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.

If you enjoyed this essay…