Johan Ekeblad

Johan Ekeblad. Courtesy
of Wikimedia Commons.

Johan Ekeblad (1629–1697) was a prolific Swedish letter-writer who spent a lot of time on the Continent. According to the Swedish Academy, publisher of a great dictionary that’s rather like the Swedish version of the OED, he was the first to use the word skridsko in Swedish. This word is for metal-bladed skates, not bone skates, which have their own word, islägg.

Ekeblad wrote many letters to his brother, Claes, while he was abroad. The Swedish Academy says he first used skridsko in 1650, and it appears several times in his numerous letters. Here’s an interesting bit about his own skating experience, from a letter dated December 15, 1652, in Stockholm:

Jag tror visst om I visste att jag igår var ute och försökte till att löpa på skridsko, så skulle I mena att jag nu vore helt bättre i mitt lår. Men jag skall försäkra. Er på jag lopp inte mycket, utan av ett fall jag strax i begynnelsen gjorde har jag nu så ont igen så I skola inte tro det. Dock haver jag nu hittat på en slags olja som mig mycket lisar och blir fulle bättre hoppas jag.

I think certainly if you knew that I was out yesterday and tried to skate [literally: run on metal-bladed skates], you would think that my leg would now be completely better. But I will reassure you. I haven’t skated much, [and] aside from [because of?] a fall I took right at the beginning it is now so bad again that you wouldn’t believe it. However, I have now found a type of oil that makes me very happy and I hope to become completely better.

Ekeblad 2004, 67-68. Translation my own.

I don’t know what was wrong with his leg, but he complained about it frequently in his letters.

His letters put Ekeblad’s skating in Stockholm a decade ahead of English diarists Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn, who famously observed skating in London in December, 1662.


Svenska Akademiens ordbok, s.v. “skridsko.” 2020. Lund: Svenska Akadamien.

Johan Ekeblad. 2004. Breven till Claes om livet och hovet på Kristinas tid. Edited by Sture Allén. Stockholm: Svenska Akademien.