From Iceland — Thirty Semifinalists Chosen for Most Beautiful Icelandic Word

Thirty Semifinalists Chosen for Most Beautiful Icelandic Word

Published November 8, 2013

Larissa Kyzer

The University of Iceland has selected thirty semi-finalists for the title of “Most Beautiful Icelandic Word,” and has opened up public voting on them. As reported, the competition opened in September, and gathered word submissions from “children, teens, and adults, men and women, people from both urban areas and rural areas, people with diverse education, work, and life experience, foreigners or people of foreign origin who have learned Icelandic as a second language, and Icelanders who live abroad, and are bilingual or have an equal connection to both Icelandic and another language.”
Using the short justifications included along with each word submission,  the university search committee selected 30 semifinalists—ten per age group: words submitted by individuals born after 1998, words submitted by individuals born between 1988 and 1997, and words submitted by people born before 1987.
Voting on these words will be open on the Most Beautiful Word website until November 11.
The list of semifinalists is as follows:
Group 1: Chosen by people born after 1998

1. Einstök: adj (feminine, singular form): unique
2. Fyrirgefðu: “I’m sorry,” or “excuse me, forgive me”
3. Hjarta: noun: heart
4. Mamma: exactly what you think (mom)
5. Núna: adv: now
6. Sakna: verb: to miss
7. Sjónauki: noun: telescope
8. Spékoppar: noun: dimples
9. Ugla: noun: owl
10. Velkomin: Welcom
Group 2: Chosen by people born between 1988 and 1997

1. Fiðringur: noun: a tingling sensation
2. Gluggaveður: noun: Window-weather (Weather that is nice to look at through a window, but not nice to be out in. As the person who submitted the word remarked, “It describes Icelandic weather all year round.”)
3. Harðjaxl: noun: a tough guy
4. Hjlóð: noun: sound
5. Hugfanginn: adj: fascinated
6. Kotroskin: adj: cocky, self-confident
7. Kraðak: noun: throng, swarm, crowd
8. Raðljóst: (compound) noun: enough light to find your way by
9. Seigla: noun: tenacity, persistence
10. Skúmaskot: noun: a dark corner (Many Icelanders describe this word as having somewhat negative connotations, but the person who submitted it described it as “darkly cozy.”)

Group 3: Chosen by people born in 1987 and earlier

1. Agnarögn: noun: a tiny bit, an iota
2. Bárujárn: noun: corrugated iron (as used on the exterior of old Icelandic homes)
3. Bergmál: noun: echo, reverberation
4. Einurð: noun: determination
5. Hughrif: noun: impression
6. Ívaf: noun: weft (The thread that is woven horizontally through lengthwise yarn to create cloth. This word is also used in a common phrase that is similar to “with a twist.”)
7. Jæja: interjection: well… (A very common filler word in Icelandic conversation. Says the person who submitted it “Jæja can mean everything and nothing, depending on how it is used. Jæja is the first word that comes to mind when all other words aren’t there. Jæja can be used in all possible situations. Jæja is the best icebreaker in the Icelandic language.”)
8. Ljósmóðir: (compound) noun: midwife, formed from the words “light” and “mother.”
9. Sindrandi: adj: sparkling
10. Víðsýni: adj: a panoramic view, or, open-mindedness

Support The Reykjavík Grapevine!
Buy subscriptions, t-shirts and more from our shop right here!

Show Me More!