Word Of The Issue: Geirvarta, The Icelandic Nipple

Word Of The Issue: Geirvarta

Word Of The Issue: Geirvarta

Published March 22, 2018

Alice Demurtas
Photos by
Original photo by Art Bicnick

Voted ‘ugliest word’ by Icelanders in 2013, ‘geirvarta’ is the Icelandic word for nipple.  This compound, however, is much funnier than its English counterpart. In fact, it literally means ‘wart with a dot’—which is neither accurate nor particularly appealing but surely amusing.

The word ‘geir’ means ‘spear,” which prompted Icelanders to adopt the popular expression “spear warts” to refer to nipples. Geir, however, also means ‘tiny dot.’ Since there is indeed a tiny dot at the end of that odd wart-like protuberance that is the nipple, a science website managed by the University of Iceland called Visindavefurinn considers it likely that the word ‘geirvarta’ originated from that.

We’ll let you decide on which side of Icelanders’ self-deprecating humour you want to be on!

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