Norwegian: søsken + niese & nevø = nøsken ?


In English, there's a convention where a new word was coined from the gender-neutral "sibling" to mean a gender-neutral niece or nephew: "nibling" (pronounced exactly like "nibbling" from "to nibble").

As in: My niblings are getting older.

Does the same convention work in Norwegian? I saw two mentions of it on Twitter but I don't think it's actually in use. Is there another term or slang people would rather use? Does nøsken mean something already?

Just curious :)
  • raumar

    Senior Member
    I have never seen or heard "nøsken", and would not understand it if I came across it.

    In Norwegian, "tantebarn" and "onkelbarn" are widely used. (If you are somebody's aunt, they are your "tantebarn"). They are not used merely as gender-neutral alternatives. Many people seem to prefer them - maybe they regard "niese" and "nevø" as formal or old-fashioned.


    Senior Member
    So, what is actually the convention you refer to? Is it the sound-meaning pairing of the term or the way it is coined? I assume it is the latter. I don't know how it was coined but my guess is that the n- from nephew and niece is preserved and replaces the s- in siblings such that the element that contributes the most to the derived meaning is actually only the n-. Meanwhile, what appears to be the stem of the term does not bring anything to the table that is not already included in n-. That is at least what the suggested Norwegian calque seems to indicate.

    n- = children of ones siblings
    -iblings = ?

    That is by no means any conventional way of forming new words in Norwegian (or in English). It is semantically opaque so the meaning would have to be learnt and memorised.

    To sum up: no, the word formation process does not exist. And just like raumar, I would not be able to understand it. And if I may add: I found the tweet and the suggestion does not exactly exhibit a lot of creativity and ingenuity.


    Senior Member
    English (US), Danish, bilingual
    ^^ I have to say, if I had heard 'nibling' I would have thought I heard 'nibbling' ...and I'd probably be confused. I´ve never heard it or seen it anywhere on this side of the pond. However, according to Merriam-Webster (where it's listed under "Words We're Watching") it was coined in 1951 by a Professor Martin at Yale University. They conclude that the future of this noun looks pretty bright at this point: Words We're Watching: 'Nibling'.

    Maybe you should rethink nøsken ;)

    Ben Jamin

    Senior Member
    Creating such words as "nibling" or "nøsken" or dissecting the word "hamburger" into "ham" + "burger" and replacing "ham" with "fish" or anything else, just violates my sense of language esthetics.