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

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  • tingo (Pascuense) - To borrow from a friend until he has nothing left.[1]
Probably false meaning (see Talk:tingo), but I can’t think of a translation of the real meaning. — Ungoliant (Falai) 15:32, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
The definition provided is spurious. - -sche (discuss) 21:08, 8 March 2014 (UTC)
  • nakkele (Tulu) - A man who licks whatever the food has been served on.[2]
    "plate licker", "pot licker", "pot scraper", "bowl licker", etc. - -sche (discuss) 21:55, 26 May 2014 (UTC)
  • ondinnonk (Iroquoian) - A word from the Iroquois tribes of North America referring to the soul’s innermost desires and its angelic nature. To follow one’s ondinnonk is thought to often lead to positive and kindly acts.[2]
dreams, kinda. — Ungoliant (Falai) 05:50, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
The definition is almost certainly spurious, greatly exaggerated and romanticised. - -sche (discuss) 21:27, 8 March 2014 (UTC)
  • խաչքար (xačʿkʿar) (Armenian) - ‘cross-stone’, a carved, memorial stele bearing a cross[3]
khachkarUngoliant (Falai) 03:24, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
  • karelu (Tulu Indian) - That mark left in the skin when clothes are too tight.[4]
  • snorker (Early English) – One who gets into others people's business.[5]
busybody? --Haplology (talk) 12:26, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
Wow, that's a great word. I think we should revive this one -- snorker really sounds like what it means. :)
Along similar lines, I think we should revive the early-English term ugsome. If I've read correctly, it used to be that ugly was the adverb, and ugsome was the adjective. -- Eiríkr Útlendi │ Tala við mig 01:53, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
  • wantok (Tok Pisin) - This word refers to people who speak the same language as you do and “have some claim on you.” It translates literally as “one talk” and usually includes people of your family, village, clan or larger geographic area.[4]
English wantok. Or whanau (from Maori) may be similar.Hyarmendacil (talk) 09:33, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
  • lingam (Sanskrit) - “The symbol of the erect penis as an object of veneration” (Rheingold 87). A lingam is an object of worship, often connected to the Hindu god Shiva, and you can find lingam statues draped with flower garlands in many Indian villages.[6]
phallus or herm/herma probably covers that. —This unsigned comment was added by Hyarmendacil (talkcontribs).
Phallus was mentioned by the source as not being sufficient -- may need double checking.   — C M B J   22:40, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
lingamUngoliant (Falai) 04:56, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
Just means "peace/tranquility of heart". —Angr 13:09, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
  • lagniappe (Louisiana Creole) - It means an unexpected extra. The word is often used in reference to an item given gratis at a store, bar, or restaurant.[7]
lagniappeUngoliant (Falai) 01:32, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
  • mokita (New Guinea) - A word for something that everyone knows but no one ever talks about.[7]
elephant in the room? --SpecMade (talk) 21:07, 1 October 2013 (UTC)
  • tallabe (Zarma) - A Nigerian word for carrying something on your head without using your hands.[7]
to headcarry. Rare, but citable. — Ungoliant (Falai) 23:53, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
  • ahimsa (Sanskrit) - A belief in the avoidance of violence or the killing of living creatures. Literally, the avoidance of violence.[8]
pacifism, nonviolenceUngoliant (Falai) 02:24, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
  • gadrii Nombor Shulen Jongu (Tibetan) - Giving an answer that is unrelated to the question, literally “to give a green answer to a blue question”.[8]
evadeUngoliant (Falai) 02:24, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
  • gadje (Romany) - A word used by the Roma to describe anyone who is non-Roma.[8]
gadjo and gadje citable. — Ungoliant (Falai) 02:24, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
  • poudrerie (Quebecois French) - A word that refers to the wind blowing freshly fallen, powdery snow across streets and highways.[8]
Blowing snow, Ground blizzard. — Ungoliant (Falai) 02:58, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
  • koro - The belief that one’s penis is shrinking and will eventually disappear.[7]
koro; genital retraction syndromeUngoliant (Falai) 04:56, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
  • jayus (Indonesian) – A joke so poorly told and so unfunny that one cannot help but laugh.[9]
  • Our entry suggests this just means any lame joke. - -sche (discuss) 06:01, 1 January 2017 (UTC)
  • yuputka (Ulwa) - A word made for walking in the woods at night, it refers to the phantom sensation of something crawling on one's skin.[10]
formication. — Ungoliant (Falai) 15:32, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
  • pana poʻo (Hawaiian) - To scratch one's head in order to recover a memory.[10]
Pukui-Elbert dictionary says it's just "tap somebody's head" (sum of parts), and that it's a rude gesture.--Makaokalani (talk) 09:18, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
  • Αἰδώς WP Except if you count 'Aidos' as a translation, which is kinda cheating. Hyarmendacil (talk) 09:24, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
    This is a personal name, right? I'm not aware of those ever being untranslatable. In this case the translation is, as you note, Aidos. - -sche (discuss) 00:51, 23 March 2015 (UTC)
The above definition is ambiguous. Scientifically, you would say 'cosmological/cosmic time(/scale/frame)' or 'geological time(/scale/frame)'. You could also merely say [Cosmic time]. And we have plenty of large time units: aeon, superaeon, etc. Either way I don't think it qualifies. Hyarmendacil (talk) 08:52, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
Perhaps klutz. — Ungoliant (Falai) 02:58, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
Ha, it's even the case that the English word is shorter. - -sche (discuss) 06:01, 1 January 2017 (UTC)
  • mo:ru:ɐ (Arabic) - the peak of manhood, a mixture of bravery and kindness[3]
مروة muruwwa /muruw:ɐ/, borrowed into other languages as well, see مروت. --Z 11:11, 10 June 2013 (UTC)
Equivalent of chivalry. --Z 11:11, 10 June 2013 (UTC)
  • خلاص xalāṣ (Arabic, etc.) - A term used to mean that something is completely and irrevocably done, finished, and over.[8]
done and donerUngoliant (Falai) 02:58, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
Seems far too jocular to have the same meaning. Khalas' description strikes me as having a connotation that would be characteristic of a very serious conclusion like that of John 19:30.   — C M B J   05:20, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
Our entry has no trouble translating this. - -sche (discuss) 06:01, 1 January 2017 (UTC)
  • kaval (Bulgarian) - Originally “Kaval” means a flute-like instrument, native to Bulgaria and several other Balkan countries. It is often made of wood. In the last 20 or so years the word “kaval” has gained several other meanings in addition to its original one. 1. One who performs fellatio. 2. The fellating act. 3. An extremely stupid person.[2]
Respectively: kaval, fellator, fellatio, retard/moron/etc. — Ungoliant (Falai) 05:30, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
  • 解獄 / 解狱 (jiěyù) (not a word) - To break into jail in order to rescue a prisoner.[8]
Jailbreak or is this more specific?   — C M B J   01:04, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
  • arbejdsglaede (Danish) - Literally translated as “work happiness.” It is a feeling of joy and satisfaction with one’s work as an employee.[7]
Workplace satisfaction?   — C M B J   22:26, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
  • kæk (Danish) - Cocky, adventurous, with a gung-ho spirit. Unlike the English word “cocky,” it usually has a positive connotation.[8]
adventurous has negative connotations? — Ungoliant (Falai) 02:58, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
Not even "cocky" is always negative, AFAICT. Our entry suggests this is just "bold" anyway. - -sche (discuss) 06:01, 1 January 2017 (UTC)
  • lekker (Dutch) - An adjective that means everything from “tasty” to “sexy” to “feeling good, comfortable, relaxed, happy, and healthy.”[8]
Translatability of meanings should be judged individually. — Ungoliant (Falai) 05:11, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
I agree; and all of this term's senses seem to be translatable. - -sche (discuss) 01:03, 23 March 2015 (UTC)
  • uitwaaien (Dutch) – Literally ‘to walk in the wind’: to take a brief break outside to clear one’s head.[12]
to get some airUngoliant (Falai) 03:51, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
Also possibly get some fresh air or take a breather or get a breath of fresh air.   — C M B J   07:44, 15 June 2013 (UTC)
Alternate: "To take a brief break outside to clear one's head, literally 'to walk in the wind'."[13]   — C M B J   08:54, 24 February 2014 (UTC)


  • ttonkolenyo (Amharic) - A person who spends all his time devising and setting up devious schemes from which he might benefit, usually at the expense of others.[2]
swindler; schemerUngoliant (Falai) 06:04, 9 June 2013 (UTC)


  • akh (Arabic) - The word means “brother,” but may refer to a brother who shares either one or both parents. The word “shaqeeq” exclusively refers to a brother who shares both parents.[2]
brother may refer to both; brother germanUngoliant (Falai) 05:16, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
  • baraka (Arabic) - A gift of spiritual energy that can be transferred to others.[7]
Sounds like a fancy description for a blessing really. Better have a native or near-native speaker check. — Ungoliant (Falai) 00:30, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
Yes, means blessing. --Z 11:11, 10 June 2013 (UTC)
  • inshallah (Arabic) - While it can be translated literally as “if Allah wills,” the meaning of this phrase differs depending on the speaker’s tone of voice. It can be a genuine sentiment, such as when talking to an old friend and parting with “We’ll meet again, inshallah,” or it can be used as a way to tacitly imply you actually aren’t planning to do something. An example would be if someone proposes a meeting at 4 p.m., and you know you won’t be able to make it on time. You can say, “I’ll see you at 4, inshallah,” meaning that you’ll only make it on time if Allah wills it to happen.
Used by Muslims in English-speaking countries. God willing may be an acceptable translation, although it's worth noting that some Christians and some Muslims do not agree that Allah and God may be acceptably interchanged in spite of the prevailing Arabic definition.   — C M B J   01:40, 9 June 2013 (UTC)


  • чародей (čarodéj) (Russian, Bulgarian) - an arch-Bulgarian wizard, magician, sorcerer, necromancer, enchanter[3]
Any different to any of the words used to descibe it? Hyarmendacil (talk) 08:45, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
No. - -sche (discuss) 21:21, 8 March 2014 (UTC)



  • prozvonit (Czech) – To call a mobile phone and let it ring once so that the other person will call back, saving the first caller money.[9]
Armenian has the exact same thing: ծնգցնել (cngcʿnel) --Vahag (talk) 11:23, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
According to user comments on one of these sites, hacer una perdida is another Spanish equivalent.   — C M B J   07:25, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
I've just removed it from the page, since we have this sense in English at flash. Equinox 17:06, 26 May 2014 (UTC)
Neat. I've moved the translations into that entry. - -sche (discuss) 21:37, 26 May 2014 (UTC)


stone skippingUngoliant (Falai) 05:42, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
Or skimming! Mglovesfun (talk) 12:56, 9 June 2013 (UTC)


  • agent provocateur (French) - Traditionally, an agent provocateur is a person employed by the police or other entity to act undercover to entice or provoke another person to commit an illegal act. More generally, the term may refer to a person or group that seeks to discredit or harm another by provoking them to commit a wrong or rash action.[8]
agent provocateur; instigatorUngoliant (Falai) 02:24, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
  • arriviste (French) - A person who uses any means available to realize his or her desires. One who attains sudden success through shady means. A person who quickly achieved success but still lacks respect.[8]
We use the same word in English. Ƿidsiþ 07:20, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
No single word translation: [[wait]] [[for]]. Goes to the intent of this appendix. Mglovesfun (talk) 08:27, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
The title of the appendix isn't "Terms without a single-word translation in English", it's "Terms considered difficult or impossible to translate into English". —Angr 08:58, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
How difficult? Mglovesfun (talk) 11:20, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
Translation requires at least 500 kilojoules of mental energy. —Angr 11:35, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
Where did you get that number? Keφr 11:41, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
  • avoir le mal de quelqu’un (French) - Missing someone so much it literally makes you sick. “Someonesickness” on the model of “seasickness”.[2]
"I miss her so much it hurts"; or more loosely, "miss someone like crazy". Ƿidsiþ 07:20, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
Lovesickness might be the single term English equivalent if this refers to someone beloved, esp. a romantic partner. The terms longing, yearning, heartache, lovelorn, languishing, pining, and heartbroken could also work, depending on exactly what connotation of someonesickness the french version gives.   — C M B J   21:33, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
  • baise-en-ville (French) - A “baise-en-ville” literally “shag-in-town” is a small case containing the few items necessary to spend the night out of one’s home.[8]
    An overnight bag (as it says in the entry. Ƿidsiþ 05:02, 14 June 2013 (UTC)
  • beau geste (French) - A noble gesture, but one that is often futile or meaningless.[7]
beau gesteUngoliant (Falai) 23:53, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
  • bêtise (French) - A small or silly act of naughtiness by a child. These are minor annoyances that do not generally warrant punishment by themselves. Several bêtises will probably warrant disciplinarian action.[2]
Again, easy to translate. J'ai fait une bêtise = I've done something stupid. Ƿidsiþ 07:20, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
  • bon vivant (French) - A bon vivant is a person who is living the good life. Someone who lives luxuriously and enjoys good food and drink.[7]
bon vivant... this one is very common. — Ungoliant (Falai) 01:32, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
Doesn’t look like it’s a verb. — Ungoliant (Falai) 15:32, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
  • gâchis (French) - This one means 'a wasted opportunity.' Specifically it means an opportunity that was wasted by ineptness being hurled at it from all directions.[11]
User feedback: "Gâchis" is written with a circumflex and it doesn't specifically concern a wasted "opportunity"; it's more like a messed up situation or thing.[14]   — C M B J   09:20, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
Both we and the French Wiktionary reckon that this can be translated by a single word. Mglovesfun (talk) 09:27, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
Alternate version: "A good opportunity wasted by staggering levels of incompetence (from multiple sources) evidenced in its implementation."[2]   — C M B J   02:10, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
  • n'importe quoi (French) - [a] Anything. [b] Something (either an object or a concept or an idea or a situation) has no purpose, a hodge-podge of stuff that doesn't really fit together and doesn't make much sense. If a journal article is n'importe quoi, it means it's garbage without rhymes or reasons, with no logic in it, no sense. If I'm telling you to stop doing "n'importe quoi", I'm telling you to stop doing senseless, impulsive action and that it is clear you have no idea what you are doing.[14]
How is it different from tosh, garbage, nonsense? Hyarmendacil (talk) 10:12, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
  • les postillons (French) - The droplets of spittle that come out of people’s mouths as they talk to you.[8]
Spittle?   — C M B J   00:45, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
It's just postillons (hence the red link), les is the article. Mglovesfun (talk) 13:24, 9 June 2013 (UTC)


  • brav (German) - An adjective most commonly used to commend children. It describes several positive qualities in a child: they listen to their parents, know how to behave themselves, are well brought up overall, are pleasant and easy to take care of, do not cause trouble at home or at school, and study for school by themselves without needing further encouragement.[2]
    pretty easily translated with good, well-behaved, etc.; not applied only to children. —Angr 18:42, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
    Compare also Dutch braaf. —CodeCat 11:47, 10 June 2013 (UTC)
  • Fernweh (German) - The opposite of being homesick, it's the longing to leave and break free, the longing to be somewhere else.[15]
    Alternate version: A strong longing to be away, to go somewhere.[7]   — C M B J   03:55, 10 June 2013 (UTC)
    wanderlust; itchy feetUngoliant (Falai) 03:28, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
    Deletion icon.svg Excluded at this time.   — C M B J   03:44, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
    I've seen farsick and farsickness used to translate/calque this, but checking Google Books, I find they're rarer than I had thought. - -sche (discuss) 08:31, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
  • fremdschämen (German) - Vicarious embarrassment; historically experienced by anxious, awkward, oversensitive types; may be associated with "cringe comedy" and live performances that aren't going well.[14]
    Whoever wrote that has a poor grasp of parts of speech. The noun they're defining is Fremdscham, and English speakers do seem to speak of "vicarious embarrassment" often enough that I would consider Fremdscham translatable. The verb fremdschämen, on the other hand, is something I would consider untranslatable, since "to feel vicariously embarrassed" seems both too rare a collocation and too much of a step-by-step explanation of things to count as a simple translation. - -sche (discuss) 03:21, 27 May 2014 (UTC)
  • Geisterfahrer (German) - Literally “ghost driver”. One who drives the wrong way up a motorway.[2]
Approve icon.svg Included.   — C M B J   02:27, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
Calqued into English as ghost-driver, ghost driver or Ghost driver. Uncommon but citable. — Ungoliant (Falai) 14:36, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
In English we do not consider the driver to be a ghost, perhaps confused, lost, disoriented, or even intoxicated, but still a wrong-way driver ([2]). Such drivers are common and we do have a simple term. [3]. [4]. 18:44, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
Fair enough; wrong-way driver gets over 3000 b.g.c hits. Can it be added in English, or is it too SOP? —Angr 09:54, 10 June 2013 (UTC)
If this can be added, which seems likely, then I'll suggest removing Geisterfahrer as translatable.   — C M B J   07:37, 15 June 2013 (UTC)
Dutch spookrijder. —CodeCat 11:47, 10 June 2013 (UTC)
  • Kummerspeck (German) – “Grief Bacon”, or the weight you put on from comfort eating.[12]
  • Neidbau (German) – A building constructed with the sole purpose of inconveniencing a neighbor in some way.[12]
Fairly confident this exists in English.   — C M B J   07:44, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
spite buildingUngoliant (Falai) 14:36, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
Deletion icon.svg Directly translatable as spite building.   — C M B J   03:31, 10 June 2013 (UTC)
You use spite house in English?? Cool. - -sche (discuss) 08:31, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
  • Sehnsucht (German) – A sense of longing. A nostalgia for something that can still happen – (a concept loved by German Idealist philosophers).[12]
Different from longing? These philosophical terms often have exaggerated qualities attributed to them, to make them seem untranslatable. — Ungoliant (Falai) 14:36, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
I agree; it's just longing or yearning. (Likewise saudade and hiraeth — not nearly as untranslatable as sentimental language mavens would like to believe.) —This comment was unsigned.
Amen. - -sche (discuss) 08:31, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
  • Ohrwurm (German) - Literally “ear worm”. Whenever you get a song or tune stuck in your head, it is an Ohrwurm.[7]
earwormUngoliant (Falai) 04:10, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
If these are not acceptable translations, then Russian заяц (zajac) should be added too, as it means the same thing. --Vahag (talk) 21:41, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
Nah, I guess you're right. Fare dodger especially is a good translation. I've added both Schwarzfahrer and заяц to the translation table at fare dodger. —Angr 22:15, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
Nearly synonymous would be キセル/煙管, cheat(ing) on one's train fare. The original meaning is tobacco pipe, and strangely the word for smokestack, 煙突, can also mean "carrying a taxi passenger without turning on the meter" Would either of those count? Maybe the first one is covered by "fare dodging." --Haplology (talk) 14:57, 6 June 2013 (UTC)
Fare dodging sounds like a good translation for キセル/煙管, so I'd say it doesn't count. I can't think of an English translation for 煙突 but I'm not really familiar with taxi drivers' jargon. German also has a verb schwarzfahren "to dodge one's fare, to 'fare-dodge', to travel as a fare dodger". —Angr 15:39, 6 June 2013 (UTC)
I've added ただ乗り tadanori (or perhaps it should be 只乗り) as a Japanese translation for "fare dodger". --Anatoli (обсудить/вклад) 22:20, 6 June 2013 (UTC)
The kanji isn't used much these days, so my sense is that the lemma should be at ただ乗り, with 只乗り given as an alt spelling. -- Eiríkr Útlendi │ Tala við mig 22:31, 6 June 2013 (UTC)
I found 只乗り first but changed to ただ乗り when I saw what you just said, it isn't actually used. The former exists in the EDICT dictionary though but the latter doesn't. --Anatoli (обсудить/вклад) 22:43, 6 June 2013 (UTC)
Dutch zwartrijder. —CodeCat 11:47, 10 June 2013 (UTC)
  • Torschlusspanik (German) – The fear of diminishing opportunities as one ages – literal translation “gate-closing panic”[16]
User feedback: "Can have a slightly chauvinist undertone, i.e. it’s usually applied to women in their mid-thirties anxious to “bag” a husband before it’s too late to have children."[5]   — C M B J   07:36, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
TorschlusspanikUngoliant (Falai) 14:38, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
English definition appears to be a derivative.   — C M B J   07:50, 15 June 2013 (UTC)
  • Treppenwitz (German) - In German, this is literally “the wit of the staircase,” or the witty remark that occurs to you after you’ve left an argument you’ve lost. It’s a feeling everyone knows rather well. There is also a phrase for this phenomenon in French: l’esprit d’escalier, or “the spirit of the staircase.” The French writer Denis Diderot came up with it during the Enlightenment, and it’s still used today — I think the pain of coming up with a comeback too late is a universal human burden that survives the ages.[17]
staircase witUngoliant (Falai) 14:38, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
  • vorgestern and übermorgen (German) - “The day before yesterday” and “the day after tomorrow,” respectively.[2]
Possible case example for guideline.   — C M B J   02:27, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
overmorrow and ereyesterdayUngoliant (Falai) 05:50, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
Again, this page isn't "Terms without a one-word translation in English". These are easily translated into English as "the day before yesterday" and "the day after tomorrow", even without Ungoliant's archaic finds. —Angr 18:42, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
"Day after tomorrow" isn't thought of as an independent term, at least not according to our current entry, which is a criterion of consideration.   — C M B J   03:37, 10 June 2013 (UTC)
Dutch eergisteren and overmorgen.
  • Wanderjahr (German) - A year or period of travel, especially following one’s schooling.[7]
wanderjahrUngoliant (Falai) 01:32, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
Or even gap year. —Angr 18:42, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
sabbatical year. 19:37, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
  • Weltschmerz (German) - It could be termed world-weariness or ennui, but this particular has the quirk of almost only being applied to privileged young people.[11]
Another Schadenfreude example: we say weltschmerz in English. —Angr 09:06, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
Also world-weariness. — Ungoliant (Falai) 04:32, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
  • Zechpreller (German) - A person who leaves a restaurant or bar without paying the bill.[7]
Dine and dasher?   — C M B J   22:26, 8 June 2013 (UTC) (edited)
dine-and-dasher/dine and dasher citable with two valid Google Book cites and two valid Google Groups cites. — Ungoliant (Falai) 14:51, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
Come to think of it, where does that leave us on the bar sense?   — C M B J   21:39, 9 June 2013 (UTC)


  • mencomot (Indonesian) - People who steal objects of little value purely for pleasure.[2]
kleptomaniac? — Ungoliant (Falai) 05:42, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
I was tempted to call that one a direct translation, but kleptomania is kleptomania in Indonesian. Klepto-mania also denotes a compulsive behavior (i.e., one that often causes immense internal conflict) whereas those who go around stealing objects of little value often do so for pleasure and without any remorse whatsoever. In any event, the dictionary entry for this term isn't very remarkable, so there's probably a dozen or two Urban Dictionary-esque English terms that are equivalent.   — C M B J   07:34, 11 June 2013 (UTC)
Kleptomania isn’t just a psychological mania. Outside medical usage it’s also used for stealing for pleasure. Also: pinching. — Ungoliant (Falai) 11:03, 11 June 2013 (UTC)


  • craic (Irish) - Fun, amusement; entertaining company or conversation.[13]
User feedback: "As an avid student of Irish, it grieves me to say that "craic" is not in fact Irish in origin at all. The Gaelicized spelling is a recent development of the past few decades. The OED defines "crack" as "chat, talk of news" and dates the word to 1450. It probably entered Irish popular usage through the Northern Irish dialect of English."[18]   — C M B J   08:11, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
crack (noun def. 10) — Ungoliant (Falai) 03:51, 9 June 2013 (UTC)


  • che palle (Italian) - Literally “what balls”. Used to express frustration, annoyance, and a general “ugh”. Its English meaning is close to “this sucks“. “Joe, go take out the trash!” “che PALLE…” *mutters under breath*.[8]
bollocksUngoliant (Falai) 05:16, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
  • fattapposta (Italian) - ‘made-on-purpose’: passkey of Italian conversation, can mean any object, especially when clarified by a gesture[3]
    Most languages have dozens of words for this. English has thingamajig, thingamabob, etc, etc, etc. - -sche (discuss) 21:04, 8 March 2014 (UTC)
  • ponte (Italian) - While it literally means “bridge,” this word also refers to an extra day off taken to make a national holiday falling on a Tuesday or Thursday into a four-day vacation.[6]
de:Brückentag red-links this to bridge day, bridging day. --SpecMade (talk) 21:07, 1 October 2013 (UTC)
Besides those terms, English also uses "bridge holiday" and plain "bridge" in this way. - -sche (discuss) 21:45, 26 May 2014 (UTC)
  • Uovo di Colombo (Italian) - A simple, obvious, idea that doesn’t occur to the person whom it would most benefit. Literally “Egg of Colombus”. After his return from America in 1493, Columbus was invited to a dinner in his honor by Cardinal Mendoza. Here are some people tried to downplay his achievements, saying that the discovery of the New World was not so difficult, and that anyone could have succeeded in doing it. Hearing this, Columbus challenged the diners to solve a simple problem: make an egg stand upright on the table without using any kind of help or aid. Several attempts were made, but none were successful. Finally convinced that it was an insoluble problem, the diners returned the egg to Columbus. He put a slight dent at the end of the egg by tapping it against the table, and the egg stood upright. When bystanders protested, saying that they could have done the same, Columbus said: “The difference, my friends, is that you would have done it, but I have.”[8]
    egg of Columbus - -sche (discuss) 21:05, 8 March 2014 (UTC)


  • いただきます (Japanese) - a phrase to start a meal with gratitude to all: from cooks and farmers to lives to be eaten[3]
It's a phrase. Mglovesfun (talk) 08:19, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
It's the formal plain form of いただく, which is the humble form of "receive." It's just "I/We humbly receive this," which I don't think is unusual. --Haplology (talk) 12:26, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
  • 猫舌 literally "cat tongue," someone who can't drink hot drinks (until they cool down a bit.) --Haplology (talk) 13:56, 14 June 2013 (UTC)
  • jinji[script needed] (Japanese) - A special form of honor.[14]
So it's special, but what is it? I can only find a few "jinji"s, and none of them are any kind of honor. I call bogus term. --Haplology (talk) 12:26, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
User feedback: "First thing that came to mind for me was the Japanese word "jingi", as described by Tarantino on the director's commentary for Reservoir Dogs: (from IMDB) On the commentary track for the 2002 10th Anniversary Edition DVD of Reservoir Dogs, Quentin Tarantino insists that viewers who don't understand why Mr. Orange tells Mr. White that he is an undercover cop (knowing full well that Mr. White is likely to kill him upon finding out) have not understood the film. Mr. Orange tells Mr. White, who has acted as his protector throughout the film, the truth because he feels that he owes it to him as a matter of honor. Tarantino actually described it as something beyond honor, best summed up by the Japanese word "jingi" that has no English equivalent. Having witnessed White sacrifice everything for him; White kills two very good friends of his to protect Orange, taking a bullet and willing to stay behind and lose out on the diamonds and go to prison rather than leave Orange for dead...Orange feels compelled to do likewise. Orange does not reveal the truth until the final moment because it is only then that he is free to do so without forsaking his duty as a police officer. Now that Joe Cabot - the man he was sent in to get - is dead, Orange's mission is over."[14]   — C M B J   00:35, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
Arrowred.png The intended term then would probably be 仁義 (jingi). That said, there's not too much about it that's terribly "special" other than that it's just not English -- I find that a lot of people ascribe some sort of mystical quality to Japanese terms when in actuality the meanings can be quite prosaic. Roughly paraphrasing my JA-JA dictionary, it basically means "love for people and things + doing right for the greater good", or "honor or duty among a specific group, such as merchants, tradesmen, or gamblers". The JA-EN entry glosses this as humanity and justice for one sense, and duty for the other. -- Eiríkr Útlendi │ Tala við mig 02:04, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
  • kaizen (Japanese) - Small incremental changes that add up to large improvements over time.[7]
baby stepsUngoliant (Falai) 23:53, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
kaizen isn't English? --Haplology (talk) 14:23, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
  • meinichi (Japanese) - Literally “Day of Honor.” Word used to describe the anniversary of someone’s death.[8]
I've had friends refer to this in English using the borrowed German term Jahreszeit (with various interesting phonetic spellings). -- Eiríkr Útlendi │ Tala við mig 03:58, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
Were they Jewish friends? Then they were almost certainly using not German Jahreszeit, which means "season" and wouldn't make sense anyway, but Yiddish יאָרצײַט (yortsayt), anglicized as yahrzeit with a wide variety of alternative spellings, which means exactly "anniversary of someone's death". —Angr 10:00, 10 June 2013 (UTC)
deathiversary, rare but citable. — Ungoliant (Falai) 05:11, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
There's also deathday. - -sche (discuss) 19:16, 25 February 2014 (UTC)


  • aemulatio (Latin) - A Roman notion of showing respect to one’s literary predecessors by delivering an improved version of their work. The noun for such a work.[2]
Alternate text: "Roman alternative to plagiarism: to show respect for literary predecessors by delivering an improved version of their work."[3]   — C M B J   09:43, 25 February 2014 (UTC)
emulation (def. 1), assuming this is an overspecific meaning. — Ungoliant (Falai) 03:24, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
casus belli; very common. — Ungoliant (Falai) 05:11, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
  • vomitorium (Latin) - A room for vomiting, use popularized by Aldous Huxley. Actually a passageway in a theater.[13]
vomitorium. Mglovesfun (talk) 08:17, 8 June 2013 (UTC)


  • bewwiel (Maltese) - A bed-wetter, most oftenly as a gruff term of affection.[8]
    Even the definition admits that the term is translatable, lol. - -sche (discuss) 21:06, 8 March 2014 (UTC)


  • dugnad (Norwegian) - A social activity where a group of friends or neighbors get together to perform a large task. Similar to the old practice of barn raising in North America except it can be any task, not just building a barn.[7]
Alternate: "A planned (semi-)volunteer work session in/for a community or local interest group."[3]   — C M B J   08:28, 24 February 2014 (UTC)
Portuguese has the same: mutirão. Maybe task force. — Ungoliant (Falai) 23:53, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
dugnadUngoliant (Falai) 13:36, 9 June 2013 (UTC)


  • تعارف (Persian) - The intricate Persian system of etiquette and good manners, emphasizing extreme deference, humility, and respect.
taarof. — Ungoliant (Falai) 15:58, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
Is it really an English word? Seems to be just a transliteration, and I think this actually proves that it doesn't have any equivalent in the language... --Z 16:13, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
Sounds like another example like Schadenfreude, shlimazel, and sisu already being discussed above. The fact that a lot of these words with no obvious English analogues get picked up and used in English means we have to start working on boundaries. I really don't want to see déjà vu or chutzpah here on the grounds that we don't have a word for it in English. I say, if the English loanword meets CFI by being used (and not merely mentioned) 3 times in durably archived sources over at least a year, the foreign word can no longer be said to have no English translation, because it has become its own English translation. —Angr 16:53, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
I agree. --Z 17:05, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
This calls to my gulliver just a skosh about something in one of Bill Bryson's books, that English is a language that waits in dark alleys to hit other languages over the head, and then goes through their pockets for loose vocabulary. -- Eiríkr Útlendi │ Tala við mig 17:54, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
Haha. --Z 17:58, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
The original quote, which is from James Nicoll and not Bill Bryson, can be found on my Wikipedia userpage. —Angr 19:29, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
I don’t think it’s just a transliteration. Enough Google Books results show this word used in English text as if it were any other. One can’t reasonably expect English to have a native word describing a concept unique to Persian society. — Ungoliant (Falai) 18:49, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
Yes, it seems it meets the CFI. --Z 19:07, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
Say, what is the rule on commonly transliterated words from non-English alphabets, like konichiwa? bd2412 T 00:07, 6 June 2013 (UTC)
konnichi wa, Template:ja-romaji/documentation. --Anatoli (обсудить/вклад) 00:12, 6 June 2013 (UTC)


  • desbundar (Brazilian Portuguese) - To shed your inhibitions and self-restraint and have fun like there’s no tomorrow, causing wonder and surprise with your atypical behaviour.[8]
Yet another example of an overspecific meaning. It means “to lose self-control, composure” (due to being drunk, for example), “to embarrass” or “to shock” — Ungoliant (Falai) 02:58, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
desenrascanço, which is not a verb and has translations. — Ungoliant (Falai) 15:32, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
Alternate version: Literally “to disentangle oneself” from a bad situation, this is the art of slapping together a solution to a problem at the last minute, with no advanced planning, and no resources. Think “MacGyver”. An ability highly prized in Portuguese culture.[2]   — C M B J   02:58, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
  • pesamenteiro (Portuguese) - It is someone who goes to a funeral, or the house of the mourning family, for the food and drink that is expected to be served instead of to offer their condolences.[7]
Uncitable. — Ungoliant (Falai) 23:53, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
"pesamenteiro -ra (m., f.) one who habitually joins groups of mourners at the home of a deceased person, ostensibly to offer condolences but in reality to partake of the refreshments which he expects will be served." A Portuguese-English Dictionary: Revised. James Lumpkin Taylor, Priscilla Clark Martin. Stanford University Press. 1970. ISBN: 978-0804704809.   — C M B J   04:18, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
Dictionary references aren’t valid for citing Portuguese though. BTW, see Placebo (at funeral). — Ungoliant (Falai) 04:24, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
  • saudade (Portuguese) – The feeling of longing for something or someone who you love and which is lost. (See also w:Saudade). [16]
User feedback: "Portuguese - saudade: sometimes translated as ‘nostalgia’ but thats not quute correct. Saudade refers to the intense feeling of missing someone who is absent, be it a loved one (deceased or absent) a pet, whatever. It can refer to a place, activity, time period…"[19]   — C M B J   07:49, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
User feedback: "I support Luisa’s suggestion. This is such a key Portuguese word. Any Portuguese will tell you that this is what defines us: the ability to understand what “saudade” means. A sense of something missing; missing someone, missing an experience, a feeling, a place. Attached to very melancholic tones; very often associated to the traditional music of Fado."[19]   — C M B J   07:49, 8 June 2013 (UTC)


  • тоска (toská) (Russian) - A great spiritual anguish, usually without any cause or condition. Vladmir Nabokov describes it best: “No single word in English renders all the shades of toska. At its deepest and most painful, it is a sensation of great spiritual anguish, often without any specific cause. At less morbid levels it is a dull ache of the soul, a longing with nothing to long for, a sick pining, a vague restlessness, mental throes, yearning. In particular cases it may be the desire for somebody of something specific, nostalgia, love-sickness. At the lowest level it grades into ennui, boredom.”[5][9]
тоска (toská) --Vahag (talk) 11:23, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
Native speaker's feedback: Strike, it's translatable - anguish; yearning; sadness. The description is exaggerated. --Anatoli (обсудить/вклад) 06:05, 11 June 2013 (UTC)
I'm a little surprised on this one since it was translated by Vladimir Nabokov in what is/was said to be the best English version of Russian literature's most seminal work, Eugene Onegin. Let's hold out for two concurring opinions just to be sure that nothing is being overlooked.   — C M B J   09:29, 11 June 2013 (UTC)
I confirm, the description is exaggerated. --Vahag (talk) 10:15, 11 June 2013 (UTC)
User feedback: Same in Bulgarian.[8]   — C M B J   01:04, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
Maybe block, if also found outside writer's block. — Ungoliant (Falai) 02:58, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
Native speaker's feedback: Strike, it's translatable - stagnation; block. The description is exaggerated. --Anatoli (обсудить/вклад) 06:05, 11 June 2013 (UTC)
English may not have a verb for this, but we do have hair of the dog, which communicates the idea as a noun. --EncycloPetey (talk) 04:38, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
landmark? — Ungoliant (Falai) 00:03, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
Native speaker's feedback: Strike, it's translatable - landmark; attraction; a remarkable place. The description is exaggerated. --Anatoli (обсудить/вклад) 06:05, 11 June 2013 (UTC)
  • про́рубь (prórubʹ) - ice-hole, hole in the ice (usually artificial). --Anatoli (обсудить/вклад) 00:40, 13 November 2013 (UTC)
    Judging by a Google Video search, such holes are often called "ice holes" in English. That collocation isn't idiomatic, but it occurs so regularly as the term for the holes that, by the standard we seem to be using for determining whether or not things are translatable, I'd say про́рубь is translatable. - -sche (discuss) 02:46, 27 May 2014 (UTC)



  • незабаром (nezabárom) (Ukrainian) - Communicates the meaning “not a very long time ago,” but means literally, “not far away from the pub”.[2]
recentlyUngoliant (Falai) 05:50, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
It means soon, not "recently". I find the explanation “not far away from the pub” amateurish. It's funny but not true. --Anatoli (обсудить/вклад) 11:00, 10 June 2013 (UTC)
  • тушка (túška) (Russian, Ukrainian) – Literally, “the body of a dead animal”. Used of an elected official who has changed his political affiliation.[5]
Pretty sure this has an English equivalent.   — C M B J   07:34, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
floor-crosserUngoliant (Falai) 15:17, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
turncoat - -sche (discuss) 21:33, 8 March 2014 (UTC)


  • mamihlapinatapai (Yaghan) - A look between two people that suggests an unspoken, shared desire.[1]
Sometimes mamihlapinatapei.   — C M B J   07:05, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
Ironically, this word is apparently spurious and nonexistent in Yámana/Yaghan, but exists in English. - -sche (discuss) 21:34, 8 March 2014 (UTC)


  • קוועטש (kvetsh) (Yiddish) - A person who complains all the time.[7]
kvetchUngoliant (Falai) 23:53, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
Complainer, moaner, groaner (and so on). Mglovesfun (talk) 19:27, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
  • נחת (naches) (Yiddish) - The pleasure and satisfaction a parent gets from their child’s accomplishments.[7]
nachesUngoliant (Falai) 23:53, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
  • nu (Yiddish) - Word expressing indifference or confusion about learning irrelevant information. Often translated as “so what?”[8]
so what; who cares; meh; andUngoliant (Falai) 02:11, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
  • שלימזל (shlimazl) (Yiddish) - Someone who has nothing but bad luck.[1]
A bit like schadenfreude, as we do say shlimazel in English. —Angr 12:28, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
dreamer? — Ungoliant (Falai) 15:32, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
No, just someone with bad luck. There's a saying that Yiddish has two words for perpetually unlucky people: shlemiel and shlimazel. The shlemiel is the man who spills his soup, and the shlimazel is the man he spills it on. —Angr 16:17, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
Ooops. I actually meant this for luftmensch. Sorry. — Ungoliant (Falai) 18:39, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
  • kibbitzer (Yiddish) - A person who gives unwanted advice. Also used to describe a person who keeps trying to talk to you while you are working.[7]
    kibitzer - -sche (discuss) 21:36, 8 March 2014 (UTC)