We use cookies to enhance your experience on our website. By continuing to use our website, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Find out moreJump to Main NavigationJump to Content
  • Text size: A
  • A

hygge, n. and adj.

Brit. Hear pronunciation/ˈh(j)uːɡə/
Hear pronunciation/ˈhʊɡə/
U.S. Hear pronunciation/ˈh(j)uɡə/
Hear pronunciation/ˈhʊɡə/
Frequency (in current use):  Show frequency band information
Origin: A borrowing from Danish. Etymon: Danish hygge.
Etymology: < Danish hygge (19th cent.) < Norwegian hygge, (Nynorsk) hyggje comfort, cosiness, friendly atmosphere, good cheer.
The Norwegian noun is either:
(i) the reflex of Old Norwegian hyggja   thought, mind, cognate with or formed similarly to Old Icelandic hyggja   thought, mind, opinion, (also) thoughtfulness, care < the same Scandinavian base as Old Icelandic hyggja   to think, imagine (see how v.1);
or (ii) perhaps a later re-formation < hygge, (Nynorsk) hyggja (verb) to care for, to find solace, etc. ( < the same Scandinavian base).
Compare also (with different gender) Norwegian (Nynorsk) hygge thought, reflection.
 A. n.

  Esp. with reference to Danish culture: a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being; contentment from simple pleasures, such as warmth, food, friends, etc.In quot. 1960 with reference to the Danish system of cooperative farming.

1960   Capital Times (Madison, Wisconsin) 29 Feb. 28/3   Today the Denmark farmer has so much ‘hygge’ (comfort) that it is now feared that he may become soft.
1967   San Francisco Sunday Examiner & Chron. 26 Mar. (Sunday Punch section) 1/4   Older people..worshipped something called ‘hygge’... Now ‘hygge’ was difficult to define. It was a feeling. It was the cozy feeling you had when you sat around a warm fire sipping tea with relatives you liked on a snowy Sunday afternoon.
1977   Washington Post (Nexis) 15 July a24   Other Scandinavians readily admit they do not have hygge. They blame their inhibitions on the isolated, rural communities from which most spring.
2001   Austral. Gourmet Traveller Aug. 134/2   Find a table in the sun and order a foaming glass of Tuborg beer or a chilled akvavit , and you'll be in an advanced state of hygge before you know it.
2015   Communities Summer 26   Christmas time, when loved ones sit close together on a cold rainy night, is a true moment of hygge.

1960—2015(Hide quotations)

 B. adj.

  Esp. with reference to Danish culture: that inspires or engenders feelings of contentment or well-being as from experiencing cosiness, comfort, social harmony, etc.; pleasant, harmonious; cosy, comfortable.

1963   Sunday Bull. (Racine, Wisconsin) 10 Mar. a9/2   The Danes have a word for the decorating theme of this apartment, ‘Hygge’ which means everything is cozy. People..will want the ‘Hygge Look’.
1977   Washington Post (Nexis) 15 July a24   On a sunny summer day here, relaxed crowds stroll past shops in the Stroeget..or sip beer at cheerful out-door restaurants in the Tivoli's oriental fantasy park. It is all very hygge.
2010   Rough Guide Denmark (ed. 2) 80   Cafes and restaurants..spill out onto the pavements—..most will turn on gas heaters or provide you with blankets to help along that hygge (‘cosy’) feeling.

1963—2010(Hide quotations)


This is a new entry (OED Third Edition, June 2017; most recently modified version published online March 2022).