14 Strange Danish expressions and how to use them

In Denmark by Skjalden

The Danes use expressions a lot, which probably makes it even more difficult to learn the Danish language. I could mention hundreds of Danish expressions, but I decided to pick 14 of some of the most common ones. If all these on my list originate from Denmark or are used in other countries as well, is not something I can tell you for certain, but nevertheless, we do use them.

14 strange Danish sayings

Thank you for coffee

(Tak for kaffe)

When a Dane experience or hears something that is, violent, overwhelming, terrible, or provocative. We will probably hear them say ”Thank you for coffee”.

Not the sharpest knife in the drawer

(Ikke den skarpeste kniv i skuffen)

When a Dane thinks someone is not that clever or skilled, you will often hear them say ”You’re not the sharpest knife in the drawer”. You can also use the expression, you do not have many pieces to move around with, or, no one is home.

There is no cow on the ice

(Der er ingen ko på isen)

If everything is fine and there are no problems or complications, the Danes will say ”There is no cow on the ice”.

To go cucumber

(At gå agurk)

Some Danes are short-tempered, but they do not go berserk or bananas, they ”go cucumber”.

There are owls in the bog

(Der er ugler i mosen)

If a Dane finds something strange or suspicious, they will often say ”There are owls in the bog”. You can also say ”there are no owls in the bog”, which means everything is fine.

To swallow a camel

(At sluge en kamel)

If you hear a Dane say I had to swallow a camel, it means that she had to accept something that contradicts with her ideals and wishes.

Don’t come here and act like King carrot

(Kom ikke her og spil Kong gulerod)

Many Danes do not like it when someone thinks he is better than everyone else. So if a Dane sees someone who walks around and thinks he is better than everyone else, he might say ”don’t come here and act like King carrot”.

Before the devil puts his shoes on

(Før djævlen får sko på)

If a Dane has to wake up very early in the morning, you will probably hear them say, I have to get up before the devil puts his shoes on.

Chicken drunk


When a Dane is very drunk, they are not drunk as a skunk, but chicken drunk.

In the fence

(i hegnet)

If a Dane is totally wasted, people will say that he is ”in the fence” (i hegnet).

Walk as the cat around the hot porridge

(Gå som katten om den varme grød)

When someone is trying to avoid a situation, people will say, that they ”walk as the cat around the hot porridge”.

It’s blowing half a Pelikan

(Det blæser en halv pelikan)

It is often very windy in Denmark, and when it is they will say ”it’s blowing half a Pelikan”.

To be on a bucket

(At være på spanden)

When you hear a Dane says ”I’m on the bucket”, it doesn’t have anything to do with being on the toilet. It means that he is broke or in need of money but can also mean that he is in trouble.

Stand with your hair in the mailbox

(Stå med håret i postkassen)

When a Dane says ”she stood with the hair in the mailbox” it means that she was let down or deceived. This is an expression that is often used in sports, but it can be used in other situations as well.