Iceland’s Version of the Bookworm

A delightful vocab discovery in my homework assignment today:


a reading horse, the distant cousin of the book worm

This word wasn’t in any of my dictionaries (surprise!), but I did find a quick blurb about it on this on a linguistics page associated with the University of Iceland. It is a Q&A page, and the question, conveniently enough, asks “Where did the word ‘lestrarhestur’ come from?”

I won’t try to translate the answer (you can click the link if you want to check it out in Icelandic), but the gist is that this is a loan word from Danish and has been in use since sometime in the 20th century. I believe that the answer also says that it used to have a rather negative connotation, but now, like “book worm” (bókaormur in Icelandic), isn’t so bad.

Apparently, Danish also has a similar word which translates to “reading shark,” but for whatever reason, lestrarhákarl doesn’t seem to have made any inroads in Iceland, which I think is truly a shame.

However, given how super-duper awesome and adorbs and well-coiffed Icelandic horses are (Exhibit A, Exhibit B, Exhibit Awesome), I think we can all get behind the lestrarhestur coinage, eh?

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