The IKEA Dictionary
November 28, 2015 11:13 AM   Subscribe

The IKEA dictionary explains the origin of over 1200 IKEA product names.
posted by jedicus (49 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
 
They lack my current nemesis, the BETYDLIG curtain brackets, which Google Translate tells me is Swedish for "considerable".
posted by madcaptenor at 11:20 AM on November 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


Det är jättekul!
posted by Too-Ticky at 11:21 AM on November 28, 2015


Överdunden.
posted by fairmettle at 11:30 AM on November 28, 2015




Nice!

Most of the words lacking definitions are actually old-timey names of towns, villages, hamlets, etc. Typically, they reference nature, agriculture or old professions.

KOTTEBO: KOTTE=cone, slang:individual BO=resident, dwelling, den, nest

BERGSBO: BERGS=mountain BO=resident, dwelling. den, nest

BJÖRKUDDEN: BJÖRK=birch UDDEN=cape

EKTORP: EK=oak TORP=cottage
posted by Foci for Analysis at 11:51 AM on November 28, 2015 [15 favorites]


Internally, IKEA calls its most difficult-to-assemble items 'Husband Killers.'
posted by colie at 11:57 AM on November 28, 2015 [7 favorites]


This is great, many thanks!
posted by languagehat at 12:06 PM on November 28, 2015


IKEA calls their loss-leader items (like the tea candles and the umbrellas) "hot dogs" after their 50-cent 75-cent hot dogs.

I got that fact out of one of the several books about IKEA that IKEA sells at IKEA.
posted by lagomorphius at 12:09 PM on November 28, 2015 [7 favorites]


Would add:

IKEA: Domestic argument.

"I AM following the instructions!"

"Do you want to try? You think you can end up with fewer left over screws? BY ALL MEANS GIVE IT A GO IF YOU THINK I CAN'T HANDLE IT."

"WHY SHOULDN'T I YELL? I think that allen wrench tore a tendon in my hand!"
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 12:17 PM on November 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


Interesting! Way fewer Swenglish, slang, and "made-up" entries than I would have guessed there'd be.

It'd also be a funny project to compile the often bizarre phonetic versions you get from local Ikea employees in different places. Like, I don't think I've ever heard a US Ikea employee render a J as anything but an English /dʒ/.
posted by RogerB at 12:22 PM on November 28, 2015


Related reading material that is relevant.
posted by Fizz at 12:23 PM on November 28, 2015


Speaking of the Js, was missing my desk in that list. This seems to be the definition: it's a name.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 12:23 PM on November 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


Save-a-spouse tip: get a set of Allen-head and Philips/cross-head bits for your cordless drill/driver, set the driver clutch on low torque, wear gloves.
posted by a halcyon day at 12:32 PM on November 28, 2015 [12 favorites]


Necessary background: Ireland only recently got ikea. I live in Sweden.

Last I was home, I was getting weirded out and a little upset because I kept finding little scraps of paper around the house saying yearning and emergence and struggle and things on them. Them being in Swedish and my having more or less forgotten that my mam and I have similar handwriting lead me to the obvious conclusion that I was losing my mind. Finally I found one that said decisive 45cm x 205 cm and the penny dropped that I was finding my mams ikea shopping reminders.
posted by Iteki at 12:33 PM on November 28, 2015 [69 favorites]


Yearning, raw (2)
Despair, black
Set of Abyss (?)

posted by a halcyon day at 12:35 PM on November 28, 2015 [12 favorites]


I'm disappointed that the names have such prosaic meanings. Maybe it's better to just enjoy the mystery, poetry and power of a foreign word rather than discover that it means like, dandruff or toilet plunger.
posted by Flashman at 12:45 PM on November 28, 2015


Internally, IKEA calls its most difficult-to-assemble items 'Husband Killers.'

The thing you link to calls them "almost impossible to assemble", while the Fortune article calls them items that "take too long to put together", which is not really the same thing. Like, a chest of drawers takes a long time but there's nothing really difficult about building it - it's just a box with a bunch of boxes in it (note: I say this as a person who's friends go to IKEA and then I go build their stuff just for kicks). While a cabinet with adjustable hinges doesn't take too long but getting the hinges right is a pain.
posted by LionIndex at 12:53 PM on November 28, 2015 [4 favorites]


rather than discover that it means like, dandruff or toilet plunger.

Surely you mean MJÄLLIS and VASKA?
posted by Foci for Analysis at 1:05 PM on November 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


A large proportion still make no sense whatever.
posted by Segundus at 1:13 PM on November 28, 2015


I say this as a person who's friends go to IKEA and then I go build their stuff just for kicks

YES

IT'S LIKE PLUS-SIZED LEGOS
posted by Greg Nog at 1:15 PM on November 28, 2015 [25 favorites]


We're getting an IKEA close to us next year. I am unreasonably excited to browse my favorite part; the cheap stuff they put at the end (plastic cups, fish-shaped ice cube trays, weird lamps, etc.) I could spend all day in that section.
posted by emjaybee at 1:15 PM on November 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


Let's just get to the meat of it: how many are dirty Swedish puns?
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:18 PM on November 28, 2015


LionIndex: that's me too. I can put together a king sized Malmen bed in fifty minutes solo. And yes, I make me friends time me putting together their ikea stuff. Oddly I visit ikea far more often in Dublin than in Stockholm, managed three times in the first week I was home last summer. Swedes find the Dublin branch kinda trippy though, it's exactly like a brand new late eighties ikea.
posted by Iteki at 1:22 PM on November 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


I also enjoy putting together IKEA or other such furnishings-- but DAMN if it isn't so much easier and enjoyable doing it by myself, than having ANYONE try to 'help' me.... I don't even really like having people watch.
posted by The otter lady at 1:33 PM on November 28, 2015 [8 favorites]


Are you folks looking for a new friend? I am the proud owner of Alex, the wobbly desk with a drawer that won't close all the way. I'm looking at my Billy pieces with trepidation.
posted by Monochrome at 1:48 PM on November 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


This list is missing the entry for Blërg.
posted by warbucks at 1:48 PM on November 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm a 2 drawer cabinet on casters.
posted by eriko at 2:17 PM on November 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


I too enjoy the challenge of putting together Ikea furniture. Two years ago when I was assembling my daughter's desk and bed in her dorm room, I started getting offers of dinners and gift cards if I did for other girls on her floor what their fathers could not, assemble all types of ikea stuff.

I kept telling them that it is simply a matter of following directions. The pictures tell all.
posted by AugustWest at 2:32 PM on November 28, 2015 [7 favorites]


Putting together IKEA furniture is seriously one of my favorite things in the world. The bigger and more elaborate it is, the more fun I have with it. That said, some pieces actually do need a second person, unless you're able to work out a complex system of balances and shims.

But yeah, my dream is buying some incredibly complicated thing with hundreds of pieces, all made of solid wood, and putting it together all by myself. Now that I type it out, I feel like I've stumbled on some sort of sad reflection of middle class masculinity - but no, the giant bed frame (with drawers sold separately) is me, and I am it. I peel the paper off a pine panel revealing a small amount of sap. I try to decide if these two pieces are supposed to have a tiny gap between them, or if I'm going to end up cracking something by overtightening the cam lock. It brings me joy.

I wish IKEA furniture could be my hobby.
posted by teponaztli at 2:36 PM on November 28, 2015 [6 favorites]


A few years back I purchased a cheap wall clock called RUSCH, in part because of the name, which the link confirms actually means "rush." That same clock always runs fast so...complete customer satisfaction here!
posted by Insert Clever Name Here at 2:37 PM on November 28, 2015 [7 favorites]


Also, I love the instructions, because there's just the tiniest bit of confusion sometimes, so I have to look at something and say "no, the three holes are on the bottom there... but then these three holes are spaced wider apart, so - aha, the bottom side must be this side." It's like a little spatial brain-teaser.
posted by teponaztli at 2:38 PM on November 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


I say this as a person who's friends go to IKEA and then I go build their stuff just for kicks
    YES IT'S LIKE PLUS-SIZED LEGOS
My people!! I'm the default Ikea assembler in our household, because it's my kind of fun.

But it's also great whenever Mr sively and I have a chance to do it together, because for many years now, we always end up playing that we're participating in the Amazing Race and that assembling the Tjockskalleby cabinet is a detour. So we're all "Go go go!" and "Good job!" and "You rock!" with each other all the time. And when we're making good progress, we get all cocky and start gloating about how this leg of the race clearly is ours to take, and we'll get the 5 days trip to Belize from Travelocity. And when we hit a snag and have to redo something, or can't find the right screws amidst all the cardboard and plastic, or the battery of the electric screwdriver runs empty, we're like "Oh no! The other teams will get ahead! This could cost us the race! We should've chosen to clean the elephant enclosure in stead." But usually we're acing it and feel triumphant afterwards.

I don't remember anymore how it all started, but it's like getting a session of couples therapy and a new piece of furniture all in one. Our marriage owes a lot to Ikea.
posted by sively at 2:51 PM on November 28, 2015 [10 favorites]


I've rebuilt car engines so I'm usually pretty good at this stuff but I have to say that building an entire IKEA sectional sofa felt like one of the 12 labors. That said, it wasn't fiddly or anything, just massive and with lots of repeated tasks. It's the moving parts that really intimidate me with IKEA builds because all the slightly out of alignment bits will drive me nuts.
posted by LastOfHisKind at 3:03 PM on November 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


we always end up playing that we're participating in the Amazing Race and that assembling the Tjockskalleby cabinet is a detour

Wehn TAR was in Stockholm about ten years ago, assembling a desk at the Kungens Kurva IKEA was actually a Detour task.
posted by holgate at 3:08 PM on November 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


> I don't think I've ever heard a US Ikea employee render a J as anything but an English /dʒ/.

Having embarked on trying to learn Swedish early this year, I can't say that I blame them. I agree it would be fun to see what pronunciations people come up with.


It looks like a lot of these are meant to be evocative rather than references to real place names.

Majby means "May Village". Ljusdal means "Light Valley" or "Valley of (Sun) Light". These names were probably selected because of the images they evoke for Swedish consumers. That Majby is also a really, really rare surname and Ljusdal is the name of a real valley somewhere in Sweden is probably irrelevant.
posted by nangar at 3:10 PM on November 28, 2015


It's not just Swedish place names, which caused some (very small) controversy between Denmark and Sweden some years ago.
posted by bouvin at 3:28 PM on November 28, 2015


I also enjoy putting together IKEA or other such furnishings

I understand all those words but not in that order. Much like my relationship with IKEA products.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:37 PM on November 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


I refuse to accept that Ikea product names mean anything other than "This will have to do until I pay off my student loans in 25 years or so".
posted by srboisvert at 4:34 PM on November 28, 2015 [4 favorites]


These names were probably selected because of the images they evoke for Swedish consumers.

Cannot speak for everyone, but my brain definitely parses these names as "place name entities", with no association beyond what I'd associate with the place (e.g. Ljusdal is a village, and not a very exiting one).
posted by effbot at 4:51 PM on November 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


Does husön refer to the Finnish place Husö (which I guess means house island; if it works like Danish then "husön" is "the house island).

What about the ones that appear to be combos of pleasant words, like "dalfred" (valley peace? would be in danish anyhow)?

Also this is likely unintentional but "Billy" in English is pronounced the same as "billig" in Danish, which means cheap. Billig the bookcase says hello, indeed.
posted by nat at 4:57 PM on November 28, 2015


Also yes my favorite part of going to IKEA is assembling the things afterwards. I do think Mr. Nat and I had a little grumble once when he wanted to start assembling without me (and he did not want to wait.)
posted by nat at 5:00 PM on November 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


There are several (loviken, lillholmen) that appear to be the definite article (the lovik, the lillholm) with some swedish names. Or possessive (lun=luns, karen=karens)

"lossnen" is very close to "lossen"=lynx in Danish. "lossen" is also a place in Sweden, I don't know how swedish forms the definite article, but could that be what "lossnen" is?

and Mandal is a place in norway?

å is stream, so storå = big stream. (maybe also a place)

And.. the list must be old. øresund is no longer the name of a toilet seat. (I'm having a mild giggle that it ever was.)
posted by nat at 5:27 PM on November 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


"lossnen" is very close to "lossen"=lynx in Danish. "lossen" is also a place in Sweden, I don't know how swedish forms the definite article, but could that be what "lossnen" is?

The building blocks for really old place names have a myriad of more or less false friends in modern languages. The name of the lake "lossnen/lossen" is afaict most likely just a spelling tweak of archaic "lusn" for light, which is the same "lus/ljus" as in "ljusdal" mentioned earlier, via the river "ljusnan" (which is a dialectal tweak of "ljusnån").
posted by effbot at 6:09 PM on November 28, 2015


when he wanted to start assembling without me (and he did not want to wait.)

That's our biggest argument. I can burn out an ikea piece before she can even be ready to start. Or, I can let her do it, makes no difference to me. I do not want to spend the rest of the day "doing a fun project together" (inefficiently, having to find the parts she's 'organized', explaining the pictures, debating what the pictures mean, insisting on following the instructions in order...)
posted by ctmf at 9:24 PM on November 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


All our books are held up by a Swedish boy name. Så trevligt. On the other hand, I never quite got the Point of our wobbly TV chairs with their ever-detaching screws.

I notice they don't have any of these:

Pizza: Swedish national dish

Utför: Used in a verbal construction where 'everything goes to hell'.

Utöver: 'additional', here addressing the item one forgot to buy.

Saknas: 'missing', like some special-sized screws often are, or inches, in the corner that one measured so carefully.

Tippen: the recycling station.

Punka: a flat tyre.
posted by Namlit at 1:52 AM on November 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


Searched for the one I couldn't find: the computer desk I had as a 14 year old boy

'Jerker'

Cheeky buggers
posted by AAALASTAIR at 8:08 AM on November 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


One of my most self-satisfied Internet moments came a number of years ago when a friend (who had moved multiple times in the past year) asked rhetorically on Facebook, "How many times must a man reassemble his IKEA furniture?"

After a few minutes of Googling, I was extremely proud to respond, "The answer, my friend, is BJÖRKEN INGER VINDE. The answer is BJÖRKEN INGER VINDE."
posted by unregistered_animagus at 10:22 AM on November 29, 2015 [5 favorites]


Some of them don't need translating! Like the BUMERANG coat hangers.
posted by bendy at 11:26 PM on November 29, 2015


LEKMAN ❞layman

Given that it's a box of exactly the right size for holding 12" records, I wonder whether it sharing a name with a well-known Swedish indie-pop singer is a coincidence.
posted by acb at 4:18 PM on December 1, 2015


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