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Norwegian expression of the day: å ha is i magen

Do Norwegians have ice in their veins or ice in their stomachs?
Do Norwegians have ice in their veins or ice in their stomachs? Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
Norwegians are often so logical and prepared, one could claim their society has "is i magen".

Why should I know this?

If you’re unaware of what this expression means, you may be confused if you take the directly translated meaning literally. If your colleague or friend is talking about having is i magen,  it has nothing to do with their stomach being cold. Well, unless they just ate three ice creams. 

What does it mean? 

Directly translated to English, å ha is i magen means, “to have ice in your stomach”. It really means to be calm and sensible. Norwegians often use it as a reminder to think logistics through before they make a decision.  

It means don’t act too fast before you consider the final outcome. It is similar to the expression in English, “put it on ice” when one is talking about holding off on making a decision. Similar but not exact. Å ha is i magen is an expression that refers to staying in or finding the right emotional state before taking action. 

When are the best situations to have ice in your stomach? 

Wanting to increase your bid when buying an apartment? Du burde ha is i magen, or “you should have ice in your stomach” before you blow your budget.

Are you considering selling some valuable stocks now? Or maybe you’re going to ha is i magen, and wait to see if they are worth more later. 

Are you annoyed with your boss and are considering sending a rather terse email? Why don’t you sleep on it, ha is i magen, and consider how you feel in the morning before pressing send. 


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