Missing Words

I am planning a project about words in other languages which do not have a direct English translation. If you know a word – whether it’s an everyday mundane word or something more exciting – please get in touch and tell me about it!

You can:

All help will be greatly appreciated!



16 thoughts on “Missing Words”

  1. oppvaskmoete – Norwegian. It is a sort of post event/incident air clearing, resolution, tribunal, clarification sort of thing. I don’t know of a literal English translation or even a directly appliccable concept.

    1. Two wonderful words, I just got that book delivered a couple of weeks ago but good to know it’s a good one! I had not come across that website however, it looks great – thank you!

  2. In Spain it’s very, very common to drink “un cortado” wich is something similar to a coffee with a little milk. It’s an everyday mundane word that doesn’t have and English direct translation, and it’s a real problem when I travel to the Uk, because in the end all I drink are caffe lattes! =)

      1. in that case you may also find interesting the word “churros”: long fritters made with flour and water, they are popular in much of Spain and are often eaten with thick hot chocolate either for breakfast or as a snack. In Madrid, they eat a thicker variety of churro called a “porra”. =D

  3. As a native Dutch and English speaker, the Dutch work ‘gezellig’ does not translate into English properly. One possible aspect of gezellig can be translated into ‘cozy’, but it is most definitely not the entire meaning of the word ‘gezellig’. Cozy would in turn best translate into the Dutch ‘knus’. Maybe something to add is that ‘gezellig’ is a description of an atmosphere or ambiance, in the company of others, which is friendly, fun, pleasant, cozy, sociable. ‘Gezellig’ is widely used in the Netherlands, and describes many everyday situations. ‘Gezellig’ is an adjective, ‘gezelligheid’ is the noun.

  4. “Dor” – Romanian. It’s one of the first words that comes to my mind that don’t have a direct translation in English or any other language I believe. “Dor” basically means the feeling of missing someone/someplace . Hope that helps :)

  5. I guess very popular case is the words you use to name relatives. I.e., for the “in-laws” in English you do not make a difference to which side (husband or a wife) the relative belongs. In Russian there is a difference:

    mother-in-law: теща (mom of a wife) or свекровь (mom of a husband)
    father-in-law: тесть (mom of a wife) or свекр (father of a husband)
    sister/brother-in-law: своячница / свояк (sister/brother of a wife) or золовка / деверь (sister/brother of a husband)

    Same thing in many other slavic languages, i.e. in Serbian.

  6. Waldeinsamkeit is German for the ‘feeling of being alone in the woods’. I did a small project around the word last year. I’m not a native gemran speaker though, so no idea how often it would ever be used.

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