In most languages, there are prefixes or suffixes to make things smaller, and by that, cuter and more loved. In old Swedish, the suffix -ling or -ing was used, and we still see traces of this in words referring to baby animals, such as killing [kid] and gässling [gosling].


This construction is increasingly archaic, and we are more used to begin words with lill- or små-, in words such as småbarn [toddler] and lillördag [little Saturday] meaning Wednesday.


In more colloquial speech, you also find the suffix -is. This is not standard speech, which makes it much richer, funnier and more imaginative. Most of you are probably familiar with words such as godis, dagis, kompis, loppis, grattis, pingis; and if you are unlucky, also bakis. But did you know the real words they originate from?


godisgodsaker [good things] are, in most cases, sweet.

kompiskompanjon and what is a better friend than a true [companion]?

loppisloppmarknad, and you should be delighted that this is a direct translation of [flea market]

grattisgratulationer or gratulerar

pingis – [pingpong] of course

bakisbakfull [the behind of being drunk] I love the poetry of this.


As Swedish is a language where prosody plays an important role, please pay attention to the fact that the -is is always unstressed, meaning, in Swedish, short in time. The stress is on another syllable, or to more specific, on one vowel or consonant (underscored).


Not all words ending with -is are belonging to this group:

These can be recognised from their etymology as well as how stressed is distributed. In contrast to the list above, there are a few words including a stressed -is, with a long, very long, i:


markis [awning]

bevis [proof]

repris [repeat]

polis [police]

Paris (the city)


There are also examples of words ending with -iss, that is, a stressed last syllable staring a short i and a long sssss:


kompromiss (a favourite term in Sweden)

remiss [referral]

kuliss [backdrop]


Then, of course, we have types of ice, also ending with a stressed -is, BUT including another stressed syllable, which is a symptom of conjoined nouns (please excuse my translations):


drivis – drifting ice

havsis – ocean ice

sjöis – lake ice

inlandsis – inland ice

nyis – new ice

packis – pack ice


Coming back to the poetry of -is derivations, enjoy this list:

lantis – from landet [countryside] being a somewhat awkward figure not knowing how to behave in metropolitan contexts.

fjortisfjorton [fourteen] another awkward character, being newly turned teenager, aggressive towards authorities at the same time ridiculous.

fegisfeg [coward] someone who will not dare much

kändiskänd [known] a celebrity

poppispopulär [popular] or not

doldisdold [hidden] as opposed to kändis, this famous person will try to avoid celebrity status

avisavundsjuk [envious]

sotissvartsjuk [jealous] directly translated as black sick, which, in turn, leads to [soot].

hemlishemlighet [secret] often sealed with a …

tummis – tumme [thumb]