Icelandic: langt seilst


New Member
french France
Good morning,

In several newpapers I found the expression langt seilst in different forms:
langt seilst að gera eitthvað, það er mjög langt seilst að ..., langt seilst i eitthvað, langt er seilst ..., and so on.

I suppose seilst is the past participle of the verb seilast (reach out), but the translations of this verb in Islex and the Orðabók do not help me to find a satisfactory translation of the whole thing.

Intuitively, I understand something like "a long time spent to do or obtain something".
Thanks for some help.
  • Segorian

    Senior Member
    Icelandic & Swedish
    In a literal sense, seilast means to reach for something:

    Hún seildist eftir símanum “She reached for her phone”​

    Metaphorically, it can mean to “seek to obtain something” or to “seek to prove a certain point or proposition”. Langt seilst is used to describe excessive, unreasonable or unjustifiable endeavours of that kind:

    Þó var helst til langt seilst þegar farið var að saka ríkisstjórnina um að hafa svikið kosningaloforð áður en hún var tekin til starfa
    “However, accusing the government of failing to make good on [specific] electoral promises even before it started its work was taking it a bit too far
    (from a newspaper opinion piece; Note: the words “a bit” are there to translate helst til)​


    New Member
    french France
    Thank you very much for your quick and detailed answer, Segorian.

    Just to assess my comprehension, here is the title of an article in Vísir (29. maí 2010):

    það er ansi langt seilst þegar börnin manns eru notuð í pólitískum tilgangi.

    According to your explanations, this title should translate (approximately):

    using one's own children for (some) politic purpose is going much to far.
    (about some politician who used photographs with her children on posters during an election campaign)

    Is it correct? It makes sense, at least ...



    Senior Member
    Icelandic & Swedish
    Basically, the answer is ‘yes’. However, in a sentence such as the one you quote, the pronoun maður refers to the speaker (just as the English pronoun one would do in a similar context). The meaning of the sentence is therefore:

    “it is taking things too far when one's children are used to score political points”,​

    the context being that the politician being interviewed is complaining about her political opponents' criticism of something she said about raising her son.