Danes aren’t exactly world famous for showing a lot of emotion. Nonetheless, Danish is chock-full of fun and quirky phrases and figures of speech to describe everything from pure and boundless joy to teeth-gritting dismay.
Below you’ll discover the most common Danish words to describe feelings and emotions, as well as the best (and funniest) Danish phrases and figures of speech to let people know how you be. Crawl into the hearts and minds of the Danes and boost your Danish toolbox with words and phrases for expressing your frame of mind!
Basic feelings in Danish
You can find plenty of different lists of humanity’s basic feelings, and the pundits rarely agree on which feelings qualify and how they should be defined. For our purposes here, we’re going with the following six basic emotions – and we’re wielding our poetic license big time as we interpret them:
Our primary mission with this blog post is to expand your vocabulary and equip you with a wide-ranging arsenal of the most useful Danish words for feelings and emotions. And to spice things up, we reveal a bunch of the funny and often goofy phrases Danes use to describe their emotions (or lack thereof).
The most common Danish words for describing feelings and emotions
The mood barometer below charts the full spectrum of emotional nuances within the six basic feelings. We’ve done our best to compose this by-no-means-scientifically-based-or-certified list of Danish emotions, from the mildest to the most pronounced manifestation – for example, from lettere nedtrykt (slightly gloomy) to bundulykkelig (completely in despair).
Warning: Mood swings ahead!
Stiktosset (In a rage – literally “sting crazy”)
Nedtrykt (In low spirits)
Ked af det (Sad)
The Danish language does not have many adjectives to describe the feeling of disgust. Instead, you can use nouns, as in the following examples: Jeg føler foragt [I feel contempt] or Jeg er fuld af væmmelse [I am full of disgust].
You can also use verbs: Jeg foragter ham [I despise him] or Jeg væmmes ved dig [I (am) disgusted by you ]. Last, but not least, you can use adjectives linked to the object of your disgust: Du er klam [You are disgusting] or Osten er ækel [The cheese is gross].
At foragte (To despise)
At væmmes (To be disgusted by)
At afsky (To detest)
Adjectives linked to your own feelings
Adjectives linked to the object
Danish slang for feelings and emotions
In addition to the words above, Danish also offers a bunch of quirky expressions to describe both positive and negative feelings. They might not make much sense to you as a non-native Danish speaker, but we promise that Danes will know exactly what you’re talking about if you use one of the following phrases.
Phrases and figures of speech for positive feelings
When you or somebody you know is in good spirits, you can definitely use the phrases below:
I godt humør [In (a) good mood]
I strålende humør [In (a) radiant mood]
Glad i låget [Happy in the lid] – Happy and carefree.
Have det som blommen i et æg [Have it like the yolk in an egg] – To feel completely content.
Kisteglad [Coffin happy] – Pleased as punch.
Helt oppe at køre [Totally up and running] – Very excited.
Ikke til at styre på en hel tønde land [Not to control on an entire barrel* of land] – Completely over-excited. *Technically speaking, a tønde is 1.364 acres.
Helt oppe at ringe [Totally up to call ] – Extremely excited.
Phrases and figures of speech for negative feelings
When you or somebody you know is so down in the dumps they say, “I can’t even describe it in words”, you can say, “Ever tried doing it in Danish?”, and when they say “Uh, no, I don’t speak Danish”, you can say, “Never too late to start”, and when they say “Whatever”, you can just start reeling off all of these dope figures of speech (don’t forget the translations or your friend will be like “What?”), and before you know it, they’ll be feeling better and invite you out to dinner at the restaurant of your choice, and because you’ll be so proud of yourself for helping, you’ll choose Noma (we’ll just imagine that you can get a table - work with us here), and that’s not exactly a bad thing now, is it? So keep reading (yes, we just If-you-give-a-mouse-a-cookie’ed you).
Just be careful where you put these phrases to use, because some of them are not for the faint of heart.
I dårligt humør – [In (a) bad mood]
Et surt løg [A sour onion] – Someone in a bad mood.
Få det forkerte ben ud af sengen [Get the wrong leg out of the bed] - When you’re grumpy from the get-go.
Hvem har tisset på din sukkermad? – [Who peed on your (open-faced) sugar sandwich?] Why are you in a bad mood?
Bange for sin egen skygge [Scared for your own shadow] – Very timid and reluctant.
Få grå hår i hovedet [Get grey hairs in the head] – To be worried.
Hunderæd [Dog scared] – To be very scared.
Have hjertet oppe i halsen [Have the heart up in the throat] – When you’re really worried or nervous.
Skide grønne grise [Shit green pigs] - To be extremely frightened.
Helt nede i kulkælderen [Completely down in the coal cellar] – When you’re totally dejected and despondent.
Ryste i bukserne [Tremble in the pants] – When you’re shaking scared.
Græde over spildt mælk [Cry over spilled milk] – Fretting about something you can’t change.
Tag en tudekiks [Have a cry biscuit] – Stop your whining.
Vande høns [(to) water hens] – To cry.
Your turn to chime in!
Now you know the most common words and phrases for feelings and emotions. Have we forgotten other words or phrases that you think belong on this list? Come so with the pearls! (Just checking your Danglish! What we mean is “Share some great stuff with us!”) 🙂