From Iceland — Just Sayings: Úr Öskunni Í Eldinn

Just Sayings: Úr Öskunni Í Eldinn

Published April 9, 2021

Just Sayings: Úr Öskunni Í Eldinn
Valur Grettisson
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“Úr öskunni í eldinn” means “from ashes into the fire.” It’s a saying that is still commonly used in Iceland, and most importantly, it’s a bad thing. It seems that the phrase is fairly well-known in English—in fact, a simple Google search reveals that there are a bunch of Christian books with similar names dating all the way back to the 1970s.

This is fitting because this saying basically means, in Icelandic, that bad things can always get worse. To help you understand, I’ve helpfully provided a little dialogue to illustrate the saying:

Me: So An airplane crashed on this guy, but miraculously he survived it.

Hannah Jane: That’s amazing.

Me: But then he became a hardline Methodist afterwards, hating other people’s fundamental human rights and inciting a civil war to enslave everybody that doesn’t share his view of life.

Hannah Jane: Wow, he just went straight from öskunni í eldinn.

There you have it. We were actually going to have a saying related to volcanoes, only to discover that there is not one saying or idiom about volcanos in Icelandic. In conclusion, our forefathers’ lack of interest in volcanos is borderline shocking.

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