Swedish word of the day: vuxenpoäng

This Swedish word is one that should exist in every language.

the word vuxenpoäng written on a blackboard with the swedish flag next to it
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Have you ever been in a situation where you meet up with the same friends you spent your teens and 20s partying with, only to spend a civilised afternoon discussing things like your favourite brand of vacuum cleaner and the trouble you had getting your oven repaired recently? Perhaps the conversation was repeatedly interrupted by one of your friends’ children, or you cut it short to get a nice early night.

Instead of mourning your younger, responsibility-free self, congratulate yourself on earning some vuxenpoäng.

Vuxenpoäng means “adult points”.

It’s not a strictly defined concept – there’s no one officially keeping score here – but it refers to those mini milestones that make you feel like a “real” grown-up. Think owning your own home (or a first-hand rental contract), saving for a pension or getting a driving licence, but also putting away your laundry as soon as it’s dry, drinking wine from glasses rather than mugs, planning your weekly shop (and bringing your supermarket family card), buying your first non-Ikea item of furniture, or owning a physical diary or calendar.

Often, it might be the things your parents did that made you cringe or promise yourself you’d never get that old and boring. But here you are.

A lot of the concepts are based on a traditional middle-class version of adulthood, but it’s more about mindset than money. A roughly equivalent English word is “adulting”.


Jag har precis köpt bostad! #vuxenpoäng

I just bought a property! #adulting

Villa, Volvo, Vovve: The Local’s Word Guide to Swedish Life, written by The Local’s journalists, is now available to order. Head to to read more about it. It is also possible to buy your copy from Amazon US, Amazon UK, Bokus or Adlibris.

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Swedish word of the day: liga

You may have this word in your native language or recognise it from football leagues such as the German Bundesliga or Spain's La Liga. Liga has a similar meaning in Swedish, too, with one crucial difference.

Swedish word of the day: liga

Liga originally comes from Latin ligāre (“to bind”). In most languages, liga means “league”, a group of individuals, organisations or nations who are united in some way.

Similar words exist in many European languages, such as Dutch, Spanish, Czech and Polish liga, Italian lega, French ligue and Romanian ligă.

A league is almost always something positive or neutral in other languages, but in Swedish a liga is something negative – a criminal gang, with the word ligist referring to a (usually young, male) gang member, thug or hooligan.

Political or diplomatic leagues are usually translated into Swedish as förbund (“union” or “association”) rather than liga: one example is the Swedish term for the League of Nations, Nationernas förbund.

The only exception to this rule is sport, where the popularity of international football leagues such as the Bundesliga and the Premier League has lessened the negative meaning somewhat in this context. Fans of hockey will be familiar with SHL, Svenska hockeyligan, and Sweden’s handball league is referred to as handbollsligan.

The history behind liga’negative meaning in Swedish can be traced back to the Thirty Years’ War, which took place largely within the Holy Roman Empire between 1618 and 1648.

Essentially, the Thirty Years’ War began as a fight between Protestant and Catholic states of the Holy Roman Empire, with Catholic states forming the Catholic League and Protestant states forming the Protestant Union.

Sweden was – and still is – Lutheran, meaning that, when they got involved in the war in 1630, their enemies were the Catholic League – or the katolska ligan in Swedish, with its members being referred to as ligister or “league-ists”.

King Gustav II Adolf eventually beat the Catholic League in 1631 at the Battle of Breitenfeld, ultimately leading to the formal dissolution of the league in 1635 in the Peace of Prague, which forbade alliances from forming within the Holy Roman Empire.

Although this may seem like ancient history, Swedes still don’t trust a liga – the word’s negative connotations have survived for almost 400 years.

Swedish vocabulary:

Jag är lite orolig för honom, han har börjat hänga med ett gäng ligister.

I’m a bit worried about him, he’s started hanging out with a group of thugs.

Manchester United har vunnit den engelska ligan flest gånger, men City är mästare just nu.

Manchester United have won the Premier League the most times, but City are the current champions.

De säger att det står en liga bakom det senaste inbrottsvågen.

They’re saying there’s a gang behind the recent spate of break-ins.

Villa, Volvo, Vovve: The Local’s Word Guide to Swedish Life, written by The Local’s journalists, is now available to order. Head to to read more about it. It is also possible to buy your copy from Amazon USAmazon UKBokus or Adlibris.