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Words too perfect to translate

Sometimes English doesn't cut it.

Fall in love with these words without English equivalents.

When something is unbearingly cute

Want a word for that shivery, teeth-gritting thrill when you just have to lay your hands on something overwhelmingly cute? Filipinos have you covered. Gigil is an untranslatable word for cuteness overload.

A soft caress through your hair

It's hard to think of something more soothing than someone lovingly running their fingers through your hair. Brazilians call this cafuné.

A witty retort too little too late

The Germans call it treppenwitz when you think of a clever come back but it's too late to say it.

Coffee shop dwellers

You know those folks who sit for hours at a coffee shop barely buying anything? The French call them seigneur-terraces.

A name for that lonely pile of books

Ever buy a new book only to pile it on the other unread books you've bought? The Japanese call that tsundoku.

When you can't help but enjoy others' troubles

Schadenfreude is the German word for the oft-kept-secret enjoyment that comes from seeing or hearing about other people's troubles.

The attempt to revive an unworkable relationship

The Italians call this cavoli riscaldati, or reheated cabbage.

Sunlight dancing on leaves

Komorebi is a Japanese name for the interplay between sunlight and leaves when the sun shines through the trees.

The opposite of a nightmare

Not just a dream but an AMAZING dream. In Bantu, they call this bilita mpash.

That travel buddy stuck carrying everyone else's bags

You know those people who are left carrying all the bags on the trip? The Germans call them packesel.

The moon's road-like reflection on water

Mangata, a Swedish word for when the moon's reflection seems to paint a glimmering road on the water.

A premonition of love

When you first meet someone and you get the sense that you are inevitably going to fall in love; the Japanese call this koi no yokan.

The perfect middle ground

Think like Goldilocks; not too little, not too much, but just right. Lagom is both a Swedish lifestyle and state of mind that carries notions of balance and moderation to find joy.

The time between the office and bed

That bit of free time after work, before you go to bed. The Germans call it feierabend.

Finding beauty in imperfections

Sometimes beauty lives in imperfections. The Japanese concept of wabi-sabi centers on the acceptance of transience and imperfection as beautiful in themselves.

Why limit ourselves to English, after all?


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