HomeBlogCultures & traditions8 foreign words that don’t translate into English

8 foreign words that don’t translate into English

There are many things that we, as a nation, are good at, learning other languages isn’t one of them. One reason? There are some words and phrases we don’t even translate into English!

I’ve found some of these words, for you to learn.

“Gigil” | Filipino

Cute puppy

“Gigil” is the feeling of holding yourself back from doing something; usually squeezing with delight (a baby or a puppy or something). Although it can be used in the sense of holding yourself back from punching someone. It’s that borderline hysterical feeling you get when you just can’t express yourself properly.

“Jayus” | Indonesian

Laughing


You may have heard this one before, on Twitter or something. It describes a joke that’s so bad, or so badly told, that you can’t help but laugh anyway. I can’t tell you how many jayus jokes I hear daily in the office.

“Cafuné” | Brazilian Portuguese

Man stroking woman's hair


Here, we just say we are running our fingers through hair, or stroking hair, but in Brazil they have a whole proper word for it; “cafuné” means tenderly stroking hair, no less.

“Pelinti” | Buli (a Ghanaian language)

Ghanaian rice and chicken


What a great word! It means to move very hot food around your mouth in a bid to cool it down and not burn the inside of your mouth off. Like when you just stuff a chip in without blowing on it. Obviously, Ghanaians just can’t wait for their food to cool down!

“Dépaysement” | French


Dépaysement is the feeling of not being in your home country. Unsurprisingly, this is hard to explain seeing as there’s no comparable English word. As far as I can gather, it’s the feeling of disorientation and bewilderment of being a foreigner. I don’t think it’s a nice word.

“Hyggelig” | Danish

Chocolate, marshmallows and a fireplace


I recently went to Copenhagen and “hyggelig” was mentioned a lot. It kind of means a warm, cosy, friendly feeling; the sort of feeling you would get if you were settling down in front of a roaring fire with a hot chocolate, or meeting with friends for a lovely chat and a glass of wine. I think it’s a nice word.

“Kummerspeck” | German again

Bacon


This one literally means grief bacon! However, it actually means the weight gained through emotional overeating. You know the sort – you’ve been dumped so you have a Kit Kat multipack for dinner every day for the first month. Naturally, being a nation of meat-lovers, they call it grief bacon… I call it heartbreak Kit Kat.