12 Untranslatable Words We Love

These wonderful words from all over the world have no direct English translation or equivalent, but oh how we wish they did.

By Barbara O'Dair
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    Tingo

    To borrow objects one by one from a neighbor’s house until there is nothing left. (Pascuense language of Easter Island)

    Duende

    A climactic show of spirit such as in flamenco dancing or bull-fighting. (Spanish)

    Forelsket

    Not just love; the euphoria you feel when you first fall in love. (Norwegian)

    Gigil

    Pronounced "gheegle", it's the urge to pinch or squeeze something that is unbearably cute. (Filipino)

    Ilunga

    A person who is ready to forgive any abuse for the first time, to tolerate it a second time, but never a third time. (Tshiluba, Congo)

    L’esprit de l’escalier

    Usually translated as “staircase wit,” it is the act of thinking of a clever comeback when it is too late to deliver it. (French)

    Litost

    A state of torment created by the sudden sight of one’s own misery. (Czech)

    Nunchi

    The subtle art of listening and gauging another’s mood. Knowing what to say or do, or what not to say or do, in a given situation. (Korean)

    Pena Ajena

    The embarrassment you feel watching someone else’s humiliation. (Spanish)

    Pochemuchka

    A person who asks a lot of questions. (Russian)

    Sgriob

    The itchiness that overcomes the upper lip before taking a sip of whiskey. (Gaelic)

    Waldeinsamkeit

    The feeling of being alone in the woods. (German)

    Your Comments

    • Belen:)

      Never heard of half of these terms!

    • Christopher Ryan

      Nosy? Prying?