Oddities in Finnish – The many meanings of Sika

Oddities in Finnish - The many meanings of Sika

We often get the question; is Finnish a difficult language to learn? We would say it depends on your point of view, as in our earlier post is Finnish difficult or just different. In this, our new series of blog posts, we bring out the fun aspects of Finnish that you might come across when having a conversation with native speakers.


Sika – an animal intensifier

Have you ever wondered why the pig has left the pigsty and keeps appearing in the most unexpected contexts? Here’s the answer: in spoken Finnish (especially among young people), sika ’pig’ is not only a noun but also an intensifier. Meaning that people use the word sika to intensify adjectives and adverbs in place of ‘very’ or ‘really’.

  • Toi kello on sika hieno. That watch is really nice.
  • Vaikuttaa sika hyvältä suunnitelmalta. It seems like a very good plan.
  • Sain sen sika edullisesti. I got it at a very reasonable price.
  • Aika on menny ihan sika nopeesti. The time has gone by really fast.

Even though ‘very’ and ‘really’ are the most common meanings of this intensifier, certain inflections enable its use in a different sense. When inflected in the essive case and often combined with the word ihan, the phrase ihan sikana means ‘a lot’.

  • Söin ihan sikana suklaata. I ate a lot of chocolate.
  • Selkään sattuu ihan sikana. (My) back hurts a lot.
  • Väsyttää ihan sikana. I’m so tired.

Sometimes sika is used in quite a paradoxical way. The phrase ”Sika siistiä!” could be translated as ”So cool!” but its literal meaning is ”Pig tidy!”

Sika mielenkiintoista, right?



You probably know what joo, kyllä, and ei mean by now but what happens when you mix them up in conversation? We discuss Joo ei and more in this post.

For a comprehensive strategy to learn Finnish, read more here.

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Writer of the blog post:

Riikka Valkjärvi
Finnish language specialist