Krympflasjon: Norway’s Word of the Year Explained

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Same price, smaller package. The Norwegian word for “shrinkflation” has been selected by the Norwegian Language Council as their word of the year for 2022.

Every year, the Language Council announces the top ten words of the year, crowning one with the title. To source the possibilities, the Council studies word usage in the media.

Illustration of shrinkflation in Norway.

“We look for words that stand out for each year. It can either be completely new words or words that may have been in use a little from before, but which have increased in use or gained a new meaning,” said director Åse Wetås to NRK.

Previous winning words have included finanskrise (financial crisis), nave/naving (living on benefits from NAV without needing them), sake-TV (slow TV), hverdagsintegrering (everyday integration) and falske nyheter (fake news). In 2021, sportsvaske (sportswashing) was the winner.

This year’s word of the year is krympflasjon, which is the Norwegian term for shrinkflation.

What is shrinkflation?

Driven in part by high electricity prices across Europe, there is no doubt we are in the midst of a cost of living crisis. Inflation is essentially the increase in prices of things, but that’s not the only measure relevant to the cost of living.

Shrinkflation—or krympflasjon—describes the phenomenon of consumer goods getting smaller while prices remain the same, or don’t reduce by an equivalent amount.

Norwegian krone coins

“Krympflasjon sums up 2022 in a striking way. There are many who are experiencing difficult times because of the price development we have seen,” said Wetås.

If you’ve ever bought a chocolate bar and thought, “I’m sure this used to be bigger,” you might actually be right.

NRK described an example of a popular brand of Norwegian lefse, which suddenly went from being a five-pack to a four-pack. The popular taco shells from Santa Maria also shrunk from a 14-pack to a 10-pack. These are just two of many examples.

Not a new phenomenon

The practice of reducing pack sizes while charging less is not new, but the word has only this year become widely used.

This shows the power of words to describe societal issues and shape public opinion. Having a specific word for the phenomenon helps us see it and describe it. It helps to understand that inflation is happening even when it's not immediately obvious.

Other popular words in 2022

War, conflict and the cost of living are key themes in Norway's word of the year list. It sums up a pretty depressing 2022!

Kyiv was placed fifth on the list. This year the Language Council and Ministry of Foreign Affairs advised people to use this spelling of the Ukrainian capital. Previously the spelling Kiev was more common in Norway.

The word strømsmart (power smart) is in third place. It's a word that many of us can relate to in these times of high electricity prices. The Language Council said that strømsmart refers to situations in which people have found clever ways to cut electricity consumption, and for the solutions that enable it.

About David Nikel

Originally from the UK, David now lives in Trondheim and was the original founder of Life in Norway back in 2011. He now works as a professional writer on all things Scandinavia.

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