Appendix talk:Terms considered difficult or impossible to translate into English

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I consider this appendix's title to be appropriate, but it's not set in stone if anyone has a really good idea for improvement.   — C M B J   10:03, 5 June 2013 (UTC)

I would say that these are words with no direct English translation. Some are not necessarily hard to translate, but there is no English analog, so the translations are wordy. bd2412 T 13:31, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
I don't have strong feelings about the title, but just as a thought, BD2412's comment above said it quite well, so how about a title that paraphrases that: "Terms without close analogs in English"? That would be more concise, and it would avoid the word "translation," which has prompted some objections.--Haplology (talk) 15:11, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
The term 'considered' bothers me; what if one author considers a word impossible to translate but others don't? The way I interpret the current title, is that as long as an acceptable source says that a word is impossible to translate into English, I doesn't matter if other sources, no matter how many, consider that there is a translation. Mglovesfun (talk) 17:50, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
I propose Terms without idiomatic English equivalents (or translations instead of equivalents.) The term considered also bothers me. Considered by whom? Judging from the nominations below, by people who suck at thinking of translations! — Ungoliant (Falai) 15:26, 11 June 2013 (UTC)
  • It seems more like "terms without fully matching one- or two-word English translations". Terms like 素直 (sunao) are definitely translatable, but the shape of the conceptual box described by the term is very different from the shape of the conceptual boxes of the corresponding English terms, so overlap is incomplete, necessitating a more nuanced approach to translating than just taking the source text and replacing it with the one-to-one match for each word.
This is partly why I'm not too worried about machine translation destroying my career. -- Eiríkr Útlendi │ Tala við mig 17:25, 11 June 2013 (UTC)
I'd really prefer not to define the concept as being limited to one- or two-word terms. If any term exists, regardless of word count, then it can be considered an equivalent. On the other hand, if two words can describe a concept but aren't citable as a term, then they generally shouldn't be considered equivalent.   — C M B J   06:27, 15 June 2013 (UTC)


Any thoughts on how semi-obscure loanwords that have recently been assimilated into English (e.g., schadenfreude) should be handled?   — C M B J   10:05, 5 June 2013 (UTC)

If they have been assimilated into English, they have an English translation. — Ungoliant (Falai) 11:40, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
That's more or less what I was thinking, but how do we make that determination and where do we draw the line? Schadenfreude was not something that ever really entered the English lexicon, it was just a foreign curiosity enjoyed by a small subset of English speakers that then gained popularity with the advent of the Internet. This is something of a meta-consideration because our appendix may eventually lead to similar exposure of some terms.   — C M B J   11:59, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
This doesn't really speak to your basic discussion, but fwiw Schadenfreude is neither obscure in educated English, nor was it unknown prior to the internet. It has a listing in my 1951 Webster's, and I certainly knew its meaning in high school in the 1960s from reading the newspaper. I haven't seen any great change in the extent of its usage since the Internet became popular. Mathglot (talk) 05:35, 14 December 2013 (UTC)


An editnotice needs to be drafted and created as per previous discussion.   — C M B J   10:32, 5 June 2013 (UTC)

Ungoliant's draft

"Do not add words that don’t have entries, or whose definitions do not match the definitions listed by the entry. Create the entry first."

Resources (old list section)[edit]

(List merged with new section)

List copied from Wiktionary:Requests for deletion/Others#Category:Terms without an English counterpart.   — C M B J   10:39, 5 June 2013 (UTC)

I have found an excellent book, The Meaning of Tingo, which is full of terms falling within this category. bd2412 T 22:13, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
That book is not a good resource. It’s full of made-up, incorrect and exaggerated meanings. See Talk:tingo#An analysis of Portuguese terms in The Meaning of Tingo for examples of how seriously the author misinterprets words. — Ungoliant (Falai) 22:32, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
I must admit, I was a bit taken by the breadth of the thing. Thanks for the tip! Of course, we can still check out and vet some of the words that he claims have no English analog. bd2412 T 23:23, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
Actually, I would encourage you (or anyone) to use popular literature like this as a place for finding acceptable terms, because, even if 80% of the entire book is flawed, that still means we'll get some really good ones out of it. If there is any question about a term (i.e., one we don't have an entry about) then it should be carefully researched before its addition, but any term that even could potentially be a candidate should be brought to this talk page for discussion, both because it may in fact be acceptable and because if it isn't then we need to have it archived to that effect.   — C M B J   00:37, 6 June 2013 (UTC)


Since the "meaning" column of the table is precisely showing translations of the terms in question, how are they "difficult or impossible to translate"? Translation is not, and never has been, about turning one word in the source language into one other word in the target language. Ƿidsiþ 13:13, 5 June 2013 (UTC)

It's a matter of opinion, I suppose, but personally I'm laying in bed and can't put my phone down and go to sleep because everyone else's contributions have been so interesting.   — C M B J   13:21, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
Yes they are very interesting, but you seem to be confusing "untranslatability" with "lack of a single one-word equivalent". French regarder requires two words to be translated into English, but it's not untranslatable, so what are the criteria here? Ƿidsiþ 13:23, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
Lack of a single equivalent term is the idea, i.e. that which cannot be translated without going into literal description.   — C M B J   13:34, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
I think this is a fundamental misunderstanding of what translation is; it's not about transcoding one word into another word. This is one reason why linguists are very skeptical about claims of amazing untranslatable words...see e.g. this discussion, which refers to several of the words on this list. Ƿidsiþ 13:40, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
I'm no stranger to tingo after getting caught up in that word's discussion and I'm pretty sure I bumped into this article in the course of that, but the core issue of concern in this area seems to be quality. We actually have people from all around the world who have a pretty good command of just about every language, so we can make consensus-driven revisions that correct these shortcomings.   — C M B J   13:56, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
  • I do like the idea of countering the pop-linguistic trend described in the Language Log post linked to above by providing a list of terms whose actual meanings and spellings have been verified. —Angr 14:07, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
Fair enough, and I find a lot of these words interesting too. But they are not difficult or impossible to translate – they just don't all have convenient single-word equivalents. Which is not the same thing. Ƿidsiþ 14:27, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
It's important to distinguish between single-term and single-word equivalents, because terms and words are objects but multiple word translations convey meaning by description.   — C M B J   14:35, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
Technically I agree with Widsith here; if you can translate a term using a sentence, you are translating it nonetheless. Mglovesfun (talk) 17:52, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
Sure, you're still making that term's meaning understandable in another language, but it's only through the power of human description and understanding. In contrast, think of how systems view translation. They identify objects, find equivalents, and process them according to a target language-specific semantic algorithm.   — C M B J   00:02, 6 June 2013 (UTC)
"Sure, you're still making that term's meaning understandable in another language, but it's only through the power of human description and understanding." Yes, that is what translation is. Never mind how ‘systems’ view it, whatever that means, why not listen to how translators view it. Ƿidsiþ 07:21, 6 June 2013 (UTC)

As a casual reader looking for interesting titbits, I love stuff like this, but as a linguist, I have to say that I agree with Ƿidsiþ. As interesting as this list might be, "untranslatable words" are well and truly in the realm of pop linguistics. It really goes without saying there are going to be plenty of times when some language expresses some meaning more efficiently than English does, or has a word for which there is no exact English word-to-word equivalent, but that's not at all what translation is about. More analytic languages (like English) prefer to use a series of words to denote something which a more synthetic language (like, say, Finnish) would denote with a single word; taking that typological difference between languages as evidence for a word's being untranslatable doesn't really make a lot of sense when you look past the appeal of having a fun factoid.
To give a concrete example, the Japanese word damasareyasui means "easy to be deceived". Wow! One word that needs four English words to translate it? Sure, but it's not some special word – there are thousands like it. It's just made up of damasa (imperfective stem of "to deceive") + -reru (passive suffix) + -yasui (easy to verb).
This might seem all a bit off-topic, but what I'm trying to demonstrate is that the amount of words it takes to translate something into English doesn't really say that much about how easy or difficult it is to translate that word into English. Most of the time, it doesn't say anything really interesting about the word at all. It says much more about the differences between the grammars of the languages than anything else. D4g0thur (talk) 16:12, 21 July 2013 (UTC)

That example is correct. The proposals so far have been interesting in the spirit of "editors' picks"--I've even added a few myself--but I agree that they're no more than pop linguistics. None of the Japanese terms added so far are untranslatable. In eight years I've never encountered one. I'd like to find a system that can view translation, identify objects, find equivalents, and process them according to a target language-specific semantic algorithm because it would help me when I translate Japanese and I could make a lot of money. So far the only method I have is to use my brain, and every word is difficult to translate, which makes translation a bit slow and limits how much I can earn. --Haplology (talk) 17:06, 21 July 2013 (UTC)
What does "untranslatable" mean?
I have to agree with Ƿidsiþ and D4g0thur here. I think the essential problem with this topic is that it doesn't have a well-defined description; putting it another way--like a poorly written law where you cannot be sure whether you're breaking the law or obeying it, there doesn't seem to be any surefire way here of determining whether some candidate term is, or isn't a proper entry for this article.
An article about translation difficulties would be a different thing, and likely quite interesting, and plenty of terms could be listed in a table there along with explanations of what's difficult about them on a case-by-case basis. (Whether it would rate an article in an encylopedia is a separate question.) Translators from the Hungarian for example, have to deal with texts containing the pronoun "ő" which means either "he" or "she"--one cannot tell which. Does this belong on the list here? I'd say no, because normally context makes this clear, but not always. There are zillions of examples like this.
Verb conjugations are a thicket of complications: how do you deal with Finnish verbs, each of which, if conjugated fully can have over 20,000 inflected forms, each with its (slightly) different translation? Are these untranslatable? Or do they each just need several words to translate them? What is the difference?
In ASL, the use of classifiers is a core language element, and can be used to indicate huge herd of cattle moving outward. Is this an untranslatable ASL sign? Or is that concise six-word fragment the very simple translation of it?
In a true table of untranslatable terms, the second column would be blank, or at best, a vague paraphrase: "It's something nice having to do with hair, but unfortunately English doesn't have the words for me to explain it to you exactly. Sorry." But that's not the case. Given sufficient words, any term can be translated. After all, we have a translation for grok, and that comes from Martian. Mathglot (talk) 06:25, 14 December 2013 (UTC)
Given sufficient words, any term can be explained, but not necessarily translated. --WikiTiki89 16:59, 14 December 2013 (UTC)
Perhaps not every term can be translated, but certainly every term in this table has been translated. D4g0thur (talk) 11:07, 29 January 2014 (UTC)

Red links[edit]

I'm a little baffled why the request not to add red links to the main page was removed. I think it's a good idea to store red links here on the talk page until their entries are created and verified. —Angr 14:25, 5 June 2013 (UTC)

See User talk:Ungoliant MMDCCLXIV#New appendix. I agree with putting it back though. — Ungoliant (Falai) 14:28, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
It was removed at my suggestion because there were a lot of great red links pouring in. I think that everyone who has this appendix on their radar right now knows what should and shouldn't be considered appropriate. If they don't, we'll move problematic terms back to the talk page after a reasonable grace period.   — C M B J   14:33, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
Let’s add it back now? — Ungoliant (Falai) 12:02, 8 June 2013 (UTC)

Obscure terms adopted as loanwords[edit]

Need to start notating these either for a supplemental chart or a separate appendix at some point in the future.   — C M B J   10:56, 8 June 2013 (UTC)

Index of candidate terms[edit]


To make this page more manageable, nominations which have been accepted (added to the list) or rejected (excluded because the supposedly untranslatable terms are in fact translatable) are moved to this archive.


  • mencolek (Indonesian) - To tap someone lightly on the opposite shoulder from behind as a trick.[1]
  • faamiti (Samoan) - To make a squeaking sound by sucking air past the lips in order to gain the attention of a dog or child.[1]
  • Almost all the terms I can possibly find relating to Old Norse poetic technique are totally untranslatable, since their poetic forms have long since vanished. Of course, none of them are on Wiktionary either...
fornyrðislag WP
malaháttr WP
ljóðaháttr WP
dróttkvætt WP
And the modern rímur, rímnahættir WP
+many lesser terms kviða, galdraháttr, kviðuháttr, lausavísa, drápa, and the list goes on... Hyarmendacil (talk) 09:24, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
Most of these are just translated as themselves, e.g. dróttkvætt. I don't think they're any more untranslatable than the names of specific food dishes (which also tend to be borrowed). - -sche (discuss) 06:01, 1 January 2017 (UTC)
  • Poptjie Patu (Suriname creole): Imaginary cooking while playing house. “Poptjie” means “doll”, and “patu” means “pan”. (via Chantal)[2]
  • gigil (Filipino) – The irresistible urge to pinch or squeeze something cute.[3]
  • maya (Sanskrit माया (māyā)) - This word is one that could be applied to a lot of protest movements and many political speeches. It refers to belief — the often unfortunate belief — that the symbol of a thing is the same as the thing itself. It's the, "Ceci n'est pas une pipe," of the literary world.[4]
second stage simulacra?[5]   — C M B J   10:52, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
  • Orenda (Huron) - Orenda is the invocation of the power of human will to change the world around us. It is set up to be the opposing force to fate or destiny. If powerful forces beyond your control are trying to force you one way, orenda is a kind of voiced summoning of personal strength to change fate.[4]
Alternate version: "The power of human will to change the world. Set up as an opposing force to fate or destiny. If powerful forces beyond your control are trying to force a particular outcomes, orenda is a kind of vocalised summoning of personal strength to change this."[6]   — C M B J   02:11, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
  • aay'han (Mandalorian) - Aay'han is that bittersweet perfect moment of mourning and joy. It's remembering those who are lost or gone, right as you're celebrating or having the time of your life. It's about being surrounded by loved ones and enjoying the moment, then suddenly remembering those loved ones that have died. Bittersweet doesn't even come close to the intensity of aay'han.[5]
  • Egyptian k3 and b3 (sense 1 for both): normally you would write 'ka' or 'ka-spirit'; but they are very difficult to actually translate. Hyarmendacil (talk) 10:12, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
  • luo suo - Basically means someone who talks and talks your ear off about nothing, nonsense etc.[5]
User clarification: There are words like "garrulous" or even "talkative" but none of those words really capture what that Chinese word really means. There are a few descriptive words like this where you can't really find an English equivalent.   — C M B J   10:48, 8 June 2013 (UTC)[5]
User clarification: No, there's a connotation to it that chatterbox, blabbermouth or any of the above doesn't convey. It's hard for me to explain, but I know it when I see it I guess.   — C M B J   10:48, 8 June 2013 (UTC)[5]
User clarification: Because the word "chatterbox" isn't always negative. You can say about a small child "oh what a little chatterbox you are" and pat them on the head because they are cute. Windbag and Gasbag don't work either because those kind of have a pushy connotation. And you can't call someone a "gab", i guess you can say they are "gabby" but that would be closer in line with "chatterbox". This is why it's so damned hard for me to convey it in English. It's not Blabbermouth either, because a blabbermouth is what you call someone who can't keep a secret. Suffice it to say, there is NO real English equivalent for "luo suo". Believe me, everyone in my family has tried to explain it to our English speaking friends and come up empty.   — C M B J   10:48, 8 June 2013 (UTC)[5]
  • rábula - A third-rate, ambulance-chasing, unscrupulous AND incompetent lawyer.[5]
  • gunnen - Something like 'to deserve' without the 'deserving'-part. It's mostly used in a way that means that you wish for somebody to get something regardless if that person deserved it or not.[5]
  • Sehnsucht - a yearning after... elf-land, essentially. From wiki: "It is sometimes felt as a longing for a far-off country, but not a particular earthly land which we can identify. Furthermore there is something in the experience which suggests this far-off country is very familiar and indicative of what we might otherwise call "home". In this sense it is a type of nostalgia, in the original sense of that word. At other times it may seem as a longing for a someone or even a something. But the majority of people who experience it are not conscious of what or who the longed for object may be, and the longing is of such profundity and intensity that the subject may immediately be only aware of the emotion itself and not cognizant that there is a something longed for. The experience is one of such significance that ordinary reality may pale in comparison, as in Walt Whitman's closing lines to "Song of the Universal": Is it a dream? Nay but the lack of it the dream, and failing it life's lore and wealth a dream, and all the world a dream."[5]
  • je l’ai câlissée là (Québecois French) - To break up with a romantic partner in French is casser avec quelqu’un. Calisse is a strong Québecois swearword which literally means “chalice,” specifically a chalice in which to hold the wine that represents / is the blood of Christ. (For reasons that took me about three years to understand, Québecois swears all have something to do with religious artifacts used by the Catholic church.) Replacing casser with calisse gives Je l’ai câlissée là, “I broke up with the person in a painful or abrupt way” (or, literally, “I chalice holding the blood of Christ with that person”). This, along with about 50 other Québecois swears of escalating severity, was explained to me one summer by my dear friend Guillaume. He enjoyed swearing, smoking, telling stories, and complaining about Albertans, all of which somewhat characterize Quebec.[7]
  • rawa-dawa (Mundari/Indian) - The sensation of suddenly realising you can do something reprehensible, and no one is there to witness it.[5]
  • bacheque (Lingala) - Although the closest English translation of this African noun would be “con artist,” bacheque has a richer meaning. C.J. Moore describes it like this: This is the man about Kinshasa who will sell your a car (especially when yours has mysteriously disappeared the day before), organize a night out on town for you or a tour of the local sights. Wearing a loud shirt and the best designer watch, bacheque serve a vital brokering purpose when the formal economy has dramatically broken down. They change currency, establish market prices and give the capital its characteristic feel (78-79).[8]
  • Donaldkacsázás (Hungarian) - This is a neologism that can be literally translated as “donald ducking.” or wandering around one’s house wearing a shirt and no trousers. The idea that a quirk of an old Disney cartoon character has entered the Hungarian collective subconscious enough to merit its own word makes me smile, as does my own mental image of an older man with a mustache puttering around the house in house slippers and white-collared shirt.[7]
  • gagung (Cantonese) - Literally meaning “bare branches,” this word is used to talk about men who have little chance to get married or start families due to China’s one-child policy and its results: an excess of marriageable males as compared to females (Moore 85).[8]
User feedback: Proper transliteration is gwong-gwan.[8]   — C M B J   11:34, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
  • házisárkány (Hungarian) - Literally translated as “home-dragon”. A derogatory term for an impatient or ill-natured spouse.[9]
  • kaapshljmurslis (Latvian) - A person who is cramped while riding public transportation. If you’ve ever been on a bus or subway during rush hour then you know the feeling.[9]
  • eshtaneya (Kannada) - A word used when asking “what number in a series?”, to be answered by ordinals like “First”, “Second” or “Hundredth”. You could use this word when asking a person what number they were of their parent’s children. Asking if they were the first, second, or third child in their family, etc.
  • hanyauku (Rukwangali, Namibia) - The act of walking on tiptoes across warm sand.[9]
  • pisan zapra (Malay) - The amount of time required to eat a banana.[9]
  • pana po’o (Hawaiian) - To scratch your head in order to help you to remember something you’ve forgotten.[9]
  • dona (Yamana, Chile) - To take lice from a person’s head and squash them between one’s teeth.[9]
Sounds like an overspecific meaning, the same thing that afflicts tingo. — Ungoliant (Falai) 00:30, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
  • talkin (Indonesian) - To whisper instructions to the dying.[9]
  • panahiyabhadra (Hindi) - A person who has lost all the hair on his head after being beaten by shoes. (Panahi== shoes, bhadra==gentleman–bald people are considered to be gentleman.)[10]
  • Dii-KOYNA (Ndebele, South Africa) - To destroy one’s own property in anger.[10]
  • sasi (Malayalam) - ‘Sasi’ (pronounced “shashi”) is a word used among young people to refer to an unsporting, ageing father who will allow neither late outings nor frequent mobile calls from the opposite sex. (‘Mini’ is its female version).[10]
  • belum (Indonesian) - Belum translates to "not yet", but with positive, optimistic connotations. It is used for tasks/events not yet undertaken or experienced, yet that are hoped to be. Due to the Indonesian people’s undying optimism, it’s used in response to questions where the answer in English would be “No, I haven’t”, or “No, I will never” just so the chance of that event happening isn’t ruled out. e.g. “Have you eaten dinner?” right through to “Have you climbed Mount Everest?”[10]
  • latah (Indonesian) - Uncontrollable habit of saying embarrassing things.[10]
Foot-in-mouth disease?   — C M B J   03:33, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
  • qarrtsiluni (Iñupiaq) - “Sitting together in the darkness, waiting for something to burst.”[10]
  • papakata (Cook Islands Maori) - To have one leg shorter than the other.[10]
  • lucu (Indonesian) - Literally means funny and cute. It is customarily used to describe something like a clumsy puppy, falling over and making a fool of itself — it’s simultaneously cute and funny![6]
  • dhvani (Sanskrit) - “‘Dhvani’ is a Sanskrit word meaning ‘sound’ or ‘echo’ literally. It is also a technical term in Sanskrit literary criticism, with a very beautiful, Better-than-English-worthy meaning: It refers to ‘allusion’ or ‘implied meaning’, best defined as: Dhvani is the feature of a poem/line of having a hidden meaning that strikes you in the second or further readings, but not the first.” “Example: Herge’s Tintin comics have ample Dhvani in them – when I read them as a kid, they were just lovely stories; when I read them now, I also see a trenchant commentary on 20th century history.”[6]


  • gurfa (Arabic) - The amount of water that can be scooped up in one hand.[6]
  • ostiqâra (Arabic) - A request to receive spiritual or practical assistance in the form of a dream.[10]
استخارة istikharah? --Z 11:11, 10 June 2013 (UTC)
  • wa’ada (Arabic) - Verb meaning “to bury his living daughter”. A practice in Pre-Islamic culture of Arabia, since forbidden by Islam.[6]
  • [script needed] (ya’aburnee) (Arabic) - Simultaneously morbid and beautiful.[11]
Looks to be يقبرني (yaqaburnī; Levantine and Egyptian pron.: yaʾaburnī), but it has a different meaning. --Z 15:30, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
Alternate: "You bury me" - a declaration of one’s hope that they’ll die before another person because of how difficult it would be to live without them.[12]   — C M B J   07:13, 8 June 2013 (UTC)


  • bilita mpash (Bantu) - The opposite of a nightmare. Not merely a “good” dream, but a “legendary, blissful state where all is forgiven and forgotten”.[6]
  • mbuki-mvuki (Bantu) - To shuck off one’s clothes in order to dance.[9]
  • ubuntu (Bantu languages, South Africa) - “I am what I am because of who we all are.” (from a translation offered by Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee) “A person with Ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed.” (Archbishop Desmond Tutu)[10]
Propagated in 21st century by Ubuntu OS and Wikipedia. Possible case example for guideline.   — C M B J   01:50, 9 June 2013 (UTC)


  • startijenn (Breton) – A kick of energy, like putting fuel in your engine. It also denotes strength in the face of adversity. (via CT)[2]
Is this a borrowing from English start + engine? -- Eiríkr Útlendi │ Tala við mig 01:53, 9 June 2013 (UTC)



  • 失獨 / 失独 (shīdú) - The social phenomenon of parents losing their only child yet unable to have another one due to old age or government policy.
  • 關係 / 关系 (guānxì) - In traditional Chinese society, you would build up good guanxi by giving gifts to people, taking them to dinner, or doing them a favour, but you can also use up your gianxi by asking for a favour to be repaid. A form of social karma.[10]
Simplified 关系, traditional 關係 (guānxi). Literally relation or relationship. With regard to social situations as described above, can be glossed in English as connections. Also used to mean relevant -- 关系 (méi guānxi), "no relation" → "it's irrelevant, it's unrelated". -- Eiríkr Útlendi │ Tala við mig 05:39, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
  • 老同 (lǎotóng) - Obsolete Chinese word for form of eternal friendship between “heart sisters” – two women who were closer than husband and wife.[6]
  • 麻煩 / 麻烦 (máfán) - Trouble, troublesome; Trouble relating to government bureaucracy.[10]
  • 鏡頭 / 镜头 (qiǎng jìngtóu) - When referring to a photographer it means a fight to get in a better position to take a picture. When not referring to a photographer, but to a person in general, it means someone who steals the spotlight.[9]
  • -無為 / -无为 (wéi - wúwéi) - Wei-wu-wei is conscious nonaction. It's a deliberate, and principled, decision to do nothing whatsoever, and to do it for a particular reason.[4]
User feedback: This is a really neat article - and I realize the whole point is that these concepts are hard to conceive of and translate into English - but your description of "wu-wei" is pretty far off (and a common misunderstanding). Wu-wei is often rightly defined as the principle of "non-action" ("Wei-wu-wei" is the same, just read as "action non-action"), but should be further clarified as "not forcing," "not striving," and "not straining." It is not inactivity, inertia, laziness, or mere passivity. Wu-wei is "the right action of letting nature take its course." Deliberation plays no part, because the idea is to have a mind of no deliberation. Meaning you aren't "stuck in doubt" (akin to Morpheus's advice for Neo: "don't think, act"). And it's not at all about "doing nothing whatsoever for a particular reason."  — C M B J   09:26, 8 June 2013 (UTC) [5]
User feedback: "One thing though: Wu-Wei does mean conscious non-action. More literally it means "pregnant void", and it's typically meant to describe a still or formless state that can spontaneously become any form—-like a martial artist who stands perfectly still and then springs into motion, lays a smackdown without trying, and then returns to perfect stillness. However, this state can apply to just about anything, from martial arts, to accountancy, to artistic endeavors. The point is that whatever you're doing is emerging spontaneously from your being without the "you" of your ego having to "try". It's the "doing" of "Do or do not, there is no 'try'" and the ultimate self-expression that Bruce Lee talked about. In more comprehensible terms, it means being so focused on a situation that your internal dialogue disappears, and you're simply ready for whatever happens, responding creatively and fluidly. This state is commonly known as "Flow" or "being in the zone," but it's a kind of flow that applies whether or not you actually appear to be doing anything. Look up "Flow (psychology)" on wikipedia. I'd post a link, but I can't get this one to work properly. So, that quote from Charlie-Jane's review ("you get the sense, after a while, that Whitehead is deliberately trying to deny the reader any feeling of narrative satisfaction, through denseness and obfuscation") definitely would not be described as Wu Wei... Frustration like this (or anxiety) are quite the opposite of Wu Wei, in fact. On the other hand, it also might be said that an author on top of his game is experiencing and exercising Wu Wei in the act of writing; and a reader can certainly experience it in the act of reading. Whether Whitehead was practicing it, even though he seems to deliberately deny it to his readers, I'll leave to you to decide."   — C M B J   10:10, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
  • 幸福 (xìngfú) - A sort of happiness or contentedness felt through having everything you want in life and/or not having any looming worries. It describes a long-term feeling about one’s life situation rather than a happiness achieved through a singular outcome or situation.[6]
  • 溫馨 / 温馨 (wēnxīn) - The ideal family atmosphere. Somewhat similar to "a family environment of warmth, love and care", but not completely equivalent.
  • 辛苦 (xīnkǔ) – Thanking someone while acknowledging their hard work (similar to the Turkish phrase kolay gelsin).[2]
Compare English good job. -- Eiríkr Útlendi │ Tala við mig 01:53, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
It's more like an equivalent to the Japanese phrase ご苦労様でした (go-kurō-sama deshita). The emphasis in this phrase is not on the result but on the effort. --Anatoli (обсудить/вклад) 12:38, 22 June 2013 (UTC)
  • 緣分 / 缘分 (yuánfèn) - Binding force which eventually brings two people together in love.[13]
  • 餘音 / 余音 (yúyīn) - The remnants of sound that stay in the ears after the sound has stopped.[14]
'ringing in the ears' is a commmon enough phrase. Or else tinnitus, which is the probably the underlying cause. Hyarmendacil (talk) 08:44, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
  • 意思 (yìsī) – Meaning, idea; Fun, interest, enjoyment; indication or hint; (speaking of a gift) a token of appreciation, something not to worry about
  • 見外 / 见外 (jiànwài) - To regard (oneself) as an outsider.
  • 心疼 (xīnténg) - A feeling somewhere between sympathy and empathy when you see the suffering of loved ones.
  • 拱手 (gǒngshǒu) - Cupping one hand in the other in front of one's chest to express respect.
  • 審美疲勞 / 审美疲劳 (shěnměi píláo) - Aesthetically fatigued; seeing so much beauty that one does not appreciate it anymore, especially if that beauty happens to be one’s lover.
  • 下台階 / 下台阶 (xià táijiē) - "To go down the stairs"; to find a way out of an awkward situation. Giving someone "stairs" means to allow him/her an opportunity to maintain face.
  • 靠譜 / 靠谱 (kàopǔ) - A person who is reasonable and reliable.
  • 山寨 (shānzhài) - Chinese imitation and pirated brands and goods, particularly electronics.


  • litost (Czech) - A state of agony and torment caused by the sudden sight of one's own misery.[11]
lítost --Vahag (talk) 11:23, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
Our entry suggests the meanign is more prosaic. - -sche (discuss) 06:01, 1 January 2017 (UTC)
  • panenka (Czech) - a trick to confuse your opponent, named after Panenka’s surprising penalty in the 1976 European Championship[15]


  • hygge (Danish) - [a] Hygge is complete absence of anything annoying, irritating or emotionally overwhelming, and the presence of and pleasure from comforting, gentle and soothing things. [b] Translated as "cosy" or "comfy", but actually more evocative of a party of close friends and family in a log cabin with an open fire, lots of wine and brandy and good food and laughter, where outside is grey and cold and rainy, especially close to Christmas. (See also: w:Culture of Denmark#Hygge)[14][5]
  • hyggelig (Danish) – A feeling of openness, warmth & friendship often between friends.[12]
Every time I run into this term, I just think we need to coin a pseudo-cognate English term, hugly or huggily (not to be confused with the near-opposite, fugly). -- Eiríkr Útlendi │ Tala við mig 01:45, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
  • janteloven (Danish) - It is a way of thinking that looks down upon individual achievement and promotes the belief of a collective effort in regards to success. It is a mindset that someone may be good at what they do, but they are no better than the rest of us. In short, don’t think you are special or better than anyone else.[9]
tall poppy syndrome? I admit this one is a bit far. — Ungoliant (Falai) 00:13, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
Alternate version: A set of rules (“The Law of Jante”) which discourage individualism within communities.[6]   — C M B J   11:39, 10 June 2013 (UTC)
  • kaelling (Danish) - A woman who stands on her doorstep yelling obscenities at her kids.[10]
  • morgenfrisk (Danish) - Feeling rested after a good night’s sleep.[9]
restoredUngoliant (Falai) 23:53, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
or refreshed, although neither specifies that the feeling is morning-related, as the danish term does. - -sche (discuss) 06:01, 1 January 2017 (UTC)


  • de doofpot (Dutch) - This is a common Dutch response to any type of scandal that urges everyone to look the other way so that the whole thing is forgotten and dies without a trace. Literally translated as “the extinguisher”.[9]
  • feest der herkenning (Dutch) - An experience that is enjoyable because it evokes a feeling of recognition, such as a faithful cinematic adaptation of a beloved novel. Literally, “feast of recognition”.[10]
  • gezellig / gezelligheid (Dutch) - Depending on context, can be translated as convivial, cosy, fun, quaint, or nice atmosphere, but can also connote belonging, time spent with loved ones, the fact of seeing a friend after a long absence, or general togetherness. The word is considered to be an example of untranslatability, and is one of the hardest words to translate to English. Some consider the word to encompass the heart of Dutch culture. (See also: Gezelligheid).[5][16]
User feedback: Stuff Dutch People Like | No. 2: Gezellig Gezelligheid[5]   — C M B J   10:12, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
  • pretoogjes (Dutch) - ‘fun-eyes,’ the eyes of a chuckling person who is up to some benign mischief[15]
Alternate: "Literally, ‘fun-eyes’. The eyes of a chuckling person who is up to benign mischief."[6]   — C M B J   08:54, 24 February 2014 (UTC)
  • queesting (Dutch) - To allow a lover access to one’s bed for chitchat.[6]
  • struisvogelpolitiek (Dutch) - The literal translation is ostrich politics. It basically means acting like you don’t notice it when something bad occurs and continuing as you normally would.[9]
ostrichism? --SpecMade (talk) 21:28, 1 October 2013 (UTC)
  • uitbuiken (Dutch) - Literally translated as “to expand the stomach”. It’s taking your time during a meal, relaxing in between courses.[9]
Alternate: "To take a walk and get some fresh air. Also translated as to walk in the wind for fun."[9]   — C M B J   08:54, 24 February 2014 (UTC)


  • viitsima (Estonian) - A mild feeling of laziness and disinclination towards being “bothered” by anything. One doesn’t want to work, go anywhere, or do anything specific.[6]
  • pistma (q.v.) Renard Migrant (talk) 20:05, 31 October 2016 (UTC)


  • hankikanto (Finnish) - A frozen layer on top of snow that is hard enough to walk on.[9]
crust (if WP is to be trusted, it’s the actual terminology) — Ungoliant (Falai) 01:32, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
  • lieko (Finnish) - A trunk of tree that has submerged to the bottom of a lake / pond or a bog after absorbing water for some time until it can’t float anymore. This word comes form western dialects but in eastern dialects there is an equivalent word ‘hako’ which means the same. Both words are valid in modern written Finnish, though rarely used.[6]
  • löyly (Finnish) - The heat wave you get when you throw water on the hot stones in a sauna.[9]
  • pälvi (Finnish) - A snowless patch of ground in otherwise snow-covered terrain.[10]
  • pilkunnussija (Finnish) - A pedant; a person who corrects trivial or meaningless things. Literally, a comma fucker.[10]
The definition itself gives a translation... — Ungoliant (Falai) 02:11, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
Grammar Nazi would be more like it. Further input from a native speaker might be helpful to ensure that's a straight up translation.   — C M B J   04:01, 10 June 2013 (UTC)
  • poronkusema (Finnish) - A very old Finnish unit of measurement. It is used to describe the distance a reindeer can travel before having to stop and urinate.[9]
Sounds like the modern equivalent, "the distance a driver can travel before having to stop and urinate" -- a pit stop.
"How many pit stops between here and St. Louis?" - "I dunno, maybe five." Just swap reindeer for driver and Bob's your uncle. -- Eiríkr Útlendi │ Tala við mig 05:07, 10 June 2013 (UTC)
w:Sisu seems to make a pretty compelling case for the original Finnish sense.   — C M B J   13:13, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
I’m not contesting its existence, I’m contesting that it doesn’t have an English translation. — Ungoliant (Falai) 13:19, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
But is the English translation equivalent? The #English section doesn't capture it's original Finnish meaning, whereas schadenfreude completely does, for example.   — C M B J   13:26, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
According to the definition, it refers specifically to it as a part of Finnish culture, so I guess it was loaned specifically to capture the Finnish meaning. But in any case, I oppose adding words whose translation don’t “capture” its meaning. If it is accurate to use an English word to translate another, then it has a translation, even if the translation doesn’t capture 100% every implication or shades of meaning that the other has. Otherwise we might as well add half the world’s words with an abstract meaning. For example, the English word to love doesn’t capture the exact shades of meaning that Portuguese amar does, but to claim to love does not translate amar is completely incorrect. — Ungoliant (Falai) 14:33, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
That's not quite what I was trying to get at here. It's fine that love and amar may differ slightly, but is the English sense of Sisu a translation or a derivative of the Finnish sense? Sometimes new variants of foreign words will be adopted in another language.   — C M B J   14:49, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
Looks like it’s both. — Ungoliant (Falai) 14:56, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
Although it seems we can't keep the word in this appendix since the English sisu does count as a translation(?), however I think it's a good idea to keep these terms -- which are produced in a certain culture and don't have equivalent in other ones or between English-speakers at least -- somewhere. Maybe we should change the title and/or the purpose of the appendix a bit. --Z 16:20, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
  • tokka (Finnish) - A grazing, large herd of reindeer.[6]
    How about "A grazing, large herd of reindeer." Mglovesfun (talk) 22:37, 1 October 2013 (UTC)


  • amerrissage (French) - The event of landing an aircraft on water.[6]
Why hard to translate? We say ‘landing on water’ or ‘water landing’ in English. Ƿidsiþ 07:20, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
It's described, not translated. Russian has a similar term приводне́ние (privodnénije) --Anatoli T. (обсудить/вклад) 21:34, 31 October 2016 (UTC)
  • aplaventrisme (French) - In French, “aplaventrisme” is the tendency of someone (or a nation) to bow before authority without a fight. It is derived from “être à plat ventre”, which means “to lie on one’s belly”.[6]
kowtowing? Ƿidsiþ 07:20, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
surrenderismUngoliant (Falai) 12:18, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
  • bricoleur (French) - A bricoleur is someone who starts building something with no clear plan, adding bits here and there, cobbling together a whole while flying by the seat of their pants.[4]
User feedback: "A bricoleur sounds a lot like a kluge to me"[5]   — C M B J   08:55, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
  • cruiser (Quebec French) - A bit more intense than just flirting, but basically it's trying to get someone to sleep with you, and maybe more.[5]
  • dépaysement (French) – The feeling that comes from not being in one’s home country.[12]
Does this go beyond or more specific than the concept of homesickness?   — C M B J   07:20, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
User feedback: "Depaysement is not limited to being out of one’s home country. It can also apply to moving house, moving jobs etc and is akin to the German Verfremdungseffekt"[2]   — C M B J   07:36, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
  • dérive (French)- An aimless walk through the city streets.[9]
stroll? — Ungoliant (Falai) 23:53, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
  • fond de l'air (French) - As in, it’s sunny and you could be tricked into thinking it is summertime, but in fact the air is quite cool (not in a refreshing and welcome way). It suggests that the weather is waiting for you to drop your guard so it can give you a nasty cold. Literally, "the bottom of the air".[17][18]
It's one of those that I can never think of a translation of, other than just explaining the word. Not necessarily relevant but I'd consider this word a noun too, but many French adjectives can be used substantively .Mglovesfun (talk) 17:55, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
nesh? — Ungoliant (Falai) 19:14, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
An excellent example of how this can be subjective. There's a definite overlap the way they are worded (wording can change at any time, remember, this is a wiki). Is there enough of an overlap for this to be considered translatable? I'd say yes, but I can't really back that up with any evidence. Mglovesfun (talk) 19:18, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
Psychrosensitive/psychrosensitivity/etc. Rare but citable.   — C M B J   09:54, 10 June 2013 (UTC)
  • la petite mort (French) - Literally “the little death”; a metaphor for orgasm. More widely, it can refer to the spiritual release that comes with orgasm, or a short period of melancholy or transcendence, as a result of the expenditure of the “life force”.[10]
Has at least some contemporary English use.   — C M B J   01:04, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
  • l'appel du vide (French) – “The call of the void” or an urge to leap from high places.[12]
It's a phrase. Mglovesfun (talk) 08:19, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
  • mise en abyme (French) - “Mise en abyme” is the process of making an image that contains itself with infinite recursion (for example, as observed while standing between two mirrors). It can be used metaphorically to describe infinite nesting (a dream within a dream, a story within a story) or self-referential discourse (a book or a movie whose content refers to itself).[6]
Do we not use the word "inception" for that purpose in English now, because of the film? Also for the last example, we generally tend to use the word "meta" I think —This unsigned comment was added by (talk).
  • seigneur-terraces (French) - Café customers who spend a lot of time at a table but little money.[6]
  • rire dans sa barbe (French) - To laugh to oneself quietly while thinking about something that happened in the past. Literally, “to laugh in your beard”.[10]
  • savoir-être (French) - knowing-how-to-be, soft skills, the relational equivalent of savoir-vivre[15]
    You've sort of answered this yourself. Know-how, soft skills, etc. Renard Migrant (talk) 15:12, 19 October 2014 (UTC)



  • aus dem Nähkästchen reden (German) - Used when one is gossiping to friends about family matters. Literally, "to talk out of the little sewing box".[7]
Some versions say slapping.   — C M B J   06:22, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
  • Drachenfutter (German) - While this word literally means “dragon fodder,” it refers to a type of gift German husbands bestow on their wives “when they’ve stayed out late or they have otherwise engaged in some kind of inappropriate behavior” – gifts like chocolates or flowers or a nice bottle of perfume (Moore 27).[8]
peace offering is used like this. — Ungoliant (Falai) 16:12, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
  • Fägnäscht (Swiss German) - Describes someone who always moves or jerks while sleeping or while they try to fall asleep.[9]
Similar English concept exists in medicine, esp. associated with benzodiazapines.   — C M B J   22:26, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
  • Feierabend (German) - The period of time after the day's work is done.
Germans are always wishing each other a nice one at the end of the workday, but I've never figured out an English equivalent. Our entry translates it "quitting time, hometime", but those are more the point in time when the Feierabend begins rather than the Feierabend itself. —Angr 09:03, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
The Russian equivalent: шабаш (šábaš, šabáš) (its original meaning is Sabbath). --Anatoli (обсудить/вклад) 09:21, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
  • fensterln (German) - Climbing through a window to avoid someone’s parents in order to have sex with the someone without the parents knowing.[6]
  • Fingerspitzengefühl (German)- Literally, “finger tip feeling”. It is the ability to think clearly about many individual complex events and treat them as a whole. It was used as a term for military commanders who could maintain extremely accurate mental maps of troop movements and changes in the battlefield. To have a intuitive understanding of something on multiple levels.[9]
See also fingertoppskänsla (Swedish).   — C M B J   03:55, 10 June 2013 (UTC)
  • fisselig (German) - Flustered to the point of incompetence – a temporary state of inexactitude and sloppiness elicited by another person’s nagging.[10]
overnaggedUngoliant (Falai) 02:58, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
Overnagged covers the cause, but does it really express the psychological effect? "I've been overnagged" = "I am agitated from being nagged and cannot think clearly right now"?   — C M B J   03:23, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
Doesn’t the prefix over- imply some sort of negative effect in these sorts of word (i.e. overworked, overloaded, overcaffeinated, etc.)? — Ungoliant (Falai) 12:27, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
  • Geborgenheit (German) - To feel completely safe; like nothing could ever harm you. Usually connected to a particular place or person.[6]
These people can’t even figure out the correct part of speech of half the words, why should we trust their definitions? — Ungoliant (Falai) 05:42, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
Dutch geborgenheid. —CodeCat 11:47, 10 June 2013 (UTC)
Trivia for you: this was voted the second most beautiful word in the German language in 2004, behind Habseligkeiten and ahead of lieben. In addition to the Dutch cognate CodeCat mentions, it has the Afrikaans cognate geborgenheid. I'm a little bit hesitant to call it untranslatable, because numerous books translate it as "security"; OTOH, that's not really a complete translation. It's the state of having a sense of security and well-being, with overtones of things like emotional/physical warmth. - -sche (discuss) 18:44, 17 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Hitzefrei (German) - Literally, “free of heat”. To be given the day off due to excessive temperatures.[10]
  • Kabelsalat (German) – Too many crossed wires. Literally, “a salad of cables.”[2]
This is a particular composition of a rat's nest. [3]. 20:18, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
Deletion icon.svg Cable spaghetti is a direct translation. The English term is undoubtedly new, which may warrant consideration in many cases, but the German term here is presumed similarly new because of its subject matter. See also w:cable management.   — C M B J   03:25, 10 June 2013 (UTC)
  • Kehrwoche (German) - Literally translated as “sweep week”. It is the week when it is your turn to clean the communal areas. Also used to describe the week when it is your turn to sweep the street in front of your building.[9]
  • Pechvogel (German) - A German word for a chronically unlucky person. AKA Bad Luck Brian?[9]
Shlimazel?   — C M B J   23:10, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
The same in Dutch. —CodeCat 11:47, 10 June 2013 (UTC)
But lowercase pechvogel in Dutch. —Angr 10:32, 22 June 2013 (UTC)
ablutomaniaUngoliant (Falai) 05:30, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
I'm uncertain of Putzfimmel's exact meaning, but as far as I can tell, it should translate as Putz[cleaning]fimmel[mania] as opposed to abluto[washing]mania. Putzfimmel's colloquial meaning isn't something that I'm familiar with, but I'm inclined to think that it could positively or sillily refer to ambitious cleaning behavior. Ablutomania, on the other hand, specifically refers to a compulsive behavior (i.e., ritualistic hand washing) that would be best described as inflicting significant mental and/or physical anguish upon an actor. I could be entirely wrong, but I don't tend to think that it would be appropriate to interchange the two in a description of behavior.   — C M B J   08:22, 15 June 2013 (UTC)
  • Schlimmbesserung (German) - An intended improvement that has the opposite effect (the adjective schlimm can mean anything from "bad" to "malicious"; the noun Besserung means "improvement"--literally "betterment")--a useful word indeed, given how often we have seen so-called "reforms" that make a situation worse.[5][20]
User feedback: Verschlimmbesserung.[5] (see also: de:Verschlimmbesserung) - related term or alternate variant?   — C M B J   08:59, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
Any different to backfire? Hyarmendacil (talk) 09:38, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
Verschlimmbesserung is the normal form. Yes, it's quite different from "backfire", which, I think, means that something has an unforeseen negative outcome. Verschlimmbesserung isn't used in this sense, it rather describes a kind of tampering, something that doesn't really solve the problem, or just half of it, but at the same time confuses everybody, etc. It's particularly typical of bureaucratic contexts. The SEPA reform is an example: It's supposed to make banking easier, and maybe it does for some people, but for most people it just means having to enter twice as many digits for a transfer than before.
  • Schnappszahl (German) - Literally: “liquor number”. A number with all identical digits, e.g. 111, 99, 7777. Origin of this may have come from a German card game where scores are written down after every round and if a player has a score of 111, 222, 333, etc. then they have to buy liquor or beer for the group. It is sometimes used ironically as a lucky number since the “lucky” person would have to buy a round of drinks.[9]
repdigit. — Ungoliant (Falai) 00:30, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
  • Spannungsbogen (German) - [a] The self-imposed delay between when one begins to desire something and when one attempts to achieve or acquire it, [b] a sequence of events which serve to allow tension or suspense to rise.[5]
  • Spesenritter (German) - At a dinner or other social situation, it is a person who shows off by paying the bill with their firm’s money. Literally translated as an “expense knight”.[9]
Bigshot can have this meaning, but does not specify the origin of funds.   — C M B J   22:28, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
  • Stammtisch (German) - A social gathering of friends, specifically at a bar, to talk about life.[10]
  • Trennungsagentur (German) - Someone hired by a woman to tell her boyfriend he has been dumped.[6]
  • Verschlimmbesserung (German) - A verschlimmbesserung is a supposed improvement that makes things worse. There are actually a lot of words for this in a lot of languages, and that makes me think that English needs to get on the ball and coin a native word for this concept. Everyone needs it.[4]
Maybe pseudoimprovement. — Ungoliant (Falai) 04:32, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
WaldeinsamkeitUngoliant (Falai) 14:36, 9 June 2013 (UTC)


  • εἴδωλον (eídōlon) (Ancient Greek) - Phantom look-alike taking the form of a living or dead person.[13]
Unclear. More than one similar English term.   — C M B J   08:04, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
eidolon. Mglovesfun (talk) 08:26, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
  • φιλότιμο (filótimo) (Greek) - ‘friend-honour,’ to respect and honour your friends, the quintessence of Greeks[15]
Fairytale, tall tale?   — C M B J   08:04, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
Phrase. Mglovesfun (talk) 08:26, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
like I give a fuckUngoliant (Falai) 05:42, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
  • κέφι (kéfi) (Greek) - The spirit of joy, passion, enthusiasm, high spirits, or frenzy. The custom of smashing plates is considered an expression of kefi, when the soul and body are overwhelmed with an exuberance that must find an outlet.[10]
  • κρεβατομουρμούρα (krevatomourmoúra) (Greek) - Compound κρεβάτι (bed) + μουρμούρα (murmur). When one (especially woman) keeps complaining about something or everything late at night in bed while the other (usually husband) is trying to sleep. “I haven’t slept at all; her krevatomourmoura lasted all night long…”[6]
  • μεράκι (meráki) (Greek) - The word may be quite close to “ardor,” but is exclusively used when referring to one’s own creations. For example, when making a piece of furniture or cooking a dish, and really loving what you do, putting all your effort and creativity into it, you can be said to be doing it with “meraki”.[10]
  • με γεια (me geia) (Greek) - Said to someone when they buy something new, usually applied to large purchases such as jewelry or a car or new home, Me Yia means “with joy.” You are essentially wishing that their new purchase brings them joy and that they enjoy it.[6]
  • βόλτα (vólta) (Greek) - At sundown, the leisurely walk or stroll along the main street or seaside, to meet friends or neighbours.[10]
Our definition just says walk/stroll. Mglovesfun (talk) 19:40, 9 June 2013 (UTC)

Hawaiian Pidgin[edit]


  • ashrag (Hebrew) - Noun used to refer to a male animal that has one testicle larger than the other.[6]
  • firgun (Hebrew) - An act of saying nice things or doing nice things to another person without any other purpose, but to make the other feel good about what he is or what he does.[10]
  • koev halev (Hebrew) - Identifying with the suffering of another so closely that one hurts oneself, that one’s heart aches.[6]
commiserationUngoliant (Falai) 05:30, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
  • le’hashmia (Hebrew) - “To show” someone something is to present him or her with a visual experience; this word is the auditory equivalent. e.g. I would like to ___ you a song. In some cases you “play” a song for someone, but this term is more specific.[9]
  • titchadesh (Hebrew) - Literally translated as “Be new”. The word is used to comment on something new someone has just acquired such as clothes, or even a new haircut. It is more effectively translated as “enjoy your new thing”. In Bulgarian we have the same thing - “честитa” - and we add e.g. “прическа” - haircut - if it the person has a new haircut. :)[9]


I've added two: इंतज़ार and गुज़ारा. Aryamanarora (talk) 22:56, 9 November 2015 (UTC)


  • koyaanisqatsi (Hopi) - This Native American word means “nature out of balance” or a “way of life that is so crazy it calls for a new way of living” (Rheingold 243).[8]


  • ayurnamat (Inuktitut) - In Inuktitut, the language of the Inuit people, ayurnamat roughly translates as the philosophy that there is no point in worrying about events that cannot be changed. Another translation I found was along the lines of: “That’s the way of it, can’t be helped, better luck next time.” I’ve never visited Nunavut, but the tales I hear of long nights, inhospitable landscapes, and the stoic cold make sense in this context.[7]
So it's Inuktitut for 仕方が無い (shikata ga nai)/c'est la vie/che sarà, sarà? —Angr 13:09, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
hakuna matata; win some, lose someUngoliant (Falai) 04:56, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
  • iktsuarpok (Inuit) - The feeling of anticipation while waiting for someone to arrive at one's house and meanwhile intermittently going outside to check for them.[1]


  • ládramhaíola (Irish) - An Irish language term roughly translated as “wasted day”.
Wasted day? Mglovesfun (talk) 19:27, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
  • shamozzle (Irish) - A disagreement between a group of men that can involve shoving but not as serious as one that involves punching or kicking.[10]
    Surely this is Irish English and not Irish Gaelic. - -sche (discuss) 00:32, 23 March 2015 (UTC)
  • suaimhneas croí (Irish) - A bursting happiness and peace encountered after a task has been finished and there is nothing left to be done.[21]


  • attaccabottoni (Italian) - A boring person who corners people and tells long, sad tales.[10]
buttonholerUngoliant (Falai) 02:58, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
  • cavoli riscaldati (Italian) - An attempt to revive a dead love affair. Literally translated, it means “reheated cabbage.”[9]
  • slampadato (Italian) – An addiction to the UV glow of tanning salons.[1]
  • sprezzatura (Italian) - An Italian word originating from Baldassare Castiglione’s The Book of the Courtier, where it is defined by the author as “a certain nonchalance, so as to conceal all art and make whatever one does or says appear to be without effort and almost without any thought about it”. The word has entered the English language; the Oxford English Dictionary defines it as “studied carelessness”. Example: elegantly disheveled hairstyles.[6]
Possible case example where term is still extremely uncommon but has nevertheless been adopted by the OED and a small subculture.   — C M B J   02:27, 9 June 2013 (UTC)


Often glossed as dear, but that really doesn't cover it. My wife and I often wind up just saying things like “wow, that's so natsukashii” because no EN term covers the bases. This word can be explained, and there might be appropriate glosses in specific contexts (dear can sometimes be made to fit), but there isn't any one- or two-word rendering that I can find for this in English.
Our entry here could use some expansion, and definitely some quotes and/or usexes. For reference in this discussion, also see Weblio's JA→EN entry. -- Eiríkr Útlendi │ Tala við mig 15:43, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
I agree. good old comes close but doesn't cover it. I've thought about it again and agin but aa, natsutashii can only be translated as a whole phrase like "yeah, I remember that" or "Those were the days." For some reason that makes me think of one more:
Which by itself is a greeting but can be used adverbially--that sense is currently missing incidentally--to mean "again after not doing it for a long time" --Haplology (talk) 04:50, 6 June 2013 (UTC)
Merged description: "Natsukashii can be used to express a longing for the past. It connotes both happiness for the fondness of that memory and goodness of that time, as well as sadness that it is no longer. It can also refer to nostalgia for a life or event that one has not experience."[10]   — C M B J   08:46, 24 February 2014 (UTC)
  • 愉快犯 - (Japanese) - A criminal who commits a crime so that he or she can enjoy the reaction that it creates, or such a crime. --Haplology (talk) 05:47, 7 June 2013 (UTC)
A gleeful nuisance? ;) -- Eiríkr Útlendi │ Tala við mig 06:58, 7 June 2013 (UTC)
crime junkie (not really idiomatic though, is it?) — Ungoliant (Falai) 15:55, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
  • age-tori (Japanese) - To look worse after a haircut.[6]
Not sure if valid; not in any resources to hand. Not even sure how this would be spelled. -- Eiríkr Útlendi │ Tala við mig 04:31, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
The entry in my JA-JA dictionary is 雨紙 (amagami, oiled paper used to fend off the rain). The intended term would presumably be something like 甘噛み (amagami, literally sweet bite). I haven't checked to see if this is for real, though. English glosses could be nibble or nom.
  • amakudari (Japanese) - Refers to a person employed by a firm in an industry he previously, as a government bureaucrat, was involved in regulating. Literally means “descent from heaven”.[6]
天下り, 天降り, 天降 (​amakudari). Not necessarily exactly regulatory capture. The original (maybe main?) sense is a government official forcibly ordering private industry to do something. By extension, refers to a government official taking up a high-level post in the private sector by means of their influence in government. -- Eiríkr Útlendi │ Tala við mig 04:20, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
  • aware (Japanese) - Aware is a word, quite well-known, for the bittersweetness of a brief and fading moment of transcendent beauty. It's that "last burst of summer" feel, or the transience of early spring.[4]
Which is 哀れ. It has a few senses and the description above sounds like a long-winded description of one of them often translated as pathos. --Haplology (talk) 12:26, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
  • bakku-shan (Japanese) - An ugly woman who is beautiful from behind.[19]
See バックシャン (​bakkushan). I dimly recall hearing of an English slang word that fit this meaning to a T, but I can't remember what it was. -- Eiríkr Útlendi │ Tala við mig 22:42, 3 June 2013 (UTC)
Butterface? —Angr 12:28, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
I want to say that I've heard some obscure English slang for this in the past, but I don't think butterface captures the directionality or sense of ambush in the same exact way.   — C M B J   13:03, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
  • betsubara (Japanese) - Loosely translates to “extra stomach”. It is generally used to describe a female who always has room for dessert.[9]
English hollow leg fits this, only without the gender distinction. -- Eiríkr Útlendi │ Tala við mig 02:22, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
  • ぼけっと (boketto) (Japanese) - To gaze vacantly into the distance without thinking.[1]
This is an adverb, not a verb. Compare English vapidly or vacantly. -- Eiríkr Útlendi │ Tala við mig 22:42, 3 June 2013 (UTC)
daydreaminglyUngoliant (Falai) 15:55, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
  • hikikomori (Japanese) - A teenager or 20-something who has withdrawn from social life, often obsessed with TV and video games.[6]
A shut-in; someone who is withdrawn. Some of the meaning of this term is specific to Japanese culture -- in many (most?) other cultures, people of adult working age don't have the opportunity to be complete moochers and withdraw from life so completely. -- Eiríkr Útlendi │ Tala við mig 04:31, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
  • ikibari (Japanese) - Literally, a “lively needle”. Used to describe a man who is willing but under-endowed.[6]
Looks like slang, if valid; not listed in the resources I have to hand. -- Eiríkr Útlendi │ Tala við mig 04:13, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
  • ikigai (Japanese) - Ikigai is a Japanese word meaning “reason for being.” On the island of Okinawa, it is thought of as “a reason to get up in the morning,” a philosophy which has been linked to the longevity of the people there.[6]
"Philosophy"? Where does this crap come from? I'm sorry, my frustration is showing. (Not with CMBJ, rather with folks who can't be bothered to find a decent bilingual dictionary before trotting out these ridiculosities.)
生き甲斐, 生甲斐 (ikigai, reason for living, raison d'être). Nothing philosophical about the term itself. -- Eiríkr Útlendi │ Tala við mig 04:31, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
I’m also frustrated by these people’s incompetence. They don’t care about linguistic accuracy, as long as people think it’s cool. — Ungoliant (Falai) 15:55, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
  • jibaku (Japanese) - The act of unintentionally or inadvertently demolishing your own argument in the process of defending your view.[9]
Could be either 自爆 (jibaku, blowing oneself up) or 自縛 (jibaku, tying oneself up). The English terms hoist on one's own petard or enough rope to hang oneself both come to mind. -- Eiríkr Útlendi │ Tala við mig 02:46, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
There is to shoot oneself in the foot, but like Eiríkr’s suggestions it’s not specific to arguments. — Ungoliant (Falai) 15:55, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
To hang oneself with one's own words would be specific to arguments, though six words is getting into phrase territory.   — C M B J   21:55, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
  • 壁ドン (kabedon) - When a man puts his hand against a near wall (romantically or hostilely), creating a barrier with his arm and preventing a woman from moving.
  • karoshi (Japanese) - Death from overwork.[9]
karoshiUngoliant (Falai) 23:53, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
The attestation listed is just a quote about someone speaking Japanese, so I'm not sure that's indicative of it being equivalent outside our project.   — C M B J   00:09, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
RFV it if you think it’s fake. — Ungoliant (Falai) 00:11, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
It will likely pass muster on that front, but I think it might still fall into the category of difficult to translate since its introduction was so recent. This may be another good case example like schadenfreude for working out a guideline.   — C M B J   00:16, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
Again, though, I have to ask -- what are the criteria for "impossible to translate"? Saying "he worked himself to death" would translate this word quite sufficiently, I think. -- Eiríkr Útlendi │ Tala við mig 02:38, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
The Japanese Wikipedia article notes that the word "karoshi" is included in English dictionaries and in dictionaries of other languages. --Haplology (talk) 14:23, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
Or 木漏れ日 in Japanese. There is actually a Wikipedia page for this
Japanese Wikipedia has an article on:
Wikipedia ja
--Haplology (talk) 12:26, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
crepuscular rays. Not specific to trees though. — Ungoliant (Falai) 15:55, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
  • kokusaijin (Japanese) - This nouns has a literal translation as “an international person,” but according to C.J. Moore it refers only to: Japanese citizens who are able to get along with foreigners. ‘Cosmopolitan’ is the closest English equivalent, but this word connotes someone who speaks foreign languages and knows a lot about foreign countries and cultures. A Japanese kokusaijin may be an ordinary person with a flexible and open personality (89).[8]
The Daijisen dictionary defines this (国際人) as "国際的に活躍している人。世界的に有名な人。また、世界に通用する人。" which translates to "A person active internationally. A person famous internationally. Or, a world-class person." It's 国際 "international" plus the suffix "person," and I think it has every meaning that "international person" has. --Haplology (talk) 12:26, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
Ya, Shogakukan defines this as "someone famous internationally; someone who knows a lot about the world / who has been around". The word cosmopolite comes to mind as one single-word translation. -- Eiríkr Útlendi │ Tala við mig 02:19, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
  • mokusatsu (Japanese) - Mokusatsu is when you bargain and you feel the buyer’s offer is very low. Thus, you keep silent. This makes the buyer understand that his offer is not good enough, while enabling him not to lose face. This word was used by the Japanese emperor in response to Roosevelt’s ultimatum.[10]
Horrible, horrible "definition". Just means to ignore, pointedly, without even acknowledging the object's existence. -- Eiríkr Útlendi │ Tala við mig 04:00, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
Yeah, the top definition ("...when you bargain...") is bogus. It's just "ignore," "disregard," etc. --Haplology (talk) 14:23, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
  • nito-onna (Japanese) - A woman so dedicated to her career that she has no time to iron blouses and so dresses only in knitted tops.[6]
Not sure if this is valid; not in resources to hand. Would be ニット女 (​nitto onna) if real. -- Eiríkr Útlendi │ Tala við mig 04:20, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
Bing returns under 1000 results for this, and a glance shows no matches. --Haplology (talk) 14:23, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
I bet the meaning is actually just “a woman dedicated to her career”, a careerwoman. Compare the mistake in describing the meaning of Portuguese grilagem (here.) — Ungoliant (Falai) 15:55, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
  • okuri-okami (Japanese) - A man who feigns thoughtfulness by offering to see a girl home only to try to molest her once he gets in the door – literally, a “see-you-home wolf”.[6]
送り狼 (​okuri ōkami). By extension from the older sense, that of wolves that would follow travelers in the mountains, awaiting an opportunity to pounce. -- Eiríkr Útlendi │ Tala við mig 04:20, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
Up north in the Tōhoku where I did a half-year homestay, folks there would say しばらくでしたね, but down in the Kantō I never heard that, and folks would instead say 久しぶりでした.
Curiously, I note a similar shift in ... how to say, stated intensity? ... between folks up north in the US versus further south. Minnesotans, at least, are famous for their understatedness, so しばらくでしたね (“so it's been a while, eh?”) would be very fitting there, whereas further south, there's more exaggeration, so 久しぶりでした (“it's been forever [since...]”) fits that as well. Anyway, :) -- Eiríkr Útlendi │ Tala við mig 05:17, 6 June 2013 (UTC)
I haven't noticed people using anything but hisashiburi in Tōkai, but maybe I just wasn't listening carefully. I consulted my native speaker source, and she insists that people all over the country use both hisashiburi and shibarakudeshita, as well as ご無沙汰. I thought gobusata was only used in writing but this person says it is used in speech as well, although usually in more formal situations such as during a telephone conversation.
I was considering adding yojijukugo to this list, but I had a feeling they don't qualify because they are compounds or something like that. What do you think? --Haplology (talk) 14:29, 6 June 2013 (UTC)
  • sunao (Japanese) - A word that is often translated as “meek,” “docile,” “obedient,” or even “submissive.” But all those words have a slightly negative connotation, and sunao is regarded as a positive characteristic.[10]
obedient has a slightly negative connotation? — Ungoliant (Falai) 02:58, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
素直 (sunao). Refers to being humble and open to the wisdom of others. Overtones of being honest and un-presupposing, also straightforward. Translation is certainly possible, but would depend very much on the context. -- Eiríkr Útlendi │ Tala við mig 03:03, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
  • たてまえ (tatemae) and ほんね (honne) (Japanese) - What one pretends to believe and what one actually believes, respectively.[19]
Tatemae is basically a compound, not so far removed semantically from window dressing. Meanwhile, honne is also a compound, and not so far removed from true feelings. -- Eiríkr Útlendi │ Tala við mig 22:42, 3 June 2013 (UTC)
  • tsundoku (Japanese) - The act of leaving a book unread after buying it, typically piling it up together with other such unread books.[2]
Sedgman wants to say 積ん読. It's slang that comes from 積んでおく (tsunde oku) which is a two-word phrase but de oku sounds like doku which means "reading." --Haplology (talk) 12:26, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
Verified by a native speaker; added to the list. - -sche (discuss) 01:25, 23 March 2015 (UTC)
  • wabi (Japanese) - A flawed detail that creates an elegant whole. The word rhymes with “Bobby.”[10]
  • wabi-sabi (Japanese) – A way of living that focuses on finding beauty within the imperfections of life and accepting peacefully the natural cycle of growth and decay.[12]
Wikipedia has an article on this: w:Wabi-sabi The first line of the Japanese Wikipedia page goes like this:


Rough translation courtesy of moi:

Wabi and Sabi (wabi and sabi) is a Japanese concept of beauty. It indicates a quality of calmness. Originally wabi (wabi) and sabi (sabi) were separate concepts, but nowadays they are often used in combination.

So I think think wabi-sabi is really two words. Note the character in the title which signifies a space. --Haplology (talk) 12:26, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
  • yoko meshi (Japanese) - Literally, “horizontal rice” or “a meal eaten sideways.” This is how the Japanese define the peculiar stress induced by speaking a foreign language: yoko is a humorous reference to the fact that Japanese is normally written vertically, whereas most foreign languages are written horizontally.[10]
Not finding in my resources. Likely slang. If it's slang and showing up in English texts but not Japanese dictionaries, it's probably also dated. -- Eiríkr Útlendi │ Tala við mig 02:57, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
Not in my resources either. --Haplology (talk) 14:23, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
  • yuugen (Japanese) - An awareness of the universe that triggers feelings too deep and mysterious for words.[9]
Probably 幽玄 (yūgen). Glossable as profundity; profound. There's really nothing intrinsic to this word about "universe". —This comment was unsigned.
  • zanshin (Japanese) - A state of relaxed mental alertness in the face of danger.[9]
残心, which in one sense is readiness or being on guard and is used in the context of martial arts. --Haplology (talk) 14:23, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
dauntlessnessUngoliant (Falai) 23:53, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
Probably intended to be 残心 (zanshin, literally remaining mind(fulness)), but the meaning is more like "continued mindfulness, particularly just after striking an opponent or a target". -- Eiríkr Útlendi │ Tala við mig 22:29, 9 June 2013 (UTC)


  • 아쉬움 (aswium, “aswium”) - It’s the feeling you get when you fail an exam by 1%. Or what you experience when you’ve probably eaten enough, but feel like there’s a little something missing. When you say ‘That’s a shame’, “If only this had(n’t) happened!” or ‘Oh well, I guess there’s nothing to be done…’, you are feeling 아쉬움. It’s a mingling of unsatisfaction, wistfulness, disappointment, regret, higher hopes, frustration and sadness.[6]
    The word almost comes to mind for English, which could be an awfully good match depending on context and tone of voice. Incidentally, this seems very close to Japanese 惜しい (oshii), both in terms of meanings and pronuciations (I gather the -um in the Korean is an inflectional ending, as is the -i in Japanese, leaving us stems of aswi- and oshi-). ‑‑ Eiríkr Útlendi │ Tala við mig 17:56, 25 February 2014 (UTC)
    It is from aswip-. I have created the entry. Wyang (talk) 04:02, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
    • Ah, thank you, given what I've pieced together about JA-KO sound correspondences and JA etymologies, that looks less likely. Thank you for creating the KO entry! ‑‑ Eiríkr Útlendi │ Tala við mig 08:02, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
  • 아이고 (aigo, “aigo”) - Word said while sighing, or wanting to sigh. Expresses frustration, pain and resignation. Roughly equivalent to “FML,” or “jeez”. Molly: Did you bring the sprockets? Anna: I thought you wanted rockets! Molly: Aigoo…[10]
So FML or jeez. Mglovesfun (talk) 19:41, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
  • (, jeong) - A special feeling…that is stronger than mere love and can only often be proved by having survived a huge argument with someone.[14]
  • 눈치 (nunchi, “nunchi”) - The innate ability to sense what would be the wrong thing to say in a given situation.[19] Chinese: 眼力勁兒.
  • (, won) - The reluctance on a person’s part to let go of an illusion.[10]


  • forelsket (Norwegian) - It’s the word for the euphoria you experience when you are first falling in love. Literally translated as ‘pre-love’, or ‘over-love’.[10]
Alternate: "It is the euphoric feeling of falling in love at the start of the relationship".[22]   — C M B J   08:28, 24 February 2014 (UTC)
User feedback: Non-compound Finish equivalent is pouta.[23]   — C M B J   08:07, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
  • utepils (Norwegian) - To sit outside on a sunny day enjoying a beer.[9]


  • swadge (Orcadian) - The rest in between courses or during a meal to let your food digest and create space to continue eating.[6]
Orcadian what? English? Scots? Norn? — Ungoliant (Falai) 18:43, 10 June 2013 (UTC)
A few other interesting Orcadian words can be found here.   — C M B J   02:24, 17 July 2013 (UTC)


  • ngaobera (Pascuense) - A slight inflammation of the throat caused by screaming too much.[9]
The definition is probably spurious; compare tingo... - -sche (discuss) 21:08, 8 March 2014 (UTC)
Not present in my resources, but there’s ngao (neck) and vera (burn). It probably means any inflammation of the throat. — Ungoliant (falai) 01:02, 23 March 2015 (UTC)


  • ghiqq (Persian) - The sound made by a boiling kettle.[9]
  • mahj مهج (Persian) - Looking beautiful after having a disease.[9]
The word has a broader meaning. --Z 10:11, 10 June 2013 (UTC)
  • zhaghzhagh (Persian)  - The chattering of teeth from the cold or from rage.[1]
ژغژغ (žaġžaġ) --Vahag (talk) 11:23, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
teeth-chatter. — Ungoliant (Falai) 15:32, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
  • هجران (hejrân)? --Z 10:45, 2 August 2017 (UTC)


  • bakalie (Polish) - any dried fruit, nuts, and candied citrus peel used in baking or added to ice cream[15]
  • chałtura (Polish) - A unambitious (or slightly degrading for the ambitious types) job in a given profession, performed solely for money, e.g. a professional musician performing at a funeral or an art/journalism photographer shooting a wedding.[10]
Identical Russian word: халтура (xaltura) (xaltúra) --Anatoli (обсудить/вклад) 12:05, 10 June 2013 (UTC)
  • dożywocie (Polish) - Parental contract with children guaranteeing lifelong support.[13]
Unclear if term is generic or specific. Concept exists in more than one English legal term.   — C M B J   08:04, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
I'm a Polish native speaker, and dożywocie has a slightly broader meaning. It has three meanings: 1) life sentence (the most popular meaning), 2) annuity that ends with your life, 3) in more general terms, anything, that lasts until the end of life. A Polish dictionary to be used as a source: 20:13, 26 August 2013 (UTC)
  • załatwić (Polish) - Zalatwic is the use of friends, bribes, personal charm or connections to get something done, similar to the English term “do a cash job.”[14]
Wrong. This is not a noun, but a verb, used in rather colloquial situations, and it means simply "to get (something) done". Never mind it is spelled incorrectly. Keφr 11:47, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
Alternate version: Can mean the same thing in English as “to do a cash job,” but the Polish term carries broader and more subtle inferences. It may refer to the use of friends, bribes, personal charm or connections to get something accomplished. Particularly useful under communism, as it was usually easier to get something you wanted by guile than through official channels.[6]   — C M B J   11:26, 10 June 2013 (UTC)
I've fixed the Polish spelling, Russian equivalent уладить (uladitʹ) (uláditʹ) --Anatoli (обсудить/вклад) 12:05, 10 June 2013 (UTC)
It doesn't necessarily involve cash in Polish, or maybe I don't understand the English idiom "do a cash job". "Załatwić coś" (=załatwić something) means simply "obtain something, that is hard to be obtained". There are also other meanings: "załatwić kogoś" (=załatwić somebody) means: 1) "kill somebody", 2) "intentionally create a situation very difficult for somebody (an enemy for example), almost defeat somebody". "Załatwić się" means 1) "relieve oneself", 2) "enter a difficult situation because of one's own past actions". 20:13, 26 August 2013 (UTC)


  • sebo (Portuguese) - A second-hand shop for media (CDs, tapes, vinyl records, books, magazines). Second-hand appliances, clothes, furniture, etc. are not sold in a sebo.
Ungoliant (Falai) 19:26, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
  • cabide de empregos - someone who gets a lot of jobs but doesn’t do actual work in any of them. Literally: coat hanger of jobs. — Ungoliant (falai) 19:01, 8 March 2014 (UTC)


  • с лёгким паром (s ljóxkim párom) – (Russian) “With a light steam”: a friendly remark made to someone who's just come from the bath.[3]
  • белоручка (belorúčka) (Russian) - Literally translated as a “person with white hands”. It is a person who tends to avoid doing any dirty work.[9]
I’ve seen cat used as this, in reference to Animal Farm, but probably not citable. — Ungoliant (Falai) 00:03, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
  • авось (avósʹ) (also said авось (avosʹ) и (i) небось (nebosʹ) avósʹ i nebósʹ) (Russian) - Word has almost historical roots and often is used as “russky avos’” (‘Russian Avos’). The rough meaning of a word is hope for something happens without any endeavour.[10]
Apparently it doesn't, or we don't list that meaning, the phrase is русский авось (russkij avosʹ). I recommend asking Stephen G. Brown or Vahagn Petrosan. Mglovesfun (talk) 19:39, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
What do you mean it doesn't? You can also ask me, I'll try to answer. --Anatoli (обсудить/вклад) 06:22, 11 June 2013 (UTC)
disamorarsi (Italian)   — C M B J   09:08, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
User feedback: The Bulgarian word is разлюбвам and the act is разлюбване.[9]   — C M B J   23:23, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
disenamourUngoliant (Falai) 04:35, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
Or indeed 'fall out of love'. Mglovesfun (talk) 19:24, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
Yeah, I think this is translatable as "fall out of love". - -sche (discuss) 02:46, 27 May 2014 (UTC)
  • выжить (výžitʹ) (Russian) (sense #2) - make someone leave (apartment, work or study place) by making their stay miserable or inconvenient, squeeze someone out of place. Will be happy if an English equivalent is found, will add to the entry. --Anatoli (обсудить/вклад) 04:33, 13 June 2013 (UTC)
    The verb فراری دادن (farâri dâdan) (Persian) has also the same meaning. --Z 05:48, 13 June 2013 (UTC)
  • почемучка (počemučka) - A person, often a child, who asks a lot of questions.

Scots/Scottish Gaelic[edit]

  • moit (Scots) - Pretended indifference/shyness while speaking about a thing one is very keen for.[10]
  • scunner (Scots) - Expresses annoyance or disappointment, e.g. “My motorcycle has a flat back tyre, what a scunner.” “What a scunnersome wee boy that is, always misbehaving.”[10]
botherUngoliant (Falai) 05:16, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
Seems to be English anyway! But what a pain (if we're looking for a non-vulgar word) Mglovesfun (talk) 13:14, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
  • suilk (Scots) - The act of swallowing food with an abnormal amount of noise. A noisy eater.[9]
I always felt gulp implied some abnormal amount of noise, but I’m not native speaker, so... :-| — Ungoliant (Falai) 00:03, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
Gulping would presumably cover noisy consumption of liquids, but the om nom nom noises someone (like Cookie Monster) makes while eating noisily would be a little different. Maybe just noisy eater even?   — C M B J   00:21, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
[[noisy]] [[eater]] (not [[noisy eater]], since the collocation isn't idiomatic). I'd view non-English words like this, which correspond to short English sequences which are not idiomatic but which are common, as "translatable". - -sche (discuss) 02:51, 27 May 2014 (UTC)
  • tartle (Scots) – The act of hesitating while introducing someone because you’ve forgotten their name.[11]


  • до̀чек/dòček (Serbo-Croatian) - A gathering organized due to someone’s arrival. Similar to the English words “greeting” or “welcome,” but a doček does not have to be positive.[6]
  • мерак/merak (Serbo-Croatian) - pleasure derived from simple joys, such as spending time feasting and merrymaking[15]
Hmm. Maybe joie de vivre. — Ungoliant (Falai) 03:10, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
sweetvoicedUngoliant (Falai) 03:10, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
  • инат/inat (Serbo-Croatian) - An attitude of proud defiance, stubbornness and self-preservation to the detriment of everyone else. The Bulgarian word for that is absolutely the same.[6]
So is Armenian ինադ (inad) and probably all other descendants of Arabic عناد (ʿinād), Turkish inat. --Vahag (talk) 12:35, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
recalcitrance? — Ungoliant (Falai) 16:02, 9 June 2013 (UTC)


  • vrtičkar (Slovene) - An elderly person, usually living in the city, who owns a tiny piece of land in the country or on the outskirts of the city–these pieces of land are usually remnants of “common land” from the communist era. On his land he will have built a small hut and be growing small amounts of beans, lettuce and other vegetables for his own use; but the main purpose of such establishments now is to permit the vrtičkar to spend weekends there drinking beer and socializing with other vrtičkars whose huts and fields are nearby.[6]


  • ajeno (Spanish) - Something that belongs to someone else.[10]
As a noun? Odd. — Ungoliant (Falai) 02:11, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
  • amigovia/amigovio (Spanish) - A friend with benefits; a combination of amiga/o and novia/o. Also “un amiga/o con derechos a roce” (a friend with the rights to rub against–where “roce” is from the verb “rozar” to rub against, to touch lightly).[10]
  • amores perros (Spanish) - Literally means “love is dogs,” and is commonly translated as “love’s a bitch” in English. The meaning is perhaps closer to “you win some, you lose some.”[9]
  • atolondrar (Spanish) - To become so overwhelmed by something that you get scatter-brained and do something careless. For example, if you are being bombarded by emails, phone calls, text messages, etc, all at the same time, while trying to write an email, that you become so overwhelmed that you send it without an attachment. It has a connotation of being so overwhelmed that you get ahead of yourself.[10]
  • concuñado/a (Spanish) - It is the relationship between two men that marry sisters (or two women that marry brothers). It describes a familial relationship that is important even if it is not that common.[9]
  • conmoción (Spanish) - Emotion held in common by a group or gathering.[10]
  • consuegro/a (Spanish) - The relationship between two men (or women) whose children are married to each other. i.e. My father and my father-in-law are consuegros.[10]
  • cotisuelto (Caribbean Spanish) - A man who wears his shirt tail outside of the trousers.[6]
Alternate version: One who wears the shirt tail outside of their trousers.[1]   — C M B J   09:11, 20 June 2013 (UTC)
  • duende (Spanish) – Originally used to describe a supernatural entity similar to a forest-fairy or sprite, that brought about a feeling of awe & gave one a unique understanding of the beauty of the world. But early in the 20th century, Spanish playwright Federico García Lorca altered its meaning to become the more straightforward “mysterious power of a work of art to deeply move a person.”[12]
User feedback: "...usually used to describe flamenco touch or energy when singing, which presumably non-gipsy people cant have."[22]   — C M B J   07:27, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
  • empalagarse (Spanish) - The sensation your tongue has after eating too many sweets. It the feeling you get when you need some milk to go with that chocolate cake.[10]
It’s a verb. Perhaps oversweeten. — Ungoliant (Falai) 02:11, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
  • enmadrarse (Spanish) - For a child who becomes attached excessively to her mother.[10]
Verb. — Ungoliant (Falai) 02:11, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
  • estrenar (Spanish) - To wear or use something for the first time.
  • fiambre (Spanish) - Food prepared for the dead/spirits.[10]
cold meat, and also a specific Guatemalan dish prepared with cold meat, which is eaten during the Day of the Dead (not given to spirits), if Spanish WP is to be trusted. — Ungoliant (Falai) 02:11, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
  • friolero/friolera: (Spanish) A person who is especially sensitive to cold weather and temperatures. (A lot like our regional adjective Nesh).[2]
  • ganas (Spanish) - Literally “urges”. To have ganas is to feel like doing…. I have ganas to eat Spanish ham![10]
urges. Why are you posting things that have translations in the definition? — Ungoliant (Falai) 02:24, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
Same as French envie really, 'desire' but with the verb avoir it's usually translated as to want. Mglovesfun (talk) 19:30, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
  • huevón (Spanish) - Literally translated as “big heavy eggs”, but it is better translated as “lazy with a whiff of entitlement”. Here “eggs” = balls, but “big balls” is not a compliment, because the implication is that your balls are too heavy for you to possibly get up and move.[9]
  • merienda (Spanish) - A light meal eaten in the late afternoon, halfway between lunch and dinner. It’s considered a meal for children, and adults don’t normally use the term to refer to their own afternoon snacks.[10]
  • nalguear ‘to move the buttocks excessively while walking.’
  • vergüenza ajena (Spanish) - Shame experienced on behalf of another person, even though that person may not experience shame.[10]
  • Secondhand embarrassment, maybe? Although of course the term doesn't have a wiki page. Wrathtubs (talk) 08:04, 8 March 2014 (UTC)
  • sobremesa (Spanish) - the time spent after lunch or dinner, talking to people you shared the meal with[15][6]
  • tocayo (Spanish) - A Spanish word meaning a person who has the same name as you.[6]
namesakeUngoliant (Falai)


debt freedom?   — C M B J   08:32, 24 February 2014 (UTC)


  • nubie yom (Swahili) - Literally translated as “finger farm”. The home, business, or especially the farm of a person who never finishes projects but rather points out (hence, finger) where he or she intends to start new projects and where things will go in the future.[9]
  • pole (Swahili) - Means ‘I am sorry for your misfortune.’ It is pronounced ‘po-lay.’ It can be used for small or big things, and ‘pole sana’ also exists, where ‘sana’ is an intensifier.[6]
  • tuko pamoja (Swahili) - “We are together.” Denotes a shared sense of purpose and motivation in a group. It transcends mere agreement, and implies empathetic understanding among the members of the group.[6]


  • fika (Swedish) - Relaxed social event with good friends involving coffee and pastries.[13]
Alternate version: Swedish word meaning meeting at a café, or at home, to drink coffee and eat pastries. But the focus is on the socialising and the fact that a ‘fika’ can go on for hours. A typical activity to suggest to someone when they want to catch up.   — C M B J   01:42, 9 June 2013 (UTC)[10]
  • gökotta (Swedish) - To wake up early in the morning with the purpose of going outside to hear the first birds sing.[9]
  • jo (Swedish) - Yes, after a negative question.[24]
Like French si and German doch. Not difficult to translate, though: "yes" will work in most contexts. —Angr 13:15, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
Indeed in three letters; yes. Or ye if you want only two. Mglovesfun (talk) 22:50, 1 October 2013 (UTC)
Early modern English had specific answering forms 'yea' and 'nay' for negative questions. But they are no more used or recognized in their original meaning by modern speakers. Both 'yea' and 'nay' are nowadays understood more like dialect variants of yes and no.
  • knullrufs - the unordered hairdo after having sex
Do we not use "bedhead" or "sex hair" for this?
  • lagom (Swedish) - Not too much or too little. Just the right amount of something being weight, volume, amount, feelings and so on.[22]
  • mångata (Swedish) - a roadlike reflection of the moon in the water[15]
  • nja (Swedish) - Neither yes nor no; both yes and no.[5]
Would one not say 'meh'? Hyarmendacil (talk) 09:28, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
Maybe. Mglovesfun (talk) 22:50, 1 October 2013 (UTC)
  • resfeber (Swedish) - To be jittery before undertaking a journey.[6]
  • orka (Swedish) - To not have the ability/energy to be able to do [something] any longer.[10]
User feedback: Orka is actually “to have the ability” etc. However, it is often used as a sarcastic reply when one is not in the mood to follow an order or suggestion: Go clean your room! Orka! (I don’t want to!)   — C M B J   01:04, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
collapseUngoliant (Falai) 02:11, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
succumb?   — C M B J   03:31, 8 July 2013 (UTC)


  • kilig (Tagalog) - That feeling you get from having interacted with a person you love or find attractive – butterflies in your stomach, blushing, giggling/smiling uncontrollably. To experience this emotion is referred to as “kinikilig”. This can also be vicarious.[6]
  • sigurista (Tagalog) - A person who is particularly concerned that everything goes as planned. The kind of person who will not initiate a particular action unless he feels 100% sure that the desired result would be obtained.[10]
    control freak? Hyarmendacil (talk) 01:49, 15 June 2013 (UTC)


  • mazhalai (Tamil) - The way that toddlers and very young children speak – with an inability both to create clear sentences and to pronounce certain words (either because of difficult pronunciation/unfamiliarity with the word/wrong intention/etc…). It is used and referred to as something pleasing and not derogatory. It is not the same as babble because that implies an inability to speak coherently.[9]
prattle? — Ungoliant (Falai) 00:03, 9 June 2013 (UTC)


  • engili (Telugu) - The state of food when a person has taken/tasted a bite or morsel out of it. It is mildly taboo for Hindus to eat another person’s ‘engili’.[9]
If this turns out to be an adjective (these lists often explain words in a way that they seem to be another PoS than the one they actually are), there is semese. — Ungoliant (Falai) 23:53, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
In Hindi we call this झूठा (jhūṭhā). —Aryaman (मुझसे बात करो) 09:48, 5 August 2017 (UTC)


  • kreng jai (Thai) - Literally “deferential heart”. The desire not to see a friend go to any special trouble on your behalf.[10]
  • sabsung (Thai) - When you’re bored or have had a long day, it’s the thing that brings you back to life or livens up your day. Whatever it is that makes you happy to be alive.[9]
This :-) — Ungoliant (Falai) 00:03, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
  • tɕāj (Thai) - sincere kindness and willingness to help others, even before they asked, without expecting something in return[15]


  • ilunga (Tshiluba) – Someone who is ready to forgive and forget any first abuse, tolerate it the second time, but never forgive nor tolerate on the third offense.[11]
Approve icon.svg Ranked as the single most untranslatable word in any language according to a survey of 1,000 linguists conducted by Today Translations.   — C M B J   10:57, 10 June 2013 (UTC)
Sounds like an overspecific meaning, like tingo. — Ungoliant (Falai) 04:14, 8 July 2013 (UTC)


  • qaamch’ip’q’i (Ubykh) - Literally ‘a filigree metal ornament on the handle of a whip’. An idiomatic term for someone whose good or kind outward appearance is deceptive.[6]


  • chai-pani (Urdu) - Money and favors given to someone, often a bureaucratic worker, to get things done. Literally, "tea and water". In English, we would describe the action as “greasing someone’s palm,” but in Hindi-Urdu it doesn’t have as negative a connotation. If you don’t offer enough money or gifts in the first place, someone may actually tell you that you’ve given the pani, but you still need to give the chai.[8]
baksheesh; lubrication paymentUngoliant (Falai) 04:46, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
Those both seem to have pretty ugly stigmas around them. One sense of greasing the wheels may work, though.   — C M B J   07:49, 11 June 2013 (UTC)
  • goya (Urdu) - a contemplative “as-if” which nonetheless feels like reality[15]
Additional interpretation: "The transporting suspension of disbelief that can occur, for example, in good storytelling."   — C M B J   02:17, 9 June 2013 (UTC)[6]


  • glas wen (Welsh) - A smile that is insincere or mocking. Literally, a blue smile.[1]
Would have to be spelled glaswên or else gwên las. —Angr 12:28, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
  • cwtch (Welsh) – A hug, cuddle or snuggle. But more than that: it also means the feeling of a safe place or home that the hug/cuddle/snuggle gives.[2]
  • cynefin (Welsh) - A place where a person or even an animal feels it ought to live. It is where nature around you feels right and welcoming.[9]
Isn’t home used like that? I.e. “It’s where I live, but it’s not my home.” — Ungoliant (Falai) 15:13, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
Seems to be leaning more toward a prospective place of home. Feels like home or feel at home or sense of belonging would be the closest things that come to mind.   — C M B J   21:46, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
  • hiraeth (Welsh) – Homesickness for a place you can never return to, or that never was.[3] Wikipedia describes it as 'homesickness tinged with grief or sadness over the lost or departed. It is a mix of longing, yearning, nostalgia, wistfulness, and the earnest desire for the Wales of the past.[5]
Consistently claimed as a favorite example of untranslatability by at least 4-5 user comments and several articles.   — C M B J   06:59, 9 June 2013 (UTC)


  • farpotshket (Yiddish) - Something that is all fouled up, especially as the result of attempts to fix it–repeatedly making something worse while trying to fix it.[10]
  • k’velen (Yiddish) - To beam with joy, burst with pride, glow with pride and happiness. Particularly when boasting about the achievements of a family member.[10]
  • לופֿטמענטש (luftmentsh) (Yiddish) - An impractical dreamer with no business sense. Literally, air person.[1]
dreamer? — Ungoliant (Falai) 15:32, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
Alternate entry: A luftmensch is “one who lives on air”. From The Joys of Yiddish: “The prototype of the luftmensh was one Leone da Modena, who listed his skills and cited no fewer than twenty-six professions. Why would so accomplished a man be classified as a luftmensh? Because out of all twenty-six professions, he barely made a living.”[10]


  — C M B J   22:40, 8 June 2013 (UTC)


This page makes use of valign, which is not compliant with HTML5. --EncycloPetey (talk) 04:31, 9 June 2013 (UTC)

Really? That's good to know because a great deal of Wikipedia tables still rely on that tag, and the same is apparently true here as well, because I actually just copied the original table from another appendix that had cells with valign and retained the configuration as a convenience. On a side note, it's really interesting to see that tag be deprecated — it's still pretty new in my mind because this is what HTML looked like when I started working with it.   — C M B J   05:14, 10 June 2013 (UTC)

This "list" needs organizing.[edit]

I'd like to propose that this very haphazard list be drastically reorganized -- each language should be listed alphabetically, then each term alphabetically under the proper language header. The current non-structure is about ready to fall over of its own weight. -- Eiríkr Útlendi │ Tala við mig 04:33, 9 June 2013 (UTC)

It's fairly intense finding, aggregating, processing, and standardizing a list of heterogeneous content this size, so first things were first in my mind. I agree that there's good reason to start sorting at this point, though, so I'll get to working on it. Thanks for pointing it out.   — C M B J   05:54, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
You should considering removing the accepted and excluded nominations, to reduce size. — Ungoliant (Falai) 13:33, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
Hmm, wouldn't that make contesting them more difficult?   — C M B J   12:20, 10 June 2013 (UTC)
No, since they are added to the appendix. — Ungoliant (Falai) 18:49, 10 June 2013 (UTC)
I think a better solution would be to collapse the content. That way, you don't have to choose between tripling the overhead or making things difficult for newcomers. Is there any better template than {{collapse-top}} and {{collapse-bottom}} here? Those seem pretty flakey in comparison with their en.wp equivalents.   — C M B J   05:49, 11 June 2013 (UTC)
Try {{der-top}}. I just reworked the References section to use that. -- Eiríkr Útlendi │ Tala við mig 06:01, 11 June 2013 (UTC)
That works and looks pretty nice.   — C M B J   06:21, 11 June 2013 (UTC)
To make this page smaller and more manageable, I have begun moving processed nominations to an archive. - -sche (discuss) 20:57, 8 March 2014 (UTC)
I think the main list should be alphabetised in the manner Eirikr proposes, but I'm not sure what to do with multiple languages have a term for something English does not have a term for. - -sche (discuss) 21:38, 8 March 2014 (UTC)
I agree. I guess we will have to repeat the definitions. — Ungoliant (falai) 21:43, 8 March 2014 (UTC)

Guideline draft[edit]

Starting a scratchpad here.


Errors If you believe that a term has been added or omitted in error, please feel free to contest the determination at any time. Simply remove the term's {{der-top}} header and {{der-bottom}} footer on this page and continue the discussion by presenting your view.
Removals Please document all terms removed from the appendix on this page accordingly, both as a reference and as a courtesy to others.
Suggestions If you know of a WT:CFI-compliant term that lacks any English equivalent, you may simply be bold and add it to the appendix at any time. If you came across a cool term in an article or book, or if you just aren't too sure about a term, please consider bringing it here first as a precaution.
Type Example(s) Determination
Loanwords Deletion icon.svg déjà vu, schadenfreude Considered adequately translatable due to 3 or more appearances in durably archived English publications during the same year, excluding translation aids, and with the exact same connotations as the original language's equivalent term.
Approve icon.svg TBA TBA
Neologisms Approve icon.svg TBA TBA
Deletion icon.svg Kabelsalat, Neidbau Considered adequately translatable due to equivalent English neologisms, which, though uncommon outside certain subcultures, can be reasonably presumed to express the exact same sentiments.
Unknown Deletion icon.svg разблюто Considered out of scope due to a complete lack of demonstrated usage by speakers of the source language.

  — C M B J   04:27, 10 June 2013 (UTC)


The FWOTD archive and the translation section of words in this category should be full of words to include in this appendix. — Ungoliant (Falai) 23:08, 12 June 2013 (UTC)