Lystring | means catching fish with a spear in Norwegian | Norway

Lystring is a Norwegian verb that means catching fish or other water creatures in the dark, using a fire torch to attract the fish and a multi-pronged spear.
LA Dahlmann | talk NORWAY
Lystring on Lake Krøderen. | Painters: Adolph Tidemand and Hans Gude - Nasjonalgalleriet Wikimedia.org cc pdm.
Lystring on Lake Krøderen. | Painters: Adolph Tidemand and Hans Gude - Nasjonalgalleriet Wikimedia.org cc pdm.

Pronunciation

Lystring

The grammar

Lystring is the gerund form of the verb å lystre (to lystre) | conjugation: å lystre – lystret – lystret – lystring | å lystre comes from the Old Norse verb ljósta, which means hit, impale, stab.

What does the word mean?

The verb lystre is derived from the noun lyster, which means a fishing spear with a long wooden shaft and a set of barbed prongs attached to its end. In English, this tool is called a leister. The lyster is a tool that goes back thousands of years, to the Stone Age and the early hunter-gatherers.

The gerund form lystring means the act of fishing with a lysterleistering in English.

Similar or related words

Other words for a lyster are a lystergaffel or lystregaffel. The word gaffel means a fork.

Lystring vs. lysing: lystring must not be confused with the Norwegian word and fishing method lysing. Lysing is the similar process of wading in the water in the dark, also using a torch to attract and spot crabs, crayfish, and more. The big difference is that in this case, you catch the catch using your hands.

More on the traditional context

It began in the Stone age

The first Norwegians were fishers, hunters, and gatherers, and appeared in the Scandinavian landscape after the latest ice age, some 10-15,000 years ago. The Stone age hunter-gatherers were inventive people and always on the lookout for new ways to provide food for themselves and their families. The method of lystring has roots that stretch back to this early era.

On, in, or by the water

The lystring normally happens from a small boat – on a lake, a river, or in the sea. But people can also stand in the water, on a rock, on the riverbank, and more.

In the dark

The lystring normally takes place when it is dark, often in the early autumn. The fisher, or someone next to her, holds a fire-torch above the water’s surface to attract the fish. The torch can also be attached to the side of the boat – or to a pole sticking out from the boat over the water.

Speed is of the essence

When the fish appears, the person holding the lyster must be quick and thrust it towards the fish, like she would a spear. To avoid losing the lyster into the water, there is often a rope attached to the end of its long wooden shaft, which again is attached to the thrower’s hand.

Examples from books and stories

Sigurd Telnes Fra fjord til fjell med Reidar Fritzvold 1990
Hugen til å fiske blei sterkare etter som tida gjekk, og bestefaren fortalde om dei ulike fangstmåtane, lystring med tyriloge og jakt på gjedde.
The desire to go fishing grew stronger with time, and his grandfather told him about the different methods of fishing, like lystring with a pine torch, and pike-hunting.

Sven R. Gjems Livet på Finnskogen 1992
Man kunne få både ørret, gjedde, og lake ved lystring. Ja, til og med ål ble tatt på dette viset.
You could get both trout, pike, and burbot (lake) when out leistering. Yes, even eels were caught in this way.

Please note: As a general rule, lystring is forbidden by law in Norway today

Sources: Nasjonalbiblioteket nb.no | Einar Haugen’s Norwegian-English dictionary | Det Norske Akademis ordbok | Bokmålsordboka and Nynorskordboka.

Our most recent posts

My Norwegian heritage

Some claim that porridge is the oldest hot dish in the Norwegian diet. Was it to our ancestors what bread is to the modern family of today?
In this selection of beautiful hand-coloured lantern slides from around 1900, we visit the city of Bergen - and other west coast destinations. Enjoy!
There are many types of cheese slicers, but Norwegian furniture maker Thor Bjørklund invented the Norwegian version in 1925.
Some of the beautiful Norwegian wooden stave churches are almost 1000 years old. Today, there are 28 of them left.
Budrått is a Norwegian noun that means the output of milk products on a farm - such as cheese and butter. The word is often associated with what was produced during the summer on the seasonal mountain or forest pasture farm - the seter.
When the ice melted after the last ice age, herds of reindeer followed in its wake. And with the animals came their main predator: the humans.
It is said that all people are equal in Heaven. But the historical churchyard shows us that no such equality applied here on Earth.
Langfjordbotn - in Norway’s northernmost region Finnmark - was the birthplace of Oluf Røde, born in 1889.
Neither the great Atlantic Ocean nor time or social conventions could separate a love that was meant to be.
The oldest wooden buildings in Norway are almost 1000 years old - like Urnes stave church in Luster. How come these buildings do not rot away and disappear?
A loved child goes by many names, says a Norwegian expression. This certainly applies to the country Norway. But what does the name really mean?
17 May 1814 is regarded as the birth of the modern-day Norwegian state. But it took almost another hundred years before the Norwegians could declare complete independence.
The first half of the 1900s was a time of enormous change in Norwegian society. It was then that a young boy experienced a peculiar family custom.
For many, it may come as a surprise that the history of rose painting and its place in Norwegian folk art is not as old as one might think.
Uff da! is a Norwegian interjection, often used to express sympathy. For example when a child falls over: Uff da! Slo du deg? - meaning Poor you! Did you hurt yourself?
Do you know the name of Norway’s capital city? Test yourself, friends, and family in this 10 multiple-choice questions quiz vol. 1. See the correct answer below each photo.
Queen Maud of Norway was born in London in 1869, as Princess Maud of Wales. Her grandmother was none other than the formidable Queen Victoria.
Skjemat is a Norwegian noun that means food eaten with a spoon - often before or after the main course at dinner. It could be porridge, soup, dessert, and more.
Some vintage photos - and more to come.
The Black Death – mother of all plagues - ravaged humankind in the mid-1300s. A Norwegian scholar takes us through the lead up to the disaster.
Kantslått is a Norwegian noun that means (1) the grass that is cut along the edges of a field, a road, etc. or (2) the actual process of cutting this grass. Traditionally, the grass was used as animal fodder.

Follow us on social media

Norwegian history