33 Beautiful Untranslatable Words from Around the World
Reading Time: 3 minutes
Words are powerful. In giving a voice to our feelings and experiences, words allow us to understand ourselves, connect with others, and appreciate the beauty of the world. But no matter how good we become with words, we are often constrained by our native language.
And those constraints make us miss out on the untranslatable words from other languages that can help enrich our existence. Untranslatable words are words that only exist in one language. They are words that do not have a direct translation to another language.
Untranslatable words are some of the most beautiful words because they communicate universal human experiences in ways that can give a voice to your experience in the world. You will understand what I mean when you review the list of 33 wonderful untranslatable words below.
Untranslatable Words That Will Expand Your Mind
1. Gökotta – Swedish
To rise at dawn in order to go out and listen to the birds sing.
2. Halyava (Халява) – Russian
Getting something without working for it.
3. Packesel – German
The person who’s stuck carrying everyone else’s bags on a trip.
4. Gemes – Indonesian
The state of going out of one’s mind in adoration of something that is extremely likeable or cute.
5. Rè nào (熱鬧) – Chinese
Not only fun and lively, but also has a special vibe that makes everyone want to be there.
6. Gigil – Tagalog
The urge to pinch or squeeze something that is unbearably cute
7. Être dépaysé – French
To be in an environment you’re not used to.
8. Rashk-e-Qamar – Urdu
Someone who is so beautiful, the moon is jealous of their beauty.
9. Occhiolism – English
The awareness of the smallness of your perspective.
10. Duende – Spanish
The mysterious power of art to deeply move a person.
11. Jouska – English
A hypothetical conversation that you compulsively play out in your head.
12. Házisárkány – Hungarian
Literally “indoor dragon”; a nagging restless spouse.
13. Warmduscher – German
Literal: ‘A person that takes warm showers’; to describe those who have trouble stepping out of their comfort zone.
14. Karelu – Tulu
The mark left on the skin by wearing something tight.
15. Tima – Icelandic
Not being ready to spend time or money on a specific thing, despite being able to afford it
16. Frustfressen – German
Excessive eating because of frustration.
17. Entzuterre – Basque
A distance that allows you to listen to another conversation.
18. Tîeow (เที่ยว) – Thai
To wander or roam around in a carefree way.
19. Guanxi (关系) – Chinese
An intimate connection between people which would benefit from the other in solving delicate problems or in achieving personal goals.
20. Vorfreude – German
The joyful, intense anticipation that comes from imagining future pleasures.
21. Sonder – English
The realization that everyone has a life as vivid and complex as your own); coined by John Koenig.
22. Nedoperepitj (недоперепить) – Russian
To drink more than one should have, but less than one would have wanted. To fail to drink too much.
23. Tampo – Tagalog
Behavior in which a person withdraws his or her affection or cheerfulness from a person who has hurt his or her feelings; when you’re disappointed with someone yet do not express it directly.
24. Nehrotit to – Czech
Literal: “Not to make X into a sharp point”; a choice not to stress about something.
25. Latah – Indonesian
Uncontrollable habit of saying embarrassing things.
26. Metanoia – English
The journey of changing one’s mind, heart, self, or way of life.
27. Yuputka – Ulwa
A word made for walking in the woods at night, it’s the phantom sensation of something crawling on your skin.
28. Desenrascar – Portuguese
An informal word that means the act of figuring out things.
29. Tartle – Scottish
The act of hesitating while introducing someone because you’ve forgotten their name.
30. Lagom – Swedish
Not too much and not too little.
31. Aimonomia – English
Being scared to learn the ‘why’ of something.
32. Niksen – Dutch
Sitting down and doing nothing at all.
33. Eunoia – Greek
A well-mind; beautiful thinking.
Source for words and definitions in this article: Eunoia, a site with hundreds of untranslatable words.