Swedish word of the day: lillördag

Swedish word of the day: lillördag
Image: nito103/Depositphotos
Here's a Swedish word you can use every week.

Lillördag means 'little Saturday' and comes from the words lille (little) and lördag (Saturday). Today, it's an alternative word for… Wednesday.

But why?

In times gone by, maids and servants might have to work on Saturdays, and were given one weekday off work instead, usually midweek. So Wednesday (usually onsdag in Swedish, getting its name from Nordic God Odin) was given the nickname piglördag, from the word piga which means 'maid' or 'servant': 'servant Saturday'.

Piglördag was also called lillördag, and as it became less and less common to have household staff, lillördag was used more and more.

Over time, the meaning changed too.

Lillördag has now become an excuse for midweek drinks and activities, so you might get an invitation from Swedish co-workers to go for an afterwork to celebrate, and some bars and restaurants open late or even have special offers. 

An appropriate English translation for lillördag might be 'hump day'. So feel free to use the phrase 'det är ju lillördag!' (it's Wednesday/hump day, after all!) to justify any midweek treat, or to add '#lillördag' to your Instagram posts while out celebrating on Wednesday night.

By the way, lördag itself has an interesting history.

The Swedish name for Saturday comes from the Old Norse name laugardagr which meant 'bathing day'. Laug meant 'pool' or 'lake' and dagr meant 'day'.

Vikings are believed to have washed themselves once a week, on a Saturday, washing and combing their hair and beards as well. This was actually much more than many other people at the time, and the Vikings' personal grooming habits were commented on in many writings by foreign monks and scribes. Today, the word for Saturday in all the Scandinavian languages comes from the Old Norse word meaning 'bathing/washing day'.


Jag ska bara dricka öl på helgen… fast onsdag är ju lillördag

I'm only going to drink beer at the weekends… but Wednesday is of course Little Saturday

Fira lillördag hos oss!

Celebrate Little Saturday with us! (A slogan you might see at bars and events trying to entice in customers for midweek drinks)

Do you have a favourite Swedish word you would like to nominate for our word of the day series? Get in touch by email or if you are a Member of The Local, log in to comment below.

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  1. In France we used to say Mercredi was a good day for working as it was the only day that didn’t interfere with le weekend! LOL

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