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15 Words That Have No English Equivalent

We spend a lot of time on this blog talking about the many interesting and useful words that exist in the English language. But what about the ones that don’t exist? 

Today, we’re going to look at some wonderful words from around the world that don’t have a direct English translation.

Read on!

Fantastic words without an English translation

1. Cafuné 

→ Brazilian Portuguese

Do you ever run your fingers through the hair of someone you love? If so, you know the meaning of cafuné

2. Dépaysement 

French

When you’re in a new or foreign place, you can sense that something is different—you know you’re not at home. This feeling, whether it’s positive or negative, is called dépaysement

3. Gigil 

Tagalog

You know that overwhelming feeling you get when you see something really cute (a puppy or a baby, for example)? That’s gigil!

4. Jayus 

→ Indonesian

Most of us have experienced this before! Jayus describes a person who tells a joke that’s so bad and so unfunny that you can’t help laughing. 

5. Kummerspeck 

German

Kummerspeck is very fitting for these pandemic times. It’s the weight you gain from eating too much when you’re sad or stressed out.  

6. Luftmensch 

Yiddish

Do you know anyone who always seems to have unrealistic plans or dreams, never thinking about practical things? They’re called luftmensch, which means “air person.”

7. Pana po’o 

Hawaiian

When you can’t remember something, do you scratch your head to help yourself remember? That’s called pana po’o! 

8. Samar 

Arabic

There’s nothing like staying up late at night, spending time having conversations with friends. This enjoyable act is called samar. 

9. Shemomedjamo

Georgian 

Sometimes, food tastes so good that you just can’t stop eating it—even if you’re full. This situation is referred to as shemomedjamo.

10. Sisu

→ Finnish

This unique term refers to the inner strength a person uses to complete a task that seems almost crazy or hopeless. It’s a word that’s often used to describe Finnish culture. 

11. Sobremesa 

Spanish

What is sobremesa, you ask? In Spain, it’s the time you spend after a meal relaxing, digesting, talking, and enjoying the company of the people at the table with you. 

12. Tartle

Scottish 

Have you ever been in that awkward situation when you’re trying to introduce someone but you’ve forgotten their name? That’s a tartle!

13. Tsundoku 

Japanese 

Do you like buying books more than reading them? Tsundoku describes the act of buying a book and leaving it unread (often piled on top of other books you haven’t read).

14. Viraag 

Hindi

If you’ve ever experienced the painful feeling of being away from a loved one, you’ve felt viraag

15. Ya’aburnee 

Arabic

Ya’aburnee is a term that translates to “You bury me.” It expresses the hope that you’ll die before someone you love because it would be too hard to live without them. 

Conclusion

These are just a few of the fantastic untranslatable words we’ve come across. Do you have any to add to the list?

Andrea is a Gabby Academy coach and education technolgy writer based in Vancouver, Canada.