The Swedish Thief vs. You

To jump like a frog, to sing like a bird and to run like the wind. Some nouns have the great privilege of being associated to certain verbs. For instance, the birds can rightfully accuse everyone and everything else in the world that sings of being copycats. “They sing like me”, they can say. However, the bird, like most nouns only has one or possibly two verbs (flying) to their name. I know of a noun that can claim at least ten: The Swedish thief!

Yes, you heard me people! In Sweden you can listen, peek and smoke like a thief. Tjuvlyssna (eaves-drop), tjuvkika (sneak-peek) and tjuvröka (smoke secretly) are all verbs starting with the word tjuv (thief). Basically, anything that you do without having the permission for it and without anyone knowing, you can put a thief in front of.

Here’s a list of all the things (that I found in the dictionary) that Swedes do like thieves would do them:

Tjuvträna (work out in secret)

Tjuvstarta (make a false start in sports)

Tjuvskjuta (hunt without permission)

Tjuvfiska (fish without permission)

Tjuvåka (go on the bus/train without a ticket)

Tjuvkoppla (hot-wire a car)

Tjuvnypa (pinch someone when they’re not prepared)

Tjuvlyssna (eaves-drop)

Tjuvkika (sneak-peek)

Tjuvröka (smoke despite being told by your parents not to)

Of course this also enables self-designed combinations such as “Tjuvstäda” (cleaning without permission) which further adds to the list. Furthermore, if you are a thief yourself you could argue that everything you do, you do like a thief would do it, like “Tjuvgå till snabbköpet” (Go to the supermarket like a thief). However, they are not official so I don’t include them in my list.

So, what’s the point of this article, you might ask. “I don’t care about stupid Swedish thieves claiming verbs here and there”, you might say. Well, I’ll tell you what this is. It’s a little challenge that I would like to call: The Swedish thief versus the internet. I challenge you to come up with a noun that has more verbs and/or adjectives connected to it than the Swedish thief has. The number to beat is in other words: 10.

Please, post your nouns under this article, on the Facebook page or write a tweet if you manage to beat it or if you find other cool nouns that are almost as good. Of course you can use any language you want.

Just a tip:

If you’re searching for similes like these in English I recommend the Wording tool on There you can simply put in “Strong as a ?” or “jump like a ?” and get results like “Strong as a bull” and “jump like a frog”. Have fun, and good luck!


You might also like: