I love looking at some of the funnier sayings of different languages. Many times, they can give you an insight into the culture. It’s always amusing when there are lots of idioms having to do with food because you know exactly what’s on their mind. Iceland also has some weird phrases and funny expressions, mostly related to bakeries or food, driving, and the mountains. For us, they’re just business as usual. But to outsiders, they may sound a little strange. After all, threatening to find someone on the beach or telling them to get on with the butter doesn’t naturally roll off the tongue for everyone. Let’s look at some of the more colorful, creative, and wacky expressions in Icelandic.
Weird Icelandic Phrase #1: Ég mun finna þig í fjöru – I Will Find You on a Beach
This is one of my personal favorites. It’s usually one of the first and best weird Icelandic phrases did I teach tourists. It comes in handy when someone does something rude like cutting in front of you in line at Sandholt bakery. Although to be perfectly fair, if someone is cutting in front of you in line they’re probably not a local. In general, we’re quite polite and have very good manners. So yelling at this queue jumper in Icelandic might not be super effective, but at least it will make you feel better.
Sample usage: Did you just try to steal my lopapeysa sweater while I wasn’t looking? I will find you on a beach!
Weird Icelandic Phrase #2: Ég tók hann í bakaríið (I took him to the bakery)
Man, a lot of things seem to go down at the bakery in Iceland. This expression is used for when you tell someone what’s what. It’s like the Icelandic equivalent of “I told him off” or “I gave him a piece of my mind”. Because obviously, the next best thing to really putting someone in their place is to tell all of your friends about it afterward.
Sample usage: That Ragnar! He was getting up to no good and I had to straighten him out. I really took him to the bakery!
Weird Icelandic Phrase #3: Blindur er Bóklaus Maður – Blind is a Bookless Man
Icelanders are quite literary, both in reading books and writing them. One in ten Icelanders will publish a book in their lifetime, and people here read the most books per capita in the entire world. Maybe it’s because we spend so much time indoors? At any rate, we use this expression to mean that if you don’t read, there’s a lot that you don’t know and you’ll be blind to many things.
Sample usage: Aron thinks there are extraterrestrials at Snaefellsjökull glacier when really there’s just a lot of electromagnetic activity. Oh well…as you know, blind is a bookless man.
Weird Icelandic Phrase #4: Rúsínan í Pylsuendanum – The Raisin at the End of the Hot Dog
When something is a pleasant surprise, we use this expression to describe it. It comes from the idea that while everyone is expecting a hot dog, no one is expecting a nice little raisin at the end. It’s an extra something that adds a nice little touch. You can also use it to describe something that is the highlight of an experience.
Sample usage: Seeing those Arctic seals during our boat ride around Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon was the raisin at the end of the hot dog.
Weird Icelandic Phrase #5: Áfram með Smjörið – Get on with the Butter
If someone is really slacking or just not getting things done, sometimes you have to tell them to get on with the butter! This expression means get going or do what you need to do.
Sample usage: There’s a snowstorm heading our way from Vík in a few hours. Let’s get on with the butter, pack the car, and leave before we get stuck!
5 Weird Phrases in Icelandic
So there you have it. Now you’re ready for your Iceland trip and will definitely be able to pass for a local. I hope these unusual phrases (minus the threats) will come in handy while you visit. Enjoy soaking up the culture and meeting Icelanders. We love it when people use our language (or at least try) and these expressions will definitely earn you bonus points with your hosts.