Masturbation verb tops 2015 Swedish word list of Swedish Language Council's New Words Group

Swedish language new words
 A unique word for female masturbation (‘klittra’), a plethora of news vocabulary, and tech verbs such as ‘svajpa’, ‘svischa’, and ‘vejpa’, dominate Sweden's official list of new words for 2015.
The much anticipated official annual list by the Swedish Language Council depicts a country obsessed with news, the internet and the changing media landscape, wrestling with sexual and racial norms, and quick to absorb trends (and vocabulary) from the English-speaking world. 

“They are telling us something about not only Sweden but about the world, I think,” says Lena Lind Palicki, from the Swedish Language Council's New Words Group. 

“We have words about war and terror and things that happened in  2015, but we also have a lot of words about the internet and other kinds of new phenomena.” 

She argued that tumultuous world events of 2015, such as the onward march of ISIS in Syria and Iraq, the EU refugee crisis, and the global deal stuck in Paris on the environment meant news vocabulary was unusually dominant in the annual list. 

Such words include 'terror-resan', describing the journeys of second-generation immigrants to join ISIS on Syria,  'sjalvradikalisering', describing those drawn to radical ideologies without face-to-face contact with other extremists, and 'transitflykting', describing refugees entering a country aiming to pass through unregistered. 

But she also pointed to new words like 'svajpa' (to swipe, usually between pages on a mobile device), 'nyhetsundvikare' (news avoider), 'klickokrati', a world in which politicians and the media respond slavishly to what internet users click on, and 'faktaresistens' (doggedly sticking to a belief, despite powerful evidence to the contrary) as signs of how the internet was changing the media. 

“It’s about news and how the media works today — words like ‘nyhetsundvikare’, and ‘faktaresistens’: you don’t get the news, or you don’t believe in the news, or you don’t believe in facts.” 

She said that 'klittra', a new word for female masturbation which won a competition held by the Swedish Association for Sexuality Education (RFSU), followed a recent Swedish trend of developing new words for political effect. 

“The idea is that you need new words for a new society, and these kinds of norm-critical words are very popular,” she said. “It started with 'hen' in 2012.” 

Klittra won the RFSU competition because “it highlights the importance of the clitoris for pleasure”, in a way 'onanera', the original male-centric word for masturbation failed to do. 

Another new word in the same category was 'värdgraviditet', roughly ‘care pregnancy’, which is intended to put a more positive spin on surrogate motherhood, or ‘surrogatmödraskap’. 

Then there are words which indicate how the internet is changing Swedish society, such as 'rattsurfa', which describes how drivers crawl along slowly in traffic as they simultaneously surf the net, 'ögonkramp', the eye pain experienced by those who spend too long staring at a screen, and 'svischa', to transfer money to a friend or shop using the Swedish phone payment system Swish. 

Finally, there are words drawn directly from English, such as 'vejpa', to 'vape' or smoke an e-cigarette, 'douche', meaning a loser, 'groupie', a group photo taken on a mobile phone, and 'cosplay', describing physical roleplay games where participants put enormous effort into their appearance. 

Here are the top 20 new words from the Swedish language council’s 2015 list.

Norm-critical words 


To masturbate if you are a woman 


The assumption that the ideas white people have for what is normal are shared by people of other ethnicities


A prefix describing anything purtaining to those with developmental disorders


The condescending way men talk down to women, explaining basic facts

From the news


To disinvest, normally by selling shares in companies involved in industries viewed as unsustainable or unethical  


A migrant from another EU country. 


The dogged insistence some people have in sticking to their belief in the face of hard facts indicating the contrary 


Self-radicalisation. The phenomenon through which some people are drawn into extremist ideologies without face-to-face contact with others. 


A journey to another country to join a terrorist organisation. Used in 2015 to describe those travelling to Syria and Iraq to join ISIS. 


A refugee crossing a country with the aim of getting to another country where they aim to register as an asylum seeker. 



The sharing economy. Used to describe internet and mobile apps like Airbnb, where people rent out their houses, or cars to others. 


To transfer money to a friend or shop using the Swedish phone payment system Swish


The eye pain experienced by those who spend too long staring at a screen


Someone for whom creating and uploading videos to YouTube has become their main occupation or job 



Physical roleplay games where participants put enormous effort into their appearance


A loser 


To dumpster dive, or retrieve useable food and other objects from what others throw away 


A group photo taken on a mobile phone 


The phenomenon in which men over-explain basic things to women in a condescending way 


to 'vape' or smoke an e-cigarette