Swedish word of the day: glass

Today we're looking at a summery false friend.

Swedish word of the day: glass
Image: nito103/Depositphotos

Swedish glass is not the same as English 'glass': in Sweden, this is the word for 'ice cream'.

It can be confusing as a language learner, because the word for 'glass' is glas. Hear the difference in how they're pronounced in the audio clips below.



The other difference between the two is that glass is an 'en' word and glas is an 'ett' word.
Glass meaning 'ice cream' is a borrowing from French glace (ice cream), and when it first appeared in Swedish it kept the French spelling, although over the years it became Swedified as glass.

Look out for lots of compound words containing glass, such as jordgubbsglass (strawberry ice cream), chokladglass (chocolate ice cream) and more Swedish variants like saltlakritsglass (salty liquorice ice cream).

Swedes are big ice cream consumers, which might seem surprising given that it's such a cold country. But it's a hugely popular treat in all seasons, though especially in summer, whether you buy your glass from the neighbourhood glassbil (literally 'ice cream car', or ice cream van) or at one of the many ice cream parlours in Sweden's towns and cities.


Jag älskar att äta glass oavsett årstid

I love eating ice cream no matter what season it is

Den kan vara den godaste glassen jag ätit

This might be the tastiest ice cream I've had

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Swedish word of the day: soppatorsk

In Sweden, if you run out of petrol on the road you have 'soup-cod'.

Swedish word of the day: soppatorsk

Soppatorsk is a slang word which literally means soup-cod, soppa is ‘soup’, and torsk is ‘cod’, but is not to be understood as ‘cod soup’, that would be torsksoppa. Instead the two words that make up soppatorsk have additional meanings in slang. One of the additional meanings of torsk is ‘failure’, which is the intended meaning here. The verb att torska, ‘to cod’, is to fail, or to lose, to get caught. The meaning of the noun torsk here is ‘failure’. And soppa is simply a slang term for ‘petrol’. 

The proper term for what soppatorsk means is bensinstopp, which means ‘engine failure due to running out of petrol’. It is used in the exact same way.

An additional meaning of torsk that you should be mindful of is ‘a john’, as in someone who frequents prostitutes. So you cannot call someone ‘a failure’ by calling them a torsk, that would mean calling them a sex-buyer.  

Soppatorsk is quite common in use and has been around since about 1987. The use of its two parts is also quite common. And torska, as in ‘getting caught’ or ‘losing’ is even a bit older, dating back to at least 1954. We haven’t been able to find out how long soppa has been used to mean ‘petrol’.

A few examples of the use of soppa and torska in the senses that they carry in soppatorsk are : ‘Vi har ingen soppa i tanken,’ means ‘We have no petrol in the tank’. ‘Vi torskade is a common way of saying ‘We lost’. 

Practice makes perfect, so try to use the word of the day, here are a few example sentences. 

Example sentences:

Nä, det är inte sant, soppatorsk.

No, I can’t believe it, we’re out of petrol.

Full tank tack, man vill ju inte få soppatorsk ute i vildmarken.

Fill her up please, don’t wanna run out of petrol out in the wilderness.

Villa, Volvo, Vovve: The Local’s Word Guide to Swedish Life, written by The Local’s journalists, is now available to order. Head to to read more about it. It is also possible to buy your copy from Amazon US, Amazon UK, Bokus or Adlibris.