22 beautiful, untranslatable words

I know, I know… with the right translator, there is no such thing as an untranslatable word. Every term can be translated or explained if we contact a qualified professional. However, some words don’t have an equivalent in any other target language. These are the “untranslatable” words we are talking about.

We hope you enjoy our list 😉

1. Culaccino 🇮🇹

The mark that a moist glass leaves on a table.


2. Kyoikumama 🇯🇵

A mother who pushes her children into academic achievements.


3. Gökotta 🇸🇪

Waking up early in the morning to go outside and hear the first birds sing.


4. Ya’aburnee 🇦🇪

A desire to die before another person, because of how unbearable it would be to see him/her die.


5. Hanyauku 🇳🇦🇦🇴

Walking on tiptoes across the hot sand


6. Tsundoku🇯🇵

Buying books and not reading them; letting books pile up on shelves.


7. Tartle🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿

A moment of hesitation that occurs when you forget someone’s name.


8. Toska🇷🇺

A refined, pure and elegant kind of boredom, or a deep feeling of sadness, melancholy and sorrow.

9. Litost 🇨🇿

The feeling we get when someone reminds us, through their accomplishments, of everything that has gone wrong in our lives.


10. Verschlimmbessern 🇩🇪

To accidentally make something worse while trying to improve it.


11. Kilig 🇵🇭

The feeling you get in your stomach when something romantic happens.


12. Wabi-Sabi🇯🇵

The quality of being attractive because of being imperfect in some way.


13. Dustsceawung 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿

The contemplation of the fact that dust used to be other things.


14. Flâner 🇫🇷

Strolling the streets with no destination.


15. Pochemuchka 🇷🇺

Someone that asks too many questions (informal).


16. Backpfeifengesicht 🇩🇪

A face that deserves to be punched.


17. Hüzün 🇹🇷

A sad feeling that leads you to think that things are in decline and that the situation will probably get gradually worse.


18. Jayus 🇮🇩

A lame, bad joke that makes you laugh nonetheless.


19. Tingo🗿

To gradually steal all the possessions of a neighbor by borrowing and never returning


20. Gattara 🇮🇹

An old and lonely woman who devotes herself to cats.


21. Schilderwald 🇩🇪

A street with so many signs that you get lost.


22. Age-otori 🇯🇵

The feeling of looking worse after a haircut.



Do you have any other example? Write it in the comment section and we will quickly find a GIF for it 😜


14 Responses to “22 beautiful, untranslatable words

  • This is a very nice list esp. that it is accompanied by the flags of their origin countries!

  • Anna-Maia Goljan
    3 years ago

    Sisu (Finnish word) ~~ strong will, eg. when you want something very much you’ll reach it.

  • Okunaitaihi (JP) It means the sheltering of people in concrete buildings or indoors when a nuclear accident occurs.

  • Freschin (Ita. Veneto): the fishy smell of some food almost rotten but still probably good to be eaten.

  • Thank you for sharing this. It was fun to read and watch the information. I wonder, is this selection done by one person who is fluent in all these languages?

    • Rémi Appell
      3 years ago

      😀 We could also have asked the translators on our platform ! But no, even though she speaks Three languages fluently, she just found all of this on the web

  • filotimo
    Filotimo (or Philotimo) is best understood as ones responsibility to himself as a human being to always act in accordance with righteousness and honor. Even if ones wealth, safety, freedom, or even life is at peril, one that lives by this virtue will always choose to do the right and honorable regardless of consequence. The idea of filotimo goes beyond the idea that one needs no motive to act in good faith and for a good cause, and suggests that for a sentient being, right and honorable actions should be the only acceptable behavior. It therefore requires a universal (or at least well-established) sense of morality, and a “golden standard” of behavior, which must be reached by all means possible, and by any sacrifice necessary. This term unique to the Greek language may apply to individuals, groups, or even Greek society as a whole, and may refer to any kind of action or behavior. Filotimo is often seen as the “prime vitrue”. It comes from the words φίλος = friend and τιμή = honor.
    Benevolent is the man who acts by filotimo alone.

  • There’s another one: “SAUDADE” (it exists only in Portuguese, and it’s the feeling you get when you miss someone very badly)

  • “Litost” 🇨🇿is not translated correctly; it is a yearning for something that could have been (better) in the past ( love, children, life). Closest WASP term “melancholy”

  • “Tandsmør” in Danish (DK): When you spread butter on so thick it leaves teeth marks when you bite it.

  • Tatiana
    3 years ago

    I would dispute translation of the word No. 8. TOSKA. It has 2 meanings in Russian language. One of them is indeed “boredom”, another one is “melancholy” or “sorrow”. For the word No. 15 POCHEMUCHKA is one the words that came to the language unofficially, i.e. this word was created by a parent who was attacked by his kid asking him too many questions. The same we can say about “frankenfood”, word that became popular after GMO food introduction.

    • Hello Tatiana, i agree, the word “toska” has several meanings. We try to write short and clear definitions, but you are right we can add some more explication on it. “Toska” is a beautiful word that has even more then two meanings, it depends on the context of course. For “pochemuchka” it’s true it’s unofficial language, but for this article we wanted to select different words, even if they are informal, because it shows a part of the culture too 🙂 Thank’s for your input, Tatiana!

  • Veronique
    3 years ago

    For #14 (flâner): Paris must be taken off the equation. Flâner simply means to stroll around without aim, time constraint, just taking in the moment, but it can be done anywhere

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