11 Wonderful Summer Words From Around The World

These terms capture feelings and concepts that have no equivalent word in English.
Summer words represented by an image of friends walking at the beach on a sunny day.

The weather is warming up, the lifeguards are at the pool and the cities are emptying out as people head out on their vacations. It’s finally summer, and we’ve decided to celebrate by rounding up 11 summer words: terms from languages around the world that relate to summer in some way. You might be surprised how useful these terms are, because none of them have an exact equivalent in English. So later on the sunscreen, and let’s dive in!

11 Words Relating To Summer To Heat Things Up

1. Badkruka (Swedish)

Translation: Someone who refuses to get into a body of water.

On a hot, hot day, there’s only one thing to do: visit a beach with friends and splash in the cool water. The only question is, who will jump first?

As fun as it is to race into the water, there’s always someone who takes ages to just dip their toes in. Whether it comes down to the cold or because they’re scared of the water, the Swedes have a word for such people: badkruka. The most appropriate thing you can say to them is: Kom i vattnet din badkruka! (“Come on, jump in now you badkruka!”)

Why is this such a common word? Well, the Swedes absolutely love their summer homes. 1.8 million (or 20 percent of Swedes) own a summer house in Sweden, with the most popular places being the Stockholm archipelago, Skåne, the west and east coast, Halland and the islands of Öland and Gotland. There are 95,700 lakes in Sweden larger than 100 square meters, which equals about 9 percent of Sweden’s total land area. Among them, Lördagsträsk (“Saturday swamp”) is said to be the lake with the funniest name.

2. Culaccino (Italian)

Translation: A water ring or mark left on a surface by a moist glass.

There’s nothing more satisfying and thirst-quenching than a cold glass of water — or beer, or wine, or even a cocktail. But do you know what can turn a dinner party into a nightmare for the host? Forgetting to use a coaster. The end result of this common mistake is traces of your drink, or culaccini, on that expensive marble table that are hard to wash off.

If you’re traveling to Italy and want to drink wine in true Italian style, make sure you learn your viticulture regions by heart. After all, you wouldn’t want to be caught ordering the wrong wine in the wrong region, would you?  Try a Chianti in Tuscany, a Valpolicella in Veneto, a Nero d’Avola in Sicily and a Pinot Grigio in Lombardy, Friuli-Venezia Giulia or Trentino-Alto Adige.

And please, don’t forget to use a coaster.

3. Dacha (Russian, дача)

Translation: A Russian country house or summer house.

Dachas first appeared in the 18th century. Etymologically, their name comes from the verb davat (давать, to give), as it was Peter the Great who first started giving them to governmental officials and high-ranking officers as a reward for their services. It was also a means to populate the St. Petersburg periphery as the newly established capital of the time.

Dacha owners and visitors are colloquially known as dachniki (дачники). In 1885, Anton Chekhov wrote a novelette called Dachniki about newlywed city-dwellers living summer life in the countryside.  

A dacha, however, is not just a second home. It represents an entire way of living away from the hustle and bustle of the cities where families can grow vegetables, go fishing, swim in the river or toil in the fields. There’s always work to be done in a dacha, from picking berries, to chopping wood, to raking leaves or heating up a samovar to make tea. The best way to enjoy the fruits of your labor is with a traditional shashlik (шашлык) on the BBQ — a dish of skewered, grilled meat that has been previously marinated in vinegar, onion, salt and pepper.

4. Juilletistes / Aoûtiens (French)

Translation: People who take their holidays either in July or in August.

Are you a Juilletiste or an Aoûtien?  Every summer in France, in every office around the country, it’s the same question: Who will go on holidays in July and who will go in August? The Juilletistes are generally seen as the laziest, as they are the first to pack their bags when their colleagues are still working, only to come back to the office in August when there’s less work to be done. The Aoûtiens, on the other hand, are perceived as unoriginal but rather smug, as they are still tanned when everyone is back in the office in September.

Generally speaking, one in three French people go on holidays in August, with 42 percent of Parisians also leaving the capital in August. If you’re looking for the best time to enjoy Paris, August should be on top on your list.  

5. Meltem (Turkish)

Translation: A summer breeze that blows from the land to the sea.

If you’ve ever vacationed on the Greek islands or the Turkish coast between June and September, you may have experienced an unusually strong, dry breeze coming from the north Aegean Sea. While they don’t last for long and can be a refreshing change to the usual heatwave, it’s no fun if you’re getting sandblasted on a sandy beach or your cutlery is flying away when eating outside late at night.

Fear not, the locals will surely point you to the best wind-sheltered coves to swim in. Just make sure you pin down your towel on the sand with lots of pebbles to prevent it from blowing away.

Meltem is also a beautiful Turkish name given to women.

Illustration of lemons

6. Meriggiare (Italian)

Translation: To avoid the midday heat by resting in the shade.

It comes from the word meriggio (“noon”), and you’ll only fully appreciate the meaning of this word if you’ve experienced the full blast of the scorching Mediterranean sun. (This is when, apart from the screeching sound of cicadas, you can’t see or hear another living soul during the hottest hours of the day.) To fully get the sense of tiredness and idleness brought on by the debilitating heat, read Eugenio Montale’s famous poem Meriggiare pallido e assorto.

7. Siesta (Spanish)

Translation: A short nap taken in the afternoon after a midday meal.

Speaking of debilitating summer heat, the sun is perhaps why the Spanish are such strong proponents of the afternoon siesta. There are a lot of things going for having a siesta in the summer. You can avoid the midday heat, work fewer hours, enjoy a long lunch with family, have a healthy afternoon nap and, most importantly, feel energized enough to party into the small hours. Siesta time for shops and businesses is from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., while bars and restaurants close at 4 p.m. to re-open around 8 or 9 p.m.

In 2010, Madrid even held Spain’s first national siesta competition in honor of this much-loved national institution.

8. Sommerloch (German)

Translation: Literally “Summer hole.” Used to talk about the silly season, a lazy time when nothing happens or sells.

When there’s nothing else on the news apart from kittens being rescued, you’ll know we’ve entered the slow period of summer that the Germans call Sommerloch. It’s also referred to as Sauregurkenzeit (“time of sour pickles”), which comes from 18th-century Berlin, when shops stocked up on Gurken from the local Spree forest at the end of summer.

Looking for a quintessential example of Sommerloch? In August 2011, all German media outlets turned their attention to Yvonne, a German brown and white cow that had previously escaped from her farmer in Mühldorf and hidden in the woods until she was finally captured in September of that year. Infrared cameras, a helicopter, animal psychics and the police were involved, and a German tabloid even offered 10,000 Euro for her return.

9. Uitwaaien (Dutch)

Translation: To take a walk in the wind, usually alone, to clear your head.

If there’s a word that describes an extremely laid-back activity, you can bet your bottom dollar it’s Dutch. This summer take the opportunity to head outdoors and visit your favorite sanctuary, even if it’s just for half an hour. Whether it’s the seaside, the forest, a lake or a park, there’s something incredibly healing about filling your lungs with cool, fresh air. It can recharge your batteries and do wonders for your mental health.

10. Utepils (Norwegian)

Translation: A beer enjoyed outdoors, often used to talk about the first beer enjoyed outside of the season.

Although Norwegians can enjoy a chilled beer any time of the year, nothing says summer like a good utepils. From the Norwegian word ute for “outside” and pils (short for Pilsner), it’s the ultimate ode to enjoying an outside beer at the beach, in the park or in the privacy of your own balcony or garden.

11. Yakamoz (Turkish)

Translation: The reflection of moonlight on the sea.

Try to imagine the coastal town of Marmaris under a full moon. The shimmering reflection of the moon on the sea is what the Turks call yakamoz, and it’s a memory that will keep you warm in the dead of winter. From the Greek word diakamos (διακαμός), it refers to the phosphorescence of the sea that can also be caused by sparkling fish or plankton.

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