For members


Danish word of the day: Overordnet

We'll try to give you an overarching explanation of today's word of the day.

What is overordnet?

While we covered the meaning of over previously (spoiler: it means “over”), you’ll also need the translation of the verb at ordne to get a sense of how to use overordnet.

Because it has its roots in Latin, at ordne (from the Latin “ordinare”) is easy enough to understand for an English speaker. When used in Danish, it signifies to sort, place in a correct order, tidy or fix something. It can also mean to take care of a problem, conflict or situation: Lejligheden sejlede da jeg kom hjem, så jeg ordnede den lige hurtigt (“the apartment was a mess when I came home, so I gave it a quick sort-out”).

Getting back to overordnet, which is an adjective in the form of a past-tense verb, the prefix suggests something ahead in a certain order. In other words, overordnet can be someone of a higher rank, such as in the military or at a work place.

It can also mean a higher meaning or context, similar to how you might use “overall” in English — an overordnet strategi, for example, can be a company’s long-term business model, around which it builds its more immediate aims.

Why do I need to know overordnet?

While it’s a good example of an adjective that is formed from a rarely-used verb (at overordne), it’s also a word that will help you to convey nuance and give sentences in spoken Danish a sense of articulacy (provided you don’t overuse it, then you might end up sounding like a proponent of ‘management speak‘).

You can some up your thoughts on a certain subject by saying overordnet set (approximately, “generally speaking”) or say that you have been thinking up an overordnet plan (“overall plan”).

Like all good “over” words, overordnet has and “under”-based antonym. Underordnet is an even more expressive word than its superior (in a literal sense) opposite, and is usually used to dismiss something as irrelevant: det er underordnet, om det tager fem minutter eller en time, bare jeg får tid til en gåtur hver dag (“it doesn’t matter whether it takes five minutes or an hour, as long as I get a chance to take a walk every day”).


Jeg forstår ikke, den overordnede betydning med universet.

I don’t understand the overall meaning of the universe.

Jeg kan desværre ikke svare på dit spørgsmål, inden jeg har talt med min overordnede.

I’m afraid I can’t answer your question until I’ve spoken with my superior.

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For members


Danish word of the day: Gerne

We’ll gladly explain the meaning of this polite Danish word which can be used many times a day.

Danish word of the day: Gerne

What is gerne? 

Gerne is a very useful Danish word, which can often be literally translated as ‘willingly’ or ‘gladly’, but is used much more often and in more informal contexts than either of those words in English.

Speakers of other languages might spot the similarity with German gern, Swedish gärna and Icelandic gjarna, with all these words sharing a root in the Old Norse word gjarn (‘willing’ or ‘eager’).

Why do I need to know gerne?

Gerne can be used as an adverb in sentences like jeg tager gerne en kop kaffe (literally ‘I’ll happily have a coffee’ but closer to ‘I’m happy to have a coffee/I’d like to have a coffee) or jeg hjælper dig gerne (‘I’m happy to help you’).

You can also use it on its own, in which case it’s a snappier alternative to ‘yes, I’d like that’ or ‘yes please!’: For example, you can reply to the question Vil du med? (‘would you like to come along?’), with gerne!, meaning ‘yes please’ or ‘I’d love to’.

If someone asks Vil du have mælk og sukker? (‘Do you want milk and sugar?’), you can answer gerne mælk, tak (‘milk, please’). 

Gerne can also be used when you’re talking about someone else, such as in the sentence hun snakker gerne om det (‘she doesn’t mind talking about it’) or hun vil gerne med (‘she would like to come along too’).

It’s also possible to use it to mean ‘if you like’, for example tag gerne kontakt (‘feel free to get in touch’ or ‘please get in touch’) or tag gerne børnene med (‘bring your kids if you like’).

In these examples, the use of gerne softens the requests: tag børnene med (‘bring your children’) is a command, while adding gerne emphasizes that the decision is up to the listener. This phrasing is particularly common in situations where the speaker is encouraging someone to do something they may think they aren’t allowed to.

Gerne can also be used when you’re not implying any choice or pleasure linked to the action, but simply implying that something happens readily, easily, or often. This might mean you’re talking about inanimate objects, for example den falder gerne fra hinanden  (‘it falls apart easily’).

You may occasionally hear a waiter or a bartender say så gerne in response to an order, for example Jeg vil gerne bestille to øl (‘I would like to order two beers’) – Så gerne. Here, it means ‘certainly’ or ‘my pleasure’ or a similar nicety you might hear from service staff who are taking an order.

This phrasing is old-fashioned and increasingly rare to hear in modern Denmark. If you watch classic television series Matador, though, you’ll hear the character Boldt say it in almost every episode.