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Words with no direct English equivalent

A few words with their closest definitions/meanings included:

"Hiraeth (Welsh)": A homesickness for a home to which you cannot return, which maybe never was; the nostalgia of the lost places of your past
"Lagom (Swedish)": Not too much, not too little, but just right
"Tartle (Scottish)": The panicky hesitation just before you have to introduce someone whose name you can't quite remember
"Hygge (Danish)": the pleasant, genial, and intimate feeling associated with sitting around a fire in the winter with close friends.
"Litost (Czech)": a state of torment created by the sudden sight of one’s own misery.

Another word with no direct English definition is "Packesel" (which is German), which goes something along the lines of: "the person who’s stuck carrying everyone else’s bags on a trip."

What other words have no straightforward English equivalent?

August 19, 2017



One old but gold from Finnish is "kalsarikännit", referring to the act of being or getting drunk while at home alone in one's underwear.


Fr. l'esprit de l'escalier - the act of coming up with a clever comeback after it's already too late to use it.


In German this is called "Treppenwitz".


Both happen to me ALL. THE. TIME. XD.


Saudade is a popular one in Brazilian Portuguese (perhaps EU Portuguese, Idk tbh haha). Basically it means nostalgia or an extreme longing for something or someone that's perhaps unattainable. For example, if I was in a relationship and it ended and I was having a Drake, Adele, Lana Del Rey, and entire tub of ice cream moment, it'd probably be because of "saudade" for that person/relationship.


I have entire tubs of ice cream without feeling saudade. Fine, not seriously, but I've come close.


So it's a more commonly used word for fangirling? haha


No its more about being bitter and sad about what you used to have, think, feel, etc. but still longing for it lol.


Oh! Interesting. Truly untranslatable. ^_^


A German one is "fremdschämen", which is basically in Englisch "being embarrassed for another person", but it's truly like a deep down embarrassment that there's no quick Englisch way to describe.


I think "second-hand embarrassment" carries the same meaning??


Cringe is pretty close


I'd translate 'lagom' as 'sufficient'.

A good German one is 'Kummerspeck', which translates as 'grief bacon'. It means excess weight gained due to overeating from being unhappy.


One of my favourite ones HAVE to be kilig ~ It is Tagalog (PHI) for "the excitement one gets from seeing or experiencing a romantic gesture" <3


Here are other Tagalog words I know

Tampo - when you're showing someone that you're mad at them, although you're not really that mad. Usually, the person doing this wants the other person to make it up to them.

Gigil - the urge of pinching someone out of cuteness. It may also be a word for suppressed anger that you can't let out.

Torpe - someone who feels shy about expressing their attraction to a person they like.


Ahhh yes, good ones! Also thanks for adding me CX


Jayus (Indonesian) When a joke is so stupid and so not funny, but you just have to laugh.


I love these... not an original but still good:


Haha, thanks for that, SilverCharacter! 3 I most likely wouldn't be able to pronounce "Juoksentelisinkohan" (it's a little bit long, lol!)


Same! Finnish isn't really my strong suit. I need to practice more >.<


Finnish isn't my strong suit, either; it's very complex and confusing, and I don't have much commitment to stick with it! .


Well I know the word mencomot means stealing things that don't have much value ,but I don't know which language its from.


Gezellig - (Dutch) Kinda like a warm and cozy feeling, intimate, sociable

"Op Kerstavond zaten wij allemaal bij de haard terwijl het buiten sneeuwde. Het was zeer gezellig"

"On Christmas Eve we all sat by the warm fireplace as it snowed outside. It was very cozy"

Imperium - (Latin) kinda like "power to command" and one who has it is an imperator. Imperium is usually translated as 'empire' such as "Imperium Romanum"

"Imperator Romanus imperio multo usus erat dum patriam eius regebat"

"The Roman Emperor used much imperium while he ruled the country"


やっぱり (yappari), or やはり(yahari) in Japanese, used to convey diverse versions of "confirming a presumption", and may have a range of English translations, like (After all), (I knew it), (It is, isn't it!), and others, non of which being a mirror-image equivalent of what the word conveys in Japanese.


Kirakira. Definition: More than just glittering, dazzling, sparkling, shimmering, Etc. Language: Japanese. Totally, absolutely one of my favorites.


Schadenfreude: the pleasure taken from the misery of others (German)


Haha wow that's really sadistic


It is the most famous example


German: Ohrwurm - A melody that got stuck in your head and you keep singing it

Czech: Bufetit (verb), bufeťák (a person) - To eat thrown away food (like from a dustbin) or to dig through trash. "Bufeťák" can be a homeless person or you can tell it about a dog that loves eating anything at least resembling food.

Akorát - Just the right amount.

And I disagree with your word "lítost". Lítost can be translated as "sorrow, grief, regret, remorse". Maybe you meant "sebelítost" byt my dictionary shows the English translation "self-pity".


I think Ohrwurm comes from English (earworm).


Kilig perhaps... It's pretty much ''Romantic excitement'' It's Filipino.


Oh sorry, I just realized someone else did Kilig... Sorry ekirays, I didn't copy you.


Hi, are you Filipino?


Nope. Not at all.


We use "packhorse" as an equivalent of Packesel, but I guess it's not all that common. "Why have I got to be your packhorse, carry your own stuff!"


Thanks for the link! ;)


In Yiddish:

פּרווה Something that is neither dairy nor poultry

To be happy/glad that someone has something good, or is doing well, basically being happy for someone else. פאַרגינען


I am so happy I have never been tartle before.


“Tartle” was discussed here two months ago.


"saudades" from Portuguese?


TRATOLIŠTĚ – a large puddle of blood. Czech :D

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