like hell/ as hell.

Danish expressions with the devil

Comments

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  • Jens Nobel

    Good article, but where did the author learn English? I’m not a language graduee on uni level or anything, but even I know that it is not translated “It has the Devil created.” You either say “the devil created it.” or “it was created by the Devil.”
    I know you simply transcribe it word for word, but that translation creates a sentence which is saying something completely different. A little self criticism in translation might have come in handy before releasing this article.

    1. Camilla Svane

      Hi Jens,

      Thank you for your comment and your suggestions. Unfortunately, we cannot use the provided suggestions as they are not directly translated. We use direct translations in order to teach our students Danish vocabulary as well as Danish sentence structure. A correct English sentence is always preferable but not our goal 🙂

      Kind regards
      Camilla, Kbh Sprogcenter

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