25 untranslatable words from around the globe that you NEED to know


While the English language has plenty of juicy words in its arsenal (“defenestration”, for example – the art of throwing somebody out of a window), there are some untranslatable words from around the globe that we simply don’t have an equivalent term for, that we really should. Untranslatable words range among the most beautiful that we’ve ever heard: check out our list below and tell us how many you can relate to!


1. Sobremesa – Spanish

Relaxing at the table after a big meal and chatting to the people you’ve eaten with.


2. Backpfeifengesicht – German

Quite literally, a “slappable face”, or a face you want to punch. Oooo-er.


3. Ré nao – Chinese

A fun, vibrant place where everybody wants to be!


 Untranslatable Words You Need To Know


4. Firgun – Hebrew

A feeling of unselfish delight or pride when something good happens to somebody else, or they achieve something great.


5. Age-otori – Japanese

To look worse after a haircut. (We’ve all been there.)


6. Lagom – Swedish

When you have not too much, not too little, but juuuuust the right amount of something, Goldilocks-style.


7. Merak – Serbian

A magical sensation derived from the simplest of pleasures, making you feel “one” with the universe.


8. L’esprit de l’escalier – French

Literally means “stairwell wit”, and refers to that feeling of figuring out the right thing to say just a touch too late. (The Yiddish equivalent of this is “trepverter”.)


9. Gigil – Filipino

The urge to cuddle, squeeze or pinch something supercute.

Gigil Filipino

10. Voorpret – Dutch

That lovely, anticipatory feeling you get when you’re about to do something fun, like go on holiday or watch back-to-back episodes of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.


11. Tsundoku – Japanese

The art of buying and not reading books.


12. Rire dans sa barbe – French

This one could be our absolute favourite. It means to quietly laugh into your beard while reflecting on something funny from the past. Tee-hee.


13. Gattara – Italian

Literally a lonely old cat lady. Owch.


14. Cafuné – Portuguese

Running your fingers through someone’s hair in a loving, affectionate way.

Cafune Portuguese

15. Ailyak – Bulgarian

Where you do things slowly and deliberately, while savouring the process.


16. Elmosolyodni – Hungarian

The quirk that forms around your lips when something wasn’t funny, but you still can’t help yourself from smiling.


17. Nepakartojama – Lithuanian

A perfect moment that will never happen again.


18. Gumusservi – Turkish

The way that the moon shines on the water.


19. Wabi-Sabi – Japanese

Seeing the beauty in imperfect things.


20. Luftmensch – Yiddish

Literally translates to an “air person” – essentially, someone who’s got their head in the clouds, who’s a bit of a dreamer.


21. Tretår – Swedish

“Tår” means a cup of coffee and “patår” means a refill, so following that logic, “tretår” means a “threefill” of coffee. (*Raises hands slowly…*)

Tretar Swedish

22. Dapjeongneo – Korean

When somebody asks you a question already knowing how they want you to answer, and then waits for you to say it… no pressure, then.


23. Handschuhschneeballwerfer – German

Somebody who needs to wear gloves while throwing snowballs, or alternatively, just wants to stand and observe a snowball fight. (What? Snowballs are cold.)


24. Utepils – Norwegian

The act of enjoying a crisp, cool beer on a sunny day.


25. Goya – Urdu

We’ve saved the most appropriate until last. The feeling of being transported – or being able to easily suspend your disbelief – due to an immersive story told by a powerful storyteller… AKA, somebody like us.


Are we missing any of your favourite untranslatable words? Let us know over on our Facebook or Twitter page!

Posted By

Laura Demaude