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You know that sucking feeling when your body or mind really wants something? Well, the Swedes made a word for it!

Sugen. Pronounced, according to your favourite anglo-something lifestyle magazine as [soohgen], but obviously, not really, as the Swedish long U sound doesn’t really exist in English.

Sugen is the part participle of att suga, ‘to suck’. Readers of the article series “Word of the Day”, by our friends at The Local Sweden, have learnt that the beautiful word for vacuum cleaner (and a certain marzipan pastry) is dammsugare, ‘dust sucker’. More advanced learners are also familiar with sugrör (‘suck pipe’), that is, very logically, the Swedish word for straw. Other ‘suck’ words include slemsugare (‘slime sucker’) which is Swedish for ‘sea tadpole’.

The (arguably) best one may be att vara sugen på något ‘to be sucking for something’, meaning that you’re craving something or really want it. It’s mostly used in the context of food, or actually unhealthy food. Jag är sugen på choklad (‘craving chocolate’) is a standard phrase, but if you say sugen på morötter (‘craving carrots’) you sound like a health lunatic. You may also invert the order and create a compound word: chokladsugen, or, if you prefer, morotssugen. Kaffesugen and fikasugen are necessary vocabulary if you work in Sweden.

But the sucking feeling goes beyond food and drink and you may hear röksugen (‘craving a smoke’), badsugen (‘wanting to go for a swim’), partysugen (‘feeling like having a night out’).

I’ve used the English word ‘to crave’ for most of my translations here, but it may not be identical in meaning and use. For example, in Swedish, you’d not use att vara sugen when you talk about pregnancy cravings. Here, you’re more likely to use the English term or a Swedified version of it krejvar. To crave something is stronger than to be sugen på något.


Swedish expressions to master

Jag har tappat sugen ‘I’ve lost the suck’ (I’ve lost all my energy that is necessary for existing)
Sjön suger ‘the sea sucks’ (swimming, taking a boat tour or fishing makes you hungry)


Jag är så ressugen.
I really want to travel.

Är du sugen på något särskilt?
Is there anything in particular you’d like to eat?