Iceland Mag

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Iceland Mag

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The ugliest and prettiest words in Icelandic

By Sara McMahon

  • The word "ljósmóðir" is considered to be the prettiest word in the Icelandic language. 

Is it true that the ugliest word in your language is judged to be “nipple” and the prettiest “midwife”?


This is true. Last year, the National Broadcasting Service, RÚV, and the National University’s Department of Humanities teamed up in an attempt to find the most beautiful word in the Icelandic language.

People were encouraged to send in suggestions and 8500 individuals responded. Committee members then had the difficult task of narrowing the list down to only three words:  ljósmóðir (midwife), bergmál (echo) and sindrandi (sparkling).
The public then voted for their favourite word. In the end, it was the word ljósmóðir, which translates directly to “mother of light,” that was deemed the most beautiful word in the Icelandic language.

At the same time, two friends, Viktor Orri Valgarðsson and Garðar Þór Þorkelsson, decided to turn to Facebook in order to try and find the ugliest word in the Icelandic language, which turned out to be the humble word geirvarta (nipple), and can be directly translated as “spear-wart.” 


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