Nature & Environment Feb 09, 2016

Ten Icelandic Words with Funny English Translations

Translating Icelandic to English is tricky, yet very amusing.

Not only is the Icelandic way of life unique, but the Icelandic language is too.

Translations are always a tricky task no matter which language you are working with, so it is no surprise that one of the most difficult languages to learn has some interesting translations. A few of these Icelandic words have become sensations on Twitter, so we have compiled this list of ten Icelandic words with quirky (and sometimes random) English translations.

Marglytta is an Icelandic word meaning jellyfish, however when it is translated literally it means “sea glitter.”

Gloggaveður translates directly as “window weather,” although it is an Icelandic word meaning weather that looks nice through a window. There is no specific word for this type of weather in English, but we know exactly what they’re referring to.

Snyrting is the Icelandic word for toilet, but it means grooming or facial which is ironic because those are probably two of the last things you think of when you think of a toilet.

The Icelandic word for tank is Skriðdreki, which translates directly as “crawling dragon” – a fitting image, don’t you think?

Solarfrí is an Icelandic word that means “sun-vacation.” Solarfrí is a word used to describe when an employee is given the day off to enjoy the nice weather outside – a relaxing thought.

Dalalæða refers to a waist-deep fog that sneaks up on you because it forms overnight, and when it is translated directly it literally means “valley-sneak.”

Mörgæs means penguin in Icelandic, but it translates as “fat goose.” Wouldn’t you say a penguin looks similar to a fat goose?

The Icelandic word for zoo is Dýragarður and when you translate it directly to English, it means “animal garden.”

Bergmal means an echo in Icelandic but when it is translated to English, it means “rock language” which is fitting because an echo typically is bouncing off surrounding rocks or walls, as if it were their way of communicating.

Lastly, Farsími is the Icelandic word meaning cell phone but translates directly as “to-go telephone.”

Literal translations can always provide some entertainment to the interested linguist. Do you have any weird Icelandic translations? Tell us about it in the comments below or tweet us on Twitter, @IcelandNatural!