Appendix:Terms considered difficult or impossible to translate into English

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This index contains terms that are considered “untranslatable”, meaning difficult or impossible to translate directly into an English equivalent.

Terms without an English equivalent[edit]

Term Meaning Language Notes
afturbatapíka An unmarried woman or girl who has had a child, which has however since been forgotten, resulting in her being considered a virgin again (literally "convalescent virgin"). Icelandic
cafuné The act of fondling someone's hair or scalp. Portuguese Brazil
cavolo riscaldato A (doomed) attempt to re-ignite a failed relationship (literally "reheated cabbage"). Italian
coisar To do anything (placeholder for any unrecalled verb). Portuguese
color cane che fugge A nonspecific or nameless color. (English does not have a clear equivalent; sometimes sky-blue pink is used without particular meaning, but it also specifies a real (spectrum of) color the sky sometimes turns; similarly, reddish-green is sometimes used in philosophy as a nonsensical or impossible color, but it also specifies a real color some plants have.) Italian Literally "color of a dog that flees".
color de gos com fuig Catalan Literally "color of a dog that flees".
color de perro que huye Spanish Literally "color of a dog that flees".
cor de burro quando foge Portuguese Literally "color of a donkey when it flees".
chuva de molhar bobo A rain that seems light enough for people to walk around in without getting wet, fooling those who do into getting soaked; alternatively, a rain that falls before those walking around expected it to come, soaking those who foolishly went out without an umbrella. (Literally "fool-wetting rain".) Portuguese Brazil
chuva molha-tolos Portuguese Portugal
fensterln To visit a girl who is the object of one's affections at night, either by coming to her window or by climbing through it into her room. German
Kummerspeck Excess weight gained as a result of stress-related eating (literally "sorrow-fat"). German
saudade, soidade The feeling of missing something or someone. Galician
saudade Portuguese
saudade Spanish
دلتنگی(deltangi) Persian
Sitzriese A person who appears tall when seated but short when standing. German
skämskudde A real or imagined pillow one hides behind when experiencing vicarious embarrassment due to watching something embarrassing. Swedish
почемучка (počemúčka) A person, often a child, who asks a lot of questions, especially "why" questions (from почему (počemú) "why"). Russian The term gained currency in English after it was named #9 in a BBC list of the top 10 most difficult words (in any language) to translate.
غیرت(ğeyrat) The desire to control female members of the family and protect them from unwanted sexual attention. Persian, etc. Also borrowed into other languages.
渋い (shibui) Having a simple, subtle, and unobtrusive beauty (see also Shibui at Wikipedia). Japanese
積ん読 (tsundoku) The act of buying a book and leaving it, unread, piled up with other unread books. Japanese A kind of visual pun on the verb phrase 積んで置く (tsunde oku, literally to pile up and leave something). This use of oku is quite common, and the -e oku verb combination commonly contracts in fast or informal speech into just -oku: tsunde okutsundoku. The doku portion was then spelled with (to read, reading), which is read as doku in Sinoxenic compounds, to allude to books as the object of the action.
失獨 / 失独 (shīdú) The phenomenon of parents losing their only child but being unable to have another due to old age or government policy (literally "lose only"). Chinese