Two writers, Douglas Adams and John Lloyd, compiled a book called The Meaning of Liff, a list of actions and things that don’t have any words to describe them. Basically, the book contains actions that cannot be described with just a single word such as the way a person stands while examining a bookshelf. There are so many actions and feelings for which words do not exist yet. But, there are few words in other languages across the world that describe such instances. We bring to you 15 such foreign words that should definitely have English equivalents.
1. “Kalsarikännit:” A Finnish word that means “relishing a drink, alone in your underwear, with no intention whatsoever of going out.”
This word might not paint a picture of a healthy lifestyle, but this Finnish word depicts the perfect weekend for a lot of people. “Kalsarikännit” is a Finnish word that describes the act of relishing a drink, while just wearing your underwear, and with no intention of stepping outside of your home. Although this might not portray a healthy style of living, it shows that it’s okay to sometimes not have plans for the weekend. This word is about feeling empowered to do things the way you like it and enjoying your own company without any pretenses, and of course, pants.
Finland has created its own set of emojis making it the first country to do so. These emojis were designed to depict a few hard-to-describe Finnish feelings. “Kalsarikännit” is one of them. (source)
2. “Shemomechama:” A Georgian word that literally translates as “gulping down the food accidentally while carrying it for someone else!”
How many times has that happened with you? Of course! Multiple times! It would have been amazing if the English language had a word for it rather than us concocting a story to explain the scenario of why there is no more food!
According to popular explanations, this happens mostly at the time of Thanksgiving and Christmas. We eat more than we are meant to. Sometimes we gulp down extra food while passing the plate to the next person and all the next person gets is an empty plate. The Georgians call this “shemomechama.” They must really know the experience to have dedicated a fixed word for it. (source)
3. “Kilig:” A word used in the Philippines to describe the weakness in one’s knees and feeling of butterflies in one’s stomach during romantic encounters.
The Tagalog word “kilig” refers to the excited feeling one gets during various romantic encounters such as first eye contacts with a crush or a loved one or while watching someone else giving romantic gestures. It also stands for melting of heart, shivers down one’s spine, or uncontrollable smiling, all related to romantic encounters. Even though this word is used in the context of Philippine culture, the feeling it describes is universal.
Clifford Sorita, a sociologist defines “kilig” as the initial attraction that two people witness during the first phase of their relationship. Sorita further adds that at this phase, it is not clear whether the “kilig” might lead to a deeper connection or love, But there are chances it might. In English, the closest translation that “kilig” could have is “tickled pink.” (source)
4. “Tingo:” A Pascuense word that refers to stealing your neighbor’s things over a period of time by borrowing them and not giving back after using them.
The Pascuense must be “borrowing” too many of their neighbor’s things and not returning them to have come up with the word, “tingo,” to describe the situation! This word is spoken on the Rapa Nui island, also known as Easter Island. The island houses a population of around 6,000 and is considered Chile’s special territory. Pascuenseor is the language prevalent on the island.
Adam Jacot de Boinod has compiled a book of quirky words that are not found in English. His book is called The Meaning of Tingo: and Other Extraordinary Words from Around the World, and this is how the word “tingo” became famous. The book has words from around 254 languages. (source)
5. “Antier:” A Spanish word for the day before yesterday.
Life would be so much easier if English had a word for “the day before yesterday.” The Spanish have a word for it: “antier.” It is also known as “anteayer” and is comprised of “ante,” which stands for before, and “ayer” which means “yesterday.” For example, when someone says in Spanish “Llegué a US anteayer,” it would roughly translate to “I arrived in the US the day before yesterday.” But, you won’t see this translation in Google Translate as there is no English equivalent for “anteayer” or “antier.” (source)
6. “Megcsörgetni:” A Hungarian word that describes the situation when you call someone and hang up before they pick up, then you wait for them to call you back to make sure there’s no expenditure from your side.
Today’s calling prices have decreased to a large extent. A few decades back, a 10-minute phone call within the US could cost around $30! Now, we have Skype, and at just $3, we can call anywhere within the US, and also, have unlimited minutes. During such pricey-call times, people used to terminate their calls before the person at the other end could pick up. They did this in the hope that the other person would call them back so they wouldn’t have to pay for the call! This must have been done by a lot of people, and the Hungarians decided to assign a word for it! They call it “megcsörgetni.” (source)
7. “Zhaghzhagh:” The chattering and jabbering of teeth when you are either cold or angry in the Persian language.
You go out in the cold and your teeth start chattering immediately. The same happens when you are really angry or upset with someone. Although all of us have experienced both of these scenarios, we don’t have a word for it in almost any language except Persian. The people of Persia have a word for it: “zhaghzhagh.” There should definitely be an equivalent in English! (1, 2)
8. “Iktsuarpok:” In the Inuit language, this word describes the feeling of expectation when you’re waiting for someone to show up at your house and you keep going outside to see if they’re there yet!
It’s a frustrating feeling! You wait for someone or something to show up, and they are late. You get anxious, and you keep checking again and again if they have arrived. Be it a person or a train, there’s always inner anguish associated with waiting. It would make so much sense to have a word to describe that feeling. Although English doesn’t have a word for it, Inuit does. They call this anxious feeling of waiting “iktsuarpok,” and until English has it, we will have to use that! (source)