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HERE ARE A FEW instances where other languages have found the right word and English simply falls speechless.

1. Toska

RussianVladmir Nabokov describes it best: “No single word in English renders all the shades of toska. At its deepest and most painful, it is a sensation of great spiritual anguish, often without any specific cause. At less morbid levels it is a dull ache of the soul, a longing with nothing to long for, a sick pining, a vague restlessness, mental throes, yearning. In particular cases it may be the desire for somebody or something specific, nostalgia, love-sickness. At the lowest level it grades into ennui, boredom.”

2. Mamihlapinatapei

Yagan (indigenous language of Tierra del Fuego) – “The wordless, yet meaningful look shared by two people who both desire to initiate something but are both reluctant to start.” (Altalang.com)

3. Jayus

Indonesian – “A joke so poorly told and so unfunny that one cannot help but laugh.” (Altalang.com)

4. Iktsuarpok

Inuit – “To go outside to check if anyone is coming.” (Altalang.com)

5. Litost

Czech – Milan Kundera, author of The Unbearable Lightness of Being, remarked that, “As for the meaning of this word, I have looked in vain in other languages for an equivalent, though I find it difficult to imagine how anyone can understand the human soul without it.” The closest definition is a state of agony and torment created by the sudden sight of one’s own misery.

6. Kyoikumama

Japanese – “A mother who relentlessly pushes her children toward academic achievement.” (Altalang.com)

7. Tartle

Scottish – The act of hestitating while introducing someone because you’ve forgotten their name. (Altalang.com)

8. Ilunga

Tshiluba (Southwest Congo) – A word famous for its untranslatability, most professional translators pinpoint it as the stature of a person “who is ready to forgive and forget any first abuse, tolerate it the second time, but never forgive nor tolerate on the third offense.” (Altalang.com)

9. Prozvonit

Czech – This word means to call a mobile phone and let it ring once so that the other person will call back, saving the first caller money. In Spanish, the phrase for this is “Dar un toque,” or, “To give a touch.” (Altalang.com)

10. Cafuné

Brazilian Portuguese – “The act of tenderly running one’s fingers through someone’s hair.” (Altalang.com)

11. Torschlusspanik

German – Translated literally, this word means “gate-closing panic,” but its contextual meaning refers to “the fear of diminishing opportunities as one ages.” (Altalang.com)

12. Wabi-Sabi

Japanese – Much has been written on this Japanese concept, but in a sentence, one might be able to understand it as “a way of living that focuses on finding beauty within the imperfections of life and accepting peacefully the natural cycle of growth and decay.” (Altalang.com)

13. Dépaysement

French – The feeling that comes from not being in one’s home country.

“Aerial Boogieboard Schadenfreude,” Photo: grendelkhan

14. Schadenfreude

German – Quite famous for its meaning, which somehow other languages have neglected to emulate, this refers to the feeling of pleasure derived by seeing another’s misfortune. I guess “America’s Funniest Moments of Schadenfreude” just didn’t have the same ring to it.

15. Tingo

Pascuense (Easter Island) – Hopefully this isn’t a word you’d need often: “the act of taking objects one desires from the house of a friend by gradually borrowing all of them.” (Altalang.com)

16. Hyggelig

Danish – Its “literal” translation into English gives connotations of a warm, friendly, cozy demeanor, but it’s unlikely that these words truly capture the essence of a hyggelig; it’s something that must be experienced to be known. I think of good friends, cold beer, and a warm fire. (Altalang.com)

17. L’appel du vide

French – “The call of the void” is this French expression’s literal translation, but more significantly it’s used to describe the instinctive urge to jump from high places.

18. Ya’aburnee

Arabic – Both morbid and beautiful at once, this incantatory word means “You bury me,” a declaration of one’s hope that they’ll die before another person because of how difficult it would be to live without them.

19. Duende

Spanish – While originally used to describe a mythical, spritelike entity that possesses humans and creates the feeling of awe of one’s surroundings in nature, its meaning has transitioned into referring to “the mysterious power that a work of art has to deeply move a person.” There’s actually a nightclub in the town of La Linea de la Concepcion, where I teach, named after this word. (Altalang.com)

20. Saudade

Portuguese – One of the most beautiful of all words, translatable or not, this word “refers to the feeling of longing for something or someone that you love and which is lost.” Fado music, a type of mournful singing, relates to saudade. (Altalang.com)

* This post was originally published on October 9, 2010.

Language Learning

 

About The Author

Jason Wire

Jason Wire graduated from Vanderbilt University in 2010 and spent the year after writing and teaching English in Spain. He's back in the states now, but doesn't know where. Follow him @wirejr.

  • Kathy

    What great words! I want to add several to my vocabulary. Especially “Jayus” for *many* of my husband’s “jokes” :-)

  • ir

    from the Filipino language (Tagalog, specifically)–

    Gigil
    - a strong urge to squish something/someone either out of fondness or anger (towards either adorable babies for instance, or that annoying colleague)

    Kilig
    - usually associated with romance and the phenomenon of butterflies in one’s stomach. However it’s generally more positive (vs. the butterflies being present in moments of anxiety/nervousness as well), and is more of a jolt-like and/or tingly/tickly feeling
    - the last 5 seconds of this clip perfectly demonstrates it lol

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uMRs6XGcCqw

  • LWW

    “L’apelle du vide” is not a an untranslatable word. It is a phrase. Cool, but I don’t think it belongs here.

    • merde

      ENOUGH with the wrong spelling !

      It’s ‘appel du vide’ not apel nor apelle =)

      Thank you and have a good day.

  • http://www.candicedoestheworld.com Candice

    These are awesome, I love “tartle.” I do it so often.

    • http://www.michiyuki.wordpress.com Alina Radulescu

      Me too, Candice. I have a terrible memory for names. I am happy to have a word for my social awkward moments. :)

    • leona

      I am loving “Tartle”!!!!

  • http://www.sophiesworld.net Sophie

    Excellent compilation. Provides a good background for a fascinating discussion this.

    I would translate “hyggelig” (or “koselig”, essentially the same) as having a nice time, but it doesn’t convey the whole meaning.

    Another interesting thing is when words that you would think means the same in two similar languages, can mean the opposite, since the word has evolved differently in the two languages. Example: “offensive” is a very positive word in Norwegian – it means being active, taking charge, going forward; – well, simply being on the offense – something you’d look for when hiring an employee. In English, it has become a rather more negative word (except when talking about football, perhaps). Surely, at one time, it must have meant the same.

    An example in the opposite direction is “self-confident”, a positive word in English. In Norwegian, it has a touch of arrogance in it, so calling someone self-confident is not entirely a compliment.

    • Tamera Daun

      @Sofie..

      Koselig has a much warmer essence than hyggelig. Although, I would agree that hyggelig would describe “pleasant”, or “having a good time”.

      Offensive in the meaning you describe has an English equivalent with a positive meaning, and that is “assertive”.

      And, on the self-confident one, you raise a good point. This has its root in the political and social structure of the society. Janteloven!!! Du skal ikke tro du er noe.

  • http://www.michiyuki.wordpress.com Alina Radulescu

    I greatly enjoyed the article. For a languages geek is a pleasure to read and discover new stuff. Great work!

    • Heather Carreiro

      Thanks Alina! You should find plenty of stuff for language geeks here on Abroad. I was a Linguistics major myself.

  • http://vagabonderz.com Carlo Alcos

    Sweet post. I really like the ending, talking about the taste and texture of words. Interesting.

    Can we come up with a word that describes that specific awkwardness when you exit an elevator with someone you’ve just said “see you later” to, but then both walk in the same direction?

  • Tyler S

    Another great post Jason. Keep ‘em coming.

  • http://www.travelwriter.at/ @Travelwriticus

    Nice compilation. I esp like tartle.

  • Simon C

    Very interesting list! I never realized “dépaysement” was especially unique, but it is true that it’s quite hard to translate. Oh, and not that I want to play the role of the grammar nazi, but it’s “L’appel du vide” and not “L’apelle du vide”!

    • Heather Carreiro

      Thanks Simone! Will fix that.

    • nachoua

      Well dépaysement is the literal translation of the word, meaning like you said to feel somehow out of place when ur out of ur country. But the figurative meaning is more currently used, to say that u don’t feel at ease, not in ur milieu, uncomfortable for a reason or another, far from what ur used too, even in ur own country. if u see what i mean;

  • http://www.mybeautifuladventures.com Andi

    Loved this, you should do another one!!! Spanish has so many great words in it.

  • http://michelleschusterman.com Michelle Schusterman

    Tartle – that’s fantastic. This is a great list!

  • http://www.travelstoriesandphotos.com Pola

    Great list! I would also add “głupawka” in Polish – it’s an informal word meaning a state of being goofy, joking around without being able to stop. (And I’m pretty sure my brother coined that term! :D)

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  • Millerman

    “Schadenfreude” is a word that exists in Dutch as well. Why is it untranslatable? Because both in Dutch and German words are simply put together to form a new word. Schadenfreude is nothing more than Schade Freude, which would translate to ‘mischief joy’.

    Another thing is number 17, where you mention Gezellig in the title, but fail to mention it again in the text. It’s the Dutch equivalent of the Danish word. It’s the most famous example of an untranslatable word for Dutchies.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=24606699 Carissa Peck

      gezellig is my favorite untranslatable word :)

  • miriam

    nice post, really interesting!
    the fisrt word I came up with is a Japanese one. I’m not sure about the spelling, but it should sounds something like “komorebi”, it refers to the sun shining through tree leaves.
    and what about the German Sehnsucht?can you actually translate it?

    • http://pimpajoentje.be Greet

      I thought Sehnsucht (German), Saudade (French? Or Portuguese apparently), spleen (English) and nostalgie (Dutch) all meant the same thing more or less, but I could be wrong. There’s probably a nuance that can’t be translated fully.

      • Heather Carreiro

        “Spleen” in English is an organ

      • http://www.sophiesworld.net Sophie

        I would translate Sehnsucht as longing or yearning. And Schadenfreude in Norw. is skadefryd, literally meaning damage-joy (as in “taking joy in someone being damaged”).

        • http://MaliAnta.wordpress.com/ Jutta

          I am not surprised that the ‘untranslatable’ German words often have equivalents in Dutch and Scandinavian languages. I guess the term ‘untranslatable’ needs to be better defined.

          I always thought it is ‘Torschusspanik’ meaning the feeling of panic when the soccer ball is approaching the goal – can you hold it or not. LOL. But you are right – it is ‘Torschlusspanik’ (with L) referring to the closing time of a shop, and the fear of being left on the shelves, often used in the context of not finding the right partner for marriage.

          There is also the word ‘gemütlich / Gemütlichkeit’ in German that is hard to express in English, but is very close to ‘gezellig’ in Dutch. It refers to a cozy atmosphere which can be both derived from the interior design and/or the spirit of the people being together.

          Another word I could never quite express correctly in English is ‘übersichtlich / Übersichtlichkeit’ – LEO.org suggests clarity, clearness, lucidity, clear arrangement, facility of inspection. None of these seems to match the German meaning perfectly.

          A Hebrew word which I find fascinating because it has multiple meanings in most other languages is ‘chesed’ – it is often translated as unfailing love, but sometimes it refers to God’s faithfulness and justice, or his covenantal fidelity.

          Now we might need to start another list – English words that are difficult to express in most other languages. ;-)

  • http://londoniscool.com William K Wallace

    Wow what an amazing list I haven’t seen anything like this before…HONEST…it so orginal…HONEST…impressive stuff…!

  • Marie

    Wow, awesome. Actually stumbled upon this (and liked it)

    There is a word in Norwegian for Prozvonit and it’s called “anrop” but it’s most common to say:”legge anrop” however people would understand the single use of the word as well.

    Another interesting fact of the word Toska is that it’s the name of one of Norway’s most horrible criminals. David Toska. One could argue his name had a deeper meaning. Amazing article!

    • Heather Carreiro

      Glad you enjoyed the article Marie!

      Interesting idea about the word “toska” – I wonder if there is any relation.

  • Jana

    Great article. Seen some of them before but some are new.
    Just to add – in Czech both toska and schadenfreude exist (stesk and škodolibost respectively), probably due to to its Slavic roots and German influences.

  • Nuno Lagoa

    Cafune (Brazilian Portuguese) should be written Cafuné and read “KA-FU-NEH”. It is a very specific use of the concept of “caress”, whereby, as the description says, it is restricted to hair caresses.
    Regarding “saudade” (Portuguese) is closely related to “homesick”, except that saudade is more wide-ranging as it may relate not just to one’s home, but to loved ones and one’s country.

    • Heather Carreiro

      Thanks for pointing out that missing accent. All fixed now!

      I actually had a good discussion yesterday with husband (who is Portuguese) about “saudade.” It seems like the Portuguese meaner is richer and deeper than the English equivalent of saying “miss.” I wonder if that has to do with the grammatical construction, which is similar to the French “Je me manque” – roughly translated to “You are missing to me” rather than “I miss you.” The Portuguese would literally come out as “I have missing for you” or something like that – it just sounds more intense than the American way we can say “I miss my wife” and “I miss cheeseburgers” almost in the same breath.

      • raphael

        actually “je me manque” means “I miss me”. Maybe you mean “tu me manques”.

        • Heather Carreiro

          LOL my bad – I totally knew that. Reminds me not to reply to comments during insomnia episodes…

  • Malotobe

    “Prozvonit” also exists in present-day Malagasy (from Madagascar) as “Mibeep,” from the prefix “Mi,” used to form present tense active verbs, and the onomatopoeia “beep.”

    • dani

      we just call Prozvonit a “miss call” in Egypt.

  • Claire

    Shakanaka is one of my favorite words from the Shona language of Zimbabwe. It essentially signifies that beauty of the world. The best part is that when one says shakanaka, many people within hearing will smile and nod with an accompanying “eya”, signifying agreement in life’s completeness.

    • Heather Carreiro

      Sounds like a beautiful expression. Thanks for sharing it!

  • daniel

    Duende is not an evil spirit, in latin america (where i am from), it usually means a leprechaun or a goblin….

  • AJ

    Interesting list. There also isn’t a good english word for the italian/spanish “Simpatia” or to call someone ‘simpatico(a)’. If a person is ‘simpatico’ it means he’s friendly, likeable, pleasant, good to be around. If you have ‘simpatia’ with someone it means you click, you empathise. The sort of thing you would say having met someone that you think you could be friends with.

    • http://pimpajoentje.be Greet

      I think simpatico is translatable to sympathiek (Dutch), sympa (French), sympathisch (German), … :)

  • http://www.bearshapedsphere.blogspot.com Bearshapedsphere (Eileen Smith)

    In Chile #4 is pinchar, which also means a flirtatious connection or hookup. I had never heard of doing it in the states, where I’d never had a cell phone and was troubled when I realized there was no word for it in English!

  • N.A

    ‘Ranneh’ in Arabic means the same as Prozvonit,
    Ranneh can be translated to mean ‘one ring’,
    aka call me once and hang up so I call you back and you save money.

    Great list!

  • Raymond

    Twenty words that ought to be adapted into everyday English (among other languages).

    “Toska” struck me immediately. “Mamihlapinatapei” is the easiest for me to empathize with; I ought to shorten somehow it and start using it.

  • Sylvain

    There are also some great words in English that are untranslatable. My particular favorite is “serendipity”, for which there are no equivalent in my native French. When you look it up in an English-French dictionary, what it offers you is a definition rather than a translation.

  • Will

    Schadenfreude

    Actually, this word already does exist in English. It is epicaricacy.

    • Heather Carreiro

      Wow I’ve never heard of that one. Would be a good Balderdash word for my English classes.

  • http://www.simontoth.cz Šimon Tóth

    Apart from the already mentioned ones, there is another mapping to Czech language: “Cafune” -> “Vískat”

    It’s kind of funny, Czech language is extremely rich in vocabulary and although you will most likely find a synonymous word for translation the meaning tends to be shifted.

  • http://matadornetwork.com Jason

    Thanks for all the helpful comments/new words! I guess I left out the focus of the “translatability” which is that they’re very difficult to find single word equivalents in English, as opposed to all languages. And the extent of my French vocabulary is limited to Bon Jovi…. ;)

  • http://kaorunokimi.kobay.org Charlotte

    Great article!
    First of all, thank you Simon C. for correcting “l’appel du vide” :)
    Second, I’d like to offer a better explanation of the word “dépaysement” : the way you defined it, it just means homesick, whereas dépaysement can be a very positive thing. It’s the fact of being abroad in a country that is very different from your own (i.e. France) and feeling that difference. Some people do not like it, but most people travel abroad with the aim to experience dépaysement. I know, I do :)
    The best translation of “homesick” would be “avoir le mal du pays”, which roughly translated would be “to be in pain because of missing one’s home country”.

  • sofia

    the greek word Filotimo “φιλότιμο” is another word that does not exist in any other language

  • Aat

    Do you know that the word “Jayus” was actually a person’s name? He told too enough awful jokes to enough people, everybody use his name to refer to very bad jokes!

  • Marleen

    Of course “Gezellig” is the Dutch version of Hyggelig. I didn’t even know there was a word meaning the same in Danish and was always under the impression it was an uniquelly Dutch word. Learn something new everyday it seems.

  • Noah

    “Komorebi” in Japanese literally means, “The scene produced by interplay of sunlight and trees.” Pretty awesome.

  • mike

    litost means regret, you might regret being a loser but its still regret

  • raphael

    Dear Jason,
    Instead of “Ya’aburnee” (actually its pronounced like “yo’bornee”) you should have said “to’bornee” which is directly addressing someone (a male) and “to’obreeni” to a female. The way you have it, it means “he should bury me”.

  • http://usageofenglishinindia.blogspot.com/ Kabir

    #4 Prozvonit: We in India call it ‘giving a missed call’, and usually it’s not for saving money but to inform the other person that you have reached a particular place. For example, if a friend and I plan to meet at a certain marketplace then I would tell him something like: “I’ll give you a missed call when I reach”.

    I recently came across an interesting German word, backpfeifengesicht, which means “a face that deserves to be slapped / punched”. However, I don’t know if people in Germany actually use it.

    • max

      rather not :)

  • Cal

    You could say that in English, the anti-joke is the equivalent to the Jayus.
    Good list though, I especially like the Hyggelig

  • Laurel

    Loved the list!

    My favorite untranslatable word for quite awhile now is the Swahili “pole” (pronounced pole-ay). It is the rough equivalent of “sorry” in English but can only be used when the offense isn’t the fault of the apologizer. For example, if your friend stumbles while walking near you, you say pole.

    The true closest English equivalent is “Sucks to be you.” Only nicer.

  • lvleph

    You missed my favorite:
    Lagom (pronounced [ˈlɑ̀ːgɔm]) is a Swedish word with no direct English equivalent, meaning “just the right amount”.

  • GP

    I’m a fan of the Italian “dietrologia:” the science of finding dark ulterior motives behind otherwise normal actions (especially by government).

  • salle

    In Swedish we have a word called Lagom.
    I could probably try and explain it, but there’s a wikipedia article that does it better.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lagom

  • http://evaholland.com Eva

    Cool list. I’m curious, is the one listed as Scottish a Scots Gaelic word, or a regional word used by English speakers in Scotland? What I mean is, would you only hear it if people were actually speaking Gaelic, or did it originate from Gaelic but now gets used when people are speaking English?

  • http://pimpajoentje.be Greet

    Schadenfreude has a Dutch equivalent, too: leedvermaak (which is pretty much a literal translation). :)

  • Katherine

    Cool list – I would add “sisu” in Finnish, meaning Finnish spirit, or strength of will, determination, perseverance, and acting rationally in
    the face of adversity.

  • http://www.tunaozcan.com Tuna Ozcan

    I am giving you an old turkish word. It s old cuz Chekoslavakia doesnt exist anymore. damnt :p

    Çekoslavakyalılaştıramadıklarımızdanmısınız?

    means : Are you one of those that We couldn’t turn into a Chekoslavakian :D

  • Elizabeth

    I agree with Schadenfreude. Sure it can be explained in English, but with a whole sentence. In German it’s neatly defined in one word.

    Australian comedian Adam Hills talked about his favourite non-English words in one of his stand-up shows. I don’t know how to spell the other two words, but I am SO using them!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QedsH14GPUA

    An Italian friend of mine told me about a saying they have; vomitare l’anima, which literally means “to vomit your soul”.
    I love that saying simply because we’ve all had one of those illnesses where we’ve been so sick it’s felt like that, or eaten something dodgy that has given you food poisoning resulting in this, or had one of *those* nights out where the next morning, this has happened.

    Great list. :)

  • Adam

    I’ve always said ‘to buzz someone’ for Czech provoznit, having done it in Britain and the Czech Republic. I’ve heard others say ‘to missed call’, or ‘to give a missed call’.

    Since the Scots language is a historically independent sister-language to English – with both descending from early middle English, I imagine this is the ‘Scots’ that ‘Tartle’ comes from. Not all the Scots words that don’t seem familiar to English speakers are from other languages – many (most?) are just words that went out of fashion further south…

  • a

    fab post!
    the welsh word Cwtch
    some say its to have a cuddle others say its a place where your dog/cat sleeps i use it as both :)

  • maddu

    What about “Nirvana”??
    I haven’t come across a half-descent translation for the word
    And I am sure Sanskrit is filled with such words

    –Maddu

    • hank36

      i would say “awakening” :-)

  • patricia

    Thanks for this great compilation! I hope to read you again. I didn’t know that “dépaysement” and “l’appel du vide” had no equivalents in English. Does “l’appel des profondeurs” have one, though? (to be drawn by the depth of the sea when diving)

    • max

      tiefenrausch in german

    • Nick

      dépaysement in German is heimweh or in English is homesick. Although these two words do not necessarily refer to the home country

  • aaron_yume

    There is no such thing as an untranslatable word, just people who are too lazy or not skilled enough to actually be translators. Point in fact in this article itself you yourself have translated those words.

    • Lottie

      I believe what is meant when said the words do not translate into English is that there are no direct words that share the same meaning. For most words there are direct translations like cat and chat (french). What the article does is give us the definition of the word in English, not the actual translation of the single word.

    • Alex Schindler

      That is exactly what I was about to say. The very existence of this list undermines its heading. By defining these words, you have translated them. Languages evolve all the time to reflect new concepts that need naming, and any of these could be either borrowed into an English word (unless the author denies that boomerang and kangaroo are part of the English language… Scrabble disagrees) or duplicated in one made out the roots and affixes available to us.

    • Cole

      I believe that by “untranslatable” the author means, there is not – in the Enlish language – a one word translation, but only a definition of these words. Although, the first word that came to mind for the first example, was, Melancholy.
      Have a great day…

    • rachiti

      You have missed the argument completely. There is no ONE WORD EQUIVALENT for these words. Also, it is so much more than this…some things just do not have the same meaning even if one is placed upon it because it is out of context. Take words like Emo or Chav, for example, they are culturally contextual words that lose their essence in translation.

      • Heather Carreiro

        Thanks Rachiti – you’re right on. We were looking for words whose essence is lost in translation. It’s so much more than just not being able to ‘describe’ what the word means.

  • StevieTT

    Hygge, hyggelig

    Good piece. Unfortunately you can’t say “*a* hyggelig” as ‘hyggelig’ is an adjective and the noun is uncountable, too. The noun is ‘hygge.’

  • Rachel

    The Afrikaans word “grillerig”. Difficult to pronounce and describe!
    It’s that feeling you get when you know something creepy has happened and you get goosebumps everywhere.
    But I can’t describe it very well. You have to come here to South Africa and experience a proper ‘grillerig’ moment.

  • http://jeffryhouse.blogspot.com jeffry house

    I think the word “simpatico” in Spanish has no good English translation. It means “nice”, but there is much greater depth to it that that, and also conveys a relationship between two people which may not be shared by others.

    • Martijn

      What about sympathatic? Or in Dutch it would be “sympatiek”. I always thought it had the same meaning in Spanish.

    • Gabriela

      Simpatico ussually means something like “charming” or ” charmingly funny” . Often it is used sarchastically, depending on the tone of voice used.

  • burcu yuceloglu

    ” my suggestion ” Çekoslavakyalılaştıramadıklarımızdan mısınız? ”

    Are you one of those that we were not able to make Checkoslavakians”…This word is a miracle of chained prefixes:))

    • burcu yuceloglu

      lol forgot to say İts Turkish :)

    • Heather Carreiro

      Wow. Impressive word. Would love to see a morpheme break down of it into its various parts!

      • Ezel İmancı

        Let’s try:)
        Çekoslovakya – lı – laştır – amadık – larımız – dan – mısınız?
        Czechoslovakia – n – to make – we were not able to – those – one of – are you?

    • Ezel İmancı

      Actually it is a miracle of suffixes, not prefixes.

  • angela

    I also would add (portuguese) Madrugada. While it does loosely mean dawn, it is not just a physical description of time, madrugada is describes the early, simple, romantic, sometimes longingness of the 1am-5am time of day.

    I love this word.

  • Josiah Rowe

    Robert Frost once defined poetry as “that which is lost in translation”.

  • Eefje

    “Gezellig” is Dutch. Is does mean the same as Danish “Hygellig”, but how many times do we have to tell you that Denmark and the Netherlands ARE NOT THE SAME COUNTRY? They’re not even next to each other, germany is in between!

    (the Dutch live in the Netherlands. The Danish live in Denmark, and the German live in Germany but call themselves and their language ‘Deutsch’, which is not the same as Dutch.)

  • Kostas

    The greek word “Filotimo” (spelled Fee-lo-tee-mo)

    its the word about being ethical, kind,conscientious and generous
    all at once!

  • hank36

    btw. the czech word “prozvonit” has its english equivalent: when i want someone to do it, i’d say just “beep me”

  • Nica

    Prosvonit, in Chile we say “pinchar”, which means in literal translation to pinch or poke with something sharp, but in context means to call someone, let it ring once and then hang up to get a callback when you have no credit on your phone.
    Also, an AWESOME word that has no translation is “ocioso/a”. It refers to a person that has too much time on their hands and uses it to do useless ridiculous things such as separating m&m’s by colours.

    We recently added a word to our dictionary that used to have no translation from english: procrastinate.

    Cheers!

    • Ryan

      It always bothered me and my classmates in Spain that they didn’t have a word for “procrastinate!” Some of us (half-)joked that “procrastinar” would eventually join the language.

      • http://www.sophiesworld.net Sophie

        That’s interesting. Now that I think about it, I don’t think we have a word for procrastinate in Norwegian either. There’s “utsette”, but that means postpone; not entirely the same.

  • Nica

    ***Prozvonit**** sorry

  • eakeith

    Great list! I really enjoyed it. I was pretty sure I would come across the Dutch word “gezellig” on there, as it’s used all the time in the Netherlands and tricky to translate, although I noticed you grouped it under the Danish equivalent.

    Need to add some of these to my vocabulary!

  • Drazic

    Not translatable to a single word in english obviously isn’t the same thing as untranslatable.

  • Richard Kaplan

    Davka – from Hebrew.

    Loosely it would be “because” in spite, not cause and affect. You davka went to see ‘Brigadoon” on the day Van Johnson died.

    Might have been intentional, might not have been.

  • Nichol

    The dutch word ‘geuzennaam’, and especially the concept behind it, would be quite useful in many countries. It can be a very effective alternative for the mechanism of Political Correctness, where people are forced to use an, often unwieldy, euphemism.

    Geuzennaam: a Dutch term for when an originally negative or derogatory name is appropriated and reclaimed as a positive label of empowerment.

  • Sara

    Agree with above comment. Gezellig is DUTCH and not the same in Denmark.

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  • Martijn

    The Dutch word for Schadenfreude is leedvermaak.

    • Bryan

      Icelandic it´s Þórðargleði.

    • Sara Sörensson

      and the swedish word skadeglädje.

  • Jess

    I think this is great, and to those who say that defining a word is translating a word, is a little off, sometimes words need a sentence in one language to mean one word in another but many of these are more words that have no single sentence in english and are often about feelings and emotions etc that could almost be put into an essay. To say the description of Toska is its translation is wrong, its just a guide on how it can be used.

  • Mathilde

    I would say “raler”. It’s a French word that would mean “complain” but not exactly. It’s when you critizise a lot everything around you. It’s almost a national sport in France.

    • Celeste

      “Raler” does translate pretty well into Yiddish… The Yiddish word “kvetch” is a good equivalent, but there isn’t really a word in English. I guess the phrase “bitch and moan” comes close, but is a fairly casual expression, unlike “raler”…

    • Lisa

      In Brazilian Portuguese, we say “resmungar”.

      • Key

        Also European Portuguese.

  • Nica

    Ha, we should know about the word raler in my family. I’ll start using it :D

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  • Christina

    What about the Frisian verb Klünen which means ‘to walk on the ground with your ice skates on”, sometimes needed when there is a whole in the ice.

  • Miriam

    I’m surprised nobody thought of “l’esprit d’escalier”. Literally “the wit of the staircase”, it’s for when you think of just the right thing to say… just a little too late.

    • Heather Carreiro

      What a cool phrase!

  • http://www.ivisual.com/simone Simone Borcherding

    Quiz: Anyone know the difference between ‘just now’ and ‘now now’ (South African)? :)

    • http://256daysinapickuptruck.blogspot.com/ Marisa LaValette

      Let’s say you land at the airport in Cape Town. You have a really important meeting within the hour. Your contact person / ride to the meeting calls and says he is leaving “just now” to pick you up. Also, there is rush hour traffic on the N2.

      Rush hour traffic in Cape Town + “just now” = things are not looking good for your meeting.

      You better set up your tent right there on the curb, because it could be a while.

      Or, you could be watching a World Cup game at a restaurant. The waitress says she’ll be with you “just now” to take your drink order. She might roll back through sometime during half time.

  • Amanda

    I immediately thought of ‘Ubuntu’ in Bantu in South Africa — “I am because you are”

  • Amanda

    Also, a friend just told me:

    “Torschlusspanik” in German is the reason why women marry the wrong man.

  • Mike

    Toska – “Angst” fits, pretty well.

  • http://256daysinapickuptruck.blogspot.com/ Marisa LaValette

    They had some of the same words on the AFAR magazine blog on Sept 24.

    Glad my go-to travel info sites are on the same page.

    http://www.afar.com/blog/2010/09/10-words-every-traveler-should-know/

  • Celeste

    What about the word “namaste” ? My favourite translation of it is “I bow to the divine within you, which is the divine within me.”

  • Emily

    Prozvonit – in english it is called “drop call”

    • malganis

      In Slovenia prozvonit means zvrcnit. I cant imagine how an English speaking person would pronounce it lol.

  • Maharapa

    Scarpetta – Italian for cleaning and eating the last food on your plate with bread. Literally “little shoe” because of the shape it takes

  • Juliane

    Saudade is for sure the best of them! In Brazil we use this word a lot, but it doesn’t mean lonly to miss someone (or something) it’s much more than that: “saudade” is something that hurts, but at the same time it means that something or somebody really worth for you and you remember it with a will to rewind the time and repeat it. Or you can say that for someone you don’t see for a certain period of time (it can be a long time or just few hours and days), it means that you like and miss that person.

  • Tiago Gayet

    “Saudade”, Portuguese. It’s like “miss” something.
    Sinto saudades = I miss you.

  • steve

    Italian ‘Guatare’. It means to stare intensely at something or someone for a long period with great emotion/intent, whether it be with longing, menace, fear, etc., such as how a cat would stare at a bird.

  • Shrenik

    Another good one is the work “aatu”. It’s a Gujarati word used to describe a utensil that has already been in someone else’s mouth, or the act of contaminating a dish with a dirty utensil.

    Example – “Don’t use that spoon, it is aatu.” Or “Don’t put that spoon in the serving dish, you’ll aatu everything.”

    Great word

    • Heather Carreiro

      Love it! Thanks for sharing.

  • Andrew

    I think “toska” (#1 word) is close to the English “acedia”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acedia

  • M.

    I have never found a translation to “te quiero”.
    Literally, it means “I want you”, but how we use it, it’s more like a gentle love. Like the love you feel for a grandmother or a close friend.

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  • Wade

    In German, “Gemutlichkeit” is the same as “hygge,” with “gemutlich” as the adjective.

    In Arabic, “inshallah” is essentially untranslatable. Although the denotation “God willing” is pretty straightforward, the word carries so much more with it culturally that it’s probably a thought pattern, not simply an expression.

  • kezia

    Jayus!!!!!!!!! hahahahahahahha……i think only Kanisius Gonzaga students around year 1993-1995, know what it means…or who he is…..hahhahahaha met him once when i was studied at Atma Jaya, in his friend’s wedding…..and really really unfunny but still can’t say words just smile or laugh…..poor you all who don’t know the story….only make fun with his name….

  • somebody

    kyoikumama is just two words… Did you even notice the “mama” part? There are hundreds of words that are just two words stuck together. that doesn’t make them untraslatable. that just makes them TWO WORDS.

  • Jessica

    The Hebrew word (also in yiddush) “mechutanim” which describes the relationship between the parents of the bride and groom.

  • Amanda

    maan-abhimaan — in Bangla, a very weird concoction of affection and anger–affectionately angry or angrily affectionate

  • http://www.y-rd.com Ellie Behling

    This is so cool … Nevermind your critics, I agree with your introduction that these are “untranslatable” because no one word in English captures the nuance of their definition. I had always wondered about words out there that might better capture the feeling I have about something.

  • Isabella

    Actually, there’s a direct translation of the word “schadenfreude” in Swedish; “skadeglädje”. Means the exact same thing.

    The word “hyggelig” could also be translated into “mysig” in Swedish. hard to translate but the same meaning.

  • http://ragingr2.web-log.nl RagingR2

    Although I do agree that Schadenfreude is a good word… there are several languages that have such a word, like “leedvermaak” in Dutch. These are a bit tricky examples, as are some more of the entries in this list, since a lot of languages unlike English tend to stick words together to make new words. The German language typically has a lot of somewhat long words that are actually just 2, 3 or 4 words stuck together, and some languages go even further. In the Dutch language 2 or 3 is pretty normal, although technically you could go further; it just isn’t done very often. We do have “joke” words like “Hottentottententententoonstelling” (literally: Hottentotten (or) Khoikhoi tent exhibit”), well actually although that word is pretty long it is a combination of only 3 words ;) Not nearly as crazy as the German Hottentottenstottertrottelmutterbeutelrattenlattengitterkofferattentäter!”

    Anyway… my point is, in English you could make a perfect version of a word like Schadenfreude / leedvermaak, but just because you would put a space between it would be more obvious that it’s actually a phrase comprised of two words. Let’s see… peril pleasure, trouble joy, crash entertainment… there you go. If everyone who reads this says those words out loud 5 times, they’ll be in the next edition of the dictionary! :)

  • Derek

    My favorite is the south african word Ubuntu

  • Rhea

    Yiddish farpotchket (spelling?)– something which has been totally screwed up by clumsy attempts to fix a minor problem. I used to work in a frame shop and we got a lot of mileage out of this one.

  • nuno

    What I find most intriging is the verb “to be”.
    It has two diferent meanings in Portuguese.
    To be = ser
    To be = estar
    How is it possible for an English not to distinguish these two meanings.

  • Sara Sörensson

    The swedish word ‘lagom’ which means not too much/cold/etc but not too little/etc.

    It is slightly different form “just right” in that it is not the ideal state but it is still better than average. I would be very interested to know if any other languages have a similar word?

    A very intereresting compilation and I have really enjoyed reading the comments! Many thanks:)

    • Maria Nikolajeva

      I have always heard that Swedish is unique with its “lagom” (I have lived in Sweden for 30 years). The Russian “v meru” is the exact equivalent.

      • http://www.sophiesworld.net Sophie

        Yes, they like to think it’s unique :P

        We have the same in Norwegian as well: “Passe”

    • kiaorabro

      “mana” is a Maori word we use in New Zealand. It has no translation in english but it is something you have, it refers to a kind of pride that comes from earned respect.

    • jerryvito

      isnt the swedish word “fikka” (or however its spelt) a good example of untranslateables from swedish to english. I always try to tell my scandi friends: “guys, we have the same word SNACK, like in a bite, food or drink”.

      But they always reply the same thing. That I wouldn’t understand…………….

    • Rodica

      In Romanian we have the word “dor”. It’s deeper than the act of missing someone or something and somehow it combines sweet memories with nostalgia and a bit of sadness. Many of our songs feature this wonderful feeling of “dor” because it hurts and yet it comprises so much affection.

      • Arthur Lavenère

        Your “dor” is very close to “saudade”. Also, in portuguese “dor” means “pain”.

  • Oolex

    9. Prozvonit

    It’s called a scotch-call.

    • gridaem

      prozvonit is “prank-call” in Australian English.

      There’s some beautiful words here. Love it.

    • magnus

      prozvonit – it’s “rottima” in estonian

      • jasna

        is ”cimnuti” in slang croatian.

    • Jennifer

      Where I’m from it’s a missed-call.
      Verb: to miss-call someone or to give someone a missed-call.

    • Avi

      In Hebrew slang it’s “letsaltek” – a combination of two words: “letsaltsel” which means to call, and “lenatek” which means to hang up.

  • SFalcon

    What about the finnish word epäjärjestelmällistyttömättömyydälläänsäkäänköhän?

    “He doesn’t have such a lack of disorder, now does he?”

    • Heather Carreiro

      Is that a single word?

  • http://rickyastridaherman.blogspot.com ricky

    There’s this indonesian word: “tanggung”. it’s an adjective to say… hmmm let me think of examples

    for example you’re one-hour too early on an important meeting at your office. And you actually have important things to do at home. But the journey from your office to your home is about 25 minutes. So that is ‘tanggung’. You cannot go home because you will only have 10 minutes at home to do your stuffs. But if you don’t go home, you’ll have to wait for an hour doing nothing.

    Another example, you have a dinner with your friend. Your friend eats an expensive dish like hmmm prawns. And then he’s full and he leaves 3 prawns on the plate. That is ‘tanggung’.

    Well, it’s difficult to find the exact definition of this word. I once had to translate it and oh I didn’t even know how to say that in English.

    • Courtney

      @ricky Try “stuck/caught between a rock and a hard place.”

    • dd

      ironic?

  • Tracey

    Also culturally telling: the words which *don’t* exist in a specific language. To wit: there is no word in Italian for privacy. They use the English, pronounced something like PRYE-va-see.

    • Maria Nikolajeva

      There is no Russian word for privacy. Since the phenomenon does not exist, there is no need for a word.

  • Nikola Harnisch

    referring to #12.
    The word Germans use is “Torschusspanik”. Somehow you have gotten an ‘l’ in there that shouldn’t be. ‘Tor’ means ‘goal’, and ‘schuss’ means ‘to shoot’ or ‘to shoot into’. The correct translation is then ‘panic before shooting a goal’, as in a soccer game or a sports game in general. This does not refer to middle age and midlife crisis as you say, but rather to the panic that often ensues right before something is about to happen that one has previously committed to. A good example of ‘Torschusspanik’ wold be to not show up for one’s own wedding.

    • CricketB

      Actually, while the German language does accommodate a word like “Torschusspanik” by combining nouns, the commonly used word is, in fact, TorschLusspanik. It is a combination of “Tor” meaning not just goal but also gate, “Schluss” as the shutting of something, and panic.

  • Sam

    A favorite of mine that didn’t make the list: “tulpa” – tibetan – something or someone constructed in the imagination. If one designs a new product, then the design is a tulpa until the product is made. One’s partner during a romantic daydream is a tulpa.

    I like best the definition of saudade that it is a nostalgia-like longing for not that which is gone, but that which cannot be.

    • Du

      When I make sort of an archetype for my life in the future, like: “I am gonna mary and have two children”. Am I “Tolp’ing”?

      In portuguese we have another beautiful word “Utopia”, is kind of close to “Tolpa”. Utopia is like a dream that can’t come true, is kind of a fantasy, but if it comes real, it’s not an utopia, in fact, if its capable of becoming real, its never an utopia.

      • Tim

        In English, we have a word, utopia, which was invented by an author in AD 1516 for a book he wrote. It means an ideal society or community and comes from the greek words for “not” and “place,” giving it a double meaning as a nonexistently perfect place.

    • Ellen

      I agree that saudade is untranslatable – at least not without using lots of words, as it’s way more heartful than simply longing and definitely not as cheesy as nostagia – but to my understanding it’s not only used for things that can’t be had. One can have saudade for Brasil when not there, no? And for someone far away, with whom you might reunite one day…

      • Du

        You’re totally right, you can feel saudade for things that have gone and you’ll never see again, as well as you can feel it for things that you might have or find.
        It’s a mix of nostalgia, with love, a bit of pain and a feel more feelings. As you said, is more than just that, because saudade is a kind of a real feeling.

  • Malenka

    I love the article…but instead of the “20 Awesomely Untranslatable Words” I was only able to find 10 (as a Czech I was amused to see two of them are Czech :)). Definitely ready for more :)

    • Heather Carreiro

      Hey Malenka! Just click “next page” at the bottom of the first page to get to the second set of the words. It was a long article so we split it up into 2 pages.

  • http://olivaresbound.blogspot.com Cat

    Was totally hoping duende was on there, and glad to see dar un toque, too! Jason, are you an auxiliar? I worked in the Sevilla province for a few years and lived with a girl from La Línea! I didn’t see any gibraleño on the list, though!
    un abrazo, Cat

    • http://matadortravel.com/travel-community/j-wire Jason Wire

      That I am, Cat. Loving life here in La Linea. I’ll have to get some Ganito up on the next one!

  • Natacha Cohen

    French – bof

  • Crista

    “Prozvonit” = “flash” in Ghanaian English.

  • Laura Blumenthal

    My favourite when I was learning Turkish was “estağfurullah”, a borrowed word from Arabic, but which I believe has a different meaning in Turkish. It’s used when you someone has praised you or thanked you, and you want to accept the praise or thanks humbly while expressing that it was not necessary or you were not worthy of it. I felt truly victorious when I learned how and when to use this one.

    • Arthur Lavenère

      In portuguese we have the words “modéstia” and “falsa modéstia”. The first is used for when you truly belive that you are not worthy of the prizes, but you are worthy of it, indeed. The second is for when you are faking modéstia to appear more noble or something alike( “falsa” meaning fake).

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  • Andy

    Shalom. It gets translated as “peace” but in fact is so much more than that, particularly as the English word “peace” is generally used to mean an absence of war, or absence of noise, rather than a more holistic meaning.

  • Atosa

    Yes I have a word for you: Roodarvasi which means in word-for-word translation “standing in front of the face”. It’s Persian and means you are shy and cautious about some people. For example, if your boss visits you at home, you have too much “roodarvasi” to serve him sandwiches as dinner or not to clean the living room. You don’t tell your colleague that her dress makes her look fat because you have too much “roodarvasi”. And if you ask somebody to drive him home and he says: No thanks, I don’t want you to trouble yourself on my account, you can answer: Oh please don’t have any “roodarvasi”. A friend can also act offended if you show too much “roodaravasi” because it is usually used between people who are not very close.

    I hope you get it now :)) I don’t speak English well but I could not find a similar word in English or German (a language I speak much better than English) or any other western language. It must be a Middle East thing ;)

  • Tracey C.

    You may have gotten this already, since i see some Finns that have responded, but in Finnish the word ‘sisu’ has no direct translation in English (don’t know about other languages). It’s… guts. Indomitable spirit. Inner strength.

  • Effie

    One of my favorite untranslatable words is the Swahili word “pole” (pronounced pole-ay) which is usually translated in English as “sorry.” This translation does not begin to encompass all that “pole” means, however.

    In Tanzania, whenever you see someone working, or simply pass someone walking on the road, you say “pole” and they respond “pole na wewe” or “pole to you too.” It is an acknowledgment that life is hard, along the lines of “I feel your pain, life is hard for me as well.”

  • http://www.movetospain.wordpress.com Carla

    As a native Spanish speaker, the explanation of 19 was a bit strange. Maybe you can say that in Spanish from Spain it has that different meaning, which I never heard of in Latin American Spanish.

    As for number 20, I always connected it to the idea of “spleen” in French. Can anybody enlighten me? And number 1 also made me think of “spleen”… is there a connection between these three?

  • diamond

    Many people realize that some words are difficult to translate from other languages to English, but often forget that some are hard to translate from English to other languages. I have found that the word “home” is often difficult to describe because it is both a feeling and a place, and that place could be one’s house, one’s hometown, or one’s country, and it includes the sentiments of every aspect of the culture surrounding that. It is commonly translated to “hogar” in Spanish, but the Spanish word does not carry anywhere near the depth of meaning of the word in English.

  • http://larastjohn.com Lara

    I once heard that Tagalog (Phillippine language), has got a word for the feeling you have when you see something incredibly cute – like a little puppy or similar.

    I think we need that word! Instead of just feeling shaky and saying “AWWWW” and cuddling said cute thing.

    • larry

      I think that word is “nakakakilig”. It involves a tingling sensation of seeing something cute or someone like a crush. Or knowing that someone is infatuated with you.

  • niko

    “dar un toque” in spanish would actually translate to “to give a ring”, not a touch
    :D

  • The Old Wolf

    No time to read 173 comments, but no list of untranslatables is complete without “mamihlapinatapei”, Yaghan (Tierra del Fuego) for “a look shared by two people with each wishing that the other will initiate something that they both desire but which neither one wants to start.”

  • The Old Wolf

    Duh. Forget that last comment – there it is, screaming at me from No. 2…

  • Hermina

    Prozvonit is beep in romanian and english!

  • Katja

    The word hyggelig also exists in Norwegian, with an equivalent which is koselig.
    Hyggelig is slightly less personal than koselig. Koselig is warmer, you would use it to describe like, a gathering with some close friends, and hyggelig you might use to describe a meeting with someone you know a bit or have known in the past.

    We also have the word skadefryd, which means the same as schadenfreude.
    The word “pålegg” which is what we put on bread, like cheese, ham etc. would you say…toppings?

    In norway we say the phrase “Takk for maten” after eting which literally means thank you for the food, but that sounds quite….lame… Also the phrase “Takk for sist” which you say when meeting someone not long after meeting them previously, it means “thank you for the last time” directly translated. So if there is anything alternative to that in english I would be quite interested to know :)

    I think there might be some other words which don’t exist in english, but I can’t recall any at the moment

  • http://www.constantnomad.com Constant Nomad

    This is a great article! I love those kinds of words that you just can’t translate. There are some really beautiful ones in here. Words like this are why I love learning languages. A single word can say so much about the people who speak and the culture.

  • Madeeha Ansari

    Arabic – “Ehsaan” – giving someone more than he/she deserves out of pure goodness of heart. Altruism doesn’t quite cover it.

  • Jenny

    Prozvonit: The English word for this is ‘prank’ – to call and hang up before the person on the other end of the line can pick up. I know this word has a similar meaning (practical joke etc) but this term is quite universally understood in England.

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  • Mia

    The Dutch word ‘gezellig’ sounds quite similar in meaning to hyggelig and is meant to be equally untranslatable.

  • http://www.carlgene.com Carl Gene Fordham

    Thanks for your fantastic post, it actually inspired me to write my own about untranslatable words in Chinese. You can check it out here http://carlgene.com/blog/?p=318

    Cheers!

  • http://www.dorcassmucker.blogspot.com Dorcas

    Gell–Pennsylvania German. It means “Isn’t that right?” and assumes a “yes” answer, usually while catching the other person’s eye with a significant look, as in your aunt glancing at your mom over your head and saying, “Gell, she has a lot of Aunt Edna in her,” and then your mom says “Ya,” and you know they both know exactly how you are too much like Aunt Edna, and it’s not good, but you’re scared to ask.
    The negative equivalent is “Gell net,” which always assumes a No answer and shared knowledge, as in “You don’t feel well today, gell net?”

  • http://www.wix.com/talyastouch/talyastouch Talya

    Davka – from Hebrew. It means something between “just because” and “precisely why”, many times used as an explanation for acts of willfulness

  • Rachel Randall

    I’d translate 9., Prozvonit, as ‘to drop-call’. At least that’s what it’s referred to amongst my friends in south-east London, UK.

    Thanks so much for the list – its fascinating. I particularly like ‘cafune’ an ‘tartle’!

    Hope you’re having a good time in Spain, Jason. At the moment I’m teaching English in Galicia, in a small town called Viveiro!

  • isa

    “praskozorje” is a moment between night and dawn, in serbian. (dawn is zora. it’s a very beautiful and ancient sounding word, i don’t know if there’s a word for that moment in any other language?)

    • cph

      re: ““praskozorje” is a moment between night and dawn, in serbian.”

      i think that would be ‘twilight’. its most commonly used to describe the sky just between sunset and nightfall, but can also be used to describe the time period of the sky lighting up as dawn approaches, but far before the sun comes over the horizon.

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  • Nance A.

    The Yiddish word “haimish” is similar to number 16 – Hyggelig. It means “warm” but connotes homelike, cozy, friendly. A person can be haimish, and event can be haimish and a place can be haimish.

    There are lots of fun Yiddish words – courtesy of German as well as Hebrew – that are relatively untranslatable.

  • Milander

    All languages have words like this, you could make a point that all languages that belong to different families, say, finno-ugric (hungarian, finnish) and the romance family (english, french, italian, etc are made up entirely of words that are untranslatable. You simply attach a meaning to them that corresponds to an agreed definition. All the above words listed are translatable otherwise this article would be very difficult to discuss.

    Your last comments are great and something that EFL teachers often miss out when teaching, to the students detriment.

    Possible untranslateable word – In Welsh there is the word ‘gwlad’ which is chorused in the national anthem. It means literally ‘land’ a more correct translation would be ‘land of my Fathers’, the empathy of the word is stronger though towards an inhereted feeling of ‘MY’ land (caps for empathis), MY land of birth, MY home, the place where MY people are buried/live/die – it’s a very powerful word in welsh.

    FYI I’d have though dépaysement could be easily translated as ‘homesickness, to be homesick – but as I’M certainly not a french speaker I’ll happily dow to anyone who can say otherwise :)

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  • http://n/a Doris Jaffe

    The word TINGO #15 above, would be translated into Yiddish as SHNORRING

  • http://n/a Doris Jaffe

    The word TINGO, #15, could be translated into the Yiddish word SHNORRER, which means someone who always borrows without repaying. SHNOR is the verb to borrow or to coyly beg or ask for something knowing you’ll never reciprocate while SHNORRER is the person borrowing or acquiring that which belongs to someone else. An example of a SHNORRER is a person who sees you bringing home groceries and tells you they didn’t have a chance to shop, so could they please borrow a can of soda – knowing you bought a case but they have no intention to replace it. They keep asking for things – it’s not a one-time occurrence. SHNORRING is their act of asking you.

    Yiddish words that have no English equivalent are:

    Machatunim – your married children’s parents-in-law are your machatunim. That’s plural. Mechutan is the father of your child-in-law and Machataynista is the mother of your child-in-law. So your son’s wife’s parents and your daughter’s husband’s parents are all your machatunim. In most families the machatunim forge close relationships. When a couple gets married, it certainly helps their relationship if all their parents get along well.

  • http://www.jasalo.me Javier Lozano

    Number 9. in Colombian Spanish is “Timbrar” or “Pegar/Dar um timbrazo”

  • Jocelyn Lee

    加油 in Chinese translates to “to add oil”. Pronounced as “jia you”.
    1. We yell 加油 when we watch a race or, a friend is going to participate in a race.
    2. We say it to someone who has a deadline to catch and heaps of work left to be done.
    3. When someone loses something, be it a missing cat or pen, they try so hard but still can’t find it, we wish them 加油.
    It’s a wish and a cheer at the same time. It’s more of like a combination of “go for it”, “you can do it”, “don’t give up”, “good luck”.

  • mmc

    Dar un toque, at least in Spain, just means “to call someone” or “to give someone a ring.” Una llamada perdida is what we call it when we call someone so they have our number. If someone gives you a llamada perdida, it’s like leaving a message. The recipient is expected to call back.

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  • Victor

    My favorite is “toska”, a Russian word.

    “No single word in English renders all the shades of toska. At its deepest and most painful, it is a sensation of great spiritual anguish, often without any specific cause. At less morbid levels it is a dull ache of the soul, a longing with nothing to long for, a sick pining, a vague restlessness, mental throes, yearning. In particular cases it may be the desire for somebody of something specific, nostalgia, love-sickness. At the lowest level it grades into ennui, boredom.”

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  • Arrgh

    To be more accurate, all of these supposedly untranslatable words can be translated into any other language, you just might not be able to translate it into a single word. Just look at the definitions given on this page to see what I mean.

  • Jacqueline

    “Mitzvah” in Hebrew. It refers to an action that is both an obligation (or responsibility) and a blessing, simultaneously and equally. An example: taking care of a sick child or elderly relative. There is no equivalent in English, and I don’t think there is one in French, Portuguese or Greek (my other languages.)

  • roxi

    I didn’t see this one come up, but a personal favorite of mine is ‘mokita’. In New Guinea, ‘mokita” is the truth that everyone knows, but no one speaks. The elephant in the room, so to speak.

  • http://www.volunteercapitalcentre.org Zablon Mukuba

    toska is a funny word its unfortunate there is no english translation for it. also there are a couple of spanish and chinese words which dont have direct translation

  • Wiz

    - Gezellig – No English eq. might have one in other languages.

    denotes a cosy environment with friends, often referring to a place and/or situation among friends: ‘Its ‘gezellig here’. can also mean, cosy, quint, nice or general togetherness

  • Kiwi

    We in Holland/The Netherlands do have a word for 11. Schadenfreude.
    We call that leedvermaak. Which means: leed (suffering) vermaak (entertainment). Getting entertained by other people’s suffering. Same thing.

    :-)

  • Keren

    Lehitchadesh – a Hebrew verb discribes the state of having recenetly purchased a new product or service. It’s usually used in its imperative form when someone is being saluted for having made a new aquisition of any form.

  • claudiomet

    Prozvonit = Repique (in Chile)

  • http://www.twitter.com/jeanfreddy Jeanfreddy

    Prozvonit, the number 9, has a single word in Spanish, at least in Venezuela: “Repicar”. It´s exactly the same use and meaning.

  • einat

    isn’t 11- gloating?

    • http://www.pubtricks.com/?trick=cutrestoredmoney-trick.wmv&id=1806 Thoroddsen

      try this one,Eyjafjallajokull?

    • Batsheva

      No, gloating is a verb. It’s an expression that you make when you’re excessively proud of your achievements. Gloating, by definition is a public thing. Schadenfreude is a noun. It’s a feeling that is internal and private. Something a person is actually more likely to be ashamed to admit they feel, as opposed to someone who gloats, and is out in the open about it. Schadenfreude would be a situation where a friend loses his job, and you secretly feel happy about it because you were always jealous that he had a better position than you. That’s not at all something you’d gloat about or ever even admit.

      • Judy Jones

        There’s a great song from the Broadway musical ‘Avenue Q’ about Schadenfreude. Here’s a link to a YouTube video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4XmZIcmRKkc

        • fionn

          What does that have to do with the topic of the article?

          I feel such epicaricacy when I see people make the mistake of thinking that Schadenfreude has no English equivalent.

          “Epicaricacy”. It’s English.

          Go Look It Up.

          • Jane

            Actually, it’s Greek. “Epicaricacy” is mentioned in some early dictionaries, but there is little or no evidence of actual usage until it was picked up by various “interesting word” websites around the turn of the twenty-first century.

          • John

            Epicaricacy is a loan from Greek epikhairekakia. We can use both “epicaricacy” and “schadenfreude” in English, but neither of them are as native to the language as “epikhairekakia” is to Greek or “schadenfreude” is to German, though the existence of another word in English does contradict the idea that schadenfreude is untranslatable. Even so, epicaricacy is in the working vocabulary of about ten people; I’ve never seen it actually used before, and I have seen “schadenfreude.” So I’d say that for practical purposes schadenfreude remains untranslatable.

      • Carla

        While that is one aspect of Schadenfreude, it’s not always that. Often, it can be very public, similar to a feeling of vindication but about something that might not involve you personally. It could be a situation where in English you might say “He got what he asked for.” for example.

    • http://reneeseastofeden.blogspot.com renee

      Gloating suggests simple self-satisfaction, but not necessarily at someone else’s misfortune. You gloat if you win a game you played with someone else. Whereas someone not involved in the game at all and with no personal stake in the game might feel shadenfreude towards the person who lost.

  • ittls

    in italian a Prozvonit is a squillo. but it is so much more than just a sign to be called back. it can mean ‘i’m thinking of you’ when you are in a couple, it can mean ‘yey!’ when your team scored a goal and you do a squillo to a mate who isn’t watching with you or it simply means ‘yes’ when someone sent you a message with a yes or no question. or it means ‘i’m there’ when you pick somebody up by car or something like that. it’s awesome!!

    • http://www.bloodredsounds.blogspot.com BloodRedSounds

      May I suggest the Norwegian word ‘kveis’? It translates roughly as ‘the feeling of unease that follows debauchery’, and is a personal favourite of mine.

      • http://unhammer.wordpress.com/ Kevin Brubeck Unhammer

        There’s a word for that in English: hangover.
        Also, maggot, if you want the primary meaning of “kveis”.

        • swagmonkey

          That’s not the same thing at all. Hangover usually refers to alcohol, and requires only a physical feeling, which may or may not be accompanied by any uneasiness about anything you’ve done.

      • David Rault

        We have this word in french too – it’s “cuite”.

        • http://abcsofagirlslife.blogspot.com Lily

          “Cuite” is like the English word “baked”- typically a term used for after using marijuana. ;)

  • Ryan

    Isn’t duende just an elf?

    • Eva

      Duende can be both, elf or the spirit of art. Both meanings dont relate to each other. Duende can be aplied to many things, for example “el duende de tu mirada” roughly as “the special something of your eyes”

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  • http://www.laura-fisher.com Laura Fisher

    “gemütlich/gemütlichkeit” is a German word that I love isn’t included on this list–it describes an overall warm, cozy feeling; a good example is the atmosphere of a room full of longtime friends sharing a drink or two. Wikipedia does a pretty good job of explaining it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gem%C3%BCtlichkeit

    • ro

      Sounds like #16 to me.

    • Jet

      Like ‘gezelligheid’ in Dutch – the only translation that comes close to that is the German gemutlichkeit.
      But then, that’s from the same stem as the Dutch ‘gemoedelijkheid’, which is still not the same as ‘gezelligheid’. ‘Gemoedelijk’ means something along the same lines, but is more a sort of ‘going along’ a the same time.

      ‘Gezelligheid’ has (as far as I know) no exact translation in other languages.

      The wikisite you mention says about this: “Somewhat similar is the term gezellig in Dutch. Gezellig is used frequently by Dutch speakers and is one of the most important Dutch words because it describes the ideal cultural setting, one that is cozy and inclusive.”

      • http://unhammer.wordpress.com/ Kevin Brubeck Unhammer

        “gezellig” in Norwegian is “koselig” (apparently related to German “liebkosen”) — I’m pretty sure it’s the exact same thing, but then there are a lot of influences between Dutch and Norwegian.

        We also say “hyggelig”, though that has …almost a slightly more formal feel to it, to my ears at least.

  • http://slugcrossings.blogspot.com/ Liutgard

    There’s an Anglo-Saxon word best known from _Beowulf_: ‘ofermode’. It’s multi-valent and pretty well untranslatable, and can range from hubris to braggadocio to over-confidence to… well, all of those are in the neighborhood, but none really fit the bill. Ask 10 Anglo-Saxonists and you’ll get 11 answers.

  • Curly Linguist

    Awesome article, though I’m pretty sure that “Prozvonit” (“to call a mobile phone and let it ring once so that the other person will call back, saving the first caller money”) has an exact equivalent in British English – ‘pranking’? You ‘prank call’ or ‘prank’ someone when you don’t have credit/money/minutes on your phone. Has this one not spread around yet?

    • Heather Carreiro

      In the US, we use “prank” to mean when you call someone as a joke. In Indian and Pakistani English “prozvonit” is “miss call,” so I’ve just started using that in the US as well.

    • http://unhammer.wordpress.com/ Kevin Brubeck Unhammer

      It’s not a prank, it’s done because you don’t want to pay and get a huge cell phone bill. I used to do it when I was a teenager calling my parents. We just said something like “give one ring” (“gi ett ring”).

      • Chuck

        “Prozvonit” = This is what I did for my mother every time I returned to college, after a visit at home, 45-years ago. The single ring let her know I had arrived, back at school, safely. Of course, we didn’t have mobile phones in those days but I saved the cost of a call and always got my quarter back.

  • Joshua D. Lichterman, Ph.D.

    Hey, if you like this kind of word play there’s a whole card line based
    on words like these! Just follow this link: http://www.connectingdotz.com!!

    I think you will find them really enjoyable, educational, and they make good gifts, what with the holidays around the corner.

  • http://eryx.tumblr.com Claudio

    Duende (SP) = Duende (PT-BR) = ELF (EN-US/EN-UK/EN-AUS/EN-SA)
    Dépaysement would be homesickness unless I got the explanation wrong…

    And the expression “Dar un toque” isn’t present only in Spanish, but also in PT-BR.

    I’m glad that I speak the language that has “saudade” :)
    I just love the fact it doesn’t exist in any other language.

    • MaryLou

      I was so excited to learn this word that I had to quickly find a website that pronounced it so I could hear it out loud! I WISH I knew the language that had this word.

      • Arthur Lavenère

        Have already found a website with the pronounce? In case of you haven’t, give that one a try: http://www.forvo.com/word/saudade#pt

        It’s an interesting project where people record the pronunciation of words of their native languages.

    • Jacinthe

      Dépaysement is more a feeling of disorientation in a new environment. You don’t necessarily miss home. Dépaysement can also apply to a situation, not just a geographical context.

  • Miriam Brodersen

    There’s a German word “Ohrworm,” which literally means ear-worm, but means a song that gets stuck in your head all day!

  • lordsebastianflyte

    Schadenfreude – skadeglädje in swedish.

  • elaine

    in english Prozvonit is called a ‘drop call’

  • http://www.twitter.com/mbatey Michael Batey

    I recently learned about lagom – a Swedish word that encapsulates the concept of ‘everything in moderation’, ‘just enough and no more’, with connotations of ‘don’t go overboard’, ‘don’t show off’. Although we don’t have a direct translation, it’s something that the English instinctively understand as well.

  • Martine

    I believe the word “Sisu” is another. It is a Finnish term loosely translated into English as strength of will, determination, perseverance, and acting rationally in the face of adversity.

  • foible

    I can’t really get on board with all of this. Firstly, the French one isn’t a word, it’s a phrase. If they don’t actually have a “word” for it, why should we? It’s just the urge for adrenaline, really. Daredevil comes to mind. Anywho, some thoughts;

    1. Simply compiles all stages of depression/mourning/sorrow/grief into one lump word. How ’bout, unhappiness?

    2. Barroom glance. Fewer letters, fewer syllables, easier to say.

    3. I know there’s a word we use to to describe ultra-cheesy jokes that you can’t help but giggle. Can’t think of it off the top of me head.

    4. Frankly, we have windows. They didn’t and most still prolly don’t.

    5. Yet another dreadful sorrow/depression.

    6. Nag, bitch, soccer mom.

    7. Brain-fart.

    8. Certainly can’t think of any single words that work well for this one, but “three strikes and you’re out.”

    9. I like to call it “pinging” your friends/family.

    10. No idea.

    11 & 12. Being that Germans are notorious for just mashing all the root words together into one giant word, it’s really no surprise that they have so many words which there is no single word in any other language to describe them.

    13. True and original “Paganism.”

    14. Homesickness.

    15. Larceny.

    16. Joyful.

    17. Not even a word in itself.

    18. I’ll give ya that one.

    19. Sprite = elf, power = awe.

    20. Mourning again.

    • ro

      Is the grinch warming up for Christmas already?

      • Foible

        The French “phrase” really set me off. I can’t believe someone with an English major would publish something like this. I haven’t even finished one year of university in my days and I have a better understanding of my language than he does. I stand by stumps but the gray area that people like to communicate on several of these words is simply ridiculous or incredulous.

        • swagmonkey

          No, you don’t have a better understanding of the language than the writer does. You just have greater arrogance. Yes, it’s true that you can find other words/phrases in other languages that convey vaguely similar sentiments, but there’s a whole range of subtlety here that your simplified translations completely miss. You don’t seem to understand that there is beauty in language, or that details can be important. If you don’t care about interesting words, then don’t read an article about interesting words. You’re not doing us any favors by showing us how much “better” you know the language, by being able to translate these into single words that lose all the interest.

          • Alpha Rebel I

            You really need to learn another language if you’re ever going to be able to understand the premise of this article.

          • Alpha Rebel I

            Oh – sorry, swagmonkey; that was directed at foible, not you.

    • Aline

      One who feels saudade is not necessarily mourning. It’s closer to nostalgia – there are tints of both sadness and happiness in saudade.

    • Anne

      att 16. I would point out that “hyggelig” is not only joyful it is so much more. But is indeed a positive word.

    • Ts Flock

      I will put this lightly; you are an ignorant, little pedant. You don’t have a better mastery of the language than this writer. In fact, I’d say you don’t understand the finer points of nuance at all. You’re probably the sort of fellow who believes that any word listed from a Thesaurus is a perfect synonym and will work in every situation. To my mind, there are no true synonyms in any language, and every language has a different mindset, not just a different lexicon. I’ve studied Japanese, Germanic (including the extinct Gothic) and Romance languages and have encountered 100s of words that could be on this list, but I find this one charming and diverse. None of the 20 reductive translations you offered are adequate. God forbid you should ever go into translation. Your arrogance, ignorance, lack of subtlety, and dismissive attitude toward other cultures really makes you suitable for one career: Conservative Politician.

      • swagmonkey

        Oh, I’m sure there are plenty of other jobs that don’t require decent understanding of language. :-p

    • Elizabeth

      If I could be bothered, I’d sit and pick apart your answers, but they in themselves simply highlight your ignorance and arrogance. Not to mention your inability to spell.

      In your answer of #4. It’s “probably”, not prolly.

  • Jessica

    Gezellig (Nederlans) close in meaning to the Danish Hygge and the German Gemütlichkeit. The Dutch swear that it is untranslatable.

  • http://godownofmymind.blogspot.com Sourav Roy

    Obhimaan (Bengali): Sulking out of pride. Waiting for others to ‘there, there’ and mollycoddle you. (The Sanskrit / Hindi ‘Abhimaan’ has quite different meaning.)

    Entho (Bengali) / Jutha (Hindi): Something which has already been tasted / partially by someone else and might have traces of that person’s saliva in it.

  • http://combie2606.multiply.com/ Caecilia Nita

    JAYUS = word for a joke so poorly told and so unfunny that one cannot help but laugh… was first spoken and popularized by Mr. Michael Da Lopez (Biyiq – Jamaica Cafe – Gonzaga ’94) to Mr. dJAYUSman Soepadmo (FB name – Gonzaga ’94) between the years 1992 – 1994… I was one of hundreds of witnesses living witness that there is life…

  • Nick

    A great number of my friends and I call number 9 -’Prozvonit’ a ‘Dodgy’. As in it’s like dodging the price of a call. It has since also expanded to include calling someone once so that the phone gets your number, so as to save the effort of readinbg it all out and double checking when giving someone your phone number. As in”I’ll give you a dodgy to save time”.

  • mexe

    hey.. awsome list

    in Chile we also use “pincha/poke (pinchame y te devuelvo el llamado/ poke me and ill call you back) or “hacer un ring” /make a ring … (hazme un ring y te llamo / make me a ring and ill call you) :), but thats just us. Sometimes I think we have a different lenguage xD

    Oh and duende is also translated as leprechaun or elf.

    Santa’s elfs: Los duendes del Viejito Pascuero

    The leprechaun and the pot of gold: el duende y la olla de oro

    :)

  • maddee

    “Prozvonit” = prank where I come from too.

    Duende: Quite apart from the question of whether or not it translates as ‘elf’, I’ve never come across that particular ‘translation’ before.

  • dez

    If you’re saying these are untranslateable, haven’t you disproved this by giving translations? Okay, so there’s not one English word the has the exact same meaning as these, (well, in your variety of English, maybe others have equivalents), but so what? Most of the meanings we convey with language are compositional, ie you need to put words together to represent them. Maybe you should take a look at LanguageLog .

  • http://none Ben

    loyly is a Finnish word describing the beads of sweat appearing on the of a person when
    taking a sauna.

  • http://none Ben

    appearing on the body of a person…

  • Aline

    As a non-native English speaker, I must say I love “serendipity”. It’s such a beautiful word! In Portuguese we do have “serendipidade” (straight from English, same meaning), but it sounds terrible, and you wouldn’t find it anywhere but on dictionaries.

  • http://www.rohits-ramblings.com Rohit Kulshreshtha

    For Prozvonit, we simply say “Give me a missed call.” here in India.

  • Even

    number 11. Has a norwegian translation Skadefryd.
    And nr. 16, is the same in norwegian

  • http://www.virtuallinguist.typepad.com Virtual Linguist

    Who would have thought that there was a language with one word that meant “to condemn and humiliate (a husband) publicly for beating his wife, typically by causing a disturbance outside his house by beating pots and kettles, singing and chanting loudly, etc., and sometimes also by beating him, chasing him from the town or compelling him to ride the stang”.

    There is, and it’s English. That’s the Oxford English Dictionary of the English verb ran-tan.

    See here

  • Nuria

    Cafuné’s equivalent in Spanish is “piojito”.

  • http://www.makoho.nl Marco

    Schadenfreude translates very nicely into Dutch: “Leedvermaak”.

    It’s semantic composition is pretty much the same: leed (schade) and vermaak (freude): suffering and entertainment. It’s laughing at somebody else’s misfortunes.

    • Jane

      Freude, in my experience as a German speaker, is “pleasure” or “joy” rather than “entertainment”, i.e. schadenfreude is the feeling of joy or pleasure at someone’s misfortune. Technically, you are ‘entertained’ when the event occurs, but you are feeling more joyful or happy as a result, rather than being entertained, which is not a feeling, but rather an act or event or sequence of acts/events that evoke feelings.

      Another great German term is ‘zeitgeist’ . . .

  • George

    In ‘The Key to Rebecca’ Ken Follet uses the arabic word ‘mactleesh’ that he translates as meaning somewhere between ‘sorry’ and ‘so what’

  • bob

    what about “orka” and “lagom” from swedish?

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  • Ra Lu

    The Roumanian `dor`, meaning a strong, hurtful, tourmenting, passionate wish to see someone (that you love) or something again, or the wish to do something that you miss (to come back to your country ot to your childhood town, for instance). The word describes a powerful and untranslateble feeling. `To miss someone` is not an accurate translation, it misses out on the `saudade`, only that the persone is not necessarily dead. `To long after` would be better, but still not quite.

    • swagmonkey

      Although I don’t know it through the original Portuguese, I didn’t interpret that the definition of saudade here implied the person had to be dead. Why not a lover who has left you, or a friend who moved far away, or even someone from whom you’ve just drifted away over time but still recall fondly?

      • Ra Lu

        Yes, you are right, maybe the `saudade` doesn`t imply that `someone is lost` in the sense that `someone died`. When I first red the post, I automaticly interpreted the transitive verb `to lose somebody` as `that somebody died` (the expression is often used also to express death: `to lose someone in a war`, or `to lose a pacient`). But it is true that `to lose someone` is not used exclusively for these situations and it reffers to all types of loss. What matters in the explanation of `saudade` is the feeling one has when experiencing a loss (by death or other means, definitive or temporary).

  • Austin

    How about adding pronunciations?

  • Haldor

    German doesn’t count because it is standard practice to just keep adding syllables until you have combined a paragraph into a single word if necessary. That is why Germans are so fond of abbreviations and acronyms.

    Example: FLAK is taken from Fliegerabwehrkanone which literally translates as Flyer-Defense-Cannon. That is no more one word than anti-aircraft-cannon is.

    Despite the thrust of this blog, my experiance is that it is English is typically the most consise way of expressing a thought. I think it has something to do with how large the English vocabulary is (My OED has over 300,000 entries in it). I am a software developer and have seen numerous multi-lingual prompt files. What I have learned is that inevitably other languages take up more display space than the English equivilent does. It really surprised me that even Kangi takes more display space (because the characters have to be bigger to be legible).

    Here is an example of this from German. The classic longest German word is:

    Donaudampfschiffahrtsgesellschaftskapitän

    In English this translates to:

    Danube steamship company captain

    Notice that the English phrase is shorter than the “Single” German word.

    Don’t believe me? Try typing just about any phrase into google translate and see how long the translation is in various languages.

    • swagmonkey

      Although it may be true that most things can be expressed in less space in English than most other languages, to have a decent test one would have to start with samples in all different languages. If your samples all were originally in English and became longer in translation, it wouldn’t prove anything, because samples originally written in, say, Spanish might also grow longer when translated to other languages, including English. Or even if they didn’t all originate in English, you might still have a skewed sample in other ways because they are all programming prompts. Different languages may be better at expressing different things.

      For example, Chinese is a very concrete language. It is difficult to convey abstract concepts in Chinese. At trainings for work, where a great deal of what is said in English must be translated into Chinese for some of my co-workers, the Chinese always seems substantially longer. If we spoke consistently about more concrete things, which might be the case by default if we expressed our thoughts in Chinese originally, which encourages concrete thought and language, we might find that those thoughts were expressed more concisely in Chinese. Or that English still expressed whatever it expressed in less space, but that it lost enough meaning in the process that it isn’t comparable. (Especially true if you’ve chosen a route like Google translate to do the test, as opposed to human translators who actually understand both languages.)

      For the record, what I know of Chinese is only second-hand, though I work with many Chinese people. I apologize for any inaccuracies in those specifics, however I think the point stands in the general case even if the specifics of my Chinese example are way off base.

    • Jane

      Of course, German counts. It’s the language of a few countries and the Teutonic culture. Its structure calls for concepts to be a conglomeration of expressions. One cannot just dismiss it because it’s not put together in the same way as other languages . . .

    • ro

      Here is another German word that came to my mind while reading your comment:

      “Fremdschämen”.

      It’s also not directly translatable, but it’s a feeling of shame that you have when someone is doing something cringeworthy. A feeling that one is having more and more these days about reality shows on TV, but also about any forum or comments page, really.

      • Jane

        Good one!

    • agerman

      You are right – in german you can add a lot of words in some UBERword. But the interesting thing is, that they can get a new meaning through this process (look at zeitgeist?!).

      Btw: I don’t really see more abbreviations in german than in english. Only because you do find any doesn’t mean its common.

      Also it is kind of easy to create new words this way – and it’s not exclusive to german. Take the automobile or a motorbike for example ;) And I think it’s highly popular in mandorin: “The most common way used to form polysyllabic words in Mandarin is to aggregate words according to their meaning. For instance, the word for “computer” is 电脑 (diànnǎo). The first word means “electric” whilst the second means “brain”.”)

      Otherwise it isn’t really bright to compare german word conglomerates to the separated english words, because the words that make this conglomerate are longer itself than the english counterparts. But I guess you could find any example where other languages are shorter than english.

      Yeah, the english version is shorter, BUT you kinda forgot one part: “fahrt”. It means “trip, journey, ride”. Maybe you don’t necessarily need it, but it could be either a company that produces steamships or (what is meant here!) a company that provides journeys on a steamship… => Little bit longer, but you get a well defined word :)

      If you would insert it you would see that only one word is really longer in german:
      “Donaudampfschiffahrtsgesellschaftskapitän
      “Danubesteamshipride company captain”

      And the question is: If the english version is shorter & better: Why are there such words as Zeitgeist, Schadenfreude, Kindergarten, Ersatz etc. used if there are shorter versions available?

      But this whole thing is vain anyway because such words are reaaaally rare! You either find it in some weird place (like your example or the military), the military (who likes to be very exact about every little sh*t -> FLAK – and don’t tell me that the military in anglophone countries are any different [just look at USSOCOM?) or in a highly technical field (which includes the military).

      @last paragraph of this article: That should be the top priority in learning (and teaching) new languages. (For most people) It doesn’t really matter if you can translate a sentence word by word, but that you understand the meaning of it.

  • Nicknameless

    Personally, I like the Mandarin 厉害 or “li hai.” It’s normally used as an adjective to describe any extremely powerful attribute you might have from “ferocious” to “talented.” It can be both a compliment or an insult. It’s pretty 厉害.

  • Bob Coppock

    A symptom I suffer from is I think called “l’esprit d’escalier,” coming up with a great bon mot or comment or question just after a conversation has ended and the respondent is no longer there. It literally is the ghost on the stairway, referring to the time when there were salons in Paris apartments with witty discourse. You would think of the clever thing to say on your way down the stairs.

  • Eric

    #9 in spanish …se dice dame una llamada perdida. nunca escuche dar un toque

  • http://www.magma.ca/~davises Ron Davis

    The Hungarian word “tegezlek” means (all packed into the one word) “I address you in a grammatically familiar manner.”. English does not even have a term for a grammatically familiar manner. (French: tutoiement; German: Duzen; Hungarian: tegezés) The word is also self-referential. The act of saying that word makes it true.

    • Vazir Mukhtar

      English needn’t have a one-word equivalent for using a “familiar” form, as it doesn’t now distinguish “formal” from “familiar” in second person verb forms. Perhaps one of the posters who has ready access to an OED can find a one-word equivalent from an earlier period in the history of English when such a distinction was made, though I doubt the OED records such.

      Not that it would be interesting and certainly of no use, still in this age of computerized data bases I’m surprised that apparently no one has compared pairs of languages to see which has the larger number of one-word equivalents (I use the word advisedly) with respect to a third language. Anyone up for this?

      • Anita

        Not a one-word equivalent, but people have used “thou” or “thee” as a verb occasionally, referring to the act of using the familiar pronoun.

  • Marty

    Machatenista (phonetic):
    Yiddish term describing my relationship to my married child’s inlaws. She may be HIS motherinlaw, but she and I are Machatenistas (or, technically, Machatunim).

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  • http://flightlessboyds.blogspot.com Juddie

    There is a wonderful Japanese word, natsukashii (懐かしい), which might be considered similar to saudade, although it is often used in reference to the nostalgic feelings that arise when remembering happy experiences or childhood fun.

    It’s useful when you want to express something like “Awww! I remember that! I loved it so much/wasn’t it fun?! etc.” Luckily many of my friends and family also learnt Japanese, so we use this word often even when we’re speaking English for everything else..

  • http://flightlessboyds.blogspot.com Juddie

    Another really useful word is the German word “Doch!”. I guess it translates as “on the contrary”, but it’s also used more casually to emphasise a refuted position. It’s generally a positive (less aggressive) way of contradicting someone, where in English we would really only be able to answer yes or no.

    e.g. if some one suggests that you dislike a particular thing, when in fact you do like it, you would say “Doch!”, thereby asserting that the initial suggestion is refuted. Or someone might say “Don’t you have any money?”, to which you could answer “Doch!” (i.e.: yes, I do!).

    Doch can also be used to intensify statements, show doubt, question, and more … what a useful word!

    • Alpha Rebel I

      Sounds a little similar to the French “sí”, which like its Spanish cognate means ‘yes’ but is only used in the sense of ‘yes, but…’

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  • Jane

    Beyond the magic language performs between two human beings, isn’t it wonderful to be able to read about terms in one language than does not exist in another, yet identify with the spirit, emotion and sheer humanity of the expression? Bravo – great article!

    • Jane

      One more comment: language and, particularly, “untranslate-able” terms, are deep reflections of culture . . .

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  • Noura

    Ya’aburnee is actually just a word some Arabic nationalities use. Mostly the northern Arabs like Syrians, Lebanese, Jordanian, and Palestinian =p
    The translation is quite accurate though!

  • Drew

    I also tend to disagree with much of the premise of the article. Firstly, it should say that some of them are untranslatable by one word into English. All of them are translatable as evidenced by the author translating them for the article. A word like schadenfreude is used in English much like many other words in English that were borrowed from other languages, so an English equivalent is not necessary. A few of the words are actually phrases hence making them difficult to translate with only one word. And other words…especially the Czech words can be translated. My wife and I just talked about it(she speaks Czech). But it was an interesting article anyhow!

  • Vazir Mukhtar

    Odd that Nabokov would be cited for the Russian word “toska.” His comments on the word “poshlost’” would make for more interesting reading, as it is harder to render in English than “toska.” It means something like “cheap vulgarity,” but that doesn’t capture the full force of the word.

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  • Amelia

    甘える (AMAERU) is often translated to relying on one’s kindness, but there are several definitions such as the ‘attempt to deny the fact of separation that is such an inseparable part of human existence and to obliterate the pain of separation or cherishment of a non-sexual nature. It becomes a problem when translating to English since notions of dependence have slight more negative connotations than the Japanese notion of dependence.

  • HLB

    Isn’t no.9 just dropcalling?

  • Anna

    “Han” a Korean Work
    roughly translated to “a state of mind, of soul really. A sadness. A sadness so deep no tears will come, and yet still, there’s hope. “

  • http://www.balisignaturevillas.com putu

    “Tengal” in Balinese same as “Jayus” in Indonesian.

  • Nal

    We have 11, Schadenfreude, in Danish, too. Here it’s called “skadefryd”.
    Also, good description of the word hyggelig. :)

  • http://www.trainsonthebrain.com Jools Stone

    Interesting post, but since when has awesomely been a word, while we’re on the subject? ;-)

  • http://kddr.blogspot.com/ Your Obedient Serpent

    The author misses an important point: If English doesn’t have the right word for an untranslatable concept, it just abducts it from a language that DOES.

    “We are the Anglophones. You will be assimilated. Your linguistic and semantic distinctiveness will be added to our own. Resistance is futile.”

    • Jiri

      Yah, right, but most importantly, while the author rightly recognizes problems associated with translations, he, and I am afraid also Nabokov and Kundera (with all due respect) is missing a point. There is seldom a one-to- one ratio in translation – in other words – it may take a sentence to render a certain word (in case of Nabokov and “toska” it took him a couple of pages – but there is always a way to do it. Moreover, while “toska” in Nabokov’ s case and “litost” in Kundera’s case may be difficult to render, because of the hundreds of meanings that are attached to these words, in certain contexts they do not have hundreds of meanings, but rather only one. And that’s where translators face a real dilemma – which of the meanings to pick.

      • cll

        No matter how hard you try, you can never precisely translate those words to English – you can merely get close – without the cultural context and experience, they remain vague concepts for the most part (with the exception of Mamihlapinatapei). Mamihlapinatapei – what an awesome word.

        My favourite word: gider ikke, which is Danish for ‘I would if I had the energy to, but I don’t so I can’t be bothered’.

        • jiri

          I really don’t quite understand this concept of “precise” translation when it comes to literature. But, just the same, any word in any language has many meanings and Nabokov’s “toska” or Kundera’s “litost” are no exceptions. And in any context there is that one specific meaning the author had in mind – maybe more, if the author wishes to be ambiguous, but certainly not hundreds. It is the “feeling” that a particular word should evoke in different contexts that counts. It is always a bit of a challenge to know what kind of feeling the author tried to convey, in the language it was written, never mind translation, but if one remembers that looking for one to one ratio in translation is rather silly and that you are looking for that specific meaning in that specific context, it will work. And all those “cultural” contexts and famous examples such as Sapir’s example of 50 different names Eskimos are using for 50 different types of snow which are not “translatable” because we do not have that cultural experience – well, there is that misconception again that there has to be one to one ratio. The English language (Czech, Russian, etc.) are quite capable of describing the quality of any of those “snow” terms, but it would probably take more than one word.

  • Tosh

    In Hebrew, we have a word for phrase number 6.
    When you tell a mother she is acting “Polish” it means the same thing: A mother who relentlessly pushes her children toward academic achievement.

    Also, in phrase number 11, we have a slang word for it: “Tzintuk”.
    It is actually a mashup of two words: “Tziltzool” (a call) and “Nituk” (a hangup).
    Together they make up this word that means to call someone and hang up before he answers so he would call back. It is also considered quite rude to do so.

  • Peter Hansen

    Isn’t #14 just the same as “homesick”? I don’t see why it should be untranslatable?

    • ciber71

      correct! like Heimweh in german

    • Bamboo

      It does not mean homesick at all. I t means that you can feel from many things (culture, language…) that you are not home, but it does not carry the notion that you miss home.

      • http://www.peacefulways.com paul

        I use homesick when I am out of the country and am longing for my native land. A common use of the word is not for a house or building, but for our native land/environment.

      • ~Heather W~

        So, basically along the lines of “we’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto”?

        • Elizabeth

          Sort of. It can have many depths to it’s meaning really. It can be as simple as recognising that the scenery has changed (simply that things are different here compared to home), but it can also imply a certain amount of disorientation or even sadness that things are different where you are now, compared to where you’re from.

  • Veronika

    Since Norwegian is a german language we also have the word Schadenfreude, “skadefryd”.

    We also have our own version of Hyggelig, namely “koselig”. And yes, it is incredibly hard to translate, and actually incorporate a distinct feature of our culture, in which the consept of “kos” is an important part of everyday life. The word is used (with different suffixes) as a verb, a noun and an adjective. Fits everywhere!

    • SP

      gezellig in Dutch, and it means the same feeling with no English equivalent.

    • Jocon307

      “our own version of Hyggelig, namely “koselig”. And yes, it is incredibly hard to translate, and actually incorporate a distinct feature of our culture, in which the consept of “kos” is an important part of everyday life. The word is used (with different suffixes) as a verb, a noun and an adjective.”

      That is very interesting, it seems to me that “kos” is close to the English word “cozy” which my mother once told me was basically untranslatable in it’s precise meaning.

      I guess I’d give a quick definition of “cozy” as “warm, comfortable, homey”. It does not imply, to me at least, the idea of company, unless that company is being with one’s cat, lol. But I don’t think it necessarily implies solitude either.

      Cozy is most often an adjective: a cozy room, a cozy scene.

      As a noun it is used for a cover for a tea pot: a tea cozy (and maybe other things that snuggle things)

      As a verb it is used in the phrase: to cozy up to someone, to try and get close to them, not physically, but emotionally.

    • Thomas

      Schadenfreude translates as “leedvermaak” (literally: being entertained by someone’s grief) in Dutch.

      As for “gezellig”, I’ve always used “cosy” to describe that in English — being a native Dutch speaker. I’m not an etymologist, but it does look like it’s related to “koselig”.

      • Mish

        Cozy is the wrong translation for ‘gezellig’. Cozy translates to ‘knus’ in Dutch.
        Cozymore describes an environment where as ‘gezellig’ describes an atmosphere. I can sit on the sofa with my nan, drinking a cup of hot chocolate and it can be very gezellig (and cozy aswell). But I can go down the pub with my mates and have a great time which is very gezellig too (but not necessarily cozy).

    • eline

      In Dutch Schadenfreude is translated as “Leedvermaak”.
      And the Danish “Hyggelig” is “Gezellig” in Dutch.

  • kd

    What about “Magari” (Italian). It’s somewhere between ‘perhaps’, ‘if we’re lucky’, ‘we live in hope’ – word to optimistically express hope about a possible future outcome.

    • Laura Blumenthal

      That one is the same in Greek – makari.

  • b

    How about “Casino” (italian)? It’s somewhere between “trouble” and “mess”, but it also might carry a neurotic connotation.

  • lithiumeyes

    Tyendinaga comes from Iroquois for either “two sticks bound together for strength” or “he who places two bets”

  • Mistletoe

    “Hyggelig” sounds like it may be Danish for the Irish word “craic” (pronounced like “crack”). The latter refers to public houses especially; the warm feeling of community that comes with good times, good music, and good drink.

    • Greg

      I may be a craic addict.

  • Maria Ines

    I love the word “convivir” in Spanish and the sentiment that it invokes. I always picture families strolling around the plaza, chatting with other townspeople and neighbors helping neighbors. “To live in harmony” is the closest I can come to the meaning in English; it means so much more than “coexist.” Amoungst Spanish speakers, “convivir” is a value and a way of life.

    • mike

      Maria:

      English has a very similar word with the same general meaning: convivial.

  • Mich

    You missed “lagom” (Swedish) = “there is virtue in moderation” or “enough is as good as a feast” or “not too much and not too little, but the perfect amount.” You can say someone has “lagom” amount of money, or that a dress is “lagom bra” (lagom good) on the wearer. This is a pretty dominating concept in all Scandinavian cultures, actually.

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  • Shirley Keyser

    I like words too. Someone has done a fair job of translating these words into English for this article, albeit it may take a dozen words to say one.

    I love the moment of enlightenment when I find the background meaning of phrases I’ve used all my life, but only now learned how that jargon came to be.

  • rowboat

    I don’t know if other languages have a word like the Filipino (specifically, Tagalog) word “tampo.” “Tampo” what you feel and the way you behave when you are cross (but not angry) with someone whom you have a lot of affection for, so you withdraw your affection from that person in the hopes that the other person will “woo” you by making amends or by apologizing in a loving way.

    We also have a word “magkatukayo” which means, “two people with the same name.” If I am speaking to someone with the same name, it is awkward to call them my name so instead I call them, “Katukayo.”

    • Bárbara

      Katukayo? That’s lovely.
      I don’t know a thing about Filipino, but I guess it must have some kind of connection with Spanish. Does it?
      I say it because in Spanish there’s this word “tocayo” (with the same meaning) that is very similar to katucayo and seems to have latin origin.

      In brazilian portuguese we have a word that has this same meaning: “xará”. It comes from Tupi, a native language.

  • John

    These are just awesome. I love the other languages’ names for random things.

    Also, let’s not forget ennui–not simply translated as boredom.

  • Shannon

    There is also “sai-sai,” the Wolof word referring to a man who is convinced that all heterosexual women should find him amazingly and instantaneously attractive, a self-concept that seems to give him license to sidle up to a woman and attempt to seduce her. When i was in Senegal, we US Americans referred to this act as “sai-sai’ing all over a woman.” There just isn’t an equivalent word in English!

  • rodrigo r. moraes

    The word saudade refers to persons, things or places not only lost but that you miss, or feel melancholy about, for being distant.

  • wayne

    Saudade Alexandrina

  • Stefano

    Indeed, this whole list errs a bit in the anglo-centric. I think that saudade is very akin to my understanding of toska based on the definition provided, and certainly “depaysement” is almost perfectly translated by “spaesamento” in Italian (although it is more commonly expressed as “sentirsi spaesato”). With that being said, an entertaining bit for sure.

  • Rob

    In his statements following the list the Author likens grasping the full meaning of a term in a foreign language to tasting some barbecued ribs. For the purpose of elaborating this concept further I would point out that each and every language has something that we could refer to as a “semantic map” inherent in it. Every word, verb, preposition, idiomatic expression has its own semantic borders, it has bordering semantic areas belonging to other terms and expressions, and so on. Once we grasp the semantic map of an idiom, there’s no chance that we can take that map and coat it with a different varnish, ie another language, because a language carries within it its history, traditions and historical events that helped forge it the way it is now. Therefore, bilingual and trilingual individuals make unconscious adaptations when sequentially expressing a concept in two languages, involving a leap from one semantic map to another.

  • http://oceanoxia.wordpress.com/ Alteredstory

    There’s also the Swahili word “pole”, which translates to an apology, but it can also mean “you have my sympathy for all the stuff that’s wrong with your life, but that you are too polite to complain to me about”

    This is a good word to have in Swahili also because it’s considered rude to say things are bad when a casual acquaintance asks you how you are.

  • Deborah

    The Dutch have the same word as the Danes and it means the same thing. Hyggelig in Danish = Gesellig Dutch ..

    Great article!

  • Jeremy

    My guess for the Arabic term is that is a highly colloquial statement and not one easily recognized by a majority of Arabic speakers. The word عبر itself has the connotation of “crossing over to death” in some circumstances, but I very much doubt that most Arabic speakers would intuit the meaning naturally. If one were to say this phrase stand alone, it would probably evoke little other than puzzlement. For pure singularity, I would offer the word “nasnaas” (alternatively pronounced “nisnaas”; نسناس) as the best untranslatable word in Arabic: “a fabulous creature of the forest, having one arm and one leg”. Also very obscure, but singular and universal in meaning (compare Hans Wehr and al-Munjid).

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  • Flowdeeps

    I agree that this article is missing Lagom but I would also say that it’s missing the English word maudlin which if I’m right doesn’t have a like anywhere else. The state in which you’re tearfully sentimental, usually after several alcoholic drinks.
    Also if you’re going to have a one French phrase, which isn’t a word why would you not include spirit d’escalier, the moment on the stairs after you’ve left an argument and just thought of the perfect come back.

  • take2la

    This list is INCOMPLETE.

    Where’s

    um…
    like
    and anything followed by -shizzle

    • swagmonkey

      take2la –
      Really?

      “Um” is in EVERY language. They might use a different syllable, but they all have a sort of speech crutch that you use while you’re thinking or searching for the right words.

      “Like” — the modern sense of, like, using the word like, like, all the time has basically, like, no meaning at all. If you mean it more in the senses of similar, or of thinking something is good, or of perhaps a weaker variant on “love”, then maybe you wouldn’t find them all in one word, but they don’t seem like terribly distinctive meanings either.

      And “shizzle”? I guess it vaguely indicates that you think something’s cool, but it can be (and is) used so indiscriminately on virtually anything, within the subculture where it’s used at all, that it almost ceases to have meaning beyond communicating “hey, I’m part of this street culture that uses this word”. IMO, one of the least meaningful words you could possibly have chosen, compared with all the rich layers of meanings in words the author actually chose.

      • jabelar

        Um, like, this guy was kidding and totally, like, um, made you look like a shizzle.

        • swagmonkey

          Perhaps. If he was joking, though, there was a complete failure of being even slightly funny. Just comes off as ignorant, in my view.

  • Paula

    I personally believe that the best part of this article is the follow up of comments that is has prompted. My heart is certainly happier at having found so many language lovers.
    That being said, and not being an English native, I always found that the sound and rhythm of the word ‘lonely’ had no translation into the harsher Spanish versions.
    Cheers!
    By the way, I am looking into ‘tocayo’, since it also called my attention. I will post an answer as soon as have one.

    • Jocon307

      You are right about “lonely” being a great, although so simple, word in terms of it’s sound conveying it’s meaning.

      If you are not already familiar with it you should search out the song “Lonely (I’m so lonely)”. The actual title seems to be “Mr. Lonely” and it was sung by Bobby Vinton. I always thought it captured the essence of that word very well.

  • Sue

    In Hebrew, there is the wonderfully useful word with no English equivalent: “davka”, (which comes from the root meaning “exact”) variously approximately rendered as “of all things” or “precisely” but usually has a bit of “despite what you’d think” or “despite what you should have done” in it. E.g. “He davka took the one I was sure he wouldn’t like,” “You davka bought peanut butter ice cream even though you know I’m allergic to peanuts?” “Why did he davka have to show up today, the one day I am working?” Once you’ve got davka, you never go back–it’s a very useful word.

  • Leah

    poshlust’—Russian for something that is falsely beautiful, vulgar in its pretentions to real beauty or goodness. Much more meaning than gaudy. Think of those fifties advertisements with the blond, blue-eyed, white mother and the clean-cut, suit-wearing father and the perfect children of that blessed union, one boy and one girl, along with their all-American dog. They sit around the breakfast table and just gush about how they absolutely LOVE (insert brand name) cereal. How it basically makes their whole existence meaningful. Stuff like that. Nabokov has a really good essay on it.

  • Mark

    The author’s definition of schadenfreude is ‘close but no cigar.’ The author fails to convey that schadenfreude is the shame of feeling joy at someone’s misfortune, not simply the joy. I hope the other definitions are somewhat more exact …

  • Mike

    The author here didn’t do his research very well…

    1. Toska – exact translation to English is – Sorrow.
    2. Prozvanit – is not only Czech it’s also exactly the same in Russian and and translates directly as – Ring Through.

    The problem with some Americans is the lacking in attention to details.
    Can’t speak for the other languages, but I’m a native Russian speaker and know Czech as well.

    • eva

      it is prozvonit (ring through), not prozvanit–that means to waste time talking!

  • Orland

    This is a really interesting list, interesting how the ability to think in these terms might help shape the concepts themselves.

    One small complaint – if I’ve understood the definition you gave of “Prozvonit” correctly, there’s an obvious English enquivalent that’s been around in my estimation for about 10 years now, which is a new meaning of the verb “prank” – as an English speaker I would generally understnd, if someone said they’d “prank” me so I could let them know about something, that they’d call my phone and let it ring once.

    • Heather Carreiro

      Orland, which dialect of English do you speak? Here in Massachusetts, ‘prank’ means to call someone and pull a joke – ie call your friend and pretend to order a pizza, etc.

      • Elizabeth

        Ah, but Heather, where I am in Sydney, Australia, it means the same as it does for you.
        But a friend of mine in Melbourne, Australia, tells me it means the same for them as it does for Orland.
        Same word, different meaning.

    • jabelar

      “as an English speaker I would generally understnd, if someone said they’d “prank” me so I could let them know about something, that they’d call my phone and let it ring once.”

      I’ve never heard of this use of “prank” in North America. In North America “to prank” someone means to play a mean joke on someone (which may or may not involve a phone).

      I don’t think Prozvonit is a joke, it is just a way to save money.

  • jd

    Prozvonit = “beep”

    hilarious list though!

  • Katheryn

    Thai has a word, “gran jai” And it means to say “no” out politeness, like if a host offers you something and you say “no” because you don’t want them to bother. But this is often said in a way of, don’t gran jai. The host will literally say, “don’t be polite,” eat if you want it.

  • http://www.harikaszaza.blogspot.com szaza

    I’ve been told that the Turkish word “huzun” is much like toska and suadade…

  • Janeen

    In Lakota (American Indian, South Dakota, U.S.) we have a word called “Ughneea” which describes a repugnant or or distasteful feeling that certain people give you. someone who is irritating and who rubs you the wrong way…but not strong enough to hate or be angry with. But you definitely would not have to be around them.

  • Laura Blumenthal

    My favourite word to master when I was learning Turkish was “estagfurullah”. It is a borrowed word from Arabic, but the meaning in Turkish is different. It is a way of saying “you’re welcome”, but it implies the utmost humility, something like “I’m unworthy of your thanks or praise”. If you can use it properly, it opens a lot of doors.

  • Yao

    In Ghanaian english, we use “flash” as in, “I’ll flash you” for 9. Prozvonit. Czech – This word means to call a mobile phone and let it ring once so that the other person will call back, saving the first caller money.
    The meaning is identical.

    • JJ

      To flash someone means something quite different in American English! I think having a specific word for the act of letting the phone ring once is a good one. I may well adopt prozvonit.

  • Hrishi

    The colloquial phrase for #9 in India is “missed call”.

    Marathi has another another concept which doesn’t translate concisely into English: “kitwa” (कितवा). Always used in a question, it *very* loosely translate as “which-eth” . for example, “Tu ranget kitwa ahes?” (what’s your position in the queue), or “tu kitwa mulga/mulgi?” (the answer would be “I am the third son/daughter”, the question would be “which-eth son/daughter are you?”)

  • http://alistairrobb.wordpress.com Alistair

    As a Brit who lives in Brazil is was nice to see “saudade”, which could really be translated as “longing” which has similar connotations in English as how it’s applied in Portuguese.

  • WestCoastRich

    Alistair Horne in his book “The Battle of Verdun” described another German word that would be more spittle than vocabulary, regarding the German pioneer Feldwebel Kunze who single handedly took Fort Douamont:

    Unternehmungslustig, which roughly means to be bezerk in battle, besides oneself in fury.

  • Stan da Man

    Toska is nowhere near to Sorrow. Sorrow in Russian is Pechal. Toska can be translated in English as melancholy though its not realy the same. Nabokov was right there is no word in English rendering all the shades of toska

  • Alberto

    I think the author while not saying it means “untranslatable to English” and not specifically untranslatable in any other language.
    Having said that, I have often tried to explain to my English speaking friends the significance of “simpatico” from Italian (or sympathique in French [going back to the initial point]) Well, it describes someone who is nice, makes you laugh, and is nice to be around, and just the word nice does not fully describe a simpatico person. Of course there are better descriptions of the word, but my point is to let this word be known and not to be Encyclopaedia Brittanica perfect.

    • elrodro

      I think that the spanish word “Duende” can be translated as “goblin”

  • http://marykittneel.com Mary Kitt-Neel

    I like “tingo” best. Partly because it’s an interesting concept. Mostly because I like saying it: “tingo, tingo, tingo.”

  • Cary Broder

    Japanese has some great ones. The language is parsimonious and filled with expressions with no real direct translation but are apt like this.

    Natsukashii…..”This brings me back/….How nostalgic…../how old school…..”

    Bimiyo: Probably the best word in the language: Literally means ‘ambiguous’ but can roughly translate to ‘sketchy/dodgy/seems a bit fishy to me/there’s a chance but it probably won’t work”. It’s a very excellent, subtle way to dis something as well.

  • http://cloudslikemountains.blogspot.com Karen

    For me, the French phrase “champs lexique” is not covered by “semantic map.” It describes not only the extent (or limits) of a given word, but also how and when it might be used. It tickles me that this phrase does not have a good equivalent in English, covering a different, oh, “champs lexique”

  • Petr Kriz

    Now I am Czech and have been living in the US now for two decades.
    Kundera’s obsession with “litost” is naturally overrated for artistic effect. Sadly, the word generically means *sorrow*, or the feeling of being sorry for something or someone — nothing more.

    The other Czech word, “prozvonit”, is exactly on mark. It reminded me of another Czech word, “profackovat”, which means *to slap someone’s face repeatedly until desired effect is achieved*. I once have seen a cat do that to another cat.

  • Tmonster

    Wife from La Linea disagrees with 19. And 11 = sadistic lol

    #1 and #13 are great!

  • http://timdesuyo.com tim

    The Mama in Kyoiku Mama isn’t even Japanese… that’s a loan-word from English. They also use it in Mamachari… those cruiser bicycles with the baskets and the fenders and the curved handlebars.

    I would have preferred to see Motainai on the list. It’s an expression used to express regret at something being wasted, or to chastise the waster.

    Natsukashi should also be on here. It’s an exclamation for when you’re overwhelmed with nostalgia.

    So, for example, you walk into a friends home, and he’s rocking The Legend of Zelda on an original NES, you shout out, “Natsukashi!” ~ maybe in English, “Oh, dude! Old school!”

  • Jimsi

    The Cantonese word “won gut” has always amused me: wasting a shopkeeper’s time by acting as though you’re interested in some item that you actually have no intention of buying.

    For untranslatability, I find the Buddhist concept of “dukkha” to be sine qua non. It encompasses at times Toska and Saudade, but has an incredibly rich spectrum of meaning from discomfort, unease and restlessness to sorrow, grief, pain, suffering and anguish. In fact, if you need to use the word dukkha, it’s best to simply leave it untranslated. A full understanding of dukkha takes a lifetime; in fact, it is a lifetime.

  • jabelar

    It’s actually interesting how many common experiences don’t have good words for them.

    For example, what about that uncomfortable feeling when a toilet seat is still warm from the last person who used it? Or what about when you are at work and you start walking one way and then realize you should walk the other way? Or what do you call a woman who dyes her hair in a way that is uglier than her natural hair?

    There are lots of common human experiences that still do not have succinct words to describe them.

  • http://www.denisedumars.com Denise

    How come the only words for a male prostitute are Italian? The words “gigolo” and “cortigiano” both mean a male hooker/escort, yet there is no word in English for such a person. Says something about the English, don’t you think?

    • Heather Carreiro

      Never realized that – it is quite interesting!

  • Tzen N. Itch

    Number 19 is the equivalent of gnome. These guys need to check sources a little better. PFT.

  • Anthony Doherty

    I’m no expert, but I think Yiddish offers some great possibilities, especially in derogatory terms with precise shades of meaning. A friend of mine once patiently tried to sort out nebbish, nudnik, schlemiel, putz, and a dozen or so more for me. It’s been a long time, and I’ve got them all mixed up, but his definitions were along the lines of: a guy at a party who spills his drink on himself, a guy who spills his drink on somebody else, a guy who spills his drink on somebody else on purpose, and so on. All of those terms are beautifully balanced by mensch, which, if I have it right, is a man who steps up to the plate and does the right thing for the needs and benefit of others from the generosity in his heart. Much richer than “be a man” or “man up.”

    And which sounds more appetizing: calamari (yum!) or squid (yuk!)?

    • http://7million7years.com AJC @ 7million7years

      The best, most untranslatable yiddish word is not directly derogatory (although, it can have negative connotations) is Chutzpah.

      The closest translation to English is to describe a person as having ‘front’, but I can only really describe it by giving an example:

      Most personal finance authors and gurus BECAME rich ONLY because they first sold expensive how-to courses books on becoming rich …

      … now, that’s CHUTZPAH!

      • Vazir Mukhtar

        You perhaps know another definition of chutzpah. This one concerns a young man on trial for having murdered his mother and father. (If you like big words you may use ‘parricide’.) He pleads for mercy on the grounds that he is an orphan.

  • Joyce

    One of the most elusive words to pin down in English is the Finnish sisu. It’s more than courage, more than true grit. There is no sense of false bravado. No sense of victimization. Perseverance with good humor. Grace under fire, but no superiority implied. Pushing through without being pushy.

  • Corine Samwel

    Fun list! Look at #16. I am Dutch, and looked this up in Wikipedia.com:
    Gezelligheid (Dutch pronunciation: [ɣəzɛlɪɣhɛit]) is a Dutch abstract noun (adjective form gezellig) which, depending on context, can be translated as convivial, cosy, fun, quaint, or nice atmosphere, but can also connote belonging, time spent with loved ones, the fact of seeing a friend after a long absence, or general togetherness. The word is considered to be an example of untranslatability, and is one of the hardest words to translate to English.[1] Some consider the word to encompass the heart of Dutch culture.[2]
    In German: Gemütlichkeit

    • http://cloudslikemountains.blogspot.com Karen

      Good call on Gemuetlichkeit–I hadn’t thought of that one.

    • Ruth

      Thanks Corine, that was the first word I thought of. I’m also Dutch and still have not found a way to translate this to my friends here in the States.

  • Ivo

    Prozvonit = Meaning is quite easy. If you don’t want to pay, but give someone a kind of message, you ring him/her. It is like one way purpose to give a notice. Example: to tell a friend: “Prozvon(ring) me when you are at my house.” | Or your father has a cellphone. And you as student don’t want to pay for the call. So you just “prozvon”(ring) him. He will then call back.

    Indirect it means like ring someone, whitout the other side taking the call. Call is not established, so noone pays for it. It is only useable if you have a phone or cellphone with CLIP ability (see name of who is calling).

    • MlnwY

      In Hebrew we have a word with the exact same meaning – “letzantek”, but it’s actually a hybrid of the words for “to call” = “letzaltzel” and “to hang up” = “lenatek”. It’s a very used verb now a days.

    • Azrael

      Actually, the point of the article is not to ascribe a meaning to the word utilizing many, but accurate provide a direct, one word translation.

      • jiri

        and that’s the problem of this article – it is just silly to look for this type or rendition one to one- most often it does not exist

  • Finlay

    #9 is “to prank call someone” in English (possibly just British English). As a secondary meaning of course, but people tend to say it nowadays when exchanging numbers – you prank call your friend’s mobile so that your number comes up on her caller id, for instance.

    • Lewis

      I know that some people use “prank call” in this context (I’m british), but I still feel it inadequate as it still has the mischievous (and not practical at all) connotations so I’ve always used “dry call” for this (e.g. “Dry call me so I have you’re number..”)

      My favourite of all time is the french: “L’esprit de l’escalier” – spirit of the stairs which is often translated often into “staircase wit”: That feeling that, as you reach the bottom of the stairs after a party (metaphorically or not) you suddenly realise the perfectly witty thing you should have said in response to a previous comment.

  • Shoshi

    schpilkes, davenen, verklempt . . . to name a few in yiddish . . . but there are definitely several in every language I speak.

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  • http://www.punkdomestics.com Sean

    “Arrangiarsi” is a Neapolitan term that literally translates as “to arrange one’s self” but really connotes a mentality of persevering and making the best out of meager means or a bad situation. It’s a state of mind and a point of pride.

    • Wolf

      The term “Arrangiarsi” is often used in the meaning of “doing on my own”…

  • Thin

    While I love things like this to no small end, I just wish that we could be given more context on their use. I’d love to know how to use “toska” or “cafuné” in a sentence. I find words like these to be of great use to an author who has an international cast in a story; when a character must be fluent in english for the sake of the reader, the rare sprinkling of words like these (where the character must fight to find a translation) can help to remind the reader that no, this isn’t their native language. Just remember not to do it too often or else it becomes annoying.

    • Raphael

      About Cafuné, you do it on someone. Well, actually I’m not quite sure as the word for make and do in portuguese is only one (fazer), but anyway, a good example would be “Mum, would you do me a cafuné?”, as mothers are the best in doing it.

  • -…-

    Rodnaya/Rodnoy (in Russian) it is best descrbied as someone very dear to you, someone who’s your family, part of your heart and soul. The word motherland (Rodina) stems from the word Rodnaya. This word is usually used to describe family members and some very close friends, who are by all means and purposes family.

    • Rumia

      Rodnaya/Rodnoy is also related to the ones who is sharing your way of thinking and your visions to life :). Someone is very close not obligatory to be a relative.

  • fizzle

    My favorite word was one one of my Jewish friends taught me in high school. I’m not sure how it’s spelt, but it sounds like “meeshkite.” Apparently it means that something is so ugly it’s cute. Like a pug, I guess. =D

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  • http://mikemotobike@gmail.com cutlass

    in kitchens we use the term “all day”. its a sort of patois word. it can mean very many things, but the closest definition is “a total”. when I asked the cable operator what he difference bin praice between three cable packages “all day” she was confused. i was asking what the total, including tax, of each package was, and the difference in price from one to the next. almost any other professional cook would understand that, ut doubt many people outside my industry use that term. i wonder if other languages have a similar expression.

  • mousemouse

    “Prozvonit” – In English (UK), I’ve always said “drop-call” – as a verb and a noun.
    Also, I love the semantc map concept and the cultural unity that comes from each languages shared by a group.

  • Nana

    We in Ghana call Prozvonit(word no.9) ‘flashing’. Example : He flashed the clerk the whole day but couldn’t get a hold of him. i hope you get the meaning

  • Roman

    “Toska” and “Saudade” are the same words but different languages

  • http://twitter.com/yakolev Marko

    Karoshi (japanese); “death by overwork” – A kind of death that I (hope) certainly will not suffer Ha ha ha

    Banzo (brazilian portuguese); From unknowed african origin, a word born at the time of the slavery in Brazil, meaning “An deep and sad ‘Saudade’ (see above word nr 20) that kill, be by depression, or by leading to the suicide or madness”

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  • L

    Afrikaans is also a very vibrant language with many phrases and words that are untranslatable. mostly derived from Dutch but are a mix of English and some of the local black languages.

  • http://www.dialogic-leadership.com Martijn

    Great post!

    Scahdenfreude has a direct translation in Dutch, leedvermaak. Showing our blunt terseness, there’s even a proverb that goes “Geen beter vermaak dan leedvermaak”, i.e. nothing more fun than … Schadenfreude.

  • Seb

    I agree with your thoughts on language and translation. For me translation has acedemic ad technical uses but is basically useless in real world senarios like speaking.

    Swedish has a word which they consider unique. It is ‘lagom’. It’s used to describe something that is not too much and not too little while being absolutely perfect at the same time. It also has many variances. For example a 20c day could be lagom or if you fill up my cup of coffee to the perfect spot or an item of furniture that takes up just the right amount of space in relation to the rest of the room.

  • James
  • Ron

    Fun. There is no other word, that I know of, in any other language that directly translates as fun. A uniquely American creation.

  • http://www.dbaldan.com.br Douglas

    You’re forgetting another: Saudade, in portuguese. This word exists only in Portuguese and Galician.

    Saudade is a Portuguese and Galician word difficult to translate adequately, which describes a deep emotional state of nostalgic longing for something or someone that one was fond of and which is lost. It often carries a fatalist tone and a repressed knowledge that the object of longing might really never return.
    Saudade has been described as a “vague and constant desire for something that does not and probably cannot exist … a turning towards the past or towards the future”.

    A stronger form of saudade may be felt towards people and things whose whereabouts are unknown, such as a lost lover, or a family member who has gone missing. It may also be translated as a deep longing or yearning for something which does not exist or is unattainable.

    • http://www.AtlanticoBooks.com Elena Como

      Saudade is # 20.

    • richard

      Saudade and the Japanese noun Natsukasa (懐かしさ)have the same meaning and are used often in songs in the same way ala “Saudade e uma Pedra” and almost every other Japanese enka (演歌) ever composed. (Just kidding)

      One difference is that Natsukashii as an adjective is used in everyday Japanese conversation frequently while Saudade is not.

      • Ana

        I am Brazilian – we do use “Saudade” in everyday conversation…when we say we miss something or long for something.

        • richard

          Obrigado, eu quero aprender mais.

  • http://www.des-livres-pour-changer-de-vie.fr/ Olivier Roland

    The word “Prozvonit” have an equivalent in French : it’s “bipper”, a verb.

    Also we don’t use “L’appel du vide” very often, it is an expression almost exclusively used by specialists.

    You could use “l’appel de” or “l’appel du” to forge expressions about approximately everything. For example, “l’appel de la gloire” : its means that “the glory call me : I am motivated and want to become famous” ;) .

  • http://www.AtlanticoBooks.com Elena Como

    Saudade is used not just for something/someone that is lost, but for those that are far away. I’ve heard that the Portuguese felt saudade for their homeland and their families when they went off & explored the world.

    You can “matar saudades” (kill the saudades) by visiting those that you miss.

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  • http://cloudslikemountains.blogspot.com Karen

    Ron, I believe that the German “Spass” translates “fun” quite effectively.

    Another Portuguese word: bagunça. It is used as “a total mess, whole impossible situation, total chaos, overwhelming confusion.”

    • Maria

      That would be in French “un bordel” or “un bazar”, and in Spanish of Rio de la Plata “un relajo” o “un quilombo”. I actuatlly think that it translates as a “mess” with pretty much the same meaning, but less color! :)

      • Bárbara

        “Un bordel” and “un quilombo” have a perfect equivalent in portuguese: “Uma zona”
        They all have one thing in commun. Besides the meaning of “mess”, they also mean (or meant) whorehouse.
        It’s an interesting example of similar metaphors between languages.

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  • Dan De Luego W.

    I’m fond of the Catalan “Seny” as difficult to translate. Seems to have connotations of common sense, methodical, ordered. And then you combine it with “Rauxa,” which is somewhat the opposite. The Catalan Gov’t translating site gives seny i rauxa “wisdom and impulse.”

  • http://www.leazesterrace.com Ryan Davison

    Would number 9 not be translated as a one-ringer? or perhaps that’s something that we only say in Newcastle..?

  • Lukas

    Torschlusspanik actually has a more narrowly defined meaning, it’s the fear of an aging woman to not find a man.

  • Adam Roy

    I like the Japanese verb “ganbaru.” It doesn’t have a good equivalent in English, but it’s something like “persevere,” “do your best,” “hang in there,” “stay strong,” etc. The imperative form, “ganbatte,” is what people say to marathon runners during a race or to high school students before a big exam–kind of equivalent to “échale ganas” for you Spanish speakers.

    • richard

      Yes, 頑張る ganbaru, that’s a good one.

      Really hard to translate correctly in English.

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  • Jennifer

    How about the Swedish word ‘lagom’ which means ‘just right’ – not too much, not too little, although still, it does not mean perfect.

  • Dane

    Schadenfreude is translatable into Danish aswell. “Skadefro” – Which literally means “injury happy”. Skade = Injury, Fro = Happy or amused.

    Fun is also very much translatable into many languages in opposition to what Ron said earlier. In Danish its called “sjov”.

    The articles definition of “Hygge” is quite precise :)

  • http://sucktackular.com Sucktackular

    #3 aka a pun

  • http://glog.se author is bummer

    I don’t even speak French, but Dépaysement is definitely home sickness, no big brain needed there. Author should maybe spend more time actually learning the languages and not just bullshiting us about them.

    Litost (Czech) = sorrow.

    etc. etc.

    • Wolf

      “Dépaysement” as for the italian word “Spaesamento” is the sensation of not being fitted well with, mostly, people and costumes surrounding

  • Zelos

    Bullshit, the german one got eqialence in swedish :3

  • Ana

    I highly recommend Bill Bryson’s book, “The Mother Tongue”, to those of you who enjoyed this article!

    • Heather Carreiro

      Thanks for the recommendation Ana!

  • Karl

    I also like the German word “Schadenfreude” which in English would translate to something like “to laugh at someone else’s misfortune”

  • Vazir Mukhtar

    May I kick this topic up just a bit? Does anyone know any foreign language palindromes s/he would care to share?

    A handful of English-language examples:

    Madam, I’m Adam.

    Able was I ere I saw Elba.

    radar

    • Richard

      山本山 (Yama moto Yama) in Japanese is one that comes to mind….A Japanese food company…. that uses its name as its catch phrase…”Read it from the top it’s

      山本山 read it from the bottom it’s  山本山!!!!

  • Corine Samwel

    Dutch: parterretrap (stairs from the first floor)

  • Charlie

    What about one of the most famous untranslatable words? Namaste

    Wikipedia offers all of the meanings and interpretations:

    “I honor the Spirit in you which is also in me.” — attributed to but not claimed by author Deepak Chopra[4]

    “I honor the place in you in which the entire Universe dwells, I honor the place in you which is of Love, of Integrity, of Wisdom and of Peace. When you are in that place in you, and I am in that place in me, we are One.”[5][6]

    “Your spirit and my spirit are ONE.” — attributed to Lilias Folan’s shared teachings from her journeys to India.[citation needed]

    “That which is of God in me greets that which is of God in you.”[7]

    “The Divinity within me perceives and adores the Divinity within you.”[8]

  • Clint

    #11 Schadenfreude also exist in Danish … it is called “skadefryd”. Skade means “injury” or “damage” and fryd means “joy” or “pleasure”.

  • Wolf

    “Prozvonit” in italy we use the therm “squillo”, in the frase “fare uno squillo”, that litteraly translated is “to give a ring”…^^

  • M G

    In arabic, the word أدهم “Ad-ham” (a common name nowadays) translates as a pitch black, pure-bred Arabian stallion with a white stroke on its forehead!

  • http://www.flobrazo.com Flo

    I love the article! Thank you!!!

    Zeitgeist = spirit of our times. And by the way: “Torschusspanik” also as a meaning in football (soccer) which is the Angst (yet another word – which not only holds the meaning of fear) when a player is under pressure to score. In German we use it, in the sense of panik to find a partner “for life” (whatever that would be) like correctly stated in the Blog!

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  • Lowe

    Both Hyggelig and Schadenfreude exists as words in Swedish

    (as Hygglig and Skadeglädje)

  • Robin Message

    Prank is used in British English for number 9, as in to prank someone is to call their phone so it rings without them answering. Probably derives from prank calling, but is useful for sending a signal or sending someone your number.

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  • http://www.renegadeyogi.com/ Eric Normand

    As for calling someone to let it ring once, in Nepal, in English, they call it a “missed-call”. It’s not one word, but they use it like one. For instance:

    I’ll missed-call him tomorrow.

  • http://cbcpm.net Michael

    Nice to see that “saudade” made the list. As an American living in northern Portugal I remember hearing this word for the first time and the person on the other end of the conversation trying to explain it to me. Since then it has come up in a separate conversation with a Portuguese person that no other language in the world has an equivalent to “saudade.” The more I learn, the more I tend to agree.

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  • Alex Greene

    I know of a few words, from various languages. I think “Torsk” comes from Norway, and it refers to a man who consorts with prostitutes; and the Japanese word moe does not even have a direct English translation: at least “kawaii” means “cute.”

    However, my favourite general untranslatable Welsh word is “hiraeth,” which generally translates as “Homesickness,” but which might have more in common with the Portuguese word “saudade” above, in that it is a longing for the feelings of home life, family and nostalgia rather than a literal longing to want to be back home.

  • Vlad Tolbin

    Toska is melancholy in english, with all its shades of nuance. There’s only confusion here because many people don’t understand what melancholy means. It means toska.

  • Richard

    I have never heard the word “moe” in Japanese except maybe in the Osaka dialect, which would mean “Enough already!” or something like that.

    It also could might be found in a comic book as the sound someone makes before they are going to puke….

    If you could explain the context or knew the Chinese character it might help….

  • Peter

    #11. German Schadenfreude is in swedish = skadeglädje – exactly the same …. (insert smiley or not)

    • blaha

      And skadefryd in Norwegian, still exactly the same.

      It is of course possible that engslisspeaking people doesn’t have this feeling, and that they because of this are nicer people than we are…

    • Derk J. Dallinga

      And in Dutch is is ‘leedvermaak’ (leed = sorrow; vermaak = amusement)

  • Justin

    ANArKH

    It almost means a damned fate and inevitability, but the whole of the word can only be fully understood through reading The Hunchback of Notre Dame

  • moose

    Haha no way. I’m in La Linea. Great article. Does Molly Bloom’s and Cinic translate as well? : )

    • Jason Wire

      Yep, sure does. Ate at Patagonica last night.

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  • El Gordo

    Hey, you forgot another untranslatable Czech word: Picovina (pronounced peechoveena) which can best be defined as “something so stupid as to defy explanation.” Used quite a bit in ordinary “street Czech” conversations. Not something you’d see in the dictionary.

    • Tlustoch

      I’m guessing the editors were looking for untranslatable phrases with elegance and wit rather than crude expressions of spectacular vulgarity.

      • Vazir Mukhtar

        If the editors sought what you suggest, the must take the attitudes of the French Academy and the Russian Academy of Sciences.

        One might make a list of untranslatable words that apply to religious ceremonies, everyday situations, and the like. I’d prefer a list that includes words from the entire spectrum of vocabulary, marking them appropriately. Here we are unlikely to come across words not typically used in “polite” society. But we may very well hear them in the streets or encounter them in reading.

        Toward the end of our fourth year one of my foreign language teachers (a highly educated and “refined” woman) at university called us into her office one by one, gave us a list of words not then found in dictionaries, each with typical uses, pronounced the words and phrases, then told us she never wanted to hear any of them from us.

        Knowing that if not immediately after graduating but surely sometime in the near future, we would find ourselves in the country in question, she did not want us not to understand such words & expressions. In addition to the classics we usually read, she gave us contemporary materials lest we speak excellent XIX century language.

        Your point is well taken and perhaps for those interested another post could be devoted to aeschrology (a $.50 cent word I learned while translating).

      • horton jupiter

        yuk. nothing so Vulgar as those that use the word “Vulgar”

    • Drew

      El Gordo…the reason that “picovina” would not be found in the dictionary is because it is extremely vulgar. There are multiple words that end with -vina or -tiny with similar meanings. It does indeed mean what you said it does in some conversations, but it actually means “material that originates from the female genitalia(however using the C word in English). You can see why it is so vulgar and sad that people throw it around in day to day conversations on the street. There are many such words in Czech and Slovak…if you wanted a translation for the word…it would simply be “B.S.”

  • http://www.prixlifebox.com.br Prix Dekanun

    Sorry, but a good translation of “toque” in “Dar um toque” is “ring” (that’s actually Brazilian Portuguese not spanish). In English, “the telephone rings” portuguese “O telefone toca”. In this case, translate “toque” for “touch” is like to trade “red” (verb) for “red” (color).

    • lina

      actually <> is right in spanish for touch. I speak spanish the author is right it is a way for us to say <> or <>. it is probably right in both languages except for un and um and the kind of different words exactly but same meaning.

    • lina

      actually ‘dar un toque’ is right in spanish for touch. I speak spanish the author is right it is a way for us to say ‘to touch someone or ‘make someone else call’. it is probably right in both languages except for un and um and the kind of different words exactly but same meaning.

      • Zonzo

        By the way, the expression also exists in French : “biper (quelqu’un)”.

      • http://www.povertycurtain.blogspot.com Matt Davies

        I would say that “dar un toque” just means to call someone, whereas the expression to ring someone once and hang up is “hacer una llamada perdida”.

    • NickDiallo

      I (an American) was taken slightly aback when a female Ghanaian colleague of mine here in Accra gave me her number and then promptly asked me to “flash” her. Turns out that it in fact wasn’t a case of sexual harassment, but rather that in Ghanaian English at least, there is a direct translation for this word.

    • Stephen

      In South Africa we call it a ‘miscall’

      • ZIK

        In Pakistan, we call it a ‘missed call’ :)

  • Tina D.

    Ilunga = Strike 3

  • Miriam C

    Yiddish has many untranslatables! take Shlamazel, eg

    • Vazir Mukhtar

      Those interested in Yiddish might take a look at a thoroughly enjoyable book by Leo Rosten, the title of which is, I believe, “The Joys of Yiddish.” It is in no way complete, but gives many of the commonly used words (in alphabetical order) with definition(s) and examples of use.

      “Goyim” [no offence intended] or gentiles will profit from reading it. Yiddish speakers may want to add words Mr Rosten omitted.

      There are, of course, other books, but this one is a gem.

    • morr

      hmsince yiddish and german are close you often find the words migrated into german lamgauge too.

  • http://kodeclutz.blogspot.com Nikhil

    “Prozvonit” – In India, we call it a “missed call” – a missed call is often used to indicate something determined beforehand (come to the cafe when I give you a missed call) or in the case where I call someone, and they couldn’t pick up the phone, so later they give me a missed call stating they are available and I should call them (since I did the original call, I have some job and so it is my responsibility to pick up the charge :) )

  • http://aestheticpoint.blogspot.com NC Weil

    How about the word Tao – everything is connected, the whole is god.
    No whitebeard on a cloud dispensing justice: just us. But “Us” is the univ-us.

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  • Andrew

    Haven’t quite a few of these proved … err … translatable? Interesting words all the same!

  • Judy Jones

    I speak Swedish fairly well, but haven’t come across that word before. Thanks for adding to my vocabulary! :-)

  • http://rocjoe.wordpress.com/ Richie

    That there is a place in the world that needs the word “Jayus” makes me very happy.

  • http://www.pintur-as.blogspot.com JaimeB

    The most pungent definition of “saudade” is in the lyrics of a song by brazilian singer Gal Costa: “Saudade é arrumar o quarto do filho que já morreu” (Saudade is to clean the room of a recently deceased son)

  • hiergiltdiestfu

    “9. Prozvonit

    Czech – This word means to call a mobile phone and let it ring once so that the other person will call back, saving the first caller money.”

    This is not unique: There’s a german verb for it, too: “anklingeln”.

    • Ithilien

      We also have ‘a da bip’ in Romanian, which is ‘to give a beep’ or ‘to beep’ in English. It is like the French biper. While I was in UK I heard people refering to this kind of ‘short call’ as a ‘missed call’. ‘Give me a missed call when you’re on messenger and I’ll go online as well.’ It is usually used as a signal and is amed as saving money on an otherwise really short conversation on the phone.

  • Vanessa

    Gemütlich – German adjective. Usually translated as “comfortable” or “cozy” but the feeling of the word is more the emotional satisfaction from the coziness of a situation.

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  • http://www.toscateran.com tosc(k)a

    HA!
    Well, that (Toska) explains everything!

  • http://dicedtomato.blogspot.com yse

    Hebrew word: “Lehitpanek” which is the reflexive for of the word “to spoil” (as in a child). It’s the act of requesting to be spoiled. Like at your gradmas when you stare at her until she gives you lots of cookies or when you’re sick and you beg to be taken care of by someone else or when your dog or cat demands to be petted. Often used in the negative-imperative form “Al-t’hitpanek al-eye” (do not spoil yourself upon me) usually when the second actor has had enough because the first person is too lazy to get up and get his own damn tea.

    • Ithilien

      We have this as an expression in Romanian ‘a se alinta’, to spoil oneself, which means to beg for attention, or to exaggerate the predicament one is in. For example if a child complains of having a tummy ache to receive attention or to get out of having to go to school. You would also use it if a child speaks deliberately in a childish way, leaving out the verb, or mispronouncing words.

  • http://bigchickenbeatlesband.com Alan

    “Pratt” and “Plonker” come to mind. I have tried in vain to express the exact shade of meaning to my American friends. There just isn’t an American expression that conveys the non-malicious, friendly yet disparaging meaning of these UK expressions.

  • http://PHilip.Gass@t-online.de Philip

    I thought the German word Fernweh is unique? It describes the opposite of homesickness, iow the longing/desire to travel, to leave.
    Phil

    • Liamo

      Fernweh sounds like it would translate to “wanderlust”, so not really untranslatable?

      • Vanessa

        Actually, wanderlust is a German word!! LOL

    • Ithilien

      We have it as ‘dor de duca’ in Romanian. Dor is a word somewhere between Saudade and Toska, it has many connotations of ‘missing’ something, and ‘duca’ is a noun that means travel, a going away of sorts. So it’s a longing for travel, which applies to someone who is a wanderer, an adventurer, someone who either wants to leave his village and experience the world, or someone who cannot settle because of this same reason.

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  • nickdiallo

    A few English words I’ve often struggled to translate, at least into French or (as an American) across other anglophone cultures:

    nerd
    geek
    cheesy
    sappy

    I wonder how close other languages come to having equivalents – any ideas? I’m especially stumped by the words “cheesy” and “sappy” (both somewhat similar in meaning). It’s often hard to explain to people here in West Africa why I’m not a big fan of Nigerian soap operas, most country music and what they call “slow” music – the late ’80s / early ’90s -style Western pop music exemplified by Celine Dion, Disney tunes like “A Whole New World” or Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You”, which is still as popular as ever out here. Ugh!

    • Lewis

      For cheesy or sappy, the germans use “Kitsch” which can be used as an adjective, but primarily as a noun – Kitsch being the useless, tasteless and tacky (another great word) stuff you find at tourist stalls for example.

      Interestingly, this is also used by the french and english – just in a french or english accent – though in my experience, they are used differently: the french use it in a more general adjective way (directly as cheesy – e.g. “le film, c’était kitsch!”) whereas english use it in the noun way (“I hate all this tourist kitsch”, or for the music artist Regina Spektor fans, the “Soviet Kitsch” album)

      It’s a wonderful word.

      It’s a wonderful word,

    • Ithilien

      In Romanian we have one word that cover ‘nerd’ and ‘geek’ – TOCILAR. It is a noun formed from the verb ‘a toci’ – to wear out, to erode, but also to spend one’s time trying to learn (often by heart), in a way wearing out the pages of the book or one’s sleeves on the desk. It usually refers to the quiet kids with glasses that always have their lesson ready, but it is rarely used outside the school environment. It is also not used to indicate an inability to integrate in a social environment or a fashion choice. Also, someone who is a huge fan of Star Wars would not be called a Tocilar. Maybe it would translate in English as ‘swot’?

      We do not have a word for cheesy, we would most likely exxplain it as ‘de prost gust’ which means in poor taste, or having questionable taste, but that’s harsher than the original.

    • Jutta

      For cheesy or sappy, the germans use the adjective “schmalzig” The romantic aspect e.g. in a song or a film is hopelessly exaggerated, which gives you a feeling of embarrassment.

    • Russ Tokyo

      I think the key to understanding “cheesy” is it always involves a gap in the attitude of the subject towards itself and its perception by others. Generally this involves the oblivious over-application of a trait, e.g., strings in music, soundtracks in movies, cologne on a bachelor, etc. It is easy to see how the word suggests the over-application of something that might be attractive when used with restraint.

      “Corny” seems tricky as well. I suppose the idea is that the joke is of such a bad quality that a country person might tell it.

    • Kate

      I think there are as many untranslatable English words as in other languages – namely, lots! The one that immediately comes to mind is “spooky,” which I taught to my Ecuadorian students when I used the Santana song of that name for a fill-in-the-blanks exercise. I described it as something that’s a little scary, but in a fun way rather than a dangerous one. They loved it!

      Since Spanish speakers tend to add “e” to the start of spoken words with an s+consonant formation (special, smoking, etc), there was a whole class of students talking in the halls about the “espooky” new horror film. Thanks for the happy memories!

  • B. Darr

    “Tsaved tan em”- Armenian
    Litterally means “I take your pain”. Used (usually with men) to indicate friendship and a warm regard to the person you say it to. It is said with happiness and is usually lightheartred.

  • D. Hankin

    Oy!

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  • Joshua McD

    Re Prozvonit – maybe it’s just an Australian term, but ‘to sting’ someone means exactly the same, to call with only one ring so they will call you back.

    • Andrea

      In Melbourne, Australia, the term “to prank” means exactly the same as prozvonit.

  • tlajous

    Shadenfreude translates as pixairekaka in Greek. And apparently in other languages too, check out The Study of Words by Trench (via the OED).

    • Laura Blumenthal

      That doesn’t look like Greek to me – how would it be spelled in Greek?

      • tlajous

        Ancient greek. Look for Schadenfreude in the OED.

  • Page

    Also, Pascuense is another translation based on Chile’s domain over the territory. In the language of Easter Island (Rapa Nui), the language is called Rapa Nui (as well as in English, I believe). Lovely idea for an article, though!

  • Ly

    In Chile we say “pinchar” for “Prozvonit”.

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  • Lise

    In Norwegian, we have the verb “gidde”. It is perhaps best understood in its negation: “Not gidde” is the act of not doing something, either out of laziness, or because it isn’t worth the effort. We use the word a lot ;)

    • Jenn

      Is “gidde” the same or approximately the same as “orka” in Swedish, I wonder? That’s one of several great Swedish words that don’t have English equivalents!

  • E Gwyn

    Hiraeth- Welsh

    Similar to Saudade- Hiraeth is the emotion one feels when we are longing for something/someone/somewhere. It’s a nostalgic longing.

    • E Goff

      I was wondering if anyone would mention any Welsh! I am English but grew up in Wales. The word “cwtch” (spelling?) was always my favourite – like “cuddle”, as in “let’s have a cwtch” / “cwtching up” to someone, etc.

  • Monique Simmer

    Hyggelig in Danish is very similar to the German “gemütlich”!

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  • redactor

    no, not “toska” “тоска”

    it’s “melancholy” on english

  • Konradl

    The finnish word ‘Sisu’ should also be mentioned. Seeing as it embodies most of the Finnish Spirit in a single word.

    Bluntly translated it means strength, but it in meaning it is closer to the strength to persevere through resilience. As in the ability to overcome great hardships and also to withstand that hardship over time.

    An example would be that to climb a huge, steep hill that keeps going for miles require great sisu. To keep going if you are lost in the deep finnish forests in the dead of winter, without giving up requires great sisu.

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  • Matt

    Can’t “dépaysement” be translated as “homesickness?” Or is it more of an alienated feeling?

  • http://www.bradleymgardner.com Bradley Gardner

    Lihai (mandarin: 厉害) – means something along the lines of “hardcore,” but it can verge into “strict,” or “mean.” Examples of usage:

    1. He worked 14 hours a day for 4 months to finish this job, so lihai!

    2. His dad beat him because he failed a test, he’s too lihai.

    Another variation on the term “hardcore” is the term “niu” “牛” or cow. When you add “cunt” to the end of it then it means “hardcore” in the punk rock sense of the word – i.e. it almost exclusively applies to rock bands or people who get into bar fights… you wouldn’t say it in front of your Chinese grandmother though.

    Mono no aware is a Japanese term literally translating to “the awareness of things,” and its means something along the lines of “an awareness of the tragedy of life”

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  • Oli

    Two Swedish words spring to mind as fitting in this category;

    “orkar” which roughly translates as “having the energy/inclination to”. Often used in the negative; e.g.

    “lagom” which I have never found a direct, single-word translation for anywhere. The best approximation is “not too much and not too little”, yet it is used in such a way as to mean more than just this clumsy phrase. As it is such a subjective experience, everyone’s “lagom” is a little different, which adds to the beauty of the word.

  • Shy

    Surely number 9, prozvonit, is ‘drop call’???

    (This word means to call a mobile phone and let it ring once so that the other person will call back, saving the first caller money.)

  • Lisa

    Gemutelichkeit- a comfortable ambiance, is one attempted translation, but doesn’t quite capture it completely. My friend’s family in Germany had it, and fostered it, especially at Christmastime. Unhurried, cozy, joyful, atmosphere shared with family and friends, enhanced with traditions.

  • molly

    nepalis will translate “alchi” as “lazy”, but in use it turns out to mean lazy/bored/tired/sick of what you’re doing. it’s exactly how you feel in the office at 3:30 on a thursday.

    • Laura Blumenthal

      That is like the Turkish “canım sıkıldı” – often translated as “I’m bored”, but it actually can mean “I’m bored”, “I’m annoyed”, “I’m sad”, or “I’m uncomfortable” (not physically) – literally, it means “my soul is squeezed”.

  • ronja

    I too was looking for the Swedish word “lagom” when reading the list. I’ve read several essays (in Swedish and in English) trying to define the word. It isn’t just “enough” in English. I’ve often thought of it as a personalized “comfortable perfect.” Like your favorite jeans once you break them in fit “lagom.” Or different people have different ideas of what a “lagom” Sunday morning is like. But it can be negative too. It would be deeply insulting to describe your boyfriend as “lagom.” And Swedes sometimes disparagingly refer to their own country as “the land of lagom”

    “orkar” is good too.

    I like “vemod” too, which is often translated into English as “melancholy” but I’ve heard Swedes get very poetic when trying to describe “vemod.” Some will describe it as a very yin-yang experience, that there is “vemod” in the midsommar celebrations because even though there is happiness and light, in your heart you know that it has reached the peak of brightness and after this it only gets darker. I once saw someone translate it as “a beautiful sadness.”

    But one noun I miss particularly from Swedish is “blast,” as in the phrase “ta bort blasten.” This refers to the act of “taking away the leaves from a vegetable.” You can (and do) “shuck corn” in English, but what do you call it when you take the ferny tops off of carrots? or the leafy tops of radishes/beats/turnips? or the leaves around a head of cauliflower? or the plant over the ground that potatoes grow from? All of these parts that are taken away are “blast” in Swedish. Sometimes you are expected to do this at the store, and then a “blast-tunna” is provided (a trash can for “blast”). Many recipes have the phrase “ta bort blasten…”

  • alangenh

    The German word that always led to unsatisfactory translations in English for me is “doch.” You can sort of get there with “of course” or “on the contrary, the answer is yes/positive!”… but not really. I’m curious as to whether other languages have a word like this!

    • Jenn

      Swedish has the word “jo” which translates as “yes” in response to a negative question (ie “Wasn’t it great?) or “on the contrary” (ex: “I didn’t do that.” Response “jo… yes you did.”). A yes in resonse to a positive question (“Is it good?”) in Swedish is “ja.”

  • Victor LaCerva

    Love the whole idea. Loved it so much in fact that I wrote a book called Worldwords: global reflections to awaken the spirit.

    Still available directly from me at heartsongs3@msn.com
    Written in a daily meditation format….so there are 365 different words!

    Some favorites?

    Aji: (Japanese) the physical changes in an object that occur over time because of the loving handling by human beings. Brings life to the feelings stored in that old family piece of jewelry.

    Ma ta la shol? Myan greeting roughly translated as How is your heart?

    Mai pen rai (Thai) Let it go, forget about it, not worth hassling over. good advice for many situations in this crazy modern world.

  • http://ninja-wizard.blogspot.com/ B.

    “Hyggelig” is a much used word also in Norwegian. As well as “koselig”, which is about the same as “cozy”.

    Another word is “sus”, which is “the sound of the wind in the trees”.

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  • Luke

    I think you need to reword the opening paragraph:
    “There are at least 250,000 words in the English language. However, to think that English – or any language – could hold enough expression to convey the entirety of the human experience is as arrogant of an assumption as it is naive.”

    In my opinion, it is neither ignorant nor naïve to say that English can “hold enough expression to convey” the human experience. In fact, you prove in this article that the English language can, through the combination of multiple words, convey the same exact meaning of single words in other languages. Thus, you should have said that no single word in English can convey the meaning of certain single words in other languages, which would have been a more accurate statement.

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  • A reader from the UK

    Prozvonit – calling someone once so they can ring you back is called “flashing” in Kenya, if not mainstream English

  • JimmyGaydos

    I have never heard these words. I again learnt something new. :)

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  • Nadia

    The Japanese equivalent to the Czech word
    for calling a phone for just a sec and have the other person call back to save money is

    wangiri

    :) it was popular to do this five yrs ago.. Nowadays people don’t really do it anymore in japan I think… Unless very desperate!

  • nickdiallo

    The French have the expression “du courage”, whose meaning is something like, “take courage” or “take heart”, but which is used in contexts where in English we would usually say, “Good luck”. In French you can also say “Bonne chance!” (literally, “Good luck!”), but “Du courage!” is a much more encouraging alternative that we just don’t really have in English (or at least, if we do have one, we don’t take advantage of it).

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  • miriam

    14. Dépaysement: there’s a very similar italian word, “spaesamento”, it has exactly the same meaning.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/piko.pikofb george

    are we suppose to adapt them to the english language?

    • Heather Carreiro

      You can do what you like with them!

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  • Daniela

    I love how you have putted Cafune on the list!! I am Brazilian, but I just never realized how this word has no translation in the English language. People always talk about saudade….but never cafune! It just comes to show how warm our culture really is…

  • me

    Depaysment=morriña (gallego) y bastante similar a la palabra “saudade”, que también se utiliza en gallego por cierto.
    me parece q no tienes ni idea

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  • lydia

    “Enrolado” an extremely common word in Brazil meaning something like “all rolled up”, it can refer to someone who is unreliable, or who is juggling many different things and apt to be late, not do what was promised, etc. etc. It can also be used as a verb. One can become “enrolado” by life or by another person who makes it impossible to do what was promised or expected.

    • Richard

      Estou assim.

    • Rebecca

      My husband and I use an expression that describes “enrolado.” We say that so-and-so will probably be late because he’s all bogged down in his Jell-o. A person cannot move fast or do what was promised because he/she is hindered by all his/her Jell-o.

    • Gabriela

      Enrolar en Puerto Rico es también de la palabra “roll” en inglés, pero se usa para cuando se va a formar un cigarillo de marihuana, o un fili como se conoce aqui :P.

      ‘Enrolar’ in Puerto Rico comes from the word “roll”, but here it means to roll a joint (as in marihuana cigarette).

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  • http://www.CompellingConversations.com Eric

    Thank you for compiling, explaining, and sharing these rare, beautiful words and concepts into English.

    Don’t be surprised if your list makes its way onto many intercultural and multicultural workshops.

  • Pete

    Prozvonit – In the UK, we call this “pranking” someone.

    • Nick

      And in Nigeria it’s called “flashing” someone.

      • Finn

        In Finland it’s called either “pommi” (bomb) or “piikki” (spike). I’m sure there are even more words for it in Finnish. So this one wasn’t so untranslatable after all, was it? :)

        • Halapande

          Translation is easy.. it’s the meaning behind that word that is hard to explain.. that it’s not pranking someone.. but it has a meaning of “thinking of you” or “call me back” :)

      • http://www.facebook.com/diepanhvmeo Ann

        yeah in Vietnamese it also means “flashing” someone

        • hatya

          “Prozvonit” in Turkish is “çaldırmak”. As a word, it would translate to “to ring”; but it is only used when you let the phone ring only once. otherwise you would use the word “aramak” (which means “to call” in this context).
          I am familiar with the Nigerian use “to flash someone”, but when talking with Western English speakers, I generally find that they understand “missed call” more readily than “flash”.

    • Carolyn

      In Canada we call that “missed call” as a verb.

      eg. “Just missed call me when you get here.”

      • http://soyunyuyo.com Daniela

        In Spain we say “hacer una llam-per”, to do a missed call, a “llamada perdida”.

        :-)

        • Román

          In Argentina we say “hacer una perdida”, but it’s still not a single word.

    • Ross Mack

      We call it “pranking” pretty commonly in Australia, too.

    • anais

      In French it’s “biper” . “Bipe moi” means “give me missed call”.

    • liz

      we also call it drop calling.

    • Jo

      In our bit of the UK, we call it a one-bell or a one-ringer-stinger.

    • http://www.facebook.com/thomas.locurto Thomas L.

      In italy it’s a “squillo” (SKWEE-low). To call someone and let it ring once so they know to call you back: “Fare uno squillo”.

  • http://twitter.com/kabissa Tobias Eigen

    Hi,

    I love this list – nice work. I’d add two German words to i:

    - Gemuetlich – a word that has affected me over the years and always has me stumbling when I try to tell people what it means in English. Means something close to cozy or comfortable, but also is deeper than that and hard to translate.
    - Strohwitwer (or Strohwitwe) – the person left behind with the ids when a partner goes on a trip

    And a plea for help to coin a new term: the feeling one has when one realizes one’s web browser is about to crash and there’s nothing you can do to save whatever important text you were working on.

    Cheers,

    Tobias

    • Jiri

      Grass widow – there are more meaninigs to that – but one of them does correspond.

    • Mici

      Hi, gemuetlich and Strohwitwe(r) you find in Swedish as well – gemytlig and Gräsänka /Gräsänkling. The meanings are exactly the same as in German.

      One word in Swedish that is known for being unique is lagom, which means neither too much nor too little and about pretty much everything. It can be “lagom” cool or lagom warm, you can have lagom amount of work.

    • Jack B

      I’ve always enjoyed gemutlich or, better, gemutlichkeit because it tastes so good when you pronounce it well.

    • Dagmar

      Another German word that doesn’t translate really well into English is “anstrengend”. It is used to describe mostly a person who or a situation which is difficult or just wears you out. Difficult just doesn’t completely envelope the meaning that “anstrengend” implies.

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  • Jiri

    By the way, I had mentioned it already – it is not advisable to look for one to one ratio when translating and that most expressions are translatable. There are many reasons for this and one of them is that every word has many meanings and it really depends on any particular context how one would understand and then render the word. And author’s Russian and Czech examples are a very good proof of that (I have absolutely no doubt that the same applies to other languages, but unfortunately, I am limited only to Czech and Russian. And, for instance, “prozvonit” as defined by the author is correct, except that this word could also mean that I would give someone a casual call – “ja te vecer prozvonim” could mean at least two things – I will call you tonight – implying, I am going to take my chances – you might not be at home, but I will try anyway, or there is the meaning the author quoted. And with “toska” and “litost” – give me the context and I promise to find a relatively good English rendition which would fit that given context just fine.

  • Matt

    “Mamihlapinatapai … from the Yaghan language of Tierra del Fuego” meaning “a look shared by two people with each wishing that the other will initiate something that they both desire but which neither one wants to start”.

  • jay

    you translated them pretty well… does English fall short?

    Elation

    Abysmal

    Vinted

    all languages are tricky, dont hate on english because you dont see it as art… and to hell with grammar… no one talks like that anyways

  • Old Fart

    Clearly these words are translatable since not only did you provide translations for them, but they’re all things to which we can relate, hence the article. They can simply not be translated by just one word. Ask any translator and they’ll tell you that you never translate word for word anyway.

  • Hal

    Schadenfreude is quite translatable for finns, I believe the Finnish word “vahingonilo” is rather accurate.

    • Mici

      yes, vahingonilo in Finnish and skadeglädje in Swedish.

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  • http://forkeatssake.blogspot.com Meredith

    To “saudades” (Portuguese) and “hiraeth” (Welsh), I would add the Latin word “desiderium,” which also has the meaning of longing for someone/something absent.

  • http://www.SleeplessInKL.com Sleepless In KL

    There’s ngilu in Malay, ngilo in Tagalog that refers to the feeling one gets when a nail is scraped across a blackboard or a spoon & fork are rubbed against each other or one who has sensitive teeth drinks a glass of ice cold water.

  • Chuck

    Punatera

  • Michelle

    Schadenfreude “translates” because it exists in English, is commonly used in English, and listed in English dictionaries. If it’s “untranslatable” than every loanword from taco to bungalow is “untranslatable.”

    A much better example is the German word “Fremdscham”–the vicarious embarrassment one feels when someone else does something shameful.

    • sam norton

      Fremdscham sounds great to an English ear that doesn’t speak German because it sounds like ‘friend shame’. It’s a nice thing to have a word for actually, as shame is rarely thought of as empathetic.

  • Lika

    I love the word “saudade”. I mean, I don’t like to feel it, but it’s beautiful and sad at the same time.

    Oh, and “duende” we have in Portuguese too.

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  • http://Yes Steve

    The reason English has so many words in its lexicon is that it incorporates words from other languages (10,000 or so of English words come from French, for instance).

    I suggest the strength of English isn’t the size of its lexicon, but its ability to adopt words from other languages — its flexibility, if you wil — while some French speakers famously resist adoption of English words.

    If you give English a few years and these 20 words will be acquired. Schadenfreude already has been.

    • Heather Carreiro

      So true Steve. English is quite good at absorbing words from other languages.

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  • Thomas

    Schadenfreude in Hungarian we have the same exact word Káröröm.
    Happyness over someon’s misfortune. We even have a saying, You are the happyest when the cause of your happyness is other’s misfortune. (The best happyness is Schadenfreude.)

    • Isiik

      In Czech it is “škodolibá radost”. “Škodolibost” does literaly mean “to delight in someone’s misery” ..I mean, what a word!

    • http://netmap.wordpress.com Eva

      Or as we say in German: Schadenfreude ist die reinste Freude (Schadenfreude is the truest happiness)

  • Hazel

    “Pole” (pronounced po-leh) is a Swahili word that expresses empathy and could sometimes be translated to “sorry”. For example if you tell someone you had a bad day, they would answer pole. Or if you are doing physical work and someone passes by you, they would tell you pole.

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  • Pernilla

    I’m surprised that “lagom” isn’t on the list. It’s a very subjective word which refers to an exact amount according to an individual. The English word ‘adequate’ comes close but still fails to deliver the essence of “lagom”.

  • http://marion-travel-pictures.blogspot.com/ Marion

    Great blog post! I love the words “jayus” and “tartle”. :)

    “Prozvonit” also exists in Italian: “fare uno squillo”.

  • dalbaby

    I don’t speak German, and don’t remember what the word is, but my German neighbor once told me a word that I think translates to something like “looking inward”… she used it in regard to the look on my toddler’s face when he was “filling his diaper.” Anybody familiar with this?

    • Lauramaki

      You might be looking for the German word “Nachvollziehen”. I’m bilingual myself (Danish/German) and have always been frustrated about the fact that it translates so badly. In English you might translate it to “to comprehend”, but with an added level of empathy, so it’s more like: you can imagine yourself being in that other person’s shoes, thus understanding how he/she feels at that moment.

  • englishpatient

    My favourite french word is : sympathique, or sympa for short.

    You would say that somebody is ‘sympa’. It’s like calling somebody thoughtful, selfless, patient, kind-spirited, approachable, caring, all rolled into one word. When you meet somebody who is sympa, hold onto them!

    • mai

      so it’s like “simpático” in portuguese ;D

  • http://weneedus.tumblr.com/ Graycard

    So what’s the opposite of schadenfreude? Geumutlichkeit seems to come close, and litost is kind of a self-reflexive opposite, if you see what I mean. It’s the other side of schedenfreude; maybe schadenkummer? Is that a word?

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  • Paul

    I once read of a Brazilian Portuguese word used in coffee harvesting, which translates as ‘making a pile of beans at the end of each row’. However, I can’t for the life of me remember the word but it was very short, no more than three syllables.

  • http://coatedinsugar.tumblr.com ko

    In Spanish I can think of a word that I never really know how to translate: hostigoso. While it’s translated as “sickly or cloying food”, it’s not really accurate because it makes it sound bad (which hostigoso necessarily isn’t). It’s something that is sticky and extremely rich, it leaves your mouth somewhat pasty or thick. It generally tastes pretty good, except due to richness, only a bite or two suffice (unless you down loads of water after them).

    Words in Chinese are a funny thing too since they tend to combine words to create new ones. For example, ganbei (干杯) means “cheers!” but it breaks down into dry/empty (gan 干) cup (bei 杯) or renao (热闹)means “bustling with noise and excitement” which is warm/hot/heat (re 热) and noisy. Well one of those untranslatable words into a single word in English is yuanfen (缘分)which means “fate or fortune by which people are brought together”. It loosely translates into destiny, but it feels like more than that. :)

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  • Gabriela

    In Puerto Rico, a ‘Jayus’ is a ‘chiste mongo’. A direct translation is english would be ‘floppy joke’

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  • Mark

    Another Swedish word I love is “sambo” – literally translated is “same living” but actually means “a lover you live with but are not married to”. The distinction of a special word for an unmarried couple living together is fascinating to me.

    While studying Swedish, the “lagom” word was explained to me as “something just right according to that individual”. I always think of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” in reference to things like soup temperature and the softness of beds – lagom is always a different thing for each person.

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  • malpa

    Ilunga

    Tshiluba (Southwest Congo) – (…) the stature of a person “who is ready to forgive and forget any first abuse, tolerate it the second time, but never forgive nor tolerate on the third offense.”

    My proposal for this in English : “Even Bouddha slaps the mosquito that comes close for the third time”

    Excuse my poor English. It is a personal rendition from Japanese.

  • http://chakora.in Chandramouli

    I don’t know a proper equivalent of the Tamil word “Saandraanmai” (சான்றாண்மை). Though it is generally described as “being good”.

  • Eva

    Schadenfreude translates exactly to the Hungarian “karorom”. A hard concept to explain in English other than taking joy in another’s misfortune.

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  • Dan

    Saudade is very easily translated into English. To ‘miss’ something or someone!!

    Of course, it sounds much sexier in Portuguese. ;-)

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  • Bruce

    This is fun, but why are these “untranslatable” when you actually give their translations?

    Anyway, here is a cool list of words from the Lule Saami language spoken in Norway and Sweden:

    bahtuha – the remaining potatoes that did not sprout roots, were collected and boiled.
    bálggo – the hottest part of summer when annoying insects force the reindeer to search for cooler places higher up in the mountains.
    sjtassjkit – to trample on wet snow in such a way as to leave a trail behind you.
    nuvár – ankle-deep loose snow that has fallen on snow that has been trampled hard.
    halkadit – to howl long and monotone howls (about a dog that is tied up).
    luogñel- something that easily creeps through a little hole.
    ráddat – to become ice cold (about water in the autumn).
    ruhtsuhit – to eat without waiting to be served.

    And my personal favorite:

    hadjat – to yell and scream (about mothers when they cannot take their children’s nagging any more).

  • martin

    litost (lítost, or ľútosť in slovak) = sorrow. That’s it.

  • graeme dorrans

    The German word ‘sehnsucht’ comes very close to ‘toska’.

  • http://www.nississima.com A. Keating

    my favorite “untranslatable” word is the french “se débrouiller,” which means to manage, or to come up with a solution, or, as I think to myself, to *macguyver* a problem!

    the hardest english words to translate or even define in english for me have always been “cheesy” or “corny.” impossible to do without using the other!

  • Elisa

    “Prozvonit” has an Italian equivalent that I really love: “squillo.” While studying here, I’ve used it as a verb, but for Italians the phrase is “fare uno squillo.”

  • Kat

    I also like the Swedish word “duktig” – it describes a person who is busy, hard working, productive, positive, capable…

    Also, in my experience, there are lots of untranslatable words that describe grants and positions in small and medium level bureaucracies, organizations and government forms, especially in the grants and programs that they run. But they aren’t as interesting as these common words.

  • http://www.newlyswissed.com Dimitri

    There’s this expression in Swiss German, “Röschtigrabe”, which stands for an imaginary (cultural) border between the Swiss German and French speaking population of Switzerland.

    Literally translated, it means “hashbrown/potato gap”.

    • http://netmap.wordpress.com Eva

      In Germany we have the Weisswurstäquator between the southern part that does eat Weisswurst and the northern part of the country that doesn’t.

  • Thundergod

    Dépaysement = homesickness
    N’est-ce pas? ;-)

    • Manolo

      Nostalgia or morriña in spanish

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  • http://www.soas.ac.uk/staff/staff36410.php Hanna

    Great selection of words! We should start a collection!

    At least one German and two Bengali words should be added to this list.

    The German: “Steigerung”, meaning an increase in intensity, a powerful one-word expression sadly missed in the English language.

    And Bengali: “obhiman”, meaning hurt pride or, more accurately, an expectation of getting hurt by someone who should know better than to hurt you.

    Another lovely Bengali example is ‘turi”, defined as the sound made by grazing the middle finger and the thumb against each other.

    For those who know Bengali, the spelling of “turi” is with dontyo t and Doye shunyo r.

    • Nynke

      I use Steigerung in Dutch to describe a training-exercise in which you slowly increase your speed (running, skating).

  • http://fiftyfluffyelephants.tumblr.com Leti

    Wonderful article!!!!

  • senski

    “Prozvonit” in Bulgarian is “clip” or “click”. (When joking, it could be called also “Jewish SMS”, no pun intended.)

  • http://www.marcelvos.com marcel

    Gezellig: A dutch untranslatable word that stands for having a good time with friends or familie. A room can also be gezellig. It can sometimes be translated with cozy but it is not the same.

  • yosaka

    th 10th one, we usually say giving a missed call… its really comon in maldives

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  • Beatrice

    Oh God! I love German, and I love English too!! It’s amazing what you can do with word formation and composition. When I was in Germany, I heard, read and even used words that couldn’t be found in a dictionary…one of them, which I don’t remember unfortunately, could be translated with the erected position of a certain bird, accompained by a whistle. I heard incredible words in English too. One I love is the insult “cunt-sucker”…which somehow means they are calling you a “cunt” too, since that is the first thing you hear. English and Germans are not aware of how funny and interesting their language can be! You cannot combine words this freely in Italy!!!!!

  • Dominic

    Here in the Philippines, we have a cuss word, “gago” which has no definite English meaning. Depending upon the usage, it can be defined as idiot, dumbass or asshole. It is what we call “salitang kanto” or street talk. Generally, it is a term for a person who has done something stupid.

    We also have a saying, “bato, bato sa langit, ang matamaan huwag magagalit” which translates directly into: “throw a stone into the sky and whoever gets hit with it shouldn’t get mad”. This is said when you say something (esp. advice) which could be offensive or controversial-it is trying to say that you aren’t trying to offend anyone, you are simply trying to express your opinion.

    • Joe

      Pretty sure the definite English translation would be idiot. Easy enough. Doesn’t seem special at all to me. In fact English has practically thousands of words
      (many of them street slang as yours is) that would fit that…

      Imbecile
      Retard
      Dunce
      Dummy
      Moron
      Nitwit
      Nincompoop
      Pinhead
      Shithead
      Dope
      Dolt
      Blockhead
      Numbshull
      Ignoramus
      Fool
      Simpleton

      I could go on…
      Take your pick.

    • Joe

      Also, your phrase is ridiculous. Of course you should get mad at anyone who throws up a stone that hits you. He shouldn’t have thrown the stone up, as it could hurt someone and did. I’m surprised your people couldn’t think of a more suitable situation to compare with people getting offended by someone stating their opinions.

  • Emma

    “L’esprit de l’escalier”, a french phrase roughly translates to “staircase wit”, is the act of thinking of a clever and witty comeback only after it is too late to deliver it

  • hatya

    a Turkish word (with Islamic roots) that I can never explain to my foreign friends: “helalleşmek” (ş is read as sh).
    this is a word used when two people are parting ways and they don’t expect to see each other ever again/for a long while. you ask the other person to make “helal” all his/her deeds/rights to you.
    It is derived from the word “helal” which is Arabic; it can translate to lawful, legitimate, in accordance with religious laws, etc.
    like I said, it has religious roots. It means that religiously, you ask the other person to absolve you from every bad deed/debt in case you never see each other again.
    Is there anyway to explain this in English in less than 450 words?? :D

    • Heather Carreiro

      Thanks for sharing Hatya!

  • A Romanian

    Regarding the last word in the post, Saudade, there is an equivalent in Romanian -> Dor.
    They used to tell us in school that this word (Dor) has no equivalent in any other language.
    Well, apparently there is one in the Portueguese language :)
    No wonder the two languages are sister languages, both from the Latin tree.
    Very nice site.

    Cheers

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  • Joe

    These words and the concepts behind them are all known and very familiar to me, an english speaker. Just because there’s no single word doesn’t mean that a few strung together don’t mean the same thing and are just as special. They’re all very easily translatable and understood with a few (and sometimes even one!) word. Might I add that some of them are not words, but phrases?

    Ex. L’appel du vide: The call of the void (there you go! you translated it, and directly! How is that untranslatable? L’appel du vide, the feeling of wanting to jump from a high place can be used the same in English as “the call of the void”. Makes sense. Is translatable. I do believe I’ve grasped the “essence”) :O

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  • http://www.nasihahconsulting.com Monique

    A most beautiful Arabic word is Nasihah or Naseeha.

    It is commonly translated to mean ‘sincere advice, to counsel’ etc.

    but the deeper meaning which is gorgeous means:

    “Contemplation is broken with wisdom to articulate the truth”

    I love this word. Its meaning is slightly similar to the French name Monique. (my own name), meaning advisor/counsellor. I am a Psychologist, so this is very apt. :)

  • Mau

    “Saudade” in italian is “Nostalgia” :D (first element of the list)

    • Juliana

      we say ‘nostalgia’
      and
      saudade and nostalgia are not the same, completely different.

    • sonicgirl

      actually there is a correspondent for “saudade” in Romanian and that is “dor”, it’s got the exact meaning :)

      • Sam

        Not yet.

        “I miss you so much” = I feel “saudade” of you
        or i’m with so much “saudade”

        Nostalgia is just about saudade of some time period.
        “dor” = pain

        I think the verb “to miss” is more close to express the noun “saudade”, but just in part. miss someone far away, a broken relashionship, an old home, or who passed away, feel nostalgic about some time period, etc. It is feel “saudade” of this things.

        • http://ioanamiroiu.wordpress.com Miss I.

          Wait a minute…the word “dor” does not only mean pain. Actually, very few people use it to express pain nowadays, even if they are considered to be synonyms. It can also be used to express one’s wish, nostalgie and it can also be a sort of “to long”.

          e.g. “Mi-e dor de tine!” = “I miss you!”.
          “Mai am un singur dor” = “I have only one wish left.” (this is from a poem of Mihai Eminescu)
          “Mi-e dor să te am aproape” = “I long to have you close to me.”

          So actually it can be a sort of “saudade” in some ways. What I wanted to make clear is “pain” is not the main meaning, nor the most used :)

          Cheers!

  • januce

    there is an untranslateable word in turkish spelled “can” pronounced like “john” in english…
    “can” is the thing that keeps a living thing alive and certainly non-livings do not have it…but it can not be translated as life…because life is “hayat” in turkish…

    “can” is simply the thing that separates livings from non-livings but it is not the spirit as well….because spirit is “ruh” in turkish…

    i wonder if teher is a a word equivalent to “can” in any other language :D

    • hossein jaan

      Yes the word “Jaan”comes from Persian. Persian poetry has many exmples of it. Long live ataturk

      • ml

        actually jaan can be translated as life from persian just as hayat and zendegi

    • Kenji

      This has been borrowed into Albanian as “xhan” (same pronunciation as the Turkish, Albanian xh being like an English j), where it means dear, precious, beloved, as in “Të kam xhan” (“You are dear to me”, or more literally “I have you dear”).

  • Andrea

    I really enjoyed this post. I find words and expressions in other languages best approached as poetry. I have been experimenting with on line translators to turn Spanish into English. I am relieved to realize that I understood the phrase and sentence perfectly without translating word for word as a poem. The literal translation is nonsense.
    So these 20 words are awesome in their richness which a dictionary cannot touch.
    Thanks so much.
    P.S. I always wondered what the oft used phrase “Saudade” meant.

  • Erik

    -’Gezelligheid’- (Dutch) is not translatable in English. It means ‘cozy’ and/or warm feelings among family or friends. Danish ‘Hyggelig’ is most comparable to ‘Gezelligheid’ or ‘Gezellig’

    • chrisis

      The Danish “hyggelig” sounds like it’s the same as the German “heimelig” (with all its many meanings). Or even gemütlich, I don’t think the word gemütlich with all its meanings exists in the English language.

      And for the Czech “Prozvonit” I would use the word “anläuten [lassen]” in German, means pretty much the same

      • spicemaan

        Prozvonit has a Japanese counterpart:
        “wangiri”

        “wan” is the Japanese pronunciation for the English word “one” and
        “giri” means to cut, clash, cancel etc.. (as the “kiri” in harakiri)

  • srJones

    “Aloha”, in Hawaian, is non translatable and one of the most beautiful words.

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  • Sophia

    In Afrikaans (South African derivative of Dutch) we use the informal word “lekker” all the time to describe something pleasureable, pleasant, tasty or extra, yet it’s not as formal and polite as any English equivalent and has a more sunny feel to it than “nice” or “well”. It could be used as adjective, adverb or exclamation… it would best translate into revelling in something (even in someone’s misfortune!). It’s also used for the word “sweet”, as in confectionary. What does that say about us?

    • Cosmic Jay

      We actually have the almost the same word in swedish, “Läcker” or “Läckert”, which can be used on everything from good food to beautiful girls!
      Very interesting..

    • Ask

      That’s a great word, Sophia.

      In Danish, we have the word “lækker”, which can be used in the exact same way as you describe.
      In German, you also have the word “lecker” but I think that is used more narrowly.

      In a Danish context, when you want to “hygge”, you will often eat a “lækker” dinner. You can also meet “lækre” women or men, when you go out:-)

    • EKJ

      We have a word in swedish which is Lacker (The A here is an A with two dots, here pronounced like the EA in BEAR.), which refers to a person who is really hot in a tasty way :)

  • http://www.electrofairy.de Fr34k

    My favourite untranslatable word in german is “ach so”, it could be translated with “Now I know what you mean” or “I understand” or “something’s now clear and before I didn’t understand it quite right”. I also like “egal” very much but it’s best translatable with “doesn’t matter” although “egal” is sometimes more or less than “doesn’t matter”. I really do love the scottish word tartle in your list, this always happens to me!

    • http://www.carlgene.com Carl Gene Fordham

      I think we have those concepts in Mandarin too; “ach so” and “egal” could be translated as 原来如此 (http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/%E5%8E%9F%E6%9D%A5%E5%A6%82%E6%AD%A4) and 无所谓 (http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/%E6%97%A0%E6%89%80%E8%B0%93) respectively.

    • kk

      The English word you’re looking for is Eureka!

      • http://www.carlgene.com Carl Gene Fordham

        Ah, no. “Eureka” is used when one happens upon a sudden discovery. It’s much too strong for “ach so”.

        • Kenji

          How about “Ohhhh, okay”?  Maybe a little quotidian, but it sounds to me like it means the same thing.

  • http://leelouzworld.wordpress.com/ Leila Jisr Moussa

    MABROUK is a fabulous Arabic word. It is a warm, kind, generous word. We use it each time someone gets something new. It means “may you were it/use it/ with joy and luck, may you be blessed with it”. Mabrouk is much more than congratulations, as it involves spirituality and GOD and genuinely means that we are happy for the other person.

    • Heather Carreiro

      I love the word “mabrouk!” It’s used in Urdu as well, although pronounced as “mubarak” and used with the Urdu verb “to be” since you can’t drop the verb in Urdu.

      • Kenji

        There’s an expression with the same meaning and use in Albanian: “E gëzofsh”, literally “May you enjoy it”.  It’s a normal thing to say when somebody acquires a new possession.

  • Karl

    9. Prozvonit
    Czech – This word means to call a mobile phone and let it ring once so that the other person will call back, saving the first caller money. In Spanish, the phrase for this is “Dar un toque,” or, “To give a touch.” (Altalang.com)

    I wouldn’t say #9 is not in English. Brits say something along the lines of “prank” but I think there are other words as well. Anyway, when you prank someone you call them long enough to produce a signal for them to call you back. Sometimes it’s just used as a signal that you have reached somewhere but you save costs having no phone time talking.

  • Ann

    The word ‘jayus’, by that definition can also be the same as ‘garing’, which can mean both crispy and corny.
    Really, jayus is our way of saying that a joke is corny. Even though yes, I think ‘jayus’ means something more than corny.

    Oh, the joy of one’s country being mentioned <3

  • Nina

    There IS a German equivalent for no. 9 at least:
    anklingeln (there’s even a (German) Wiki entry for that, so it cannot be an uncommon word)

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  • Julia

    In German, Hyggelig also exists, only it’s called “Gemütlichkeit.” It’s like a feeling of peace, acceptance and coziness… I like to think of it as reading your favorite book, sitting in the sunshine on a dock, dipping your feet into the water.
    PS. I adore #2!

  • http://www.everywhereist.com Everywhereist

    My favorite Italian word is “magari” – the closest equivalent in English is ‘if only’ – but it really doesn’t capture the same sentiment. That being said, I LOVE this list!

    • Ty Kendall

      I think you will find this comes from Greek:
      From Greek μακάρι (makári)

      It means “if only/i wish” in Greek too.

    • Deana

      Ah, magari:)
      Magari is a word that expreses way more feelings than ‘if only’ does. Magari includes hope and sadness, anxiety and happiness, nostalgia… It really one of the most beautiful words in italian.
      Magari… and my heart tingls a bit

  • jack

    4. Iktsuarpok
    not a single wor, but in scottish it’s “keep the edgy”

  • http://blog.teledyn.com mrG

    In Canadian English we say, “Eh”, pronounced as a question “Ay?” and not one of us has even the slightest idea what it means :)

    • Midare

      The ‘eh’ has a lot of parallels in other languages though, I hear it used a lot. Japanese comes to mind with their ‘ne’ to imply a questioning or emphasis tot he end of a sentance. Sounds a lot like our Canadian ‘eh’, eh?

  • http://brainoff.com/ Mikel

    In Sweden, #9 is called something like a “Tata-ring” (might be mispelling). A “Tata” is a word for “Old farmers”, who are stereotypically cheap.

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  • Ed

    I’m British (with a fetish for learning the word for ‘toothpick’ in every country I visit.)

    One of my favourite non-translatables is the French ‘mots d’escalier’.

    It describes those witty responses you only think of when it’s far too late for them to be of any use. Like when you’re climbing the stairs to bed, I suppose.

  • Jo

    I’m danish, living in Japan and I would agree that “hyggelig” can’t be translated into other languages. When I was growing up my mom would always say that now we were going to have it “hyggeligt”. Its all sorts of things, and it just can’t be described. I don’t like using it in English because it’s just not the same.

    Another word I think can’t be translated, is the Japanese word “ganbaru” or “ganbarimasu”. It’s a verb that is used quite frequently and I think its sums up the Japanese so beautifully. I would translate it to “work hard, do your best, have fighting spirit!”. I use it when I’m facing something hard and tidious, and you can say it to others when they are in a similar situation.

    • Tomas

      Not to mention it means “Good luck” and “break a leg” or that’s what other languages uses.

  • Luddepop
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  • http://cloudscape.blogspirit.com Niels Vandamme

    The Russian word Toska is similar to the German Sehnsucht and the Portuguese saudade, both of which are used in the English language. I’ll remember it though.

  • an

    In the UK we call #9 “Drop Calling” someone

  • Nordmann

    “Hyggelig” in english is basically “cozy” or “nice”. Nothing more than that.
    The connotations of words are purely open to perspective and not some undefinable translation.

  • Anthony Doherty

    How wonderful to see such a wire-spread appreciation for the subtleties of language. Just a guess, but I’ll bet that there are some Yiddish words that would require a paragraph or two to explain. A friend of mine once tried to educate me on the subtle differences between nebbish, nudnik, schlemiel, putz, and shmuck (and I may be omitting one or two), and the best I could do was rate them in terms of intensity. As I recall, all of my friend’s examples were illustrated by spilling a drink on someone else at a cocktail party, which may have resulted from innate klutziness, clumsiness (not quite the same thing), irritation, schadenfreude (see?), or misanthropy in various subtle combinations and permutations.

    • Heather Carreiro

      Oh I’m sure! One of the books I checked out for this article is “Joys of Yiddish” by Leo Rosten. Really interesting stuff.

  • Ruben Nielsen

    hey, i’m sorry to tell you that we have Shadenfreude in danish too. it’s skadefryd.

    • Hans

      Skadeglädje, in Swedish.

  • Silvius Brabo

    9. Prozvonit
    Czech – This word means to call a mobile phone and let it ring once so that the other person will call back, saving the first caller money. In Spanish, the phrase for this is “Dar un toque,” or, “To give a touch.”

    In portuguese we use the word “toque” for this, very similar to spanish tho…

  • http://www.CompellingConversations.com Eric Roth

    Your delightful and expanding list of cool phrases from other tongues has inspired me. So I did a little more research, and purchase a 1988 book called “They Have a Word for It: A Lighthearted Lexicon of Untranslatable Words and Phrases” by Howard Rheingold… before he became a famous media critic.

  • Zakki

    I’am an Indonesian.

    as far as i know about “JAYUS” word, it’s begin from someone named “jayus”, he was known as a people who always trying to make a joke but his joke always not funny and not make people laugh.
    from there, if someone trying for joking but it’s not funny, their called like jayus. yup their joke is jayus (not funny and can’t make the others laugh),,

    sorry if my english so bad i just a kid who try help the world to answer it.

  • Martin

    I’m a Dutchie, and I can say that hyggelic can be translated as “heugelijk”, gemütlich as “gemoedelijk”, and gezellig as, well, gezellig, since it’s a Dutch word; they all have different meanings/connotations in Dutch. I’m guessing some of these words stuck better in certain regions, where others were forgotten.
    “Schadenfreude” also sounds remarkably similar to our concept of “leedvermaak”, but perhaps I’m not well versed enough in German to draw that comparison.
    Just a brainfart btw, but concerning the etymology of the word “gezellig”, I think the main root of the word is “gezel” or “zel”, from dutch “gezelschap” and German “geselschaft” (sorry if my spelling is off), which means “company”. Perhaps it’s possible to describe “gezellig” as “that feeling of comfort and cosiness generally associated with intimate company”, or something similar. It would make sense, since I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone say how “gezellig” something was when they were all alone having a good time.

  • http://postrockpaperscissors.com/ Armand

    Hi, my name is Armand and I host a music podcast called Post-Rock Paper Scissors. This article inspired me to start a 20-part series where we to attempt to sonically translate each word into podcast form.

    Here is the first episode of our Untranslatable series: http://www.mixcloud.com/babarm87/episode-52-saudade/

    If you enjoy the show, please visit http://postrockpaperscissors.com/ for more info.

    Thanks,
    Armand

    • Heather Carreiro

      Armand, what a cool idea! Thanks for sharing.

  • Deana

    In Croatian we say: POZVONIT. I suppose the pronaunciation is very similar to the Chezch one (prozvonit) and the meaning is exactly the same. We use it all the time.

    One hell of an article!
    cheerio

  • sam

    I’m guessing this has already been mentioned but there is an English word for “Prozvonit”, it’s ‘prank’ or ‘prankie’. I don’t think it’s officially been recognised yet but then I’m guessing Prozvonit hasn’t either since mobiles haven’t been around that long.

    • lizzard

      “Prank” in US English is not equivalent to prozvonit. A prank caller does not usually wish to be found out, his intention is only to annoy and harass. With prozvonit, however, there is an understood etiquette attached, and the called one knows that he’s expected to return the call – whether or not that may be an annoyance to him.

      • http://www.carlgene.com Carl Gene Fordham

        I don’t know about the US, but in Australia “to prank someone” is equivalent to prozvonit. It means to leave a missed call on someone’s mobile to notify them that you want them to call you.

  • Kyle

    i find it funny that that it states in the beginning that it states “However, to think that English – or any language – could hold enough expression to convey the entirety of the human experience is as arrogant of an assumption as it is naive.” Then it goes on to describe the definition of “untranslatable” words…. ah the irony :-)

  • morgondag

    Schadenfreude may have no translation in english but it does in swedish, “skadeglädje”.

  • http://www.muhanna.org ibrahim muhanna

    Although the explanation of the word is correct, however it does not clearly explain its usage.
    18. Ya’aburnee
    Arabic – Both morbid and beautiful at once, this incantatory word means “You bury me,” a declaration of one’s hope that they’ll die before another person because of how difficult it would be to live without them.

    Ya’aburnee is primarily used by mothers while talking to or about her child. Since language translates feelings & traditions within a culture. Hence, it is not a matter of “how difficult it would be to live without them” but rather it is the utmost tragedy for the survivor.
    The Arabic language goes one step further to give a name to a mother that lost a child i.e. “Thaqla”. The same way the there are words as widow or orphan. The thaqla is the word that is used to refer to the grieved mother that lost her child (no matter how old the son or daughter at the time of death). So, this is why mothers use the word Ya’aburnee.

    • Heather Carreiro

      Thanks for the insight Ibrahim!

  • http://www.muhanna.org ibrahim muhanna

    I am actuary, for most people, I am a numbers man. However, I have deep interest in languages, in particular the Arabic language. I was intrigued with this blog, thank you Jason for the initiative and continuous work.

    I hope I will have the chance to contribute the other related posts:
    20 More Awesomely Untranslatable Words From Around the World
    Why Hindi-Urdu is One Language and Arabic is Several
    10 Blogs for Language Lovers

  • Hugo Vázquez

    This is totally fake. Duende does not means that in Spanish, I would know, I’m a native speaker.

    • David

      True, “Duende” is not what it says here, sad because there are many words in Spanish that could do well in the list.

      In Spanish it looks like the author was “vacilado”, which means that made to believe as true some obvious bullshit so everybody can laugh at his/her expense.

      :)

  • richard

    I’d like to nominate “awesome” as an untranslatable word used to indicate the state of being good without actually being awesome.

  • Karlo David

    Don’t mean to be a kill joy here, but I’d like to clarify “untranslatable” there. You see, in Structuralist semiotics, a “word,” which is a symbol, is composed of a “signifier” (the word’s evident part, i.e. letters, sound etc.) and a “signified” (the “concept” behind it, i.e. it’s definition). So to say that “schadenfreude” is an “untranslatable” word would be incorrect, since translation involves reassigning the signified with a different signifier. By giving us the definition of “pleasure derived from seeing other people’s misfortune,” the word is thereby translated to English, already. Perhaps the best description for these fascinating words would be “most unique,” in that there is a “lexical gap”: they have no “equivalent” words in other languages.

    Be that as it may (pardon the structuralists, they’re notorious for “killing” truth in Literature), this is a fascinating list of words. Mamihlapinatapei is a mouthful, but it’s worth the effort! Just to follow the other comments, I’d like to mention my own. In Tagalog, there’s an expression “bahala na,” whose closest equivalent would be “come what may,” but whose literal meaning is difficult to determine even in Tagalog (the phrase in Tagalog would be “Darating ang darating”). It could be appended with an actor (“bahala na si (actor)”) to roughly mean “let (actor) worry over it,” but that isn’t the exact translation either. What’s beautiful about this expression though is how, in lacking that actor, it captures the passivity it tries to convey. Of course, any expert in Tagalog is welcome to answer to this.

    Oh, and there’s the Japanese morpheme “-ne,” which may mean “isn’t it?” (complete with rhetorical meaning, “sou desune” would mean “isn’t that so?”) But the way the Japanese use it so liberally is unique to the language, showing just how much the culture puts value on harmony.

  • linguist

    No word is untranslatable, but many do not have single-word-equivalents in other languages. This is an interesting list. A certain derogatory term for black people in America (Nigg@#) is such taboo that a non-black person saying it, especially to a black person, would most likely be physically injured, and justifiably so (in many peoples eyes). I do not know of any word that holds so much power in other languages, and it is always very hard explaining the severity of this word to people who are not from the united states. Does anyone know of any other words like this?

  • Alex

    The British English term for Prozvonit is “drop call’.

  • http://hegelincanada.wordpress.com/ Hege

    This is one of the themes I spend a lot of time pondering on. To add to your list, I’ll link to my blog-post from last year about words that don’t translate, or that I’m only able to use in one of the languages I use.

  • http://hegelincanada.wordpress.com/ Hege
    • Heather Carreiro

      Thanks for sharing! I like when you say, “Translating may always be a betrayal of experience and betrayal of the original words but, by God, living in this field of linguistic tension makes me feel alive.” Language is fascinating.

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  • Michael

    The Finnish word Sisu is widely acknowledged as having no counterpart in other languages.

    Loosely translated into English as strength of will, determination, perseverance, and acting rationally in the face of adversity.

    https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Sisu

  • abaldric

    Duende in Spanish means gnome. Nothing else.

  • elena

    One of my favorite “untranslatables” is a Hebrew word “davka” – could mean the opposite of what is expected. Any suggestions?

  • http://www.drunkenmimes.artfire.com Angelique

    English is my first language, but I have been speaking fluent Mexican Spanish since I was a kid, so I understand exactly what you’re talking about when you say the literal translation doesn’t quite cut it. Specific words and phrases don’t come to mind off the top of my head, but I’ve had the experience of trying to relay a funny conversation is Spanish to someone in English, and all the humor is lost in translation. I’ve watched movies like Los Amores Perros and Nicotina, scoffing at the inadequate subtitles while laughing my ass off.

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  • Jordan

    L’appel du vide

    Wouldn’t that be an idiom rather than a word? Thats cheating considering that idioms by definition can not be directly translated.

  • KateG

    Hey everyone,

    How about the very Japanese concept of ‘umami’ now being adopted by every chef with a tv deal? It describes the fifth sense of taste, and makes utter sense to me in Japanese, but barely any when I attempt to translate into English, French or Italian.

    Much fun – causing endless debate!

  • San Juan

    9. Prozvonit

    Czech – This word means to call a mobile phone and let it ring once so that the other person will call back, saving the first caller money. In Spanish, the phrase for this is “Dar un toque,” or, “To give a touch.” (Altalang.com)

    In Filipino, this means “miscol”.Yes it derives from “missed call”, but the additional element of having to call back is also in play. Although sometimes, the meaning is arbitrarily determined by the two persons who will use the “miscol”. It can even mean “I love you”. LOL

  • Rommel de Jesus

    And then, there is the Tagalog word, “ano,” which can just mean anything at all.

  • RJR

    My favorites have always been Weltschmertz (german) or Ennui (french). Both meaning some kind of world-weariness or that physical reality will never satisfy demands of the mind or imagination. Literally meaning “boredom” but I always feel that it means more than that when used in context.

  • rntvgz

    кеф [kef- bulgaria] also кайф [kaif- russia] and no doubt many other slavic countries
    a state of pleasure, variously described as dreamy, high, fun on various websites, but best described to me by a Bulgarian as all the types of earthy, sensual pleasures such as those experienced through the sense of taste, through sex, through drugs, through touch. Some examples would be the pleasures of good coffee, chocolate, a sauna or spa, orgasm, massage, etc

    • http://weneedus.tumblr.com/ Graycard

      I can’t do Cyrillic, so my reply to “kif” is that I seem to remember hearing it used in Iranian/Persian, Arabic and/or other Near Eastern languages to mean essentially the same. Am I wrong?

      • rntvgz

        Probably right. The person who told me about this word said that it had come to the Bulgarian language via the Turkish, who invaded Bulgaria and ran the country from the 14th century to the 19th, and many of whose words have been assimilated into their ancient Slaviclanguage. But the existence of such a close analogue in Russia might imply what others believe; that much older migrations right across Asia might have spread this word. Although perhaps it has acquired different senses in the different places to which it has spread. It might no longer mean the same thing it once meant where it originated. Bulgarians perceive themselves as less accomplished than Turks in the culture and skills of hedonism to which for them the word ‘kef’ belongs, and so it may have a specialised meaning there as distinct from other places.

        • Kenji

          A cognate of this word also exists in Albanian: qejf, with more or less the same meaning, although maybe a little weaker.  It means pleasure, gladness, as in the expression “Më bëhet qejfi” (I’m glad, lit. “The pleasure becomes to me”).

    • Haitham

      This word is still used in the Arabic language with the same meaning.

    • http://robinsimion.blogspot.com robin

      In romanian Kef (Ke pronounced as in Kent) is one of the words for party.

  • http://twitter.com/kaelaallen Kaela

    After finishing reading “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho, they use the word “maktub”… apparently you could only appreciate the work if you are Arab, but it translates to something like “it is written.” referring to the word of God, and the Koran. I thought it was beautiful, and felt somewhat to the extent of “everything happens for a reason.” and allowed the main character to trust in himself and follow his dream.

    • Peter

      “maktub” simply means “written”. The word itself is just like any other word, there is no magic in it. Especially for Arab people who can use it in normal daily conversation about school, offices etc. It is only your brain that makes it sound magic saying “there is no spoon” ;)

      • Haitham

        This word also means ordained. Meaning that something has been written/destined by God along time ago. 

  • Daniel

    “Saudade”, more less equivalent to “I miss you”, like the auhor said it’s this feeling for someone or something that you really miss or lost – like some love or someone, some remembrance (childhood for example), etc.

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  • tapioca

    duende no significa eso, I dont believe anyting on this thing

    • http://mdphotoart.com Miguel Dominguez

      In Cuban Spanish, duende is a long unused (one only reads it in books) word meaning a ghost.

      • Andrés

        As always, people translating incorrectly. Duende is elf, And no it is not long unused, not in Latin América or anywhere else.

        • chi

          In the Philippines which was colonized by the Spanish, duende is known as duwende which means elf :)

    • http://www.povertycurtain.blogspot.com Matt Davies

      According to the Spanish poet, García Lorca, duende is: “un poder y no un obrar, es un luchar y no un pensar. Yo he oído decir a un viejo maestro guitarrista: «El duende no está en la garganta; el duende sube por dentro desde la planta de los pies». Es decir, no es cuestión de facultad, sino de verdadero estilo vivo; es decir, de sangre; es decir, de viejísima cultura, de creación en acto.”

      Rough translation:
      Duende is “a power, not a piece of work, a struggle and not a thought. I have heard an old master guitarrist say: “Duende is not in the throat; duende comes from the soels of your feet.” That’s to say, it’s not a question of faculty but a true, living style; that’s to say, from blood; that’s to say, from an ancient culture, from creation as it happens.”

      • Sof

        Duende means “Espíritu fantástico del que se dice que habita en algunas casas y que travesea, causando en ellas trastorno y estruendo. Aparece con figura de viejo o de niño en las narraciones tradicionales..” –> Fantastical spirit which is said to be living in some houses creating mess and noises. It manifests as an old man or a child
        in the traditional narratives.

        From the Real Academia Española online dictionary.

  • Ryan

    I LOVE number 2, 5, and 15.

    #10, however has an African English equivalent. It’s called “flashing.” You flash a friend so that they call you back. In the US, we just don’t have a word for it, because our cell plans are set up that both people pay for the call, rather than just the caller (unlike a lot of the rest of the world).

  • kilgore

    The term for calling someone then hanging up so you call back has a direct English equivalent. At least in the UK it does, its called “drop-calling”.

    • http://theaudioverses.tumblr.com Kevin Brayne

      I’ve not heard of that phrase personally (I’m from Liverpool, UK), here we call it ‘one-belling’ somebody, meaning just wait for one dial tone to know it’s registered as a call, and then hang up without cost and their missed call to return.

      One word I’ve noticed another language has similarities but nothing quite the same is ‘Jouissance’.

      • Ujjal

        In India, it is called “giving a missed call”. Sometimes one gives a “missed call” to let the person being called know that everything is fine (he has reached safely or whatever) without spending on the call and not expecting the call to be returned. On other occasions it is a request to call back.

    • Matt

      Seconded!

  • nagato04

    In Croatian we have equivalent for the Czech word ‘pozvonit’ – it’s ‘cimnuti’. But it’s used only in informal speech, and it also has some other meanings.

  • Gurrier

    “Ladhar”, pronounced “lyre”, is an Irish word meaning the piece of land in the fork of a road, or where two rivers meet. It also means the space between two fingers or toes, the bit of webbing there.

  • http://easynorwegian.blogspot.com/ Even

    Eyy, Hyggelig is a Norwegian word too n_n

    • Lars

      It’s a Dutch word too: Gezellig. Means the same thing :D

  • ritchie

    ‘egal’ in German means ‘indifferent’, but it’s most often used by itself in everyday speech as shorthand for ‘I’m happy either way’. while it’s ‘translatable’, it’s used very commonly and is a very useful & efficient linguistic tool. in a heated moment, it can be used with intonation to very effectively say ‘I really don’t give a ….’.

    also, I wish we had an English equivalent to ‘gemütlich’, an adjective used to describe the intimacy, comfort, sense of goodwill or even ‘warm fuzziness’ of a situation, physical space, gathering of people, dinner party etc- even a marketplace can be gemütlich. we really don’t have a word that captures that sense as well as ours.

    • Lars

      Again: It literally translate in to Dutch: ‘Gezelligheid’ (also in Norwegian and Danish)

  • Miriam

    Here in South Africa we have a word: Ubunto. It relates to the concept of “I am, because we are.” The feeling of interdependence, of shared destiny.

    I am Portuguese and I’m so happy that you included Saudades! Also, in Dutch, Hyggelig, is Gezellig, which roughly translates as “Cozy” or a nice warm, wonderful with friends and family, experience. (my husband is dutch)

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  • http://mdphotoart.com Miguel Dominguez

    Prozvonit-
    In Spanish the verb “tocar” means not only to touch, but also to play music.
    “Dar un toque” in this case literally means to give a ring (as in phone ring)

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  • Francisco Galecio

    there’s one, I use a lot: “ojalá”. It is translated literally as “hopefully” but there’s much more into it… It’s the desire of something to happen, given that an invincible force wanted to. (the word comes from the arabic “if God wanted to” It is not a noun, not an adjective, it’s just an interjection. ojalá I made the true meaning of the word be understood!

    • Meggan

      i feel like “insh’allah” does this as well — it can run the gamut from “we’ll see” (as in “i think not but i dont want to say so”) to “hopefully” to “dear god please help me make this happen” — it applies so often, unfortunately i know hardly anyone back in the usa who gets it.

      • http://www.povertycurtain.blogspot.com Matt Davies

        I think ojalá derives from insh’allah.

        For a great musical use of the word ojalá, listen to the Cuban Silvio Rodríguez song of the same title (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u80ocuvZxmY)

  • mahasti

    Tarof in the persian language is used when you are denying yourself to please the other.

  • http://www.heart-shapedworld.com Jeremy Rogers

    My favourite is ‘oeillades’, a French word that can be translated as ‘winks’ or ‘flirty glances’ but is better defined as ‘the secret looks exchanged by lovers’.

  • Henning

    The direct translation of “schadenfreude” into norwegian is “skadefryd”, a widely used term that means exactly the same.

    • RaLT

      In Lithuanian there is “piktdžiuga” (`pik-joo-gha) which means the same as well. It ‘decodes’ as spite/viciousness + cheeriness/rejoicing. For English meaning i would constructruct it as ~”malejoy”, not sure you’de be actually able to use it though.

    • Nynke

      In Dutch we use ‘leedvermaak’. My mothertongue is Frisian (from the North of the Netherlands). I recently stumbled upon ‘waldzje’ (long a in that and sort of skip the l when you say it). It is the way you walk in a pair of oversized rubber boots.

  • Helen

    The direct translation of the Turkish word “kara sevda” is “black love” – it means being lovesick but I think it´s beautiful and there is a different perspective to it… :-)

  • Dave T

    Welsh “hiraeth” – it can mean longing, homesickness, nostalgia, wistfulness – often a sort of unfocussed desire or feeling that something is lost or missing. Also has a beautiful sound, like most Welsh words.

  • alexandra

    Weltschmerz doesn’t have a t. yes, I like that word, too. it is also used a bit ironically, someone suffering from “weltschmerz, it’s, oh, so deep…There’s also Zeitgeist, which the English seem to ahve pinched from the Germans. the spirit of the Age we live in.Something like that. I don’t think it exists elsewhere, except, as I say, they have pinched it. But that’s it, language wanders, isn’t it.

    So I’m kind of thinking…untranslatable…into what ?

    Sasha

    • tom dissonance

      “Weltschmerz doesn’t have a t” except for the ‘t’ in fourth position, presumably.

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  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mamihlapinatapai Tomás

    You should check the word Mamihlapinatapai. It refers, in a dialect from Argentinian Patagonia, to “a look shared by two people, each wishing that the other would initiate something that they both desire but which neither wants to [initiate].”

    Don´t know why they needed to create that word. But it’s quite something.

  • http://melikeysomunch.blogspot.com portii

    Duende is translated as leprechaun in english… stupid

  • Gabriel

    I really enjoy untranslatable words and have seen many lists of them but what I liked in particularly about this list is your comparison about understanding the words and eating a good steak. I like it because I couldn’t before understand why I enjoyed the lists so much and now I do.

  • Barbara

    So glad to see the word saudade. I had planned to suggest it if it weren´t included.

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  • Phillip Wayne

    My favorite untranslatable has to be from the Spanish poet Unamuno. “El hombre se es”.

    Translators, a word: buena suerte.

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  • http://weneedus.tumblr.com/ Graycard

    Here’s one, from Iñupiaq (a fading dialect of Inuit):

    Qarrtsiluni

    “Sitting together in the darkness, waiting for something to burst.”

    I regret I can’t cite a source for this.

  • Beth

    Prozvonit would be the same as “pinchar” in Chile.

  • http://www.ananaddoush.wordpress.com Naddoush

    Schadenfreude has an equivalent in Danish = Skadefro! Exact same meaning!

  • Erik

    I went back some pages and didn’t see these:

    Mono no Aware – “The bittersweet-ness of things” Where as Aware is often translated as, ‘pathos,’ but has a much more darker feel to it.

    Mottainai – “The Regret of Waste” A phrase, just simply implying the regret of spending your efforts just to see them go to waste, roughly equivalent to, “Pearls before swine.”

    Mushin – “No mind” i.e. ” a mind not fixed or occupied by thought or emotion and thus open to everything.”

    Selah – “Stop and Listen,” is a hebrew phrase used a lot to simply mean to think about one’s actions and what’s around them.

    Ñaupa – “Ancient,” [Spanish from Quechua] but that doesn’t do it justice, it has a very specific feel to it, a very, ‘pan’s labyrinth’ feel to it. Almost as in the intrinsic beauty and oldness of nature. (Used almost exclusively in the phrase, ‘del año de ñaupa.’

    Many will disagree but I really think, ‘habib’ from Arabic fits in here, because it details, from what I’ve been told, a very specific type of love, that is very different than many western and far eastern interpretations.

    and of course, the famous Om – meaning roughly, the entirety of everything and all forever and always.

  • FilipinoGuy

    In Tagalog (or Filipino), a curious word commonly used in common speak is “gigil” (pronounced “GEE-gil”), which is basically that uncontrollable urge to pinch something a person finds adorable or cute. It’s what you call that “UGH I WANT TO PINCH YOU YOU’RE SO CUTE” feeling you get when seeing a baby, or a plush toy or whatever.

    Curiously though, it can also be used to describe the feeling of having to contain one’s anger, or some other passionate, powerful emotion waiting to explode from inside of you (like sexual tension).

  • Translation

    Well there is a exact translation of Dépaysement to german. Its called “Heimweh” or opposite “Fernweh” (If you feel like you should travel soon.)

    • zy

      Awesome, as mentioned before the dutch (my language) equivalent for this would be “heimwee” (which I believe is a beautiful word), but I’ve never heard of somthing like “fernweh” (which could maybe be something like “verwee” but that doesn’t sound right. We don’t actually use the stem “heim-” anymore to mean anything resembling home except for the in heimwee, I guess that makes it special as well and shows the connection between languages

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  • me

    The Spanish “Duende” means gnome. The supposed translation is totally wrong, unless it was taken as a metaphor.

  • Elena

    Actually the German word Schadenfreude exists in the Finnish language too!

  • Elena

    Okay so looking at the other comments, this list seems to be totally incorrect..

  • maarten

    Dutch has actually translations for a couple of these words:

    11. Schadenfreude – is “Leedvermaak”
    16. Hyggelig – is “Gezellig”
    14. Dépaysement – is “Heimwee”

    but theres probably more that I can’t think of right now

    • Ehlyah

      Heimwee is a desire to return to your home. That’s not necessarily the same as wanting to go back to your home country (especially as heimwee can occur while in the very same country).

    • LoreleiHH

      LOVE ‘gezellig’ – but you have to say the g’s with the gutteral – one of those words whose sound does not communicate its meaning!  But a fabulous word!

    • kirstana

      I don’t think gezellig really has exactly the same meaning as hyggelig. Hyggelig you can also be alon. your bed kan be hyggelig, or a fire. 

      • Ben

        I think it has the same meaning.
        In Dutch you can say: “Gezellig zat ik daar met een goed boek aan het vuurtje.”
        This is an alone action of one person: “I sat ‘hyggelig’ by the fire with a good book.”

        Dutch is a very rich and beautiful language with little nuances (the second hardest language in the world, so I’ve heard) of which I have the privilege of having learned it as my mother tongue. (:

        • http://aquap.myopenid.com/ Peter

          I disagree – Dutch and Danish languages are closely related, cultures rather similar too. But “hyggelig” tends to be used in rather different contexts – I enjoy “hyggelig” situations, but find “gezellig” situations nice but more boring ;-)

      • kip

        gezellig can mean exactly that, actually it sounds rather the same – i think they are related somehow.

        • Stine

          They probably are,  gezellig reminds me of the Norwegian, and probably Danish, word “koselig”. Then again, that word is related to the English word “cosy”.   Hyggelig is an adjective that you can use about people or situations, unlike “cosy”.  Is gezellig similar to the English word cosy?

          • nevermind

            Yes and no. You can have a cosy/gezellig home. But you can also have a gezellige time with your friends. Cosy does not apply here.

            People can be gezellig, an experience or environment can be gezellig.

            Hyggelig reminded me of the Dutch woord behagelijk. Which is also close to cosy, but also to comfortable, it’s the feeling of nestling, having a “warm blanket” around you.

    • Anna

      Heimwee would be “mal du pays” in french, dépaysement is not so much missing home more like feeling lost but in a good way in another country/culture.

    • Rando

      Also, heimwee is more just homesickness. I’m not sure if the French word dépaysement is used outside of the reference of longing for one’s home country.

      With heimwee, you can have heimwee on a camping trip, despite being within the Netherlands.

    • yoplait

      no dépaysement is not Heimwee (homesick in Englisch)

      Heimwee would be “mal du pays”, as in “J’ai le mal du pays” (a bit old)

  • Wangocopperboom

    Dépaysement I assume to be displacement…which you would also feel away from your home country. Nice words, but most are translatable.

    • Claire

      Actually it’s rather different; the explanation in the list is a poor one. You can feel dépaysé without being away from your home country. It’s a sense of being away from what grounds you, but not always necessarily in a negative sense – it can almost mean ‘transported’, sometimes, in the sense of an experience that really takes you out of your comfort zone and might leave you feeling a bit like a fish out of water, but might alternatively – or even kinda simultaneously – be a bit of a breath of fresh air. It might meen disorientated, or you might enjoy the newness of the experience, whether it’s a metaphorical or a physical displacement.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_HALGYCUPTCCR5KOEW3VX5Z7M5I Susan K

     I’d add “shindoi” which means “tired, body and soul” more or less. It’s Japanese.

  • Ryterga

     13- optimism
    14- homesick
    15- mooching

  • Stryker

    What about “Sisu” from Finland? It’s a uniquely Finnish, gritty, fierce survivalist mentality and basically just being a fucking badass.

    • ems

      My family is Finnish and I have a Sisu tattoo.  We usually explain to people that it means “I have guts.” 

    • jc

      Fridtjof Nansen. That is all.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fridtjof_Nansen

    • Aleks

      Nothing described in that sentence is uniquely Finnish. And, it is translatable, it’s self-sufficiency.

  • Slund

    Gezellig and hyggelig are not entirely the same.
    schadenfreude in german translates into skadefro in danish and means the same. 

  • Brian Melican

    Like the article a lot, but must disagree that “prozvonit” is untranslatable. London English certainly has “to drop-call” for the credit-saving cheap-ass habit of letting the phone ring and then ‘dropping’ the call immediately. It’s certainly pronounced as one word.

    • Claire

      I’m from London and I’d say ‘prank’ instead of ‘drop-call’. As in, ‘if you haven’t got free minutes, prank me and I’ll call you back’, or ‘prank me so I get your number’.

    • A.H. Gillett

      I’ve always known it as a ‘Scots ring’. Possibly a bit rude to use in public.

  • Heidii

    zeitgeist – i know english has a translation, but zeitgeist sounds better.

  • Boringadress

    We have a word for Prozvonit in Chilean Vernacular: Pinchar (To Pinch)

  • Neteb_vampire

    One thing:

    14. DépaysementFrench – The feeling that comes from not being in one’s home country.In Galician (Northwest of Spain) there’s a word which means exactly the same: “morriña”. Sorry for the French but nº14 should be vacant.  

  • http://www.facebook.com/clebersantz Cleber Santz

    “Saudade” is sometimes translated as “I miss you”.

  • Ehlyah

    Will have to disagree about “dépaysement”. Welsh has something that means much the same: hiraeth. A homesickness for Wales.

  • tom dissonance

    “Prozvonit” is pretty easily rendered into English as “one-ring” or “one-ringer”, noun or verb. e.g. “I gave him a one-ringer before, but he hasn’t answered yet” or “She one-ringed me because she was low on credit”.

  • http://charvinsoft.blogspot.com Anand Charvin

    Can anyone tell me the  meaning of “CHARVIN” in any language? It will be great if anyone could help me to find it..

  • Laelia

    Number 9. In Romania we have the sintagm “a da un beep/bip”, or the verb “a bipui” with the same meaning.

    Also, no1. we have a correspondent, “dor”

  • Kma9980

    ‘Jeong’  in Korean… I even cannot explain.

  • Eli Sadoff

    Davka in hebrew is untranslatable.

  • Nicki

    How about the Dutch word ‘gezellig’. I have never heard of any language that has a proper translation for it. It means a really nice atmosphere that is achieved by being in the company of nice people and having nice conversations or it can also say something about the way your house is decorated. When used in the latter context it means your house is homely.

  • Nicki

    How about the German expression ‘Figerspitzengefuhl’.  It means you have a special knack for something.

  • Taco

    Schadenfreude, translated into English, could be Sadistic. Sadistic people get pleasure from the misery/misfortune of others. So that one does have an English word.

    • Allyssumdays

      Sadistic describes the person feeling this, though. “That’s a sadistic person,” right? I think Schadenfreude is more to describe the actual feeling/thought process through which a person goes.

  • Joeri

    Hyggelig in Danish would translate in ‘gezellig’ in Dutch. 

  • Ida

    Prozvonit translates into Croatian slang as “cimnuti”.

  • kirstana

    Better, than Hyggelig, would be the verb, “at hygge sig” (to hygge oneselv) it’s a verb literally meaning, doing the act. So “at hygge sig” means: to sit with friends at a cosy fireplace with a cold beer ;) or anything else, seen as very cosy, comfortable and nice action.  

  • http://www.facebook.com/samuel.d.taylor Samuel Taylor

    Fika – from Sweden – it’s a sort of short break  you take with friends and drink coffee. Fike refers to both the coffee and the break at the same time. I guess it’s similar to ‘Smoko’ in english/australian slang, referring to a cigarette break.

    • Brian Melican

      Yes, and while we’re talking of Swedish and coffee breaks, they also have the word “kaffésugen”, which means “really thirsty for a coffee”. As far as I know, the “-sugen” can also be transferred to other beverages. In English, you certainly need a few words to express a thrist for a certain drink – e.g. “I’m dying for a cup of tea” or “I could murder a beer” (both BE, I assume).

  • Merovinqian

    It’s “Lítost” not Litost

  • Jenna

    Weltschmerz-German

    Pokka-Finnish

  • Steve

    Inuit isn’t a language… Inuktitut, Yupiq and a bunch of other languages are spoken by Inuit, but there isn’t one Inuit language…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1469072578 Kent Boyer

    Jason – totally stumbled upon this post – <3.  :)

  • Wantse L

    Actually, English speakers in southeast Asia use “misscall” the same way as Prozvonit.

  • Luiza

    Yay! I’m brazilian, so I can totally understand how English lacks the word “cafuné”! When I wanna translate it, I never know quite how to! But when I see all those other awesome words, I wanna speak all the languages in the world…or have them in Portuguese so people can use them!

  • Mike

    In Nigerian English “prozvonit” is called “flashing.” Poor youth in a country where all phones are prepaid who  have only a few seconds of credit left call their friends phone and hang up before it is answered. After they have “flashed” them, they expect the friend will call back and pay for the call. If their friend answers to quickly they have “cut my credit.” If someone has flashed you several times in a row and you don’t want to talk to them you can cut their credit and they will no longer be able to flash you.

  • Yahspher

    there is one more word but its a name that cannot be translated and that ” YAHWEH”….
    its the name of the creator that He told the Hebrews to remember for generation upon generation for all generations….tel-aviv, Israel did an archaeological dig thru solomon’s temple and found items that have YHWH on them the 4 letter tetragramaton-meaning that it cannot be translated into any other language….for more info please look up…

    http://www.yahweh.com for the truth will set you free from this pagan elohim worshipping world for HE calls u out at this time from this world and to be part of his family.

  • Clara

    Swedish-Lagom it’s almost like enough but not really.

  • Emrich

    Good collection, but how come you missed the English word “SUPERCALIFLAGELISTICEXPIALIDOCIOUS”

  • http://www.nipponthebus.com MrSands

    Schadenfreude is English too, isn’t it?

  • Trust Christ

    “chi ku” (吃苦) in Chinese literally translates into “eat bitterness”.

     It actually means the ability of persons to endure hardship without becoming embittered.

     ”Preserving your good cheer even under the most adverse circumstances” would be a good description of this Chinese term.

    The lack of a corresponding term in Western languages reflects the absence of such a virtue in occidental civilizations.

    • 00000

      I wouldn’t say it’s absent, just hard to understand. I feel that way sometimes.

  • Viscerotika

    There is an English equivalent for schadenfreude. Epicaricacy.

  • Hungarian

    Hungarian has these phrases 
    1. Schadenfreude -> káröröm
    2. Torschlusspanik -> kapuzárási pánik
    3. Dépaysement -> honvágy

    They might be translations but they are commonly used.

    Let me contribute some untranslatable Hungarian phrases:
    honfibú ->  Patriotic melancholy. It usually involves some apathy and resentment. These days it’s often said with ironic or sarcastic undertones because of the collective self-pitying element it evokes.

    sírva vigad – Lit. “having a good fun/a good time (among friends)… while  crying”.   It’s a kind of an emotional state which can be related to the above.

    talpraesett – Lit. “fallen on their feet” – when somebody has the wits and finds his ways to manage no matter what

    testvér / Lit. “body-blood”:  brother or sister. However it can refer to spiritual relation, too, i.e.  brotherhood or sistership.  “testvér”  is completely gender-neutral.  “testvériesen” means “in good faith, justly, with no selfishness”

  • ErynnSilver

    Prozvonit is a “drop-call” O.o

  • vietgirl

    “Nhõng nhẽo” – Vietnamese for “To behave like a brat, but in a cute way, towards your parents, older brother, sister or loved one, to get what you want, because you know they love you and will indulge you.”

  • Christina Grey

    Inuktitut us probably one of the most complex languages in the world.. being a fluent Inuktitut and English speaker, there’s a lot of words that just cant be translated.. 

    My favourite example being the word “Ilirasuk”

    It means to have a respectful sense of fear towards an authority figure or someone you did wrong to.. examples, i would be ilirasuk of my mother, my boss at work, or if i crashed someone’s car, i would be ilirasuk of the owner of the car.. 

  • Plantevl

    taroof… iranian.

  • Final Deadline

    Guys, do you really think “dépaysement” refers directly to homesickness? Because every language I can think of has a translation for that, including English.

  • Anne Jerome

     
     “Tao” from Taoism, a simple but complex word that suggests an infinite unknowable essence and intelligence that is everywhere but is seen nowhere.  John Wong  

  • Anne jerome

     
     “Tao” from Taoism, a simple but complex word that suggests an infinite unknowable essence and intelligence that is everywhere but is seen nowhere.  John Wong  

  • indy

    I can think of some more words:
    Onoroke is a great  one in Japanese, and it is used to pejoratively denote a man who is proud and boastful of his wife.

    Dharma in Sanskrit has been continuously mistranslated ever since the west heard that term. It roughly denotes an ethical code, and can be suffixed to an individual or group. When suffixed to the word “Sanaatan” (or eternal), it denotes the eternal code of ethics that has been found to resonate with people across cultures and religions and usually forms a subset of our larger individual ethical codes.

  • strawberryjoy

    Actually the japanese one is no longer untranslatable into english, since the “tiger mom” book came out. You can’t really call the english version cumbersome when it precisely the same and uses fewer syllables…

  • Helen Vandeman

    The Italians have a new word: “mamone” – a man who still lives w/his mother, a common Italian experience.

  • talulah

    this page assume that when it is not translatable into English therefore it cannot exist in any other nu. 11 exist in danish ‘skadefro’ and I have a good feeling that Norwegian and swedish have that word too. However, it is correct that most words of significance has a cultural meaning to them that do not translate merely by finding the equivalent in another language. However, in the case of nu 11, is is fully translatable, just not into english..   

  • http://www.hipparis.com Erica

    Great post thank you! My favorite French expression is: “n’importe quoi’ there is kind of no way to  translate it in any other language that I know. It means if someone says something completely ridiculous or silly and you want to comment that what they said is ridiculous, silly, outlandish or out of control… you would say: ‘n’importe quoi!’

  • Manila1

    #9 Prozvonit – In the Philippines we call it “miss-call,” as if it were a verb. For instance, “I will miss-call you so that you’d know that I’m already at the lobby.”

  • Bob in Burnt Store Marina

    Try: 

    schlimmbesserung
     
    German for “An Improvement that Made Things Worse!”

    • Dmffog

      Actually, that’s “Verschlimmbesserung”. There’s also “Schadenfreude”, happiness or glee at someone else’s unhappiness or bad luck.

  • Barkebille

    Just because the expressions aren´t translated to English doesn´t mean they don´t exist in any other languages. When stating for number 1 that “somehow other languages neglected to recognize” that´s BS.
    In norwegian:
    Schadenfreude = Skadefryd
    Hyggelig = hyggelig (but danish and norwegian is in general very similar languages)

  • Pats_mara

    κέφι (kephi or kefi)
    Φιλότιμο (philotimo)
    GREEK WORDS

  • Jkennery64

    l’espirit de l’escalier= french. When ones ponders what they should have said in a previous conversation.

    • bingbangboom

      better than that is Trepverter- Yiddish
      used by Saul Bellow in Herzog

      • guest

        German – Treppenwitz

        • Maxbest

          not excactly the same as l’esprit de l’escalier, which is much much more powerful. 

          • Qovie

            “Hyggelig” _ This is just Danish propaganda..because the danes are rarely nice to anyone even their friends they gave it a special name any time you meet up with friends and are nice to them.

            “Hyggelig”-This is just Danish propaganda because danes are actually rarely nice to anyone even their “friends” they gave it a special name any time you meet up with friens and are nice to them. preferably under the influence of alcohol since this is not normal for danes.

            To Normal people else where in the wolrd..hyggelig..is just ordinary expected human behavior which is so rare in denmark..being nice to people when you have an event/meeting”.. it has to have “a special name”, in this self centered small socialist country they think its something only danes are capable off.

            Source: I am Danish. Lived there so many f..ng depressing years.

    • Lewsor

      Hinesite?

      • Powdercake

        Hind sight*

        • nietzsche

           Hindsight*

      • Muriel Coudurier-Curveur

         Not exactly. It isn’t necessarily something that would have changed  the outcome. It’s when the perfect answer or action  comes to mind out of the blue when it is no longer fitting to say or do it. 

        • http://twitter.com/chahansan chuck k.

          well it is a figurative phrase coined by diderot (according to wikipedia) things like that are always so beautiful though

        • eBunny

          I have that all the time.

      • Jdelillegomory

        Hindsight,please. But esprit d’escallier is slightly different. Sort of: one thing leads to another….

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_EYOOV4G4NWE3DFFO5ZFW4DQE7Y Woo Hoo

      that’s not a word. that’s a phrase.

    • Steve

      Exactly. It’s the very statement which would have clinched the argument. Settled the matter, cleared things up or put the other person in their place. Not just *hindsight* which implies you’ve had time to reflect. *avec du recul*

      • Steve

        Esprit de l’escalier is what you think of saying frustratingly as soon as it’s too late – or  literally, “on the staircase” immediately after having exited the place.

  • DogPatchZeroSix

    English hit 1 million words last year.  250,000 English words is required for mastery of the language.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_AGLMBRWJTGDUN54AYZT3DPXRSY Jodie Kane

    “There are at least 250,000 words in the English language. However, to think that English – or any language – could hold enough expression to convey the entirety of the human experience is as arrogant of an assumption as it is naive.”

    Amen to that. English is my first and, I’m sorry to say, my only language, so I’m biased, but I think it’s wonderfully expressive and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. But that doesn’t mean that other languages don’t have their own means of expression or that they have to express it in the same way that English would.

    Take this:

    “Tender, fragrant grass. How hard-hearted to trample.”

    That’s a sign from China, telling people to keep off the grass. The words might be in English but that’s definitely a Chinese way of phrasing the message.  It’s not the way that professional translation agencies would phrase it, it’s not the way a native English speaker would phrase it but the meaning still comes across. I’ve seen people moaning about it, saying that it’s disrespectful towards the English language but I’m not buying that. Apart from anything, I think it’s downright disrespecful of the English to assume that everyone will speak their language. Learning hello, goodbye, please and thank you and little things like that isn’t beyond anyone’s capability.

    • Lernor Findlay

      Agreeeee

  • Lernor Findlay

    A very insightful and soulful perspective  on words with  ’soul’ – Reminds me of the Jamaican word ‘irie’ often used to describe  situations, one’s state of being (‘ me irie’) or behaviour(s) etc.which in essence describes a heightened state of existence that perhaps transcends words.
    I believe it was first used by rastafarians who often prefixed some words with the letter ‘I’ possibly to emphasise the I-ness; thus I-rie could be a heightened state of the I.

  • Israel

    Dear Jason: As to “Schadenfreude” the [supposedly] untranslatable German word – the concept/idea has been mentioned/written in Hebrew sources looooong before it ever appeared in German. In Hebrew it is made of 2 words “Simcha LeEid” (happiness at misfortune, literally) & the wise men of the 2nd Temple period already warned people AGAINST such a sentiment…

    It DOES “translate” rather easily, in fact & it may not be a surprise if it “turned-up”, as a German “combination of words”, when the Bible was [finally] translated into German…
    Just thought you may care to know. :)
    Israel in Jerusalem

  • Salil Joshi

    “L’appel du vide”  can’t exactly be called a word, can it be? It does not fit in the article.

  • Zulemazallen

    We have a name for number 9 in Jamaica. It’s called a “ghetto page”. lol

  • Todd Libasci

    No Yiddish?

  • Garneau

    Does anyone have any insight into the Turkish word hüzün? 
    Orhan Pamuk writes quite a bit on it in “Istanbul: Memories & the City”, as the idea of a communal melancholy shared by a group of people.

  • Wim

    Schadenfreude is also used in the Dutch language which is ‘leedvermaak’
    Duende is indeed used in Spanish but more often in flamenco as to desribe a sense
    of ‘soul’ or heart in the music, a ‘moment’…….this is more commonly used then the description in the article.

  • Fulana

    Posting from Mexico here, so we may have a case of Our Spanish Is Different. 

    Tocayo (m.) / Tocaya (f.) is someone who shares the first name as another, though neither one needed to be “named after” the other.   It is generally a nice thing to meet a Tocay@, and has in  one time helped to save a life of someone I know. 

  • James

    I like this one from Serbian:

    Inat = To argue about, or take objection to something, simply for the pleasure of being at odds with someone else.

    • Snjezana

      I believe ‘obstinacy’ would be a decent translation.

  • Cristian Carlsson

    I believe the list lacks the Swedish word “Lagom”. It is when something is just about enough, just right, right where it should be, not too much or too little. A good answer to the question “How much money do you make?”, if you don’t want to brag, or don’t want someone to think you’re poor, you just say “Lagom.” It’s just something you’re fine with, nothing more, nothing less.

  • joe

    french : Dépaysement has a simple meaning in english : homesick ! so it is translatable !!

  • Solo

    Filipino –> Maaliwalas

  • Sputt

    In The King’s English 2nd ed. 1908, they mention the word “schadenfreude ” in the context that it has proper English substitutes and that there’s no reason to use it in the English language.

    “To say Schadenfreude for malicious pleasure is
    pretension and nothing else. The substitutes we have offered are not
    insisted upon; they may be wrong, or not the best; but English can be
    found for all these.”

    source: http://www.bartleby.com/116/105.html

  • Leandro

    Buksvåger – a swedish word, lit. translated into “bowel in-law”, meaning a person who, atleast once, has had sex with a person which you youself also atleast once has had sex with.

  • Alfie090

    I got $31.68 for a XBOX 360 and my mom got a 17 inch Dell laptop for $95.84 being delivered to our house tomorrow by FedEX. I will never again pay expensive retail prices at stores. I even sold a 46 inch HDTV to my boss for $650 and it only cost me $53.79 to get. Here is the website we are using to get all this stuff GrabPenny.com

  • Stiffo90+trash

     Schadefreude = skadeglädje in Swedish, I also believe it exists in danish and norwegian.
    Hyggelig = Hygglig in Swedish.

  • Tica

    I’m sure the following word in Spanish isn’t well known: CHINEAR

    It’s a word used in Costa Rica that can be a verb or an adjective and it refers to the act of giving tenderness to someone or being a person that loves to be cared for (chineado).

    I’m not really sure of the origin of the word, but I heard it has to do with a tradition in the late 1800s and early 1900s to have Chinese nanny’s for the children (hence CHINear). I still haven’t found 1 specific word in another language that expreses what chinear really is.

  • http://twitter.com/dungodung Filip Maljkovic

    #9 has an equivalent in Serbian – cimnuti. :)

  • http://prussan.soup.io Prussan

    “The call of the void”  – That’s so poetic. Douglas Adams once said something very similar…

    “I’ve heard an idea proposed… to account for
    the sensation of vertigo. It’s an idea that I instinctively like and it
    goes like this. The dizzy sensation we experience when standing in high
    places is not simply a fear of falling. It’s often the case that the
    only thing likely to make us fall is the actual dizziness itself, so it
    is, at best, an extremely irrational, even self-fulfilling fear.
    However, in the distant past of our evolutionary journey toward our
    current state, we lived in trees. We leapt from tree to tree. There are
    even those who speculate that we may have something birdlike in our
    ancestral line. In which case, there may be some part of our mind
    that, when confronted with a void, expects to be able to leap out into
    it and even urges us to do so. So what you end up with is a conflict
    between a primitive, atavistic part of your mind which is saying
    “Jump!” and the more modern, rational part of your mind which is saying,
    “For Christ’s sake, don’t!” In fact, vertigo is explained by some not as the fear of falling, but as the temptation to jump!”

  • Taso

    Schadenfreude = gloat

  • Callie

    For #16, what about camaraderie?

  • http://twitter.com/ciaourte Urte

    pakmiela – Lithuanian slang, derived from Russian, meaning “the drink that you drink the morning after a night of drinking,” specifically with the intent of curing a hangover. Sort of like “hair of the dog that bit you,” but in one word.

  • Silvia

    I would like to say that the Brasilian Portuguese word “saudades” could be translated to the Spanish word “nostalgia” 

    • Dally

       ”Saudade” is not Brazilian-Portuguese, it´s a Portuguese word. And it´s more than “nostalgia”, it´s really not translatable.

  • K. Grey

    Fantastic article. The thoughts about building foreign language reflexes to connotations: invaluable information to both possess and propagate. 

  • Ajkdkk

    Dépaysement sounds like, “homesick”, imo. 

  • http://rodolfogrimaldi.com/ Daniel Mihai Popescu

    Very accurate. “Dor” in Romanian is also untranslatable, :), meaning something like “miss” or “missing” but the sense is much deeper. Anyway, I like a lot the post, :)

  • yoplait

    Dépaysement is used with two meanings:
    - change of surroundings (by the way there is also “changer d’air”, litterally “change the air”, that has a similar meaning)
    -the situation of finding yourself in an unfamiliar environment/place and feeling a bit lost because it is new to you.

    Most often, it is used as an adjective, in sentences such as  “J’espère que tu ne te sens pas trop dépaysé” or “Au moins tu n’es pas trop dépaysée!” The latter can be ironic when it means “there are negative things here that can remind you of your hometown so at least you can feel at home”. For example, you pick an Indian friend up from the airport and a few minutes later you find yourselves stuck in a horrible traffic jam. Then you can smile and say this, like “at least it feels a bit like home to you”.

    The Larousse dictionary says
    Dépayser (verb):
    1.

    [changer de cadre]
      to give a change of scenery ou
    surroundings to

     laissez-vous dépayser
      treat yourself to a change of scene ou
    scenery

    2.

    [désorienter]
      to disorientate

     se sentir dépaysé
      to feel like a stranger

     on fait tout pour que le touriste ne soit pas dépaysé
      we do everything possible to make the tourist feel at home

  • Liam Richardson

    Wait, so if these are all untranslatable, how come you have the translations for each one? Seems to me most of these are very translatable, though some are a little more abstract which makes it harder.

  • Jem

     9. Prozvonit would translate as Prank here in SE England

    • Miss_rathbone

      Hmm, not really, a prank would be to wind someone up.  The word everyone uses in Liverpool is ‘one-bell’.  e.g. Aww, she just one-belled me again, get some credit ya moocher!

    • Jacob

      In Italy it’s called “Fare uno squillo.” 

    • http://twitter.com/aeryxz Eric H. Song

      same in Australia

    • Blunicorn

       in German it’s “anklingeln”, made of “ringing” and a prefix that initiates the very start of an action.

  • Jojo

    that guy is skimboarding in the top picture..  not body boarding. Awesome post though!!

    http://fineartamerica.com/featured/skimboarding-at-sunset-quincy-dein.html

  • Bob

    11. Schadenfreude

    “Skadefryd” in Norwegian…

  • Angelique

    Where is the dutch “Gezellig”, it’s something we say for when there’s a pleasant atmosphere, or when you’re having a good time, but there isn’t a really great translation available. 

  • Mo

    I think you’re trying to really stretch it here. I’ve just glanced at a couple and already found some that words in English can describe.

    11) Sadism
    14)Homesickness (Based on your short description)

  • keddo

    that’s good to know…

  • that girl

    How about Filipino concepts such as Tampo and Paglalambing? 

  • Flumlove

    How about the swedish ‘Fika’ or ‘Lagom’? Fika= the act of having coffee/tea w/ cake, cookie or tart with friends, basically it is more then just taking a coffe with someone… Lagom= not to much, not to little.. basically a middle ground but it can be used with everything..

  • KC

    Prozvonit translates as FLASHING in West Africa.   He flashed me.  I’m about to Flash tom.

  • Varebanos

    Dépaysement in Spanish would be “morriña”

  • Aa

    Hm. Russians uses word prozvonit (Прозовнить) with same meaning as in czech.

  • Kamleshkumardiwan

    adventure chicago  ,nice photos

  • I_martynov

    Schadenfreude – ‘zloradstvo’ in Russian

  • I_martynov

    From Belarusian: ” Adkhukac’ ” – to warm with one’s breath
    ” Ahorac’ ” – to obtain smth through troublesome effort

  • asrb

    9 is to ping someone. that’s not just a Czech practice, they do this almost in any country where most subscribers are on a pay as you go service plan.

  • Sarah

    There’ s a quote in “The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down” that goes as follows: “The Hmong have a phrase, yuav paim quav, which means that the truth will eventually come to light. Literally, it means “feces will be excreted.”  I love that it sounds so beautiful initially, and then you find out what the literal translation is!

  • Chiranjib Mukhopadhyay

    Adda=Bengali. It is a chat  by close friends that lasts hours. similar in function as the siesta  (helps relieve workplace stress if there is an adda in noon). it is the quintessential bengali time-killing activity. 

  • Alan

    Being originally from Wales and having lived in Brazil for the past twenty years, I’ve discovered that the Portuguese ‘saudades’ (it’s normally used in a plural form eg. “Eu tenho saudades de…” , translates perfectly into the Welsh ‘hiraeth’

  • Johhowe

    In the Welsh language there is a wonderful word that means all the vile, nasty and dirty things that can be or are.  The word is Ychyfi (sometimes ych y fe and pronounced uch a vee – the ‘ch’ as in the Scots ‘loch’).

  • Augustinus Sextus

    Zeitgeist anyone?

  • Jack

    Thank you for writing this.  I am enchanted and inspired by this.  I think I might use basically all of these words as springboards for Stories or Poetry.  They are extremely interesting,

  • CW

    Fine list. Schadenfreude is actually an English word though in the same fashion as résumé and aardvark. They are called loanwords and make up over 75% of the English vocabulary. This has to do with Britain’s tendency to be invaded and conquered and later on thanks to globalization. For instance around 30% of English vocabulary is French -derived or adopted- due largely to the Norman conquest and the subsequent inter-involvement with France. Of course the history and composition of the English vocabulary is even more complicated than this brief correction. I only wanted to point out that schadenfreude, while not as widely prevalent as the word sushi, has been in English common usage at a college graduate to masters level-ish education level for some time and its usage only increases in frequency. I suppose the best affirmation of its adoption is the fact that Firefox is not auto-correcting it. Language, all language, is exceedingly fluid, constantly evolving; not just in terms of vocabulary but even in terms of grammar and syntax. Like cultures, languages do not live in isolation.

  • Jmellor13

    That cell-phone thing is the cheapest, grubbiest thing I have ever heard of.  The Czech should also invent a mean name for the kind of person who pulls that nonsense.

    Otherwise, awesome article.

  • Tania Yuki

    gemutlichkeit is my favorite non-translatable word from German. It’s been described to me as the feeling you get when you have everyone who is important to you gathered around a fire, and it’s chilly but you’re warm.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=643877779 Lou Brits

    Onderdeur = Afrikaans (dutch). To duck under one side of an object (like a log or a table), proceed underneath and come up out the other side.

  • http://twitter.com/nlnnet Brian

    The German word “doch” meaning more or less “or yes it IS”

  • Elisa

    Jayus.

  • JEK

    The Danish word Hyggelig must come from the same origin as the Dutch word Gezelig. Exactly the same intranslatable meaning.

  • http://www.facebook.com/odile.kaylor Odile Wolf

    my very favorite is in arabic. “Mektoub”, literally “letter” as in A, B, C.. However when it is used it means “It was written”. There is a fatalistic attitude. You can see an example of “Mektoub” in Lawrence of Arabia, when Lawrence is trying to save the life of a bedouin, only to have him executed a few days later.

  • http://floresblog.me/about Rene Flores

    “Tingo” should be accompanied by an illustration of Homer Simpson and Ned Flanders.

  • Jacob

    What about “lagom” from Swedish? Most closely defined as just the right amount. 

    • Sophie

      Mm, and another Swedish word I don’t know if any language has: “orka”? Often used as “jag orkar inte”, meaning something along the lines of “I can’t be bothered to/I don’t have the energy to/I’m too tired to/I can’t cope”.

      • minä

        At least Finnish has the word “jaksaa” and “(minä) en jaksa” is the same as “jag orkar inte”.

  • Puckrock2000

    “Dépaysement

    French – The feeling that comes from not being in one’s home country.”

    “Homesick”.

  • Pollaqq

    I say “saudade” all the time. I am always feeling “saudades”, from people and from places. Nice post.

  • Profion

    … and the ancient greek word Daimon, the romanian Dor…..

  • Carbajalpedro

    Malevo: This argentinian word comes from the lunfardo, and it refers to a person who has a lot of courage and is capable of the worst and the best attitudes at the same time, but also defines a way to dress, to walk, and to carry a weapon.

  • Daniel Alexander

    Maybe “morbo” in spanish? It is the feeling you get when you yourself have a special interest for something, contrary to what most of those surrounding you feel, and which you cannot explain.
    The best example of it is when you find somebody incredibly attractive but for no apparent or justifiable reason.
    Alternatively it is used to mean just the added interest to an event or occurence, e.g. a football game between two teams with a player in one team who previously played for the other.

  • Helena

    I’m mexican, and the correct spanish traslation for Czech “Prozvonit” would be “pobrellamada”, from the joint of “pobre” (poor) and “llamada” (call). It’s more popular and colloquial. We don’t use “Dar un toque” (“toque” is a word more related to marihuana).
    Also, I don’t know where did the author get the “Duende” definition. I’ve never heard of that.

  • Mccarroll

    does the word essentially mean the same as the word only

  • MeallaAoi

    L’chayim = Hebrew. Used as a toast. Literally, ‘to life!’ But conveys many more elements, especially family, and cameraderie.

  • Haniya Pises

    it is such stupid and silly because i  wrote i need a saying for knowledge  not grades should be the essence of our studies and see what they have written .They are such stupids,crazy,mads and idiots.I am serious,

  • Apokrypha8

    Gezellig? (Dutch) means essentially the same thing as Hyggelig… only one of many  similarities between the Danes and the Dutch, the importance of warmth and friendship.

  • Timwidden

    Prozvonit Czech – This word means to call a mobile phone and let it ring once so that the other person will call back, saving the first caller money……………….. or to ‘one bell’ in English

    • Stancu Mihai

      We call this “Bip” in Romanian as a phonetic representation of the English word “Beep”.

  • Laura

    “Bakushan” in Japanese refers to a person you think is attractive from the behind but when they turn around, they’re ugly. I think that’s awesome. :-)

  • Proseedcake

    “acaronar”, a verb meaning “to pull someone closer in a tender way”, is justly celebrated by speakers of the Catalan language.

  • Exile

    The Arabic word at item 18 is يقبرني ; the second character (from the right) is a Qof; not an ‘ayn, so the transliteration should be something more like yuqbarani or yukbarani, or tuqbarani if talking about a third person female, or taqbarani if second person.  In any case, the root meaning ”to bury is قبر ; the transliteration shown in the article would suggest the root isعبر , which is incorrect, as this has the meaning of to cross (over), breach, broach, etc.

  • http://deliverymusic.net/ Descarga musica mp3

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  • Hrichards_123

    I like the german phrase “Ohrwurm” literally translated it means ear worm but in context it means a sound that is stuck in your head

  • http://twitter.com/OsaFeisty Osa Baz

    In fairness to the English language, poor as it might be, I have found certain idioms that have no equivalent richness in my native Spanish.
    My two personal favorites are:
    1. “cry yourself to sleep”: Only in English is the irony of the situation communicated.  In Spanish, it sounds stupid.
    2. Or to say that someone is “full of shit”:  ”lleno de mierda” means absolutely nothing!

    It is a great article, language is such a beautiful thing.

  • Red

    tsujigiri- the japanese term for testing your newly purchased katana on an innocent passer by

  • Luis Sierra

    Prozvonit in Spanish is also “Repicar”, which is more commonly used and more succinct than “Dar un toque.”, which by the way just sounds awkward. Perhaps that’s how they say it in Spain, but certainly not in America.

  • http://www.facebook.com/eric.garay93 Eric Garay

    FALSE duende = gnome 

  • guest654684684

    number 9; in french: un appel en absent

    • Guest

      “biper” quelqu’un?

  • http://www.facebook.com/alan.eggleston Alan Eggleston

    terroir – French, the importance of place to its essence, especially in the making of wine.

  • asdf;lkj

    in malawian english the equivalent of prozvonit is flashing – you ring once when you want somebody to call you back

  • iPatrickQuinn

    There is a similar phrase used by people in and around Southampton, and likely other areas in the UK, for ringing someone’s phone once to get them to call you back, or to otherwise gain their attention – we call it ‘pranking’ someone, e.g. “I’ll prank you when we’re outside.”

  • rpob1234

    jouissance, french. Comes from joie/joy, but means something deeper – it refers to a painful pleasure, one where you realize that for all the (sexual) pleasure you feel, you will always desire more and will never be fully satisfied.

  • Ladee Dadee

    Schadenfreude can be translated in Dutch as leedvermaak, so not so unique. Same goes for hyggelig which translates as gezellig (which Dutch people will also claim can not be translated at all into any other language…)

  • Vyacksmith

    Aprobechar – Spanish , it means to get the very most out of something :)

  • Yentl van Dillen

    Hyggelig is like the Dutch Gezellig

  • Guest

    Number 9 also has “Squilo” in Italian for this.

  • Perkinator

    your last comment about language being about the essence and appreciation of the texture and taste of the words is so true. It is good to see someone understanding things so well

  • http://www.mezzoguild.com/ Donovan – The Mezzofanti Guild

    There are dozens of untranslatable words in the Hebrew bible.

  • Gabriellala

    This “Jia You” 加油!it literally means add oil 
    it can be translated in korean “aja aja hwaiting” or of the like and “gambatte” in Japanese. But it lacks the exact translation in English. Usually I would just explain as good luck, you can do it! to encourage someone in ups or downs.

  • Julia

    ganas- spanish
    the “want” to do something. eh: tengo ganas de ir a la playa.
    not super intricate but I’ve found that I cant find an exact equivalent in any language.

  • Julia

    Acoplarse- spanish
    hard to describe…. its like making yourself the third wheel by inviting yourself along with people who don’t want you there or didn’t invite you.
    e.g: No queria invitar a Javi pero se ha acoplado.

  • Cs

    “Awkward” is not translatable that I’ve found.  It’s a uniquely English (and perhaps just American) sentiment.

    • Guest

      Just because theres isn’t a word for it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist elsewhere. In French (and probably almost every language), we have several different ways of saying awkward, depending on the situation. It’s just that instead of it being one single word, it’s in the form of expressions. As a translator, I can tell you «awkward» is very much translatable.

    • Aquiline_jem

      “Ilang” in Filipino.

  • http://www.fashion-mag.us/ osaid

    really owsome… thanks for sharing

  • Castro

    for number 9.
    “dar un toque” means give a hit, and it refers to when smoking a joint.. Just so you guys know

  • Kaeligh

    kyoikumama is three words…

  • Marc

    You wrote: “.. to convey the entirety of the human experience is as arrogant of an assumption as it is naive.”       Arrogant OF? As an English teacher, you should know that this is incorrect. It should be “as arrogant an assumption as it is naive”  No ‘of”

  • Cochwy

    I’d say that the word “Schadenfreude” has an English equivalent: “Gallows’ humor.” It also refers to the feeling of satisfaction derived from somebody else’s misfortune. 

    I would be interested in knowing some words in English that may be considered “notoriously untranslatable” for speakers of other languages. 

  • Jjiiujhhgh

    Well there are Alot of english words that dont have the translation words in other languiges  :D

  • agneau

    In my experience, the slang used in inner city areas of Southampton, UK  in the early part of the 2000′s included the verb “to ding” with exactly the same meaning as the Czech “proznovit” (number 9).  This probably spread from/to other UK cities but I have no idea about its extent and currency. I suspect that with the increased use (and reduced cost) of SMS messages, the need for the term (in Czech or English) has diminished and so the term is suffering a natural death.

  • Joanne

    My favourite word is the Chinese word 雅.
    It has no true translation in English because it indicates a gentle-spirit, beauty, kindness, manners, elegance and grace all at the same time.

  • http://www.facebook.com/thekarenbradford Karen Bradford

    “Drianke” (dree-AHN-kay) in Senegalese: a woman with a nice — perhaps large —butt who dresses well and walks nicely … or so I’ve been told! (The men seem reluctant to say what they might really mean.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/Alicetraduzioni Alice De Carli Enrico

    What about the picture? Shouldn’t it be “good intenTion” instead of “intenSion”? 

  • Steve C

    Sorry to burst your exoticness bubble but some of these words do have translations in other languages. For example, “hyggelig” in Danish can be translated as “Koselig” in Norwegian, “Gezellig” in Dutch and even “Gemütlich” in German, all of which have approximately the same meaning of “cosy” and “warm”, “nice atmosphere”, etc. Still, if claiming a word as untranslatable makes you more inclined to speak a certain language then why not?

  • Anthro

    Periptero — greek, a streek kiosk! :)

  • Ginh67

    I must disagree with “depaysment”.  It’s usual translation is “homesickness.”  Even in English, context will complete the measure of “homesickness.”  As  an exchange student, my host mother noted that I was suffering from “depaysment” and it truly was homesickness with all its pains, superficial to profound.

  • Ab

    Lítost can be translated to Slovak! L’útost’ is their equivalent…

  • Della Jestila

    sisu…finnish is a good word…describes the stick-t0-it-iveness prevalent among finns…the guts to see it through..the perseverance and not letting go to fail…the sheer pushing of oneself….

  • Guest

    Prozvonit, in some Spanish-speaking countries, is “repicar”, which means “to ring”.

  • Halie S.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gem%C3%BCtlichkeit
    Gemutlichkeit. It’s kind of like number 16.

  • Ithinkimtink

    Hyggelig is gezellig in Dutch

  • Noelle Morris

    Couldn’t “saudade” be approximated by the word “nostalgia”?

  • Daniel Mestiz

    9. Prozvonit
    Czech – This word means to call a mobile phone and let it ring once so that the other person will call back, saving the first caller money.
    – In Australia, people say, ‘Prank me when you’re downstairs.”
    – In the Japan the term is wangiri.

  • Dirkporsche78

    8. translates smoothly to “anklingeln” in German

  • guest

    Swiss french :

    la débattue : the unpleasent itch you get on your skin when you are really cold and then get in hot water or in a hotter place. (not sure if it exists in other languages)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gabriela-Anjos/1126308744 Gabriela Anjos

    Saudade is always translated a bit wrong in this lists. It only means the feeling of missing something/someone. The “which is lost” part is wrong. 

  • Theo Grace

    Epicaricacy; the English word for schadenfreude. Just because people don’t know it does not mean it doesn’t exist.

  • Debbie Doglady

    I would like to add “Ohrfeigengesicht” in German and “Faccia da schiaffi” in Italian.  Both have the same meaning and no actual direct translation into English.  It means “a face you just want to slap”.

  • Artyem79

    The French response “si” for yes, when you are contradicting someone.   There is no succinct way to do this in English.

  • Staimoor41

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  • Ragzi

    எத்தனாவது – pronounced as ethanaavadhu, a word in Tamil
    example: ராஜீவ் காந்தி இந்திரா காந்திக்கு எத்தனாவது பையன்?
    It talks about the ordinal position.Possible you could coin a new word like which’eth

    • Tricky

      In Filipino, it’s “pang-ilan”—exactly means  ”in what ordinal position”  or the beautiful term “which’eth”.

  • Imatsum

    Number 9 has a translation in English it’s known as ‘pranking’

  • mersan67

    Agujetas!! kind of muscle pain suffered when one practice some sports after long time without doing it.  this pain is as if someone were puncturing needles (aguja in Spanish) into your muscles!

  • Carlettigonzalez

    great information.
    great site clarebear85

  • Mossiee

    genuinely found this fantastic to read as an article, rather magnificent truth be told. 

  • Pechanni

    Regarding number 11, Schadenfreude, the scandinavian languages have words with exactly the same meaning (“skadefryd”  in danish and norwegian, “skadeglädje” in swedish).

    Regarding number 16, Hyggeligt is an adjective which is used the most, whereas “hygge” is a verb. “Nu skal vi hygge”. I believe that originally ‘hyggeligt’ was more or less the same as ‘mysigt’ in swedish and ‘koseligt’ in norwegian, but hyggeligt has since been used so much you can say it about almost anything. A person, running into a person, a carpet, a street, a movie, a day, music, a sock can all be hyggelig(t). 

    Regarding number 20, Saudades, I think it’s incorrect to say that it necessarily is a longing for something that is “lost”, because friends use it just to say that they miss one another.

    I think it was a really fun read, thank you!

  • Pechanni

    When I was there, the only use of “fammi un squillo” or “ti faccio un squillo” I ever came across was when I had entered a person’s phone number into my phone, and I had to ring for a second so they could get my number as well. Or vice versa.

  • Pechanni

    In danish we say “tilpas”, it also means the right amount, but can also mean comfortable. I read that hundreds of years ago, at parties in Denmark there would often be a person passing around a cup, and this cup, or passing the cup to a person, was called a “pas” (probably like pass in english). However, they didn’t just pass the cup to someone randomly. If a person at the party wasn’t drunk enough, absent-minded or boring/bored, they would be given the cup, and were told to drink until they were “tilpas” = comfortable or the right amount.

  • Guest

    Ruska

    It’s Finnish and it means the change of foliage when the nature in preparation for the fall and the cold following. It’s the time of the year when the world changes colors and turns into something breathtakingly spectacular.
    This forum thread here has photos of ruska. http://forum.thefreedictionary.com/postst11529_Ruska—Autumn-colours.aspx 

  • Maria

    Saudade: Is the feeling of missing someone or something not only a love that you lost.

  • MP

    hyggelig (16) translates to dutch is gezellig. not as untranslatable i guess. 

  • Nell

    Hiraeth: Welsh for longing, especially for your homeland.  It’s like a cross between depaysement and  saudade.

  • ina

    Jayus is a made up word… it’s just some slang that everybody can make up to.. now i’m starting to doubt the rest of the words.. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/AdSinger Adam Singer

    Number 9 – The word is “scotch” in English.

  • Manfred

    Gunnen: Dutch word for the act of feeling the wish toward someone else to have some positive experience

  • Jbdemontety

    Néant – French. “Nothingness”

  • Jrsmusic1

    I don’t understand this article. All of these words ARE translatable, just not in a single word. Is that so weird? 

    • veronik

      Some cultures have the need to create a word that expresses a situation or particular  feeling which other cultures don’t have and that affects their daily living.

    • Iluvlalala

      it’s also that there isn’t just one word for it, eg: zapato=shoe, esposo=husband. there’s no one english word for “mamihlapinatapei”, it’s a hard to explain concept that’s hard to translate into one word. like, there’s no other word in the english language to describe the wordless, meaningful look between two people that want to start something but cant other than the non-english word “mamihlapinatapei”

  • Sergey

    German “Schadenfreude” has an exact equivalent  in Russian. Russian “злорадство” (zloradstvo, “zlo” means “evil”, the root “rad” means “joy”) means EXACTLY the same. Russian “toska” is a nice word well-explained by Nabokov. Another nice Russian word is безысходность (usually translated into English as “despair”, literally “nowayoutness”).

  • Jussi

    We have ‘Schadenfreude’ in Finnish as well. The word is ‘vahingonilo’, roughly translating to ‘joy of an accident’. We also have a saying, ‘vahingonilo on paras ilo’, ‘the joy of an accident is the best kind of joy’.

    • Jon

       Jep, although I think the expression comes from the swedish word “skadeglädje” (same meaning) which then originates from German. But I agree Schadenfreude is not that unique or irreplaceable. But myötähäpeä is a really good word that is difficult to translate! To feel shame for someone else basically? A very usable word :D

  • B T W

    There a welsh word that translation doesn’t translate is properly . The word is “Hiraeth”, which is similar to Saudade. Attempts to translate it is 
     define it as homesickness tinged with grief or sadness over the lost or departed. It is a mix of longing, yearning, nostalgia, wistfulness, and the earnest desire for the Wales of the past.

  • Laura Menendez Marin

    prueba con una palabra catalana: “enraonar” que mas o menos significa el “hecho de entablar una conversacion con alguien con el fin de encontrar la Razón, la Verdad, mediante reflexiones y compartiendo ideas y opiniones.” Siempre he pensado que es una palabra con un gran sentido filosifico, precioso.

  • Caz

    Cwtch. A Welsh word that is wonderful and has no direct translation, I think the closet is ‘safe place’. It is the act of cuddling or feeling comforted.

  • Bbegliocchi

    lol in italian, “i lunga” is how you say the letter J. it literally means “long I”.

  • tubagida

    Schadenfreude isn’t untranslatable, it exists in hungarian too, as káröröm, literally: damage-pleasure(:

    • Aklamo

      and in Finnish, it’s vahingonilo, literally the same as Schadenfreude

  • Rob

    How about English words that do not have simple equivalents in some other languages? I’d imagine a word like “laser” is one of those, because it was originally an acronym.

  • nkc

    there is a french word for “prozvonit” is “biper”

  • RoisinButler

    In Ireland Prozvonits is simply called ring and hang up. Fact

  • http://www.facebook.com/jackdamery Jack D’amery Jackson

    In England we say we ‘prank’ someone when we call their phone with just one or two rings to save our credit 

  • Cecilia

    I can translate both #9 and 11# to Swedish, #9 would be “snålringa” in English “cheap-call” and #11 “Skadeglädje”, which truly is untranslatable to English! ;) Literally it means injure-happy… Haha.
     #16 Exists in the other Scandinavian languages as well and is not unique for Danish…

  • Sbpnli

    I’ve always loved the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, which proposes that the structures and vocabulary that make up a language reflect the mentality and thought processes of the people who speak that language. So, according to the hypothesis, the fact that the word “esperar” in Spanish serves for the concepts of “wait”, “hope” and “expect” would infer something about the Spanish mentality, would imply that those three concepts (which are very different in the mind of an English speaker) are somehow much more similar in the mind of a Spanish speaker. 

    • linguistics undergrad

      Not to be contrary, but I’m pretty sure that the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis actually states that language is what determines and affects the thought of its speakers, which is the opposite of what you’re saying. I agree with you though (thus disagreeing with the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis) that language rather reflects the thought processes of the speakers. 

      • Rnsingun

        TPEcCAI, too, am a linguistics undergrad. The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis has two versions. The one you are pertaining to is the deterministic/strong version on the hypothesis. Most linguists do not take that version, most are relativists.

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  • Jschwags

    9. Prozvonit
    French–Bipper
    English–Flash
    Fulani–Bippugol (from the french)

    those are the only three really simple translations I am aware of, but I am no linguist. In US I don’t know of a carrier that gives free incoming calls which obviates the need to use this word, but it is there is already a word (flash) in other parts of anglophony should the need arise.

  • Jschwags

    silbadeere (fulani) — the part of a rope that remains around a cow’s neck when it has broken free from the tree where it has been tied up

  • Eepositivo

    Point 9:
    In Spain “dar un toque” has more meanings than this and is seldom used. The normal frase for calling and let theother call back is “hacer una (llamada) perdida”

  • Grr

    9 is drop calling 

  • http://twitter.com/chahansan chuck k.

    I’m surprised the chinese word xingfu wasn’t mentioned! It’s like happiness but only with family or lover, like love, but the state that you are in when you are in love, and it’s not necessarily passionate, it’s not taken for granted, some times it means making compromises, but it could be all of those.

  • http://www.designisphilosophy.com Morten Rand-Hendriksen

    16. Hyggelig is a Scandinavian word that also appears in Norwegian and most likely Swedish as well. 

    Another word worthy of the list is the Norwegian word “dugnad” which would translate to something like 

    “Voluntary group work for the common good in the community”

  • Erika Laszlo

    Hi Jason,

    I loved your article. :)

    If you allow me I share two Hungarian words which you mentioned above, the German “Torschlusspanik” translates into Hungarian as “kapuzárási-pánik” and we use if mostly for men, who are aging what they cannot accept and in their “gate-closing panic” they choose to divorce after a long marriage at the age of 45-55 and choose a much younger girlfriend. :)

    The other one is the French “Dépaysement” which translates into Hungarian as “Honvágy”. I can say, that I have “honvágy” which means that I am longing for my country (a strong desire, a feeling missing home) when living abroad.

    Kind regards from Hungary,

    Erika
     

  • Lucie Oehlmann

    Ohrwurm (earworm) is a tune you can’t get out of your head. 

  • applesanoranges

    I really liked this article until I got to number seven. As a Scot, I have never heard of the word “tartle” and I really don’t think it actually exists. Now I’m starting to doubt the authenticity of all the words on the list..

  • Jorge

    Ey, as a Spaniard, I must clarify a bit number 9. In Spanish, the exact translation for Prozvonit is “hacer una (llamada) perdida” (make a lost (call)). It means exactly what the description says, though it doesn’t have to be made to save money. It can judast sshow that you’re thinking about someone (pretty common for teenagers) or you got somewhere safeas or something along that.

    “Dar un toque” (give a touch) is not really the same. It can plainly mean “call” even if in some context you’d say that thinking about a “perdida”.

  • Janneke

    I was just wondering if the word ‘hyggelig’ isn’t the same as the Dutch word ‘gezellig’. I’m Dutch myself and I once saw ‘gezellig’ being translated to ‘a cozy kind of fun’. The Dutch meaning of the word corresponds with the description made above…

  • Justin__Thyme

    So let’s solve the problem. Make up a NEW word in English that has the same meaning, and start using it often enough to get in the dictionary.

  • Milla

    The Danish word “Hyggelig” has an equivalent in the Swedish word “Hygglig” which means the exact same thing, so no, its not “untranslatable”. Try translating the Swedish word “lagom” instead. 

  • Evelyn

    Love it. The description of Torschlußpanik is however incorrect. Toschlußpanik is just the fear of losing out on something. It is often used to describe someone who is in a hurry to get married because he/she is afraid they won’t find a mate if they wait any longer.

  • Spunkyzoo

    Has anyone heard of “splin” in Czech?  I understand that to be close to Saudedade in Portuguese, an intense longing, nostalgia, etc.
    There’s no single word in English to convey this feeling.

  • KMR

    I love the verb ‘oziarsi’ in Italian. It basically means lazing around and relaxing and doing nothing, but without the derogatory meaning in English of laziness.

  • http://didibooksenglish.wordpress.com/ Deirdre

    I found this post very interesting! I find myslef always trying to encourage my students to stop translating because sometimes it can be really difficult to do, not to mention it’s a job. The only thing I disagree with on your list is the meaning of dépaysement. It actually means a change of scenery or feeling a strangeness. For example, je me sens très dépaysé ici; which means I feel very much like a fish out of water here. Thanks for this post! You will inspire more and teachers  try to discover the real meanings of what their learners are trying to express.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_35TVZNMK6QCNP5XGWVUWWOK6R4 Nate S.

    German- Dasein

  • Suzkha

    The Dutch have a word that captures the ecaxt meaning of ‘Hyggelig’ (Danish) as well: “Gezellig”.

  • sahar

    thanks for these examples, but the Arabic examples is informal and a colloquial word used only by the syrians in specific, so we can’t say that this is a standard Arabic word.
    Thanks again

  • Cagelderblom

    “Hyggelig” had the same meaning as the Dutch Word “gezellig”, of which I always have been told it had no translation in Amy other language…well, now I know it translates to “hyggelig”.

  • Ellie

    11. Schadenfreude

    We do have a translation for this. It’s called ‘being a prick’.

  • A stranger

    There is an English equivalent of “schadenfreude.” It’s “epicaricacy.”

  • Extern360

    Loved to see Cafuné in the list. 
    The beauty of language and of learning new ones is to have new ways of express ourselves. 
    Nice Post! ;)
    Amanda
    http://www.extern360.com

  • miriam

    Nice to learn some new words from around the world. :)
    In some languages however you will find a similar word. For example in Dutch the word “gezellig” has the same meaning as  nr 16 Hyggelig so I totally understand the feeling that comes with that word. The fact that English has no word for that is in my oppinion it’s biggest shortcoming.
    Nr 11 Schadenfreude also has a word in Dutch: “leedvermaak”.
    Maybe it is because these 3 languages (Dutch, Danish and German) are so closely related.

  • NC

    Sehnsucht

  • NC

    Sehnsucht?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=506008800 Mio Quang Nguyen

    In Vietnamese we have a phrase for No.9 Provoznit which is “nhá máy” or sometimes the verb “nhá” is used alone with the same meaning.

  • okdrew

    according to wiktionary, there is an icelandic word: “tarvotur”, which means damp or wet with tears. i’ve always liked that one.
    http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/t%C3%A1rvotur 

  • hadash

    Davka — [Hebrew].  Literally, “exactly so.”  More commonly, “wouldn’t you know it?”  E.g., “The one day I forgot to take the umbrella, davka it had to rain!”

  • http://alphatechsol.com/ Alphatech Solutions

    really cool words :p 

  • Jehana

    Super post! I enjoyed it very much.. theres one word you’ve missed out though.. “kaizen”. It’s japanese for “constant improvement.. every second, every moment, every day.” it pretty much sums up the culture of the japanese people. Regardless of how good they are at something they always want to be better. That drive towards improvement, so well imbibed into their dictionary is what sets them apart from other cultures.

  • http://twitter.com/kpcooke Kelly Cooke

    14 literally translates to de-country-ism

  • anxietyofinfluence

    Actually, it’s lítost, not litost. (it’s quite important because the í is longer that i, i.e. í is pronounced like in “see” [-i:])

    • anxietyofinfluence

      litost means nothing in Czech

  • Tenerife holiday home insider

    Regarding the Spanish word Duende: The Collins Spanish Concise Dictionary gives me goblin and elf for it as well as Tiene duende which means He has a certain magic. Anyway much appreciated to have learned more by by this blog.  There is one of best restaurants of Spain in Puerto de la Cruz Tenerife by the name of Duende. Nevertheless, if  I hadn’t explained in my page about best Tenerife restaurants how to get there, you would never find it. Sorry I cannot give you it’s link for fear of Penguin Google.  You have to type Tenerife holiday home insider to spot the page in my navbar index, in case you want to know more about this famous place. 

  • Tenerife holiday home insider

    Funny, I never heard of dépaysement the french expression. Thanks for sharing. Otherwise, have you heard the expression Lekker in Afrikaans. It’s one of most used words and it’s peculiar, as it means so much, even awesome,  nice, precious, delicious. stunning, good looking etc etc.  And then there is the Jewish word kosher which we all know.  In German it also means real, right  and similar things.

  • adam wyett

    #6 We’d call the mother ‘pushy’. The parents, if they both push the child in education (or acting/ whatever) are called ‘pushy parents’. I like number 3. We need a word for that, instead of saying “it’s so not funny, it is!”. Nice article.

  • adam wyett

    I’m from Southampton, England. We have a translation for Number 9, in Southampton, as well (not sure if it’s nationwide) . ‘To Prank call’ as in ‘To make a Prank call’ (when you call to take the piss). The prank call used to just be a joke call. One way of prank calling would be to call and hang up before the receiver would pick up, so they got missed calls. Anyway, this translated into “To Prank” as in, to call someone and hang up so you can call you back ’cause you have no credit/ low credit.

    Example 1:
    Alan – Can I have your number?
    Dave – Sure. I’ll prank call you.

    Example 2:
    Mum – Text me when you’re there so I know that you’re safe
    Son – I can’t. I don’t have credit.Mum – Okay, then prank call me.

    Also, the mother in #6 would be called pushy. If both the parents were forcing their child to study etc. trying to make them excel to be better than everyone else, they are ‘pushy parents’ – This one’s nationwide.

  • rpbush

    Inshallah??

  • Rasmus j

    Saudade is the saddest u can feel for happy memories

  • Zamedine

    It’s a bit sad that many cultures apparently need a word to describe ‘deep seated existential angst and inner misery’ succinctly. 

  • Nancy

    No. 9 in Venezuelan Spanish is called “repicar”. 

  • Susan

    Great article Jason! But I have to disagree with Kyouikumama – it’s really two words and just means Education Mother (Mama). Pretty straightforward combination of a Japanese and an English word. There are many stranger words in the Japanese lexicon! 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1173357129 Bre McGrogan

    number 9 is called “flash” in nigerian pidgin english

  • Natalie

    Cracked.com has an article with loads of these words. My favourites are Backpfeifengesicht (German: a face badly in need of  fist) and Shemomedjamo (Georgian: to eat past the point of being full just because the food tastes good).

  • Anon.

    Prozvonit – We call that drop calling here in London, England.

  • diane

    kreng jai is a difficult one. closest translation from thai to english is respect or deference. more complex i think than that. 

  • Asdas

    in romania we have a word for saudade too
    it’s doina – a type of song about that 

  • LaPortaMA
  • Rubi not Ruby.

    I love the for “desillusionar” (des-e-lou-si-o-nahr) its Spanish for “disillusion.” The best way to describe this word is the knot in your throat when your deeply disappointed, heart broken, and lost hope all wrapped together. Its like when your in madly in love with someone breaks up with you, when you had high hopes and they’re shattered. Its such a powerful word, just thinking about it makes my heart sink and remember all the pain that came with it.

  • Maykoyo

    Evwry English learner in Japan found that it’s so hard to translate the phrase “YOROSHIKU ONEGAISHIMASU” which is probably the most frequently used set phrase, especially in business scenes. If you never use the phrase, they think you don’t know the mannar. It is as important as “Thank you”.

    • Maykoyo

      Excuse my typo!

  • Dr. Jan Pieter Mulder

    16. Hyggelig = Gezellig in Dutch… but it is the only language that allows translation!

  • Jackie Stabach

    cool bro.

  • Yaiza Peraza

    Duende means elf, as many have pointed out, but in Spain, especially in Andalusia, the word is also used as described in this article. See the dictionary of the Spanish Royal Academy of Language:
    4. m. pl. And. Encanto misterioso e inefable. Los duendes del cante flamenco.
    (http://lema.rae.es/drae/)

  • Robin Quant

    9. Prozvonit

    This has a translation into english now. It’s known as drop calling.

  • Janet Clark

    I’m not easily offended. If you tartle, I won’t go all ilunga on you.

  • Viktoria Smile

    great words <3.

  • Jaro Marcin

    I’d say it’s often more the connotations that are untranslatable rather than the words themselves. We have a perfectly good word for Schadenfreude in Slovak, for instance, because we have embraced the concept entirely. :) And “litost” can also be regret, grief, or compassion, depending on the use.

  • Arturo Felipe Albacete Fernandez

    Actually it’s “hazme una perdida” in spanish!

    • Arturo Felipe Albacete Fernandez

      not “dar un toque”

    • Asly Arias

      In my country we say: “repicar”

  • Stephanie Robi

    BANGAG (Filipino) — Being too energetic and happy (sometimes like in a drunk-like state) because you lack sleep :)))).

    ARBOR (Filipino, Slang) — Act of happily coaxing your close friends to give you something they’re wearing (or holding during that moment you meet) by means of touching it often or even grabbing it away from them (by showing that you really really really want it!). Even if they don’t want to give it to you (since it’s obviously one the the stuff they like to use), it’s acceptable to do this. Part of doing this is saying “Pa-arbor!/ Arbor!” all the time. Not shouting this while taking the stuff / touching it would seem as if you’re disrespectful.

    PHEW! :D

  • Anonymous

    Saudade is famously untranslatable: you have to hear it a lot to get a real sense of what it means. I would say it runs the whole gamut of longing, nostalgia and homesickness (not necessarily for things lost forever, though). If you come across a friend you have not seen in a while they may greet you with “Qué saudade!”, meaning, they missed you.

    • Rute Cunha

      qué? that word doesn’t exist in portuguese.

      and your example in correct terms would be “que saudades” with an s in the end.

    • Rute Cunha

      qué? that word doesn’t exist in portuguese.

      and your example in correct terms would be “que saudades” with an s in the end.

  • Christopher Benn

    What about the Scottish word, ‘driech’. A personal favourite of mine…

    • Brendan Keegans

      Glaekit

  • Sarah Zucker

    This article is so cool! Words that don’t transllate.

  • Transcription Vendors

    Cool List..Nice Post.

  • Cristina Caioli

    We use the idea of Prozvonit in Italy. “Fammi uno squillo” – give me a ring. I guess there is no one word to describe the whole concept in Italian.

    • Milla Byrgazova

      I definitely sensed the “l’appel du vide” recently. bungee-jumping while dressed in lingerie in my dreams the other night.

    • Cristina Caioli

      Hahahaha!!! Only you could dream something like that!

    • Michele Francesco Grech-Cumbo

      In South Africa we say, “Giving someone a ‘missed call’”.

    • Valerie Oliphant

      In Nigeria, they call prozvonit “flashing.”

    • Martin Buštík

      foreigners here in Czech republic use “drop-call” as english version of prozvonit

    • Pavel Švanda

      In Czech Republic, we also use it as a some kind of ‘signal’ – for example to let someone know that we’re safe, that he/she should reply to text message or hurry up if we’re waiting for them etc…

    • Pavel Švanda

      In Czech Republic, we also use it as a some kind of ‘signal’ – for example to let someone know that we’re safe, that he/she should reply to text message or hurry up if we’re waiting for them etc…

    • Pavel Švanda

      In Czech Republic, we also use it as a some kind of ‘signal’ – for example to let someone know that we’re safe, that he/she should reply to text message or hurry up if we’re waiting for them etc…

    • Pavel Švanda

      In Czech Republic, we also use it as a some kind of ‘signal’ – for example to let someone know that we’re safe, that he/she should reply to text message or hurry up if we’re waiting for them etc…

    • Pavel Švanda

      In Czech Republic, we also use it as a some kind of ‘signal’ – for example to let someone know that we’re safe, that he/she should reply to text message or hurry up if we’re waiting for them etc…

    • Michal Polak

      Interestingly Urban Dictionary is familiar with the “drop call” phrasal. Unfortunately the example sentences don’t clearly indicate which part of the construction behaves as a verb… ” I drop called you” sounds more natural to me.

    • Dunja Oblak

      squillare /give sb a miscall/ cimati in Serbian :) Cristina, prozvonit is what language?

    • Dunja Oblak

      squillare /give sb a miscall/ cimati in Serbian :) Cristina, prozvonit is what language?

  • Cars wallpapers

    On Serbian for “Prozvonit” we use werb “cimati” or “cimanje”.

  • Devon Protoxus

    11. Schadenfreide
    The direct translation into danish is Skadefro.
    So yeah, it can be translated..

  • Jack Xu

    Modern English is a language of business and utility, not expression. These words may be difficult to translate into English, but a lot of them have well established direct translations in other languages.

  • Daniel Baker

    Cafuné? interesting, always learning more. Between this website and the other I found http://www.thebrazilianlanguage.com, I would say I definately have my hands full of learning.

  • Schiz O’ Phrenic

    Like IR said about “Giigil” and “Kilig” there are a couple of phrases in Thai that are my absolute favourites,
    the Thai version of Gigil would be “Mon Khee Ow”(spelling not important or correct, Thai is an inflected language) Mon Khee Ow also means “literally so cute I want to squash you/eat you up etc” used to refer to cute babies a lot.
    my favourite Thai phrase which is GENUINELY untranslatable though is “Som Nom Naa”,
    Nom means milk(also breasts) so it is kind of a cross between “don’t cry over spilt milk” and “that was your own fault” everything from you tripping and falling, to a politician being caught on the take can get a Som Nom Naa thrown at it, its a great phrase.

  • Eugene Melnychenko

    Russian “toska” means “grief”… there is nothing untranslatable. I know russian as a native speaker.

  • Guilherme Loureiro

    I believe “Dépaysement” would be something like “Homesickness”, or wouldn’t it?

    • Mariana Wakabayashi

      Totally! Saudade de casa!

    • tonhogg

      Exactly, these words are not untranslatable.

  • Anonymous

    we use prozvonit in france, “biper”.

  • Patricia Romero

    “Prozvonit” in Spain Spanish can actually be translated with the more coloquial and accurate”hacer una (llamada) perdida.”

  • Patricia Romero

    “Prozvonit” in Spain Spanish can actually be translated with the more coloquial and accurate”hacer una (llamada) perdida.”

  • Patricia Romero

    “Prozvonit” in Spain Spanish can actually be translated with the more coloquial and accurate”hacer una (llamada) perdida.”

  • Patricia Romero

    “Prozvonit” in Spain Spanish can actually be translated with the more coloquial and accurate”hacer una (llamada) perdida.”

  • Patricia Romero

    “Prozvonit” in Spain Spanish can actually be translated with the more coloquial and accurate”hacer una (llamada) perdida.”

  • Patricia Romero

    “Prozvonit” in Spain Spanish can actually be translated with the more coloquial and accurate”hacer una (llamada) perdida.”

  • Patricia Romero

    “Prozvonit” in Spain Spanish can actually be translated with the more coloquial and accurate”hacer una (llamada) perdida.”

  • Patricia Romero

    “Prozvonit” in Spain Spanish can actually be translated with the more coloquial and accurate”hacer una (llamada) perdida.”

  • Patricia Romero

    “Prozvonit” in Spain Spanish can actually be translated with the more coloquial and accurate”hacer una (llamada) perdida.”

  • Patricia Romero

    “Prozvonit” in Spain Spanish can actually be translated with the more coloquial and accurate”hacer una (llamada) perdida.”

  • Patricia Romero

    “Prozvonit” in Spain Spanish can actually be translated with the more coloquial and accurate”hacer una (llamada) perdida.”

  • Patricia Romero

    “Prozvonit” in Spain Spanish can actually be translated with the more coloquial and accurate”hacer una (llamada) perdida.”

  • Patricia Romero

    “Prozvonit” in Spain Spanish can actually be translated with the more coloquial and accurate”hacer una (llamada) perdida.”

  • Craig Pipe

    It just sounds like that there’s no direct english analog to these, you can still describe the concepts in any language, which doesn’t render them ‘untranslatable’, but more that we just don’t have a single word that contains nearly as many concepts.

  • Merete Fagertun

    Schadenfreud is a word we have and use in Norway: Skadefryd. And ‘hyggelig’ is also a Norwegian word. So your list needs a new title because it is not correct ;-)

  • Mitch van der Heyden

    The words ‘Schadenfreude’ and ‘Hyggelig’ do exist in the Dutch language, as resp. ‘Leedvermaak’ and ‘Gezellig’.

  • Mitch van der Heyden

    The words ‘Schadenfreude’ and ‘Hyggelig’ do exist in the Dutch language, as resp. ‘Leedvermaak’ and ‘Gezellig’.

  • Mitch van der Heyden

    The words ‘Schadenfreude’ and ‘Hyggelig’ do exist in the Dutch language, as resp. ‘Leedvermaak’ and ‘Gezellig’.

  • Mitch van der Heyden

    The words ‘Schadenfreude’ and ‘Hyggelig’ do exist in the Dutch language, as resp. ‘Leedvermaak’ and ‘Gezellig’.

  • Mitch van der Heyden

    The words ‘Schadenfreude’ and ‘Hyggelig’ do exist in the Dutch language, as resp. ‘Leedvermaak’ and ‘Gezellig’.

  • Mitch van der Heyden

    The words ‘Schadenfreude’ and ‘Hyggelig’ do exist in the Dutch language, as resp. ‘Leedvermaak’ and ‘Gezellig’.

  • Mitch van der Heyden

    The words ‘Schadenfreude’ and ‘Hyggelig’ do exist in the Dutch language, as resp. ‘Leedvermaak’ and ‘Gezellig’.

  • Ben Efits Ski

    Fiero

  • 赫倫

    this is great, but is it necessary to bash English at the beginning? and what do you mean “untranslatable”? untranslatable into what? English?

  • Brady Galan

    Duende sounds quite similar to Stendhal Syndrome. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stendhal_syndrome

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Marcel Bostelaar

    Schadenfreude translates to leedvermaak (leed and shaden mean suffering, vermaak and freude mean amusement) And Hyggelig translates to gezellig in dutch, which means cozy/fun/gaving a good time at someones house, as discribed here.

  • Anonymous

    9. Prozvonit- It is simply called “Missed Call” or “Single Ring”in English, here in India.

  • Anonymous

    9. Prozvonit- It is simply called “Missed Call” or “Single Ring”in English, here in India.

  • Anonymous

    9. Prozvonit- It is simply called “Missed Call” or “Single Ring”in English, here in India.

  • Anonymous

    9. Prozvonit- It is simply called “Missed Call” or “Single Ring”in English, here in India.

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