20 Beautiful Untranslatable Words - Rocket Languages (2023)

20 Beautiful Untranslatable Words - Rocket Languages (1)

jason-oxenham-ceo

June 9, 2021
Updated: July 20, 2022

There are thousands of untranslatable words. Today we're going to take a look at 20 of the most magical ones, each from a different foreign language. None have a direct translation in English.

These beautiful foreign words provide a fascinating glimpse into foreign languages and cultures.

Many languages are not able to perfectly capture the exact meaning of a word in another language. There are so many feelings and ideas that we can't put words to.

20 Beautiful Untranslatable Words - Rocket Languages (2)

As every language learner knows, translating between two languages is no easy task. Each language has its own linguistic and grammatical complexities. This means many ideas become "lost in translation."

These words are often considered "untranslatable." Linguists have spent decades deconstructing and studying these words, trying to discover why.

(Video) 14 Untranslatable Words

1. Waldeinsamkeit (German)

20 Beautiful Untranslatable Words - Rocket Languages (3)

The German word waldeinsamkeit consists of two words joined together. Wald means forest, and einsamkeit means loneliness or solitude.

It hints at both the feeling of being alone in the woods and also at a peaceful oneness with nature.

2. Iktsuarpok (Inuit)

20 Beautiful Untranslatable Words - Rocket Languages (4)

Iktsuarpok describes the feeling of anticipation when you're expecting someone. It refers to the impatient excitement that makes you constantly check to see if they're coming.

It's that feeling that makes you look out the window countless times in hope of seeing your guest arrive.

3. 木漏れ日 (Japanese)

20 Beautiful Untranslatable Words - Rocket Languages (5)

木漏れ日 (Komorebi) is a Japanese word that refers to the sunlight that filters through the leaves of trees. The word consists of three kanji and the hiragana particle (re).

The first kanji means "tree" or "trees," the second kanji refers to "escape," and the third kanji means "light" or "sun."

4. Sobremesa (Spanish)

20 Beautiful Untranslatable Words - Rocket Languages (6)

Sobremesa refers to the time spent after lunch or dinner socializing with the people you shared the meal with.

Meals are a very important part of Spanish culture. The Spanish people value the time spent relaxing and chatting after finishing eating.

The Catalan equivalent is sobretaula.

5. Goya (Urdu)

20 Beautiful Untranslatable Words - Rocket Languages (7)

Goya is an Urdu word for the moment when fantasy is so realistic that it temporarily becomes reality.

It refers to the total suspension of disbelief you get with good, powerful storytelling.

6. Mångata (Swedish)

20 Beautiful Untranslatable Words - Rocket Languages (8)

This beautiful word describes the reflection of the moon on water. It refers to the wavy, road-like shape that appears across the water when the moon is shining on it.

(Video) Module 4 6 Summary; Untranslatable words

It consists of the prefixes Måne meaning moon, and gata meaning street/road. So it is sometimes indirectly translated as "moon-path," "moon-river," or "moon-track."

7. Saudade (Portuguese)

20 Beautiful Untranslatable Words - Rocket Languages (9)

Saudade refers to the feeling of longing for something or someone you love which is gone.

It is a bittersweet, empty feeling that carries the knowledge that the object of longing may never return. It is often considered characteristic of the Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese temperament.

It implies melancholy or nostalgia. It has been described as "the love that remains" after someone is gone.

8. Kilig (Tagalog)

20 Beautiful Untranslatable Words - Rocket Languages (10)

The Tagalog noun kilig is from Philippine culture. It is the feeling of butterflies you get in your stomach when something romantic happens.

Kilig is also used as an adjective to describe the exhilaration of an exciting romantic experience. This could be catching your crushes' eye for the first time or seeing a marriage proposal.

9. Hiraeth (Welsh)

20 Beautiful Untranslatable Words - Rocket Languages (11)

Hiraeth is a Welsh word that refers to homesickness mixed with sadness for the lost or departed. It implies a longing for the homeland or the romanticized past.

The concept of hiraeth is similar to the Portuguese saudade mentioned earlier. It also has the Romanian equivalent dor, and the Ethiopian tizita.

It represents a mixture of longing, nostalgia, wistfulness and yearning.

10. Mamihlapinatapei (Yaghan)

20 Beautiful Untranslatable Words - Rocket Languages (12)

The word mamihlapinatapai comes from the Yaghan language of Tierra del Fuego. It refers to the wordless, meaningful look shared by two people who both want to initiate something, but are both reluctant to.

It can also refer to another unspoken look between two people. It captures the feeling that from just this look, each person knows the other understands, and is in agreement.

Mamihlapinatapai is the Guinness Book of World Records' "most succinct word." It is remarkably difficult to translate.

(Video) Italian words that doesn't exist in English

11. Hyggelig (Danish)

20 Beautiful Untranslatable Words - Rocket Languages (13)

This Danish word refers to a delightfully cozy, intimate moment or thing. It gives off imagery of a candlelit winter evening at home with warm blankets and a bit of alcohol.

There are similar words in German (gemütlichkeit), Swedish (gemytlig), and Norwegian (hyggelig). However, there is no direct translation in English.

12. Flâner (French)

20 Beautiful Untranslatable Words - Rocket Languages (14)

Perhaps one of the most Parisian of all French words, the verb flâner was defined in the 19th century.

It refers to strolling the streets of Paris in a leisurely way. It implies no goal or destination, but purely the simple pleasure of soaking up the city's beauty.

These aimless pedestrians are called flâneurs.

13. يقبرني (Arabic)

20 Beautiful Untranslatable Words - Rocket Languages (15)

The Arabic word يقبرني (ya'aburnee) literally means "you bury me." The concept it represents goes far deeper than that (no pun intended).

يقبرني (Ya'aburnee) is a way to declare your hope that your loved one will outlive you, as it would be unbearable to live without them.

It expresses the desire to spare yourself the pain of a life without the person you love.

14. 热闹 (Chinese)

20 Beautiful Untranslatable Words - Rocket Languages (16)

The Chinese word 热闹 (ré nao) is usually translated as “lively” or “bustling.” Its true meaning goes beyond these adjectives.

A place or situation that is 热闹 (ré nao )is not only fun and lively. It also has a special vibe that makes everyone want to be there.

A new, exciting bar or club may be 热闹 (ré nao), but so might a university class or meeting with friends.

15. Utepils (Norwegian)

20 Beautiful Untranslatable Words - Rocket Languages (17)

Utepils is a Norwegian word that literally translates to "outdoor lager." It is common within Scandinavian culture, and used among beer drinkers worldwide.

(Video) Untranslatable Words in Chinese

Utepils has taken on several different interpretations throughout the generations. It typically refers to the act of sitting outside on a sunny day enjoying a beer. It may also refer to the first beer you drink outside on a warm, sunny day, and is the (great) name of a brewing company.

16. Тоска (Russian)

20 Beautiful Untranslatable Words - Rocket Languages (18)

The Russian word тоска(toska) can be roughly translated to mean sadness or mournfulness. But these English words don't interpret its full meaning.

There are many shades of тоска(toska). At its lower levels it represents ennui, a vague restlessness, or a dull ache of the soul.

More acutely it can describe a strong yearning with nothing to yearn for. In particular cases, it may be the desire for somebody or something specific, a sick pining.

At its deepest it refers to a sensation of great spiritual anguish, often without specific cause.

17. जिजीविषा (Hindi)

20 Beautiful Untranslatable Words - Rocket Languages (19)

The Hindi word जिजीविषा (jijivisha) refers to the strong, eternal desire to live and to continue living. It is usually used to talk about people who absolutely love life. It suggests intense emotions and the strong desire to live and thrive.

18. פירגון (Hebrew)

20 Beautiful Untranslatable Words - Rocket Languages (20)

פירגון (Firgun) is a modern, informal Hebrew term used in Israeli culture. It refers to the feeling of joy that something good has happened, or might happen, to someone else.

It also describes genuine, unselfish delight or pride in someone else's accomplishment. It represents a true generosity of spirit.

19. Gezelligheid (Dutch)

20 Beautiful Untranslatable Words - Rocket Languages (21)

Gezelligheid refers to a convivial, cozy, or warm atmosphere. This can be the warmth of being with loved ones, or the feeling of seeing a friend after a long absence.

It is similar to the Danish concept of hyggelig and the German concept of gemütlichkeit.

It suggests a general togetherness that provides a feeling of warmth. Many consider it the word that most closely represents the heart of Dutch culture.

20. Merak (Serbian)

20 Beautiful Untranslatable Words - Rocket Languages (22)

The Serbian word merak is a wonderful little word. It is the feeling of bliss and sense of oneness with the universe that comes from simple pleasures.

(Video) 10 Words You Can't Translate into English

It refers to the pursuit of small daily pleasures that all add up to a great sense of happiness and fulfillment.

These beautiful words all defy direct English translation. They provide a magical glimpse into their different languages and cultures (and a challenge when using Flashcards!).

Have you come across a foreign word or phrase you felt you couldn't directly translate? Please feel free to let us know!

FAQs

Which language has the most untranslatable words? ›

The Times has translated for you the most untranslatable word in the world. The word is ilunga, from the Bantu language of Tshiluba, and means a person ready to forgive any abuse for the first time, to tolerate it a second time, but never a third time.

What is the most beautiful word in all languages? ›

13 beautiful words with no English translation
  • Waldeinsamkeit (German) “The feeling of solitude and connectedness to nature when being alone in the woods.” ...
  • Wabi-Sabi (Japanese) ...
  • Saudade (Portuguese) ...
  • Ya'aburnee (Arabic) ...
  • 缘分 or yuánfèn (Mandarin) ...
  • Forelsket (Norwegian) ...
  • Kilig (Tagalog) ...
  • Commuovere (Italian)
Oct 21, 2019

What are some beautiful words in other languages? ›

13 Beautiful Words With No English Translation
  • Waldeinsamkeit (German)
  • Wabi-Sabi (Japanese)
  • Saudade (Portuguese)
  • Ya'aburnee (Arabic)
  • 缘分 or yuánfèn (Mandarin)
  • Forelsket (Norwegian)
  • Kilig (Tagalog)
  • Commuovere (Italian)
Apr 4, 2016

How do you say beautiful in 10 different languages? ›

“Beautiful” isn't just for lovers either, saying it to your children, mom, or best friend totally works, too.
  1. Afrikaans: “pragtige”
  2. Albanian: “bukur”
  3. Arabic: “hellwa”
  4. Belarusian: “pryhožaja”
  5. Bosnian: “lijepa”
  6. Bulgarian: “krasiv”
  7. Catalan: “bonica”
  8. Chinese: “Meilì”

What are the unique words? ›

10 unusual words to add to your English vocabulary
  • Anachronism. An anachronism is something (or someone) that is out of place in terms of time or chronology. ...
  • Accismus. A form of irony in which someone feigns indifference to something he or she desires. ...
  • Cacophony. ...
  • Draconian. ...
  • Limerence. ...
  • Pareidolia. ...
  • Riposte. ...
  • Sanctimony.

What are some cute words? ›

What's The Cutest Word In The World?
  • charm.
  • glitter.
  • bubble.
  • bumblebee.
  • petite.
  • humdrum.
  • snuggle.
  • pipsqueak.
May 12, 2020

What English words are untranslatable? ›

11 Untranslatable Words in English (That You Won't Find in Other Languages)
  • Cheesy. Meaning: False or trying too hard. ...
  • Serendipity. Meaning: Happy accident. ...
  • Gobbledygook. Meaning: Nonsense. ...
  • Pimp. Meaning: Someone who sells women for sex, someone who is too flashy or showy. ...
  • Hillbilly. Meaning: Rural dweller. ...
  • Brouhaha. ...
  • Spam. ...
  • Silly.

Are there untranslatable words? ›

Just think of your own language… it only shares a linguistic group with a dozen others. So are there any difficult-to-translate, or even untranslatable words? Of course, there are. Untranslatable words do exist.

What is the oldest word in the world? ›

Mother, bark and spit are some of the oldest known words, say researchers. Continue reading → Mother, bark and spit are just three of 23 words that researchers believe date back 15,000 years, making them the oldest known words.

How do you say beautiful? ›

40 Ways to Say You Are Beautiful in Speaking Phrases You are so adorable. I have never seen anyone as beautiful as you You make my heart melt Your beauty is incomparable Your smile melts my heart Lovely Dazzling Wow, You are gorgeous.

What is beautiful in African language? ›

Jameela (jah-mee-laa) – 'beautiful'

A handsome man is known as jamil or jameel while a beautiful woman is jamila or jameela. Another word for 'beautiful' is mrembo, which is more widely used than jameela.

How do you say beautiful Girl in English? ›

beautiful
  1. alluring.
  2. appealing.
  3. charming.
  4. cute.
  5. dazzling.
  6. delicate.
  7. delightful.
  8. elegant.

How do you say hello in 20 languages? ›

How To Say Hello In Different Languages: 21 Ways To Greet The World
  1. French. Formal: Bonjour. Informal: Salut.
  2. Spanish. Formal: Hola. Informal: ¿Qué tal? (What's up?)
  3. Russian. Formal: Zdravstvuyte. Informal: Privet. ...
  4. Italian. Formal: Salve. Informal: Ciao. ...
  5. German. Formal: Guten Tag. Informal: Hallo, Hi.
  6. Portuguese. Formal: Olá
Jul 5, 2017

How do you say hello in 30 languages? ›

How To Say Hello in 30 Different Languages - YouTube

What are the 10 new words? ›

  • 10 new English words for 2021. Read Time. ...
  • Adulting. Definition: The action of becoming or acting like an adult. ...
  • Awe walk. Definition: Taking a walk outside and making an effort to look at the things around you. ...
  • Contactless. Definition: not having to physically touch or interact with people. ...
  • Doomscrolling. ...
  • PPE. ...
  • Quarenteen. ...
  • Thirsty.

What is the most uncommon 5 letter word? ›

11 unusual 5-letter words to kick off your next Wordle game
  • ADIEU. Adieu means the same as goodbye. ...
  • TARES. Any of various vetch plants, such as Vicia hirsuta (hairy tare) of Eurasia and North Africa.
  • SOARE. ...
  • DUCAT. ...
  • OUIJA. ...
  • CAROM. ...
  • ERGOT. ...
  • CRAIC.
Feb 1, 2022

What are the 10 vocabulary words? ›

Full list of words from this list:
  • atrocity. an act of shocking cruelty.
  • fanatical. marked by excessive enthusiasm for a cause or idea.
  • pensive. deeply or seriously thoughtful.
  • respite. a pause from doing something.
  • discordant. not in agreement or harmony.
  • eloquent. ...
  • encompass. ...
  • imperceptible.

What is the hottest word? ›

What's the Sexiest Word in the English Language?
  • gatefold.
  • bildungsroman.
  • vivacious.
  • slipstream.
  • pushpin.
  • gingerly.
  • Zima.
  • Sussudio.
Jul 11, 2019

What is a pretty word? ›

attractive, beautiful, charming, cute, elegant, good-looking, graceful, handsome, lovely, neat, pleasant, a little, considerably, fairly, kind of, moderately, quite, rather, reasonably, somewhat.

What is one word beauty? ›

OTHER WORDS FOR beauty

1 loveliness, comeliness, pulchritude, attractiveness, allure. 2 belle.

What is the most romantic word? ›

- “Amour”, the French word for love, has been voted the most romantic word in the world in a pre-Valentine's Day survey of language experts.

What are elegant words? ›

elegant
  • chic.
  • classic.
  • delicate.
  • dignified.
  • exquisite.
  • fancy.
  • fashionable.
  • graceful.

What are soft words? ›

smooth, soothing, or ingratiating: soft words. not harsh or severe, as a penalty or demand. responsive or sympathetic to the feelings, emotions, needs, etc., of others; tender-hearted. sentimental or flowery, as language: soft, meaningless talk.

What is the world's best word? ›

23 of the Most Beautiful Words in the World
  1. Spookasem (Afrikaans) ...
  2. Kaamos (Finnish) ...
  3. Hiraeth (Welsh) ...
  4. Hanyauku (Rukwangali) ...
  5. Mellifluous (English) ...
  6. Nakakapagpabagabag (Tagalog) ...
  7. Kæreste (Danish) ...
  8. Cryptoscopophilia (English)

What are people's favorite words? ›

'Defenestration,' 'Kerfuffle,' and Other Greatest Hits
  • Defenestration. Over the years, our editors have learned which words stand out as people's all-time favorites - generally because of what those words mean and how they sound. ...
  • Flibbertigibbet. ...
  • Kerfuffle. ...
  • Persnickety. ...
  • Callipygian. ...
  • Serendipity. ...
  • Mellifluous. ...
  • Discombobulated.

What words are only in English? ›

English words that can't be translated
  • Awkward. Awkward is the perfect word to describe that peculiarly British blend of embarrassment, discomfort and uncertainty that arises most often in social situations when someone has said something that they shouldn't. ...
  • Jinx. ...
  • Shallow. ...
  • Insight. ...
  • Nice. ...
  • Put. ...
  • Off. ...
  • Bully.
Nov 16, 2015

What are cool words in different languages? ›

Whip these gems out at social gatherings and dinner parties and get ready to stun your company with your linguistic knowhow.
  • Kummerspeck – German. ...
  • Shemomedjamo – Georgian. ...
  • Mencolek – Indonesian. ...
  • Seigneur-terraces – French. ...
  • Tingo – Pascunese (Easter Island) ...
  • Badruka – Swedish. ...
  • Chingada – Spanish (Mexico) ...
  • Gattara – Italian.
Feb 8, 2018

What word exists in every language? ›

According to scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, there is only one word in existence that's the same in every language, and that word is 'huh'.

Why are some words untranslatable? ›

Words or phrases are considered untranslatable when there is no precise corresponding meaning in a target language.

How do you handle untranslatable words? ›

How to get around Untranslatability ?
  1. Adaptation of text: This process is also known as the free translation. ...
  2. Paraphrase: This means making use of group of words for explaining the meaning of a single word.
  3. Calque: This technique breaks down the foreign word, and gives the direct translation.
Mar 13, 2015

What love is called in different languages? ›

Love In Different Languages
  • French = amour.
  • Spanish = amor.
  • Italian = amore.
  • Portuguese = amor.
  • German = liebe.
  • Vietnamese = yêu.
  • Hindi = mohabbat.
  • Japanese = tresna.

What was the 1st English word? ›

There was no first word. At various times in the 5th century, the Angles, Saxons, Jutes and other northern Europeans show up in what is now England. They're speaking various North Sea Germanic dialects that might or might not have been mutually understandable.

What is the shortest word? ›

The shortest word is a. Some might wonder about the word I since it consists of one letter, too. In sound, a is shorter because it is a monophthong (consists of one vowel), while I is a diphthong. Both do consist of one letter in the English writing system, and in most fonts I is the narrowest letter.

Who wrote the first word? ›

The First Word by Christine Kenneally: 9780143113744 | PenguinRandomHouse.com: Books.

What English words are untranslatable? ›

11 Untranslatable Words in English (That You Won't Find in Other Languages)
  • Cheesy. Meaning: False or trying too hard. ...
  • Serendipity. Meaning: Happy accident. ...
  • Gobbledygook. Meaning: Nonsense. ...
  • Pimp. Meaning: Someone who sells women for sex, someone who is too flashy or showy. ...
  • Hillbilly. Meaning: Rural dweller. ...
  • Brouhaha. ...
  • Spam. ...
  • Silly.

What word exists in every language? ›

According to scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, there is only one word in existence that's the same in every language, and that word is 'huh'.

What are untranslatable words called? ›

Untranslatability is the property of text or speech for which no equivalent can be found when translated into another language. A text that is considered to be untranslatable is considered a lacuna, or lexical gap. The term arises when describing the difficulty of achieving the so-called perfect translation.

Are there untranslatable words? ›

Just think of your own language… it only shares a linguistic group with a dozen others. So are there any difficult-to-translate, or even untranslatable words? Of course, there are. Untranslatable words do exist.

What words are only in English? ›

English words that can't be translated
  • Awkward. Awkward is the perfect word to describe that peculiarly British blend of embarrassment, discomfort and uncertainty that arises most often in social situations when someone has said something that they shouldn't. ...
  • Jinx. ...
  • Shallow. ...
  • Insight. ...
  • Nice. ...
  • Put. ...
  • Off. ...
  • Bully.
Nov 16, 2015

What are cool words in different languages? ›

Whip these gems out at social gatherings and dinner parties and get ready to stun your company with your linguistic knowhow.
  • Kummerspeck – German. ...
  • Shemomedjamo – Georgian. ...
  • Mencolek – Indonesian. ...
  • Seigneur-terraces – French. ...
  • Tingo – Pascunese (Easter Island) ...
  • Badruka – Swedish. ...
  • Chingada – Spanish (Mexico) ...
  • Gattara – Italian.
Feb 8, 2018

What are words that dont exist? ›

Specifically, words that aren't actually words:
  • Irregardless. Wait, so is that the opposite of 'regardless'? ...
  • Nuculer. Our wonderful President, as well as Jack Bauer, seem to know about a whole new form of energy. ...
  • Like.. Like is actually a word. ...
  • 360 Degrees. ...
  • Brang. ...
  • Ain't. ...
  • Performant. ...
  • Non-defunct.
Aug 14, 2008

What are universal words? ›

Universal words mean the same for everyone, with only a few exceptions. If everyone in the world learns Klingon, it'll be universal.

What's the most universal word? ›

"OK" is one of the most frequently used and recognised words in the world. It is also one of the oddest expressions ever invented.

Which word is used most in the world? ›

Of all the words in the English language, the word “OK” is pretty new: It's only been used for about 180 years. Although it's become the most spoken word on the planet, it's kind of a strange word.

Why are some words untranslatable? ›

Words or phrases are considered untranslatable when there is no precise corresponding meaning in a target language.

Is Eunoia a good word? ›

In rhetoric, eunoia (Ancient Greek: εὔνοιᾰ, romanized: eúnoia, lit. 'well mind; beautiful thinking') is the good will speakers cultivate between themselves and their audiences, a condition of receptivity.

How do you handle untranslatable words? ›

How to get around Untranslatability ?
  1. Adaptation of text: This process is also known as the free translation. ...
  2. Paraphrase: This means making use of group of words for explaining the meaning of a single word.
  3. Calque: This technique breaks down the foreign word, and gives the direct translation.
Mar 13, 2015

What love is called in different languages? ›

Love In Different Languages
  • French = amour.
  • Spanish = amor.
  • Italian = amore.
  • Portuguese = amor.
  • German = liebe.
  • Vietnamese = yêu.
  • Hindi = mohabbat.
  • Japanese = tresna.

What are the two types of untranslatability? ›

According to Catford (1965), Untranslatability can be divided in two categories: linguistic and cultural untranslatability.

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