9 Icelandic Words Every Visitor Needs

Memorize these nine words in Icelandic!

Hafnarfjordur Viking Festival in Iceland
Hafnarfjordur Viking Festival in Iceland. Viking Festival in Iceland

If you're an English speaker headed to Iceland for vacation, have little fear about how you'll communicate. Most people in Iceland speak English, as it is taught in schools. However, if you attempt to speak Icelandic, your efforts will surely be appreciated. To get you started, we've compiled the top ten words we think are most important for your visit.

  1. Hállo: Simply translated, this is the Icelandic word for "Hello." Most English speakers don't have too much trouble adapting their version of the same word to communicate this simple greeting. Hæ (pronounced "Hi") is a more informal version of the greeting and conveniently sounds exactly like the English word "Hi."
  2. Takk: In English, this Icelandic word means thank you. One of the most important phrases to know in Iceland, since everyone loves to hear that their work is being appreciated!
  3. Já: In English, this word means "Yes." Of course it is important to know how to answer positively or agree with your audience if applicable. This word is simple and can impress your Icelandic listeners if you use it instead of the English alternative.
  4. Nei: The opposite of Já, this word means "No." Along with knowing how to say yes, it's of course important to know also how to say no if necessary.
  5. Hjálp!" Hopefully you won't need this word, but if you have to scream out for help, this is the word you need. Directly translated in English, this word means "Help!" If you find yourself in a pinch, this might be a good word to reference.
  6. Bjór: This is the Icelandic word for Beer. Chances are if you're really enjoying your vacation, you'll use this word once or twice along your way.Skál! (pronounced skaoul)This is the word for "Cheers!" So if you do grab a Bjór in Iceland, be sure to start it off with this phrase. The people of Iceland love to eat, drink, and be merry -- so why not impress them with your knowledge of their language too while you engage in libations.
  7. Trúnó: If you end up drinking more than you thought and then opening up your deepest secrets to someone in the same night, the people of Iceland have a word for this act: Trúnó. Don't worry -- we've all done it once or twice. Now you know what to call it if it happens to you in Iceland.
  8. Namm!: Directly translated to English, this is the word for Yum! When you eat something delicious in Iceland, be sure to compliment the cook with this word for extra impression and emphasis.
  9. Bless: The perfect word to leave you with, this word directly translated to English means "Bye." It is often said twice when parting.

With these Icelandic words in your vocabulary, you will have a great starting point for the essentials of the language. Plus, in more rural areas, you may actually need them in case the locals there don't speak any English at all. But in general, given that English is readily spoken in Iceland by most of the locals, these words should provide you with a conversation starter when trying to impress the local folk with your kind and respectful attempts to speak their language.

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