It’s certainly not the first time that Norwegians have had some influence on the British Isles, but now a variation of one of their most common words has found its way into the Collins English Dictionary. It’s latched on to hygge, the Norwegian noun form of an expression of comfort, relaxation or just being nice.
The word is most often used by Norwegians as an adjective, hyggelig, to describe anything that’s nice, pleasant or cozy, although there’s an even more specific Norwegian word for the latter, koselig. For now, reports Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK), the editors at Collins have chosen hygge as one of the year’s new words that’s crept into the English language, along with “Brexit” and “Trumpism.”
Collins stated that hygge was chosen because the British have become more interested in the type of coziness that’s rooted in Scandinavian traditions, from crackling fires and the use of lots of candles to thoughtfully set tables and seasonal decorations. The word is rooted in Danish and also used in Swedish, but many Swedes say it’s not used as positively in Swedish as it is in Norwegian, where it’s a common means of expressing great satisfaction or simply how pleasant a situation can be.
NRK reported that the basic nicety behind hygge can be found all over the world but Norwegians and other Scandinavian are said to have a more “home-focused culture,” which involves lots of entertaining and social gatherings at home or at holiday homes like hytter (cabins). Great effort is often put into making homes especially comfortable or cozy but it doesn’t have to cost a lot, noted researcher Jeppe Trolle Linnet, who told NRK that hygge can also even out differences, build relations among people and just make folks happier.