Outside of Sweden the word “lagom” seems to be trending this year. It takes over the Danish “hygge” and I expect to see books to be written on the subject. Or, wait; could really that much be squeezed out of the word lagom? To fill an entire book? Well, if hygge could …
Lagom is not trending in Sweden. It’s always around, always with us.
The urban legend has it that lagom derives from the Vikings; sharing the meal and the mead between themselves, using the same bowl. The words supposed to have been spoken were to not eat or drink more than that it would last “laget om” – the team around. Laget om then became lagom. Alas lagom means ”just the right amount, not too little not too much”. Lagom is a balance of things. Wether used for water temperature, amount of miles travelled during holiday, how much pick-and-mix candy the kids are allowed or how many guests are to be invited lagom is the answer.
A few examples in English and in Swedish:
Is it time to leave? Yes, it’s probably (the right) time. // Är det dags att gå? Ja, det är nog lagom.
Isn’t it too cold to swim? No, it’s just about right/perfect.// Är det inte för kallt för att bada? Nej, det är lagom varmt.
Does the blouse fit you (refering to size) Yes, it’s good! // Passar blusen? Ja, den är lagom!
Is it lots to do at work at the moment? No, it’s pretty ok/the right amount of work. // Är det mycket att göra på jobbet just nu? Nej, det är ganska lagom.