Swedish word of the day: ombud

Today's word of the day can be surprisingly useful if you live in a rural area.

the word ombud on a black background beside a swedish flag
An ombud can mean anything from a place where you can pick up alcohol to a lawyer representing you in court. Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Ombud in its most simple meaning can be translated to English as “representative” or “delegate”. Essentially, an ombud is an individual or company, acting on behalf of another individual or company.

You may have come across the word ombud when visiting your local supermarket. Your supermarket may be a postombud (post representative), meaning you can collect parcels there, or an apoteksombud (pharmacy representative), a place where you can collect prescriptions.

If you live in a rural area, your supermarket could be a Systembolagetombud (Systembolaget representative), meaning you can order alcohol from Swedish state-owned alcohol monopoly Systembolaget for pick-up there, rather than having to travel to the nearest Systembolaget, which could be over an hour’s drive away.

Are there betting or gambling stations at your local supermarket where you can buy lottery tickets or place bets? Then your supermarket is also a spelombud (gambling representative).

The ombud service means that even small local shops can provide for example a pharmacy or post office service, saving rural residents the long journey to their nearest town.

Finally, you may also have come across a juridiskt ombud – usually referring to a lawyer or legal professional acting on behalf of their client – be it an individual or a company. A person charged of a major crime may also be assigned a rättegångsombud or public defence lawyer, tasked with representing their interests in court.

Ombud also features in one of the few Swedish loan words to English – ombudsman – usually referring to a government-appointed official in charge of investigating and resolving public complaints.

Some official ombudsmen (or ombudsmän if we’re speaking Swedish) in Sweden include Justitieombudsmannen or JO (the Parliamentary Ombudsmen – literally “justice ombudsman”), in charge of making sure that Swedish public authorities are following the law, Diskrimineringsombudsmannen or DO (The Equality Ombudsman – literally “discrimination ombudsman”), a government agency in charge of promoting equal rights and opportunities and to combat discrimination, and Barnombudsmannen or BO (the Ombudsman for Children), tasked with representing children’s rights and interests.


Har ni Systemet där ni bor? Nej, men vi har ett systemombud.

Do you have a Systembolaget where you live? No, but we can order for pick-up at the supermarket.

“Min klient är ledsen över det som har hänt,” berättade mannens ombud i går.

“My client is sorry about what happened,” the man’s representative said yesterday.

Här kan du skicka in en anmälan till Justitieombudsmannen.

You can send in a complaint to the Parliamentary Ombudsmen here.

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.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


Swedish word of the day: förståsigpåare

Today’s word is like a know-it-all who actually knows something.

Swedish word of the day: förståsigpåare

According to, a förståsigpåare is ‘a person who is well versed in something and likes to let others know this’ or ‘a person who knows something (whatever it is at the moment), connoisseur,; expert, professional, expert; also: person who imagines that this knowledge applies to understanding everything.’

Förståsigpåare has been traced back to 1798 in writing, but could be older. The word is actually three words turned into a noun. Normally turning a verb or an adjective into a noun is what is called a ‘nominalization’. In this case it is three words förstå (‘to understand’), sig (‘reflexive pronoun’), and (‘on’): a verb, a reflexive pronoun, and a preposition. 

The original phrase, still in use today, is att förstå sig på något. Just like Förståsigpåare, this is a common way of saying that someone knows how something works or to have knowledge of something. 

Förståsigpåare is often used ironically, in which case it applies to people who are know-it-alls, and in this sense, there’s also a noun for the phenomenon itself: förståsigpåeri. One can then deplore the widespread phenomenon of förståsigpåeri, where people pretend to know a whole lot about things of which they really do not know much at all. 

But the word is not always used ironically or in a derogatory sense, it can also simply mean a pundit, or an expert. So you can often see a förståsigpåare on television explaining a certain something, like the American electoral college or the delicacies of the Balkans, or just explaining the tactics of a football game. In other words anyone sharing knowledge of a particular something, or who can explain something, can be a förståsigpåare.

Example sentences:

Den där, han är en riktig förståsigpåare.

That one, he’s a real know-it-all.

För att förklara hur elektorskollegiet fungerar så har vi amerikanske förståsigpåaren Marcus Smith. 

To explain how the electoral college works we have the American pundit Marcus Smith. 

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.