Untranslatable Words: The A – Z of words we don’t have in English

[Laura Noakes | Deputy Editor]

In the last issue of BlueMoon, there was a fantastic A-Z of weird and wonderful words. For this issue, we’re going around the world, so here are some amazing words that don’t directly translate into English. From the Italian word that roughly translates as crazy cat lady to the German word that means ‘grief bacon’ in English, why not start using these interesting words today to impress your friends with your language prowess!

A

Akihi (Hawaiian) –  A word for forgetting directions just after you’ve been told them!

B

Backpfeifengesicht (German) – A word for a face that is deeply in need of a slap! (I can think of a few of those)

C

Chindogu (Japanese) – a word for the art of inventing something to solve a problem, but instead causes so many new problems that it’s is useless! Often described as “unuseless”.

D

Desenrascanço (Portuguese) – this word basically translates as pulling off a completely last-minute solution to a problem. I ‘Desenrascanço’ every time I have to submit an assignment!

E

Enraonar (Catalan) – a word for using reason to back up your well-thought out argument.

F

Fernweh (German) – this word is the feeling you get when you want to travel, to go far away from home. The closest English translation is probably ‘wanderlust’.

G

Gattara (Italian) – An old and lonely woman who devotes herself to stray cats. AKA me in 50 years.

H

Hiraeth (Welsh) – a word that means either homesickness, or nostalgia for the past.

I

Ilunga (Tshiluba) – a person that forgives abuse the first time, tolerates it a second time, but never a third time. Similar to ‘Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me’. In 2004, BBC News reported that Ilunga was the most untranslatable word in the world.

J

Jhali (Hindi) – A stubborn/silly girl who isn’t cruel.

K

Kummerspeck (German) – This word is my absolute favourite. It literally translates as ‘grief bacon’. It’s a word that describes weight gain from emotional overeating.

L

L’esprit de l’escalier (French) – ever have that moment where you think of the perfect comeback hours after an argument? Well this word is for you then, it means just that!

M

Mångata (Swedish) – this word is particularly pretty. It translates as the reflection of the moonlight in water. Isn’t that cute?

N

Noon Ooh-Soom (Korean) – This is another lovely untranslatable word! Noon Ooh-Soom is the way eyes crinkle when someone laughs or smiles.

O

Oodal (Tamil) – The time after you have a silly argument with your significant other, usually over something small.

P

Pochemuchka (Russian) – a person who asks WAY too many questions.

Q

Queesting (Dutch) – to invite your boyfriend/girlfriend under the bedcovers for a little chat. Ooh-err!

R

Resfeber (Swedish) – that anxious feeling you sometimes get before going on a journey.

S

Saudade (Portuguese) – the feeling of wanting something or someone that is lost.

T

Tartle (Scottish) – a word for the moment before you introduce someone and you can’t remember their name.

U

Utepils (Norwegian) – It’s interesting that the Norwegians have a special word for this. Translates as a beer that you drink outside.

V

Vedriti (Slovene) – A word that means you have taken shelter from rain and are waiting for it to stop before going any further.

W

Waldeinsamkeit (German) – the feeling of being alone in a forest.

X

Xingfu (Chinese) – a contented feeling that you get when everything is going well in life and you don’t have any worries.

Y

Ya’aburnee (Arabic) – the hope you feel that you’ll die before a loved one because you cannot imagine living without them.

Z

Zhaghzhagh (Persian) – when your teeth chatter because you are either cold or old.

Know some more untranslatable words? Let us know @TridentMediaUK!

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Untranslatable Words: The A – Z of words we don’t have in English