The 10 Most Delightful Foreign Words With No English Equivalent

We love untranslatable words; you love untranslatable words. Here’s our roundup of our 10 favorite ones.
untranslatable words

One language is definitely not enough to convey all of the detailed feelings, attitudes, nuances, and phenomena that comprise the human experience. The existence of so many untranslatable words in other languages would certainly attest to that. Some would even go so far as to say that language itself can’t totally handle this task.

Then again, they probably never heard of schnapsidee (a German word for ideas and plans so ludicrous that only a drunk person could have concocted them), or meriggiare (an Italian word for the very specific act of resting in the shade at noon).

We have ways of describing these things in English — it’s just that other languages can sometimes do the same thing in a way more efficient single word.

Here are ten untranslatable words we definitely need to add into our daily vocabulary.

This article was originally published on Matador Network.

1. Pålegg

Anything and everything that you can put on a slice of bread.


2. Lampadato

The nice orange glow that comes from being addicted to tanning salons.


3. Meriggiare

To rest at noon (in the shade).


4. Setja upp gestaspjót

When a cat grooms itself and has one hind leg sticking straight up in the air.

setja upp gestaspjot

5. Hyggelig

A comfy, cozy, intimate feeling.


6. Schnapsidee

Ideas and plans so ludicrous that they must have been conceived while drunk.


7. Gula

Gluttony, greed; indulgence; eating simply for the taste (i.e., not from hunger).


8. Gjensynsglede

The joy of meeting up with someone you haven’t seen in a long time.


9. Schadenfreude

The feeling of joy or pleasure when one sees another fail or suffer misfortune.


10. Gattara

A woman who devotes herself to stray cats.


There's more where that came from.
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