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DANISH WORD OF THE DAY

Danish word of the day: Tør

Have a look at the word of the day if you dare.

Danish word of the day: Tør

What is tør?

Several things, including both verbs and adjectives.

Starting with the verbs, tør is a conjugation of two different Danish verbs, at turde (“to dare”) and at tørre (“to dry” or “to wipe”).

In the first case, it is the present tense form: jeg tør ikke sige, om planen kommer til at virke (“I dare not say whether the plan will work”).

In the second, it is the imperative form. Tør bordet af tak! means “wipe the table please!”. The present tense of at tørre is tørrer, as in Christian tørrer bordet af (“Christian is wiping the table (clean)”).

In its adjective guise, tør means “dry”. You can have tørvejr, “dry weather”, tør humor, a dry sense of humour, tør vin, “dry wine”, or a tørt emne, a dry or boring subject or topic. It can also mean dry as in without moisture, just like the English equivalent.

A tumble dryer is not a tørtumbler, however, but rather a tørretumbler.

Why do I need to know tør?

As well as being another example of a Danish homonym, like bakke, tør is interesting both because it has several meanings, can be two different verbs in different combinations, and because two of its meanings come close to being antonyms.

At tørre af, to wipe clean, technically means making something wet (at least briefly and on the surface), because you’ll be using a damp cloth to do so. Whereas if it is tør, it is completely dry.

Tør is also used in a lot of idioms and experessions — too many to list here in fact. At løbe tør (literally “to run dry”) means to run out of something, while to be tør bag ørerne (“dry behind the ears”) means the opposite to the English “wet behind the ears”. Someone who is tør bag ørerne is older, wiser and experienced.

My favourite tør expression, though, is at falde på et tørt sted (“to fall on a dry place”), meaning to receive something that was sorely needed.

Examples

Jeg tør slet ikke tro på, at Danmark vinder VM.

I dare not believe that Denmark will win the World Cup.

Du får den her chance kun én gang. Tør du tage den?

You’ll only get this chance once. Do you dare to take it?

Min jakke har hængt ude på altanen siden i går, men den er slet ikke tør endnu.

My jacket has been hanging outside on the balcony since yesterday, but it’s nowhere near dry yet.

Tak for kaffen. Den faldt på et tørt sted!

Thanks for the coffee. It was badly needed!

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DANISH WORD OF THE DAY

Danish Word of the Day: Valgflæsk

Today's word of the day will help you digest political talk at election and referendum time.

Danish Word of the Day: Valgflæsk
Photo: EikoTsuttiy/Depositphotos

What is valgflæsk?

Literally, it means ‘election meat’: valg is “election” and flæsk “meat” or “roasted meat”.

Although valgflæsk could possibly be used to describe a tasty roast dinner consumed on election night, its actual usage is mainly by politicians who are attempting to dismiss the policies of their opponents as empty campaign promises. Here is an example from Danish public service broadcaster DR’s coverage of the general election back in 2019.

In short, valgflæsk is a claim or promise made by a politician in relation to an election which is criticised for its perceived lack of realism or sincerity.

Why do I need to know valgflæsk?

Although it’s worth knowing how to use it yourself, it’s even more useful to know what a politician means when they say valgflæsk

The word arguably appears most often when parties are discussing rival policies and and manifestos, for example during general and local election campaigns.

However, the referendum on Denmark’s EU defence opt-out, which will take place later this week, could also give rise to a mention or two.

The closest English expression to valgflæsk is probably “hot air”, rendered in Danish as varm luft. But “hot air” can be used in a non-political context in both English and Danish, whereas valgflæsk is purely political. Nevertheless, don’t be surprised if you also hear varm luft used to criticise political foes: Hun siger, at hendes regering er vejen frem for miljøet – det er simpelthen en omgang varm luft (“She says her government is the best option for the environment – that is quite simply a load of hot air”).

Examples

Ministerens udtalelser om skattelettelser ikke er andet end valgflæsk.

The minister’s assurances of tax breaks are nothing but empty promises for the election.

Oppositionen påstår at den er villig til at lytte til os, når det gælder ældreområdet, men jeg synes, det lugter lidt af valgflæsk.

The opposition claims it is willing to listen to our policies on senior citizens, but I think this is a clear sign of election bluffing.

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