Lagom (“enough”)

Lagom is a marvelous Swedish word for which there is no direct parallel in English, but roughly translated, Lagom means “sufficient” or “enough” in the sense of something being just the right amount, neither too much nor too little. Lagom has a strong community overtone — one does not take too much, because the greed of one might result in the lack of another. Imagine passing a platter around a large dinner table; it is Lagom when each guest in turn takes care to leave enough so that everyone gets a portion.

Linguists will quibble, but most Swedes will tell you that Lagom has it’s origins in the Viking era and the custom of passing a communal goblet of wine. As the goblet would pass, each person considered those still waiting and would drink only their fair share

It is the communal dimension of Lagom that makes it a word worthy of entering our vocabulary, for American consumer society is all but devoid of any consideration of others. Driving a Prius is Lagom; driving a Hummer is not. Recycing is Lagom; throwing newspapers in the trash is not.