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Attested since 1790 according to Svenska Akademiens ordbok. An elliptic form of tomtebisse with the same meaning. Derived from tomt (site; lot; garden). The association between the mythological creature and Santa Claus had its origins in the 19th century (first attestation is from 1864) and was firmly established in the middle of the 20th century.



tomte c

  1. A small human-like creature in Nordic folklore that lives near rural farms and homes and watches over its inhabitants; brownie, gnome.
    Om tomten inte får en klick smör i sin julgröt kan han bli arg och göra stor skada.
    "If the house gnome doesn't get a dab of butter in his Christmas porridge, he might get angry and do great harm."
  2. Santa Claus, usually in definite form.
    Moster Agneta klädde ut sig till tomte och delade ut klappar till barnen.
    "Aunt Agneta dressed up as Santa and handed out presents to the children."
  3. (colloquial, derogatory) A person who behaves irresponsibly, oddly or incompetently.
    Vad är det för tomte som har slängt mina kläder i snön?
    "What kind of fool threw my clothes in the snow?"
  4. (colloquial) A person that diligently tends to practical matters, especially in compound nouns.
    Din man är en riktig hustomte när han snickrar på möbler.


Declension of tomte 
Singular Plural
Indefinite Definite Indefinite Definite
Nominative tomte tomten tomtar tomtarna
Genitive tomtes tomtens tomtars tomtarnas


Derived terms[edit]