Untranslatable Words  

Since I evidently follow the philosophy that one’s vocabulary can never be big enough, and have little regard for language differentiation if it means learning new words, it’s time for another post about little used or unusual words.

I stumbled across an interesting link to a list of words with very specific meanings that are not able to be directly translated into English. I love concepts like this and of course had to share my favourite ones with you.


Utepils (Norwegian)

To sit outside on a sunny day enjoying a beer

Usually, on particularly nice sunny days, I remark that the patio is calling to me, but maybe I should be suggesting that it’s a great day for utepils. (Note, however, I have no idea how to pronounce it and am likely to just come off as very eccentric).



Waldeinsamkeit (German)

The feeling of being alone in the woods

I grew up outside of the city, and loved being able to experience this almost any time. I miss it now – this is a pretty powerful one, I think. (Then again, you might not always be alone – ask me sometime about that time a cougar was nearby and I didn’t know until much later).


Komorebi (Japanese)

The sort of scattered, dappled light effect that happens when sunlight shines in through the trees

I love the light effect this refers to. A lot of the stories I wrote as a horse-crazy twelve year old are full of laborious descriptions of this.



Itsuarok (Inuit)

The frustration of waiting for someone to turn up

Especially before the days of cell phones, when you couldn’t just text them for an update!


Prozvonit (Czech)

To call a mobile phone only to have it ring once so that the other person would call back, allowing the caller not to spend money on minutes

My mom and I regularly use this system, although not for cell phone minutes but because I have an awesome long distance plan. It works very well.


Backpfeifengesicht (German)

A face badly in need of a fist

I know a few of these! Just imagine how ominous it would sound to growl this under your breath when someone cuts you off in line. I’m going to ask my friend who speaks German how to say this, but I am not too optimistic about my ability to pronounce it properly.


What are some of your favourite words, in English or not?


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