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12 Weird Icelandic phrases and sayings

May 19, 2016
Birta Bjornsdottir

Icelandic is one of the oldest languages in the world that is still used to this day. The language has not changed a lot since it was created in the 9th century, so most Icelandic people can still read old Icelandic texts. Because of the old age of the language, Icelandic has a lot of phrases and sayings that don’t always make sense, but are still used every day. Here we have compiled a list of some old and new phrases in the Icelandic language and an example of how to use them in a sentence.

Iceland in the Spring

1. The Raisin at the end of the hot dog (Rúsínan í Pylsuendanum)

This phrase is used to describe a pleasant surprise or the highlight of something.

Sentence: “Seeing the northern lights in Iceland was the raisin at the end of the hot dog”

2. On with the Butter (Áfram með Smjörið)

When people are not doing their jobs, you can tell them to get on with the butter. This is a phrase used when you really need to get something done.

Sentence: “Stop slacking, get on with the butter!”

3. I come completely from the mountains (Ég kem alveg af fjöllum)

When you have no idea what people are talking about, you can use this handy phrase. This phrase means that someone is completely out of the loop and has no idea what is going on.

Sentence: “What are you guys talking about? I come completely from the mountains!”

kirkjufell mountain and waterfall

4. Blind is a Bookless Man (Blindur er Bóklaus Maður)

Icelandic people read the most books in the world per capita. Reading is a huge part of the culture, and therefore this saying exists. Blind is a bookless man. If you don’t read, you are blind to so many things.

Sentence: “Paul can be so ignorant sometimes. Blind is a bookless man”

5. Totally Out Driving (Alveg Út Að Aka)

If somebody is acting crazy or is completely off about something, Icelandic people say that that person is totally or completely out driving.

Sentence: “Am I right to do this or am I totally out driving?”

6. Nobody Becomes an Unbeaten Bishop (Enginn Verður Óbarinn Biskup)

When you are going to win a physical altercation with someone, you can use this phrase “to take somebody to the bakery”. This phrase is often used in sports as well.

Sentence: “I can’t wait until we compete against the other team, We will take them to the bakery”


7. It All Comes with the Cold Water (Kemur Allt Með Kalda Vatninu)

If you meet some Icelanders that are being impatient, you can remind them that it all comes with the cold water. Meaning, if you are patient, things will fall into place.

Sentence: “Be patient, it all comes with the cold water.”

8. Thank You for Last Time (Takk Fyrir Síðast)

When Icelandic people have enjoyed a fun time together at a gathering, the next time they will meet, they will say “Thank you for last time”. They are thanking the other person for the fun they had at their last gathering.

Sentence: “Sentence: “Thank you for last time, I had a great time””

9. Lay Your Head in Water (Leggja Höfuðið í Bleyti)

When you really have to think deeply about something or make a decision on something, Icelandic people use the phrase “lay your head in water”.

Sentence: “I don’t know what to do. I’m going to lay my head in water and figure it out”

Mountain Highlands of Iceland

10. Give under the Foot (Gefa Undir Fótinn)

Instead of saying that you are going to flirt with somebody in Iceland, tell people that you are going to give someone under the foot. This is a nicer phrase for flirting.

Sentence: She was totally giving you under the foot!

11. Bite The Molar (Bíta á jaxlinn)

With Iceland extreme weather, Icelanders often have to be tough. Icelandic people have a special saying for this, to bite the molar. It means that when something difficult is ahead, you should bite the molar and continue.

Sentence: “I don’t want to go out in this stormy weather, but I’m going to bite the molar and go”

12. Window-Weather (Gluggaveður)

A very special Icelandic saying is window-weather. It means that when you look outside the window it looks like the weather is amazing, but when you go outside it is actually really cold. Therefore, it is called window weather.

Sentence: “I really wanted to go to the beach after I looked out the window, but I realized that it is just window weather”.

Window weather