Word of the Day: smörgåsbord

Today’s word is one of the few Swedish words that has been incorporated into the English language. I’ve chosen to use the original Swedish spelling, but of course the English spelling leaves out the Swedish vowels ö and å. One of the hardest aspects of learning Swedish is learning how to pronounce these vowels properly.

The word smörgåsbord is a compound noun, which are commonplace in Swedish but rare in English. It’s comprised of the words smörgås (sandwich) and bord (table) so the word translated literally into English is “a table of sandwiches.” In reality, it’s usually much more than that. The dictionary defines smörgåsbord as “a buffet meal of various hot and cold hors d’oeuvres, salads, casserole dishes, meats, cheeses, etc.”

I’ve always thought of a smörgåsbord as a variety of different dishes that don’t necessarily go together. That’s probably because years ago when I was staying with my grandmother, I remember she would say “Let’s have a smörgåsbord lunch.” This meant we would have a buffet of whatever leftovers that happened to be in the fridge. This could be spaghetti, beef stew, Greek salad and pineapple rings.

The word smörgåsbord also has a more figurative meaning, as an extensive array or variety.

For example:

During my last flight to the United States I was subjected to smörgåsbord of problems, everything from lost luggage to frozen toilet water. 

Of course in the above example, I’m using the word ‘everything’ metaphorically.

Until next time…

3 thoughts on “Word of the Day: smörgåsbord

  1. Pingback: WOTD: pundit, and other loaned words… « Random Misanthrope

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