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Word Of The Year, 2016
We leave out post-truth and coulrophobia to focus on hygge (CCSS Level: Grade 7, Words: 334)
Nov 23, 2016 Culture & Entertainment

Every year the Oxford Dictionaries publishes a shortlist of new words, one of which will be chosen as the "Word of the Year". This year's choices includes coulrophobia (the fear of clowns) and chatbot (a computer program humans can have a conversation with). Also on the list is a word from Denmark - hygge. Some words are almost impossible to translate and hygge is probably one of them. The Oxford Dictionaries defines it as "a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being (regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture)".

You can see why it is probably impossible to find a word in English (and probably other languages too) that quite captures the meaning. Danes themselves say that it is a word that needs to be "felt" rather than translated. Even saying the word can be a bit tricky for non-Danes. It is pronounced something like HOOG-uh (which rhymes with sugar).

Recently hygge has become something of a fad, with books, websites, cafes and even hashtags making use of the word. Writers try to make sense of the word and books have been written telling how to achieve it. But probably the best way to understand hygge is evidence of what it looks like in practice.

The Guardian newspaper gives us a list - 'coffee pots, cinnamon buns, candles; cashmere socks, hands wrapped around mugs'. The danish website explains it this way: "Hygge means creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people. The warm glow of candlelight is hygge. Friends and family – that's hygge too. There's nothing more hygge than sitting round a table, discussing the big and small things in life."

Perhaps the fact that hygge is unique to Denmark might go some way to explaining why a country that in winter experiences freezing cold as well as darkness for 17 hours a day, can still be judged the 'world's happiest country' by the World Happiness Report in 2016.

What is common between the descriptions of hygge by the Guardian newspaper and the Visitdenmark website?
They both mention coffee
They both describe winter
The both talk about candles
They both talk about warmth
Why is it a bit surprising that Denmark has been awarded the world's happiest country?
It is a warm sunny country all year
It is a popular place for tourists
It is in northern Europe
It has very little sun in winter
A person who comes from from Denmark is referred to as a …?
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the powdery residue left after the burning of a substance or emitted by a volcano



the gas around the earth or a planet; the mood or feeling of a place



soft wool from a Kashmir goat



an entertainer, especially in a circus, wearing makeup and funny costumes



relaxed, no worries



being happy and satisfied



being friendly and lively



the quality of being cosy, or comfortable



an extreme fear of clowns



something really popular amongst a group of people



describing the meaning of



causes or leads to



facts that show something is true



come into contact with



make something clear or add detail



below zero degrees celsius



one of the positions a player takes in a basketball game



on social media, a word used to show a message is on a certain topic



living well and living simply



not able to be done



in real life, rather than just words



make the sounds of a word



how good something is



not long ago



not long ago



sounds that match



write the meaning of something in another language



a difficult problem needing care or skill    



the only one, not like anything else