You know that feeling when you need to describe something, but there isn’t an exact word or succinct way to explain it? So instead you just say, “you know that feeling when…?” Before we get any more meta, we should discuss how other languages often do have words for these highly specific feelings or circumstances. We call them “untranslatable words” because there isn’t a direct translation for them in English — just a roundabout way of explaining the concept. Some languages, particularly German (known for its long, compound words), have really funny words to describe humorous ideas and situations.
The following list is a compilation of 9 of our favorite funny words — untranslatable words — that other languages have but English (sadly) does not. If we try hard enough, maybe we can start incorporating these into our everyday conversations. Which of these words is your favorite? Are there any other untranslatable words you particularly like? Let us know on social media (@BabbelUSA)!
9 Untranslatable Funny Words From Other Languages
1. Backpfeifengesicht (German) — a face badly in need of a fist
2. Jayus (Indonesian) — a joke that is so unfunny or told so badly you just have to laugh
3. Hè hè (Dutch) — a sigh of relief at the end of a long day
4. Slampadato (Italian) — the nice orange glow that comes from being addicted to tanning salons
5. Chanter en yaourt (French) — to sing made-up words or sounds when you don’t know the lyrics to a song
6. Schadenfreude (German) — the feeling of joy or pleasure when one sees another fail or suffer misfortune
7. Feestvarken (Dutch) — literally “party pig”; someone in whose honor a party is thrown
8. Linslus (Swedish) — someone who wants to be on camera all the time
9. Schnapsidee (German) — ideas and plans so ludicrous that they must have been conceived while drunk