King carrot and other Danish sayings

Most of us use colourful sayings to pepper our conversations and all languages have some funny and weird expressions. Find out the meanings of common Danish sayings such as King Carrot or Shoot the parrot and much more.

In the beginning, when first learning Danish, you have no immediate use for the different colourful sayings of the Danish language. Your focus is naturally on gaining the language skills required to order a cup of coffee or read a letter from the bank.

As speaking Danish becomes more and more natural, you gradually start to notice more than a few expressions with 'figurative meaning'.

Teaching the Danish language is our bread and butter and learning a language is more than just knowing the most necessary phrases. Idiomatic expressions can sound absolutely ridiculous but provide colour and spice to any language.

Find some of the more commonly used idioms and their meaning below.

King carrot and other Danish expressions

Don't come here and play King carrot

'KOM IKKE HER OG SPIL KONG GULEROD'

If someone acts just a tad too superior or stuck-up, a Dane will say, ‘Don’t come here and play king carrot’.

The expression is supposed to originate from a French satiric operetta ‘Le Roi Carotte’ by Jacques Offenbach from 1872. In this light opera, the carrot leads a rebellion, where all the vegetables in the kitchen garden seize power in France.

A hen to pluck with you

A hen to pluck with you

'EN HØNE AT PLUKKE MED DIG' 

In Danish we do not 'pick a bone' with somebody, instead we 'pluck a hen'. f you want a serious word with someone because of their bad behavior, you might say, ‘I have a hen to pluck with you’. This expression is popular in several other countries as well e.g. Germany and the Netherlands.

Danish expressions - it went in cake

Go cake in it

'GÅ KAGE I DET' 

Nothing goes haywire (wrong) for Danes. Instead, there might go cake in it. Who exactly let the cake loose and why it's determined to undermine your plans, projects and initiatives, nobody knows.

Before the devil puts his shoes on

Before the devil puts shoes on

FØR FANDEN FÅR SKO PÅ 

The devil is popular in the Danish language and we have several expressions with the Bible’s Bad Boy. In fact, Danes rarely take the Lord's name in vain, but the devil is another matter.

If something takes place really early in the morning, a Dane might say, ‘It’s before the devil puts shoes on’.

Gone totally in fish - Danish expressions

Go totally in fish

GÅ HELT I FISK 

Another expression to relay that something is a complete fail or that someone made a hash of things involves cold-blooded animals. If your plans go horribly wrong, a Dane could say, 'It's all gone in fish'.

A similar expression goes 'things went in goat' and also refers to an unsuccesful venture. Why the Danes use the animal kingdom to explain failure we have no idea.

It will all bottle itself

It bottles itself

DET FLASKER SIG 

While 'cake or fish in your plans' means something was unsuccessful, the exact opposite is true, if you put it in a bottle. If a Dane wants to reassure someone, s/he might say, ‘Don’t worry, it will all bottle itself’.

The meaning being, 'Don't worry, everything will be okay'.

What is on the wallpaper? Danish expressions

What's on the wallpaper today?

HVAD ER DER PÅ TAPETET I DAG? 

If a Dane wants to know today's plans, s/he might say, ‘What’s on the wallpaper today?’

The story goes that during the Renaissance people used to call a table cloth for 'tapet' and the expression was a way to ask if more food was on it's way. Today the meaning is 'what's today's order of business?' 

Danish expressions: You must have eaten nails!

You must have eaten nails!

DU MÅ HAVE SPIST SØM! 

If a Dane wants to express disbelief or thinks what you are saying is completely wrong, s/he might exclaim, ‘You must have eaten nails!’

Danish expressions - Shoot the parrot

To shoot the parrot

AT SKYDE PAPEGØJEN 

If you win the lottery or anything else considered really lucky, a Dane might say, 'You have really shot the parrot’.

The expression is often used when a person does better than expected. For example finds a job with excellent perks or a girl-/boyfriend 'prettier', 'smarter' or 'richer' than yourself.

Any other expressions

Do you know any other idioms or sayings in Danish? Or how about in your native tongue? Leave a comment and tell us your favorite idioms.

Comments

Join the discussion

  • Lars

    Er I gået helt agurk?
    Are you gone completely Cucumber? (Amok / Crazy)

  • Gissurd

    Blomkålsører
    Kartoffeltud
    Stikkelsbærben

  • Desiree

    Kom ind i kampen: pick up the fight (do something about it).
    Knæhøj karse: knee high cress (super)
    Bred ymer: wide ymer (product of fermenting whole milk) mening (super).
    Rock i synagogen: Rock in the synagogue (fantastic/super).
    Logik for burhøns: logic for hens (even a fool can see that).

  • Thomas Stisen

    There is also the expression “At drikke sig i hegnet”, this means to get really drunk.

    1. Thomas Stisen

      Vævefejl i stråhatten.
      Klippe kaniner

  • Louise T.

    Der er ingen ko på isen.
    At være skudt i roen.
    Ikke helt appelsinfri.
    At være rundt på gulvet.
    Klap lige hesten.
    Der er ikke studenterhuen, der trykker ham/hende platfodet.

  • Hanne Ullum

    Ramme hovedet på sømmet
    Krybe langs panelerne
    Krybe i et musehul
    Krybe til korset
    Gå i brædderne

  • Palle Birk

    At falde i med tapetet.

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