163. Untranslateable Words

02 Jul

Language is the product of its parent culture and reflects it invariably. As other cultures seem strange do us so do their words. As such the following is a small portion of words with no direct equivalent in English:

  • Dreimannerwein(German) – A wine so disgusting that it takes three men to make you drink it.
  • Age-Otori(Japanese) – Looking less attractive after a change in your hairstyle.
  • Raphanidóo(Ancient Greek) – To insert a radish into someone’s gluteus maximus.
  • Tartle(Scottish) – Pausing when introducing someone because you have forgotten their name.
  • L’appel du vide(French) – “The call of the the void,” the instinctive urge to jump from high places.
  • Waldeinsamkeit(German) – The feeling of being alone in a forest.
  • Uitwaaien(Dutch) – The pleasure of walking in windy weather.
  • Ya’aburnee(Arabic) – “You bury me,” Loving someone so much that you hope to die before them so that you never have to live without them.
  • Tingo(Easter Island) – The act of taking things you want from the house of a friend by gradually borrowing them all.
  • Ikkuserpok(Inuit) – To tie one leg of a dog to one’s neck.
  • Lagom(Swedish) – Just the right amount, not exactly right but appropriately correct.

Then an honourable mention of the word Mamihiapinatapei(Tierra Del Fuego) – Two people looking into each others eyes, each wanting the other to make the first move.

This word was honoured in the 1993 Guinness Book of World Records as being the ‘most succinct word.’


Posted by on July 2, 2011 in Trivia


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7 responses to “163. Untranslateable Words

  1. Anonymous

    February 16, 2016 at 15:25

    We Dutch have another word which has no adequate translation: Gezelligheid (Having a good time while in company of others), the closest word would be something like cozy but less intimate.

  2. Joseph Huntington

    January 17, 2012 at 20:10

    When I was back home in Seminary School I was taught that you could petition the Lord with prayer.

  3. Jenn

    December 31, 2011 at 04:07

    Thong or thing?

    “Tingo(Easter Island) – The act of taking thongs you want from the house of a friend by gradually borrowing them all.”

    I mean, maybe it is thongs. Do they have a lot of thongs on Easter Island?

    • Alexandre R.D.M. Coates

      January 4, 2012 at 18:43

      It is the act of taking things, which can include(but is not limited to) thongs. Thank you for spotting that.

  4. Anonymous

    July 5, 2011 at 10:25

    Bakkushan(Japanese) – A woman who looks better from the back than the front. (Also fairly awesome German band) バックシャン in kana

    • Anonymous

      July 5, 2011 at 10:27

      Eleanor here. ^That was me. Just failed.

      • Alexandre R.D.M. Coates

        July 5, 2011 at 21:42

        I think you just put yourself as anonymous again…


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