Beautifully Quirky Words We Can’t Say In English

Photo courtesy of flickr.com/son / iDJ Photography
Photo courtesy of flickr.com/son / iDJ Photography

I am a word connoisseur, I collect them, relish them and use them. I try to be precise and descriptive and above all, to tell the truth with them. Some of my favorite include: melancholy, sneakers and the newly remembered, disinclination. Here are some non-English words that make me wish I knew more than one language:

Mangata (Swedish): The road-like reflection of the moon in the water

Mangata (Swedish): The road-like reflection of the moon in the waterElla Frances Sanders
Perhaps people don’t notice these glimmering, lyrical moments enough anymore, but the way the moon reflects and leaps across the black water of the ocean at night is surely a sight to behold.

Akihi (Hawaiian): Listening to directions and then walking off and promptly forgetting them

Akihi (Hawaiian): Listening to directions and then walking off and promptly forgetting themElla Frances Sanders
When they explained how to get there, their directions all made perfect sense, €”you nodded and looked back with clear understanding. Then you parted ways, and now you can’t remember whether to take a left or a right.

Commuovere (Italian): To be moved in a heartwarming way, usually related to a story that moved you to tears

Commuovere (Italian): To be moved in a heartwarming way, usually related to a story that moved you to tearsElla Frances Sanders
Maybe you had a single tear rolling down your cheek, maybe you were crying for days afterward. Touching and powerful stories hit you in the most inexplicable, unexpected, and undeniably human ways.

Komorebi (Japanese): The sunlight that filters through the leaves of the trees

Komorebi (Japanese): The sunlight that filters through the leaves of the treesElla Frances Sanders
It may be temporarily blinding, but it’s most definitely beautiful. There is something wonderfully evocative and uniquely magical about sunlight filtered through green foliage.

Glas wen (Welsh): A “blue smile,” one that is sarcastic or mocking

Glas wen (Welsh): A "blue smile," one that is sarcastic or mockingElla Frances Sanders
Those sarcastic smiles are not so easy to escape. They make you squirm a little and leave you wishing that you could just slip away without having to return an awkward half-smile.

Kilig (Tagalog): The feeling of butterflies in your stomach, usually when something romantic or cute takes place

Kilig (Tagalog): The feeling of butterflies in your stomach, usually when something romantic or cute takes placeElla Frances Sanders
You know exactly what this is. Once it’s taken hold, there’s no stopping that can’t-think-straight, smiling-for-no-reason, spine-tingling feeling that starts somewhere deep inside the walls of your stomach.

Luftmensch (Yiddish): Refers to someone who is a bit of a dreamer; literally means “air person”

Luftmensch (Yiddish): Refers to someone who is a bit of a dreamer; literally means "air person"Ella Frances Sanders
Your head is in the clouds and you aren’t coming down anytime soon. You’re living in a dream world, €”the 9-to-5 has no place here and paperwork doesn’t exist at this attitude. So it’s out with reality and in with the impractical.

Tretar (Swedish): A second refill of coffee, or a “threefill”

Tretar (Swedish): A second refill of coffee, or a "threefill"Ella Frances Sanders
Whether you read this and think, “Only three cups?” or you don’t understand how it’s possible to stomach even one cup of coffee, let alone three, you have to admit that this is a very logical and efficient word.

Tsundoku (Japanese): Leaving a book unread after buying it, typically piled up together with other unread books

Tsundoku (Japanese): Leaving a book unread after buying it, typically piled up together with other unread booksElla Frances Sanders
The tsundoku scale can range from just one unread book to a serious hoard, so you are most likely guilty of it. As intellectual as you may look tripping over an unread copy of Great Expectations on your way to the front door, those pages probably deserve to see the daylight.

Lost in Translation

Lost in TranslationElla Frances Sanders
The charming book Lost in Translation shows you the poetry and beauty of the world’s languages, with illustrated definitions of more than 50 words that do not have direct English translations.

Ann Farnsworth

Wife, mother, daughter, sister, grandmother, friend, writer and happy!

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