For members


​​Swedish word of the day: rackabajsare

A word for hitting hard down your throat or up in the net.

Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

A rackabajsare is either a shot of a spririt, or a hard shot in a sport. You might also see a type of strongly-flavoured (smoked or spicy) sausage known as a rackabajsare in some delis.

Rackabajsare according to the Swedish Academy is a word of unknown origin, despite some claiming its origin to be rachenbeisser in German, meaning ‘throat-biter’. Although that might be possible, there are also many other potential origins. 

Like so many other Swedish words, rackabajsare contains the Swedish word for ‘poo’, bajsa. A bajsare would be ‘a person who poos’, and herein lies the crux, because the word racka can have more than a few things to do with poo.

Rackare today is used much in the same way as ‘rascal’ is, but it was not always so, rackare used to be much harsher. It used to mean something more like a ‘scoundrel’, and then somewhere in the 1800s this meaning began to shift and become weaker. 

You may think that this racka is related to the racka in byracka, which means ‘mutt’ or ‘mongrel’. The origin for that racka is the Old Norse rakke, which also has an unknown origin and meaning, though some claim it is a word for ‘dog’. This would give us ‘dog pooer’, which really makes no sense, so this is most likely not the racka we are looking for. 

Another, but now archaic, meaning of rackare was ‘a person whose profession it is to remove dirt and the like [as in poo] from streets and outhouses.’ If the word order was reversed, as in bajsrackare (poo-cleaner), this could be the original meaning, but it seems unlikely.

Racka could also be another way of writing rak meaning ‘straight’, here in the sense as in ‘to the point’ or ‘straight away without thinking about it’, which could then mean something like ‘going straight to the shit’, which could work for both meanings of rackabajsare, ‘a shot of a spirit’ and ‘a hard shot in any sport’. 

There is however yet another couple of confounding meanings of racka. A now archaic meaning of ‘running about’ could give us something like ‘a disorderly hit or shot’. And then there is the perhaps most interesting one. It turns out that racka used to be another way of saying ‘arrack’, the Southeast Asian spirit. This would really explain the first meaning of rackabajsare, ‘a shot of a spirit,’ but it still leaves us with questions as to the second meaning. 

Alas, there is no clear answer to be found! That’s just the way it is sometimes. But though we are unfortunately unable to provide you with the original meaning of rackabajsare, we can leave you a few examples of how to use the word in everyday conversation. 

Example sentences:

Ska vi ta en liten rackabajsare, eller vad säger du?

Should we have a cheeky little shot, what do you say?

Åh jävlar vilken rackabajsare!

Bloody hell, what a canon of a shot! 

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.

Member comments

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


Swedish word of the day: sommartid

The clocks are springing ahead this weekend, marking the beginning of daylight saving time and the end of Sweden's dark winter period. Aptly described in Swedish as 'sommartid', here is the history of how the practice came about.

Swedish word of the day: sommartid

The phrase will come in handy this weekend if you want to lament a lost hour of sleep in the morning or celebrate the extra hour of daylight in the evening. 

Sommartid translates literally to “summertime” and refers to daylight saving time, which begins this weekend in many European countries, including Sweden. At 2:00 am on Sunday, the clocks will spring one hour ahead.

In the UK, this period is known as “British Summer Time” – one hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time – while in North America, daylight saving time is used more commonly.

The first time sommartid was officially trialled on a national basis was in 1916, when the German Empire along with other countries such as Austria-Hungary, the UK and Sweden introduced the practice in order to conserve fuel during World War I, with the idea being that the extra daylight would reduce the use of artificial lighting, allowing the surplus fuel to be put towards the war efforts.

In the following years, the practice spread to Australia, Russia, and the US, too.

After the war, daylight saving grew unpopular in Europe, especially among farmers, whose schedules were – and still are – dictated by nature and sunlight rather than the clock.

It wasn’t used on a large scale again until World War II, when Germany again popularised the practice. But a few years after the war ended, it fell out of favour for the second time. It only picked up again when France reintroduced it in 1976, in response to an energy crisis sparked by the oil embargo in 1973.

By 1996, the EU standardised daylight savings, which now runs from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October. 

But the future of daylight saving time looks uncertain once again. In 2019, the European Parliament voted to abolish the practice, however efforts to actually implement this measure have stalled. So at least for this year, sommartid will continue.  

Example sentences: 

När börjar sommartid? 

When does daylight saving time start?

Kom ihåg att sommartid börjar på söndag, så man behöver stå upp en timme tidigare.

Remember that summer time starts on Sunday, so you need to get up an hour earlier.

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