Why Are Norwegian People Called Squareheads?

No matter where someone’s from or how nice they are, slurs can be pretty offensive and generally awful things to say. So, why are Norwegian people often called squareheads when they don’t like the word very much?

Norwegian people are called squareheads because of the perceived shape of their heads, which isn’t the same for all Norwegians.

Their heads are also commonly likened to the Stahlhelm M1916 steel helmet, a German military helmet. They’re also called squareheads because of their stubborn nature.

The rest of this article will focus on more details about this topic, including the origin of the name, how common the slur is today, and more insight into Norwegians’ stereotypical and realistic physical appearance.

It will also cover why this slur—as well as others like it—is so dangerous and why it should never be used in conversation.

Also, see How to Become a Citizen of Norway to learn more.

Is It Rude To Call Someone From Norway a Squarehead?

“Squarehead” is more than just a harmless remark—it’s one of the many ethnic slurs in various cultures worldwide.

And while it’s undeniably a rude term, it also pushes the unfair stereotype that all Norwegians, as well as Scandinavians in general, have square-shaped heads.

The name also furthers a false narrative that everyone from Norway is stubborn, disagreeable, and unwilling to listen to anyone but themselves.

However, the worst aspect of the term is its origin and how it became such a popular yet derogatory word.

The next part of this article examines the origin of the term.

Origin of the Squarehead Slur

It usually takes a lot of work to track down the origins of words that have become common in today’s language, but this isn’t the case for offensive words.

And while this unwitting record-keeping is typically taken for granted, it helps groups to understand why words can be so hurtful.

Many sources suggest that the squarehead term originated from a popular helmet used in Germany from around 1916—the Stahlhelm M1916 steel helmet. [1]

This German steel helmet was a generic combat helmet that German soldiers commonly used to protect their heads from threats like shrapnel and grenades during the first world war.

However, the term became associated with German and Scandinavian immigrants—which includes Norwegian people—during World War 1.

Of course, the term’s popularity at the time was mainly fueled by stereotypes.

How Is Squarehead Used in Today’s World?

Still, while the term squarehead is not a common part of today’s language—even in Norway—the word still lingers in some groups and conversations.

However, it’s evolved to be more than its original meaning.

For example, squarehead is more commonly used to describe an honest person, a far cry from its original meaning. 

Squarehead can also describe a socially unconventional person who usually doesn’t enjoy the company of large crowds. These people may also be called boring or traditional. [2]

Interestingly, Norwegian people also get called this slur by people in neighboring Scandinavian countries like Denmark, Finland, and Sweden.

After all, there’s some hostility between these countries due to unspoken rivalry between them.

Still, calling a Norwegian a squarehead is not a good idea. It’s an unnecessary, hurtful slur that will offend any Norwegian, Scandinavian, or German national. 

What Do Norwegians Actually Look Like?

Foreigners and even other Scandinavians have stereotypical ideologies about what Norwegian people look like.

Some of these stereotypes are founded in truth, but what’s real and what’s not?

Like other Scandinavians, Norwegians are typically tall, blonde-haired, and blue-eyed. And yes, some of them even have square-shaped heads—much like Vikings. [3]

They also have broad and high cheekbones and thin lips. 

Scandinavians also tend to have these features more commonly than others worldwide.

According to a study conducted by Lock-Andersen, blond hair and blue eyes are more common in Scandinavian countries than they are anywhere else. [4]

However, this fact does not mean that all Scandinavians look like heavyset Vikings.

In fact, Scandinavians and Norwegians come in all shapes and sizes—much like other people from different cultures worldwide.

For example, while some Scandinavians may have blue eyes, others may lack the stereotypical high cheekbones. Or, they could have high cheekbones but round-shaped heads.

Therefore, it’s highly inaccurate to hold on to the stereotype that all Norwegians are squareheads or square-headed people. Everyone is different, after all.

How Common Is the Squarehead Slur?

Luckily, the squarehead slur isn’t as common as it once was. Now that people are beginning to prioritize respect and love for one another, it’s considered bad taste to use this word in a derogatory manner.

While some people still use this slur to describe people living in Norway, the culprits are usually other Scandinavians.

What Are Some Other Names Norwegian People Are Called?

There are several other terms for Norwegians in addition to squarehead. These names are usually not pleasant and are generally regarded as slurs too.

Here are some other names Norwegian people are called:

  • Mountain monkeys
  • Norbagge
  • Ola

The next section of this article explores these names in detail.

Mountain Monkeys

Mountain monkeys (natively called Fjell apes in Norway and other Nordic countries) are found in many parts of Norway. Norwegians are sometimes called Fjell apes by other Norwegians and Scandinavians. 

This name is primarily used in sporting events when Norwegians compete against other Scandinavians. 

However, they are called this because of their incredible athletic abilities, strength, and agility.

The heavyset body structure of many people in Norway is another reason the “Mountain monkey” term is so commonly used in these sporting events.  


Norbagge is a racial slur that’s used in Sweden to describe Norwegians. Although it’s mostly used in Sweden, other Scandinavians occasionally use this word to refer to Norwegians. However, this term is highly offensive.

Thankfully, it’s one of the less common slurs, so its use has been declining for years.


Ola is another Swedish slang for Norwegian people. The word loosely translates from Polish as “ancestor’s relic” but is used as slang in many contexts.

In this case, it’s slang that’s meant to mean a stupid Norwegian. This is another extremely offensive slur and should never be used to describe anyone.

[1] Source
[2] Source
[3] Source
[4] Source

Christian Christensen

Christian started Scandinavia Facts to explore his family heritage, raise awareness of one of his academic interests as a professor, and civilly promote the region. Please see the About page for details.

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