Danish Genealogical Word List

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Danish Genealogical
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The Danish Genealogical Word List shows Danish words and their English translations for many words that are found in documents used to research Danish ancestors. If the word you are looking for is not on this list, please consult a Danish-English dictionary. (See the "Additional Resources" section below.)

Danish is a Germanic language like English, German, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, and Icelandic. A major spelling and grammar reform was introduced in Denmark in 1953. Most differences between modern and old Danish are simply a matter of spelling. The spelling section in "Language Characteristics" below, along with the English to Danish Word list are designed to help you find the words you need.

Due to community feedback, the Danish Word List is now available in a PDF format. This list was created by revising the Genealogical Word List for Denmark that is now out of print. Some words that did not seem relevant to Danish research were removed. Many words were added including many occupations. There are 1, 278 terms in this list. The PDF will be updated as the Word List is improved. See Danish Genealogical Word List October 2010

Language Characteristics[edit | edit source]

Variant Forms of Words[edit | edit source]

In Danish, as in English, the forms of some words will vary according to how they are used in a sentence. Who—whose—whom or marry—marries—married are examples of words in English with variant forms. The endings of a word in a document may differ from those in this list, for example:

Mand= man

Kone= wife

Manden= the man

Konen= the wife

Mænd= men

Koner= wives

Mænderne= the men

Konerne= the wives

This word list gives the standard form of each word.

Alphabetical Order[edit | edit source]

Written Danish has three additional letters: Æ (æ), Ø (ø), and Å (å). These letters are filed after A-Z alphabetically. The letter Å (å) was officially introduced in 1953, so it never appears in older records. Prior to that time it was usually written as Aa (aa) and filed at the beginning of the alphabet. Danish dictionaries and indexes, this word list, and the Locality section of the FamilySearch Catalog use the following alphabetical order:

a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z æ ø å

Spelling[edit | edit source]

Spelling rules were not standardized in earlier centuries. The following spelling variations are common.

aa used for å

b used for p

c used for k

d used for t

fi used for v

g used for k

i used for j

x used for ks

q used for k

w used for v

e used for æ

ö used for ø

u used for v

ch used for k

tj used for ki


skov spelled as schov

kvinde spelled as qvinde

Århus spelled as Aarhus

Key Words[edit | edit source]

To find and use specific types of Danish records, you will need to know some key words in Danish. This section gives key genealogical terms in English and the Danish words with the same or similar meanings.

For example, in the first column you will find the English word marriage. In the second column you will find Danish words with meanings such as marry, marriage, wedding, wedlock, unite, legitimate, joined, and other words used in Danish records to indicate marriage.

English Danish
banns trolovede, trolovelse, forlovelse
births fødte, født
burials begravede, begravelse, jordet
census folketælling
child barn
christenings døpte, døbt, daab
confirmations konfirmerede
deaths døde, død
father fader, far
female kvindekjøn (køn), pige
husband mand, husbonde, husfader
index register
male mandkjøn (køn), drenge
marriages copulerede, vielse, ægteviede, bryllup
military militær, lægd
mother moder, mor
moving in tilgangsliste, inflytning
moving out avgangsliste, udflytning
name, given navne
name, surname efternavne
parents forældre
parish sogn
vaccinations vaccinerede
wife hustru, husmoder, kone, kvinde
year år, anno

Additional Resources[edit | edit source]

This word list includes only words most commonly found in genealogical sources. For further help, use a Danish-English dictionary. Several dictionaries are available in the Scandinavian book collection at the Family History Library. Their call numbers begin with 439.81321.

The following dictionary is also available on microfilm for use in Family History Centers:
Magnussen, Johannes Julius. McKay's Modern English-Danish, Danish-English Dictionary. New York: David McKay, 1957. (FHL book 439.81321 M275m; film 1,440,033, item 1.)

Additional dictionaries are listed in the Subject section of the FamilySearch Library Catalog under DANISH LANGUAGE - DICTIONARIES or in the Locality section under DENMARK - LANGUAGE AND LANGUAGES.

A dictionary of modern Danish published by the Danish Language and Literature Society (Det Danske Sprog- og Litteraturselskab) is available online at The Danish Dictionary (Den Danske Ordbog}.

Other FamilySearch Research Wiki Resources[edit | edit source]