Illustration of a hygge situation, with Meik Wiking's The Little Book of Hygge
Illustration of a hygge situation, with Meik Wiking's The Little Book of Hygge
"Hygge" sign in a restaurant in Nørrebro
"Hygge" sign in a restaurant in Nørrebro

Hygge (/ˈh(j)ɡə/, H(Y)OO-guh; Danish: [ˈhykə]; Norwegian: [ˈhŷɡːə]) is a word in Danish and Norwegian that describes a mood of coziness and "comfortable conviviality" with feelings of wellness and contentment. As a cultural category with its sets of associated practices hygge has more or less the same meaning in both places and in both languages,[1] however, the emphasis on hygge as a core part of Danish culture is a recent phenomenon, dating to the late 20th century.


The word hygge comes from a Danish word meaning "to give courage, comfort, joy".[2] Hygge stems from hyggja which means "to think" in Old Norse.[2] Hygge is built from the Old Norse word hugr which later became the hug which means the soul, mind, consciousness.[3]

But it is also speculated that hygge might originate from the word hug. Hug comes from the 1560s word hugge, which means "to embrace". The word hugge is of unknown origin but is highly associated with an Old Norse term, hygga, which means "to comfort", which comes from the word hugr, meaning "mood". In turn, the word comes from the Germanic word hugyan, which is a cognate of the Old English hycgan, meaning "to think, consider".[4]

It first appeared in Danish writing in the 19th century and has since evolved into the cultural idea known in Denmark and Norway today.[5] While hygge has exactly the same meaning in Norwegian as in Danish and is a widely used word in both Norway and Denmark (including in its derived forms, such as hyggelig), the emphasis specifically on "hygge" as an important part of their cultural identity is mostly a recent Danish phenomenon; in Norway "hygge" is just a word, similar in status to "cosy" in English-speaking countries or "cozy" in the US.


In both Danish and Norwegian, hygge refers to "a form of everyday togetherness", "a pleasant and highly valued everyday experience of safety, equality, personal wholeness and a spontaneous social flow".[6]

The noun hygge includes something nice, cozy, safe and known, referring to a psychological state.[7] The Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen has studied the positive effect of "hygge" on Danish society.[8]

Collins English Dictionary defines the word as "a concept, originating in Denmark, of creating cosy and convivial atmospheres that promote wellbeing".[9]

In popular culture

Collins English Dictionary named hygge the runner-up (after "Brexit") as word of the year in the UK in 2016.[9] This followed a period during which several books focusing on hygge had been marketed in the UK,[10] such as The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking,[11] Hygge: The Danish Art of Happiness by Marie Tourell Søderberg,[12] and The Book of Hygge: The Danish Art of Living Well by Louisa Thomsen Brits.[13]

The concept of Hygge gained popularity with an international audience in late 2017, resulting in an increase of online searches and the rise of the hashtag "#Hygge" on Instagram.[14]

In Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark, there is a Hygge & Happiness walking tour.[15]

Act II of the Broadway musical Frozen opens with the song "Hygge", which is all about being comfortable, happy, and together.

In the Australian soap opera Neighbours, Jemima Davies-Smythe incorporates hygge into a redesign of her half-brother Karl Kennedy's living room.[16]

A UK housing development in the town of Keynsham, Somerset, was named "Hygge Park" by developer Crest Nicholson in 2019.[17]

Swedish-owned ferry company Stena Line offers a series of premium relaxation lounges on its Irish Sea ferry services called "Hygge Lounges".[18] In November 2020, The Hygge Suite brand of vacation rentals opened in Giants Ridge, Minnesota; and later two more in Lutsen, Minnesota, aimed at getting people away from the cities to relax and unwind with their loved ones.[19] In September 2022, Hotel Hygge opened in Buellton, California.[20]

Due to autumn and winter traditions such as pie, yuletide, sweaters, hot cocoa, soup, and apple cider, winter and autumn can be thought to be the sole seasons of hygge. However, moments of hygge happen throughout the year, including the summer. Examples of hot-weather outdoor activities considered hygge include picnics, barbecues, concerts, street fairs and cycling.[21]

The second episode of the second series of BBC sitcom Motherland, "Soft Opening", saw Amanda open a concept store called "Hygge Tygge" which, unbeknown to her, means "cosy chewing" in Danish.[22]

The Ghost and Molly McGee episode "Ready, Set, Snow" sees Molly trying to get the most out of a snow day while her family and Libby stay inside to experience "hygee".[23]

Similar words

See also


  1. ^ Gullestad, Marianne (1992). "Home Decoration as Popular Culture". The art of social relations: essays on culture, social action and everyday life in modern Norway. Oslo: Scandinavian University Press. p. 235. ISBN 8200216527. [note 12 for chapter III]((cite book)): CS1 maint: postscript (link)
  2. ^ a b Falk, Hjalmar & Torp, Alf (1903). "Hygge". Etymologisk Ordbog over det norske og det danske Sprog (in Norwegian). Kristiania: Aschehoug. p. 315.((cite book)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  3. ^ Falk, Hjalmar & Torp, Alf (1903). "Hu". Etymologisk Ordbog over det norske og det danske Sprog (in Norwegian). Kristiania: Aschehoug. p. 303.((cite book)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  4. ^ Wiking, Meik (September 2016). The little book of hygge : the Danish way to live well. ISBN 9780241283912. OCLC 958463988.
  5. ^ Parkinson, Justin (2015-10-02). "Hygge: A heart-warming lesson from Denmark". BBC News. Retrieved 2017-05-25.
  6. ^ "Interweavings – A cultural phenomenology of everyday consumption and social atmosphere within Danish middle-class families, Jeppe Trolle Linnet, 2010". Archived from the original (PDF) on 2018-09-23. Retrieved 2016-10-18.
  7. ^ Hjalmar Falk og Alf Torp (1903): Etymologisk ordbog over det norske og det danske sprog. Aschehoug, Kristiania, s. 315
  8. ^ Meik Wiking, The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well, London: Penguin Life, 2016, ISBN 978-0-241-28391-2.
  9. ^ a b "Top 10 Collins Word of the Year 2016". 2016-11-03. Retrieved 2016-11-07.
  10. ^ Cartier-Morley, Jess (2016-10-18). "Hygge – a soothing balm for the traumas of 2016". The Guardian. Retrieved 2016-11-07.
  11. ^ Crace, John (2016-09-11). "The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking – digested read". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2017-05-25.
  12. ^ "Hygge". Goodreads. Retrieved 2017-05-25.
  13. ^ Williams, Zoe (2016-09-29). "The Book of Hygge review – can the Danes really teach us how to live?". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2017-05-25.
  14. ^ Stieg, Cory (23 November 2019). "Why people are so obsessed with 'hygge,' the cozy Danish lifestyle movement". Retrieved 2020-07-29.
  15. ^ By Mie, Copenhagen. "Hygge & Happiness tour". Retrieved 2020-09-27.
  16. ^ Astle, David (8 March 2019). "David Astle's Wordplay: when Euro-curios become a gaffer-tape solution". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 1 February 2021.
  17. ^ "Hygge Park at Keynsham". Crest Nicholson. Retrieved 20 December 2020.
  18. ^ "Hygge Recline Lounge | Stena Line". Retrieved 2021-05-30.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  19. ^ "About Us". The Hygge Suite. 2020-08-04. Retrieved 2023-02-14.
  20. ^ Hertzfeld, Esther (2022-09-06). "Hotel Hygge opens in California's wine country". Hotel Management. Retrieved 2022-09-07.
  21. ^ "What is 'Hygge'?". VisitDenmark. Retrieved 2021-08-10.
  22. ^ "Soft Opening". IMDb.
  23. ^ "Ready, Set, Snow". IMDb.
  24. ^ Watanabe, Masaki (December 15, 2009). "That "Mattari" Feeling…: Why Today's Japanese Don't Want to Go Overseas". The Bulletin: a journal of Japanese-Canadian community, history+culture. Retrieved 27 April 2021.