Just Sayings: "Varla Upp Í Nös Á Ketti" — The Reykjavik Grapevine

Just Sayings: “Varla Upp Í Nös Á Ketti”

Published January 10, 2020

Valur Grettisson

When it comes to cats, historically, Icelanders are not fans. We have the brutal Yule Cat that eats poor children around Christmas and the monster Skuggabaldur (you could translate it as “the burden of the shadow”), that is the spawn of a cat and a fox—a nasty creature that cannot be killed with a gun. The saying “varla upp í nös á ketti” translates to “This is hardly enough to fit it in the nose of a cat,” and means that you have such a limited amount of something, you couldn’t stuff the freaking cat with it. It’s a negative thing to say and often used in Icelandic when you’re unhappy with portion sizes. But, keep in mind, anything you have will probably fit up the snout of Skuggabaldur, and that “it” is probably you. So, run!

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