Sweden Language and Languages

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This list contains Swedish words with their English translations. The words included here are those that you are likely to find in genealogical sources. If the word you are looking for is not on this list, please consult a Swedish-English dictionary. (See the "Additional Resources" section below.)

Swedish is a Germanic language, as are Norwegian, Danish, and Icelandic. Most differences between modern and old Swedish are simply a matter of spelling. Carefully study the Spelling section in "Language Characteristics" below. This will help you find the words in this list.

Swedish is spoken in Sweden and parts of Finland. The Swedish language was used in official records of Finland until the end of the 1800s.


Variant Forms of Words

In Swedish, 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. Also, vowels sometimes have diacritical marks in different forms of the same word. Note the following examples:

mannen the man yrket the profession
män men yrken professions
männen the men yrkena the professions

Alphabetical Order

Written Swedish has three letters not found in English: Å (å), Ä (ä), and Ö (ö). Alphabetically, these letters come after z. Swedish dictionaries, indexes, the locality section of the Family History Library Catalog, and this word list 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 å ä ö


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

  • ä used for e
  • i used for j
  • j used for g, gj, hj, lj, dj
  • k used for ck, ch, g, gg, c, q
  • t used for d, th, tt
  • v used for hv, fv, ffv, f, w
  • tj used for k, kj, ch
  • sk used for skj, sch, sj, stj
  • s used for ss, c, z
  • Examples:
  • änka spelled as enka
  • mjölnare spelled as miölnare
  • kärr spelled as tjärr


This word list includes only words most commonly found in genealogical sources. For further help, use a Swedish-English dictionary. Several Swedish-English dictionaries are available at the Family History Library. These are in the Scandinavian collection. Their call numbers begin with 439.7321.

The following dictionary is also available on microfilm for use in Family History Centers:

Ernolv, Carl. Svensk-Engelsk Ordbok [Swedish-English Dictionary]. Stockholm, Sweden: Svenska Bokförlaget Norstedts, 1947. (FHL film 1,124,531, item 12).

Björkman, C.G. Svensk-Englesk Ordbok [Swedish- English Dictionary]. Stockholm, Sweden: P.A. Norstedt, 1889. (FHL film 1,224,734, item 1). Swedish spelling was reformed in 1906. Since this dictionary was written in 1889, it shows words as they were spelled before 1906.

Additional dictionaries are listed in the Subject section of the Family History Library Catalog under:


or in Place Search under:


Key Words

To find and use specific types of Swedish records, you will need to know some key words in Swedish. This section lists key genealogical terms in English and the Swedish 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 Swedish words with meanings such as marry, marriage, wedding, wedlock, unite, legitimate, joined,and other words used in Swedish records to indicate marriage.

English Swedish 
banns lysning
birth födda, födde, född, födelse
burial begravning
child barn
christening döpta, döpte, döpt, döpelse, dop
clerical survey husförhörslängd
confirmation konfirmation
death döda, döde, död, avgangen, avliden, avsomna
father far, fader
female kvinnkjön, kvinna
household examination roll husförhörslängd, förhör, församlingbok 
husband man, make
index register
male mankjön, man
marriage vigda, vigde, vigd, vigsel, gift, gifte, giftermål, bröllop, brudfolk
military militär, soldat
mother mor, moder
moving in inflyttning
moving out utflyttning
name, given förnamn
name, surname efternamn
parents föräldrar
parish socken, församling, kommun
probate boupptekning
wife hustru, maka
year år