The ten happiest words in the Norwegian language (and why you need them)

The ten happiest words in the Norwegian language (and why you need them)

According to the 2017 World Happiness Report, Norway is the happiest country in the world. Norway ranked so highly due to a number of the traits that the citizens possess, such as caring, freedom, honesty and generosity. In short, the next time you meet a Norwegian you might say ‘Norge er it fint land’ – Norway is a wonderful country.

While the report may make you want to pack your bags right now and move over to this wonderful place, you may want to brush up on some of the local lingo before making the move, or get some of the Norwegian happiness just by learning a few words. Fortunately, the Norwegian expert from language learning app Babbel, has the perfect (and happiest) 10 words to get you started:

Happy – lykkelig, fornøyd or glad

While the first two words literally translate to ‘happy’, glad i deg actually doesn’t have an English equivalent, but roughly means ‘happy/glad in you’. The clever Norwegians came up with the phrase to differentiate between the different kinds of love, so you’d use this particular example when speaking to your friends.

Laugh – latter 

As we’ve established, Norwegians (and other Nordic countries, according to the World Happiness Report) are very happy. So it must come as no surprise that they regularly bryte ut i latter, meaning to literally ‘break out in laughter’.

Funny – morsom, gøy 

Literally translating to ‘funny’, morsom is typically used to describe someone or something is being funny or humorous, whereas moro and gøy are what Norwegians would use to describe ‘fun’.

Smile – smil, le

An easy one for English speakers to remember, the Norwegian for ‘smile’ is pretty much the same in both languages. To make matters even easier, le, translating to ‘laugh’ is just the final two letters of the English ‘smile’.

Cosy – kos(elig)

Most of us are already familiar with the Danish concept of hygge that has infiltrated the English-speaking world over the winter months. Kos or to kose seg is very similar and doesn’t have a direct English translation, but is used to describe a feeling of warmth and simple pleasure, from having a cup of coffee with friends, going for a walk or simply enjoying a book.

Great – kjempefin, flott

You can use either of the above words to say that something is ‘great’ in Norwegian. You can say that an outfit or a person is flott. Norwegians like to spread happy vibes around them, and use superlative words on a daily basis.

Wonderful – herlig

This word doesn’t just mean wonderful and can be used to describe such positive things as ‘delightful’, ‘glorious’ and ‘lovely’. For example, if you bump into a Norwegian and the day is particularly fine, you can say for en herlig dag which means ‘what a lovely day’.

Good – bra 

If you’ve ever seen any of the infamous ‘Nordic noir’ original series, such as The Bridge or The Killing, you will already know this word. Norwegians, just like the Swedes, use bra to describe something ‘good’ or being ‘well’ themselves.

Have fun – gøy

Norwegians like the feeling of kos, and have a good time. If you’re speaking to a Norwegian, make sure to tell them ha det gøy, which means ‘have fun’, ‘have a good time’.

Good luck – lykke til

And to finish off this brief lesson in Norwegian happy phrases, lykke til! If you are still determined to move to the happiest country in the world, hit up a language app like Babbel for a full course in Norwegian, which will get you fluent in no time.


Miriam Plieninger is Director of Didactics and part of the Management Team at Babbel, the app for web, iOS and Android which makes it easy to learn 14 different languages from 7 display languages. Bite-sized lessons fit into everyday life and are split into useful real-world topics, from introducing oneself, to ordering food and making travel arrangements. The app’s effective game mechanics ensure that learners stay motivated to achieve their goals, with the average user continuing to learn with Babbel for more than 12 months. Uniquely, every course is created specifically for each language pair by a team of education experts, linguists and language teachers.

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Miriam Plieninger

Miriam Plieninger is Director of Didactics and part of the Management Team at Babbel, the language-learning app that empowers users to speak from the beginning.


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