35 Words We Don’t Have in the English Language (but Need) from 35 Words We Don’t Have in the English Language (but Need)
35 Words We Don’t Have in the English Language (but Need)
Do you ever find yourself fumbling through a thought, searching for the right word to express what you’re trying to say? Sometimes, the word is on the tip of your tongue and eventually comes to you. But other times, there simply is no right word — not in English, at least.
Some foreign words just don’t translate well into English, and vice versa. Which means that other languages open up whole new dictionaries of possibilities. Want to express the happiness you feel after reuniting with a friend after a long time apart? The French have a word for that: retrouvailles. Trying to describe that content, drowsy feeling that afflicts you after indulging in a large meal? The Italians have your back: abbiocco.
Other languages have so much to offer; and you don’t always have to be left (ugh) explaining how you feel. Try throwing one or two of these words into your vocabulary. They work a whole lot better than stumbling through a: “You know that feeling when…”
Bad haircut? You are age-otori. In Japanese, age-otori means looking worse after a haircut. You know, like Britney Spears did in 2007 or you did for all of seventh grade. You can try and eat these foods that are rumored to help your hair grow faster, but after you’ve gone age-otori, there’s no going back.
Aware is a word in English, as you’re well aware. But in Japanese, the meaning is much different. Essentially, it refers to the bittersweet feeling you experience witnessing something beautiful that’s about to disappear. For instance, watching the sunset may inspire some aware. It’s gorgeous now, but in minutes, it will be gone.
Backpfeifengesicht is an elegant-sounding German word with an even more elegant definition: a face that looks like it needs a fist. Examples include the quarterback that wide receiver who just caught a football in your favorite NFL team’s end zone and that guy who never tips his restaurant server.
Do you love the summer and dread the fall, simply because the temperature drops? You might be a friolento — the Spanish word for someone who is extremely sensitive to the cold. Spaniards sometimes use this as an insult, kind of like calling someone a wimp because they can’t stand a slight chill in the air. If this sounds like you, here are some warm destinations you should think about escaping to this winter.
You know when babies or animals are so freaking cute you can’t help but have a sudden urge to squeeze them? That feeling is called gigil in the Phillipines. Here are some adorable animal photos that will probably make you feel that way. (You’re welcome.)
So you really need help moving, but don’t want to ask your friends because you know it’s a huge task. You don’t want to be a burden! That reluctant feeling before asking for help is called greng-jai in Thai. But don’t let greng-jai get to you — so long as you ask politely, your friends probably won’t mind!
Every good host has experience with iktsuarpok. In Inuit, this word refers to the feeling of eager anticipation while waiting for someone to arrive at your house.
“Daniel learned how to make matzo ball soup all on his own and I’m just kvelling!” Every proud Jewish grandmother loves this word. To kvell over someone or something is to gush with pride over it.
This Czech word refers to the crushing human experience of feeling sorrow while observing one’s own misery. Milan Kundera, author of the novel “The Unbearable Lightness of Being,” famously said of the word litost, “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.”
There’s one breadstick left on a restaurant table, where two people are sitting who both want it. The two people look at one another, both wanting to grab it but hesitant to reach for it first. The look they exchange is called mamihlapinatapei in Yagan, the indigenous language of the Tierra del Fuego region of South America. The word more generally refers to a look between two people who both want to initiate something, but are, for some reason or another, reluctant to start.
Nunchi, a word in Japanese, is a subtle art that’s hard to describe — it’s basically the ability to listen well and correctly interpret another person’s mood. It’s sort of like having emotional intelligence, only more conversational. Someone with nunchi probably avoids most of these common ways people are unintentionally rude.
Translated literally, this Danish word means “ale fright.” That’s fitting, because when the Vikings devised this word, they meant it in reference to the fear that you might run out of beer. It also refers to the disappointment of traveling somewhere that doesn’t have a bar or other place to acquire booze. You’d be hard-pressed to find a town without a bar in America; here are 150 of the best bars!
In Russian, razbliuto is a somber saying that refers to the feeling you have towards a person you once loved. It can also apply to objects you once loved; it’s how we feel about Starbucks now that we realize how much money we’re spending there. Razbliuto, Starbucks. Razbliuto.
Don’t be flattered if your bubbe calls you a schlimazl. This Yiddish word means a person who is chronically unlucky and always screwing up. Broken glass again? You’re such a schlimazl!
The Spanish don’t rush through their meals like many Americans do — it’s customary to sit and talk for hours over multiple courses of home-cooked food and multiple glasses of wine. After they’ve eaten, they often just sit and chat, enjoying that full, wine-drunk feeling after consuming a delicious meal. The cozy custom has a name: sobremesa. Americans need a nice-sounding equivalent — and to indulge in sobremesa more often.
Going through a tartle might give you a startle. This Scottish word refers to a brief moment of fear experienced before introducing someone whose name you don’t remember. Forgetting someone’s name? Still not one of the rudest things you can do as a host.
To successfully pull off tingo, you have to be super sneaky. In the Pascuense language of Easter Island, tingo refers to the act of slowly stealing everything from a person’s home by “borrowing” items one by one. Unlike these other unintentional slip-ups, you know this is rude.
This German word refers to the crippling fear that time is running out. More specifically, it applies to the worry that you will not be able to accomplish a certain goal before it’s too late. Whether it’s fear of death or a deadline, it’s no fun to feel torschlusspanik.
Most of us could use more uitwaaiens in our lives. This Dutch word refers to an excursion to the countryside, taken with the purpose of clearing your head. These peaceful, relaxing destinations are good places to go if you’re looking to indulge in an uitwaaien.
Verschlimmbesserung is German for an “improvement” that actually just made things worse. For example: When Trix tried to take artificial coloring out of its cereal, that was a major verschlimmbesserung
Waldeinsamkeit is the feeling of being alone in the woods. The German word’s definition does not specify whether the emotion is positive or negative — only that it exists. Guess it depends on the view!
In Arabic, this word literally translates to “May you bury me.” Declaring ya’arburnee to someone means that you wish you would die before they do, because living without them sounds unbearable. It’s definitely not something to throw around lightly, but it’s quite the heavy sentiment.
In Ulwa, a language spoken in Papua New Guinea, yuputka refers to the sense of something crawling across your skin. You might compare the sensation to the feeling after you walk through a spider web or hear someone talking about lice. The closest thing we have to this phrase in English is “the heebie-jeebies.” You might have felt yuputka while wandering through the woods at night, or while walking inside of a haunted house. These famous houses are legitimately haunted — and sure to give you yuputka.
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