From Iceland — Word of the Issue: Kviðmágur

Word of the Issue: Kviðmágur

Published August 4, 2017

Word of the Issue: Kviðmágur

The word of the issue this issue is kviðmágur, which roughly translates as “belly cousin.” And it does describe a relation of sorts: that is, when two men have had sexual relations with the same person, they are now kviðmágar. The relationship does not discriminate between heterosexual, homosexual, or other types of romantic couplings; it need only involve two self-identified males having enjoyed the same person on separate occasions (or at the same time).

Strangely, for a country as relaxed about casual sex as Iceland, the female equivalents—kviðsystir or kviðkona—are less used. Science may have an explanation: studies have found that not only do men gossip more than women do; men also tend to embellish tales of their sex lives more than women do. This, infused with typical patriarchal notions of possession, could explain why someone felt the need to invent this word.

The only English equivalent we could find of this word is “Eskimo brothers” which, apart from being kinda racist, isn’t nearly as descriptive as “belly cousins.” Whether or not you ever feel the need to use kviðmágur or kviðsystir, both remain distinctly Icelandic, making it this issue’s word of the issue.

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