Norwegian: ild v. brann


Senior Member
English - American
Hi there. Can you help me understand the difference between ild v. brann? Both translate to "fire" in English.

Going off a little research and cognates in Dutch, can I assume that:
ild = the "substance" of fire ("vuur" in Dutch). Example: The candle's fire feels warm.
brann = an instance of fire ("brand" in Dutch). Example: There was a fire in the middle of the night.

  • justous

    From a Danish perspective I would say ild is more like flames while brann (or brand in Danish) is like fire. Ild (in Danish at least) tends to be used in more of a "artsy" sense.

    Hope this helps :)

    Ben Jamin

    Senior Member
    Ild is fire in the original sense (flames), brann is a disaster caused by fire out of control (French incendie), which lacks a good name in English.


    Senior Member
    English - American
    Thanks for your help, you two.

    What you said, Ben, is what I had suspected. If this is the case, then I should use "ild" as the common word for fire and only use "brann" when speaking about "incendies". Agree?

    English does indeed lack a good word for brann/brand/incendie. "Conflagration" is the only word that comes close, but a conflagration is usually a multi-building, city-wide fire whereas a brann/brand/incendie can just be one building.


    Senior Member
    then I should use "ild" as the common word for fire

    Well, it is not that simple. We usually use "ild" for the (uncountable) concept of fire (as in earth, wind and fire), and in more poetic contexts, as justous mentioned. We tend to use other words in more concrete contexts. A bonfire or campfire is neither ild nor brann, but a bål (which is also translated as "fire"). And in your sentence "The candle's fire feels warm.", we would use flamme instead of ild.


    Senior Member
    English - American
    Okay, great. I'll keep this in mind and keep an eye out for uses of ild/brann and other words in context. To be fair, my example sentence "The candle's fire feels warm" wasn't all that great, because we would also say "flame" in this context, too.


    New Member
    Italian - Italy
    Just for comparative Nordic language study: in Swedish, "eld" vs. "brand". I think it is pretty much the same as "ild" vs. "brann" ("brand") in Norw. (Dan.).