10 More Awesomely Untranslatable Words From Around the World

By Matt Bramowicz on March 26th, 2013

Last year I did a post that listed 20 untranslatable words from other languages.  The post got a lot of attention (mostly thanks to naysayers denying the ‘untranslatable’ label), so I thought I would do a follow-up with more words from around the world.

While a debate could linger on about whether or not there is a synonym in another language that means approximately the same thing, like all languages, colloquial expression is relative to the area where the word originated.

So here’s a new list of words that are inherent to their language of origin, for your appreciation.  Now let’s see how many of them you can translate…


1. Age-otori (Japanese)

To look worse after a haircut

2. Sgriob (Gaelic)

The itchiness that overcomes the upper lip just before taking a sip of whisky

3. L’esprit de l’escalier (French)


Translated as ‘staircase wit’, the act of thinking of a clever comeback when it is too late to deliver it.

4. Pochemuchka (Russian)

A person who asks a lot of questions

5. Tingo (Pascuense language of Easter Island)

To borrow objects one by one from a neighbor’s house until there is nothing left in it

6. Mamihlapinatapai (Yaghan, southern Chile)

A look between two people suggesting an unspoken desire


7. Gigil (Tagalog)

The urge to pinch or squeeze something that is unbearably cute such as a kitten or a beautiful girl

8. Waldeinsamkeit (German)

The feeling of being alone in the woods


9. Kyoikumama (Japanese)

A mother who relentlessly pushes her children toward academic achievement

10. Duende (Spanish)

The emotions one feels when they are deeply moved by art.

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