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Every language has words that can’t be translated directly into other languages. We have collected some of the most interesting  and accurate words that can’t be translated into English.

The 15 words are:

  • Mamihlapinatapai (Yaghan) – A look between two people that suggests an unspoken, shared desire.
  • Jayus (Indonesian) – A joke so poorly told and so unfunny that one cannot help but laugh.
  • Iktsuarpok (Inuit) – To go outside to check if anyone is coming.
  • Kyoikumama (Japanese) – A mother who relentlessly pushes her children toward academic achievement.
  • Tartle (scottish) – The act of hesitating while introducing someone because you’ve forgotten their name.
  • Prozvonit (Czech) – To call a mobile phone and let it ring once so that the other person will call back, saving the first caller money.
  • Tingo (Pascuense) – The act of taking objects one desires from the house of a friend by gradually borrowing all of them.
  • L’appel du vide (French) – Describes the instinctive urge to jump from high places.
  • Duende (Spanish) – The mysterious power of a work of art to deeply move a person.
  • Kintsukuroi (Japanese) – To repair with gold. Understanding that a piece is more beautiful for having been broken.
  • Lagom (Swedish) – Enough ,sufficient, adequate, or just the right amount.
  • Age-otori (Japanese) – To look worse after a haircut.
  • Culaccino (Italian) – The mark left on a table by a cold glass.
  • Komorebi (Japanese) – When sunlight filters through the trees – the interplay between the light and the leaves.


Do you know any foreign words that have no direct translation in English? Share them below.


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by Nik Andreev

Nik is the content manager at Wolfestone. He blogs about social media and international digital marketing. He also likes graphics design and video editing. When not creating exciting content, he spend his time reading Sci-Fi and drinking coffee.

  • Ted

    ‘Prozvonit’ in English is ‘to drop-call’. It’s a very common expression.

  • Roma

    oh dear, I do tartle so often…I think I’d like to start a blog inviting other “tartlers” who would be like me 50++ but otherwise fit and full of drive and ready for new adventures words or deeds…., thank you …..hmmmm…Nik

  • Pauli

    I’m sad to tell that the Spanish word Duende doesn’t have that meaning, Duende is a type of gnome and it’s absolutely translatable to English by the word Gnome. So in the name of my language i’d suggest to take Duende out of this 15 words. Thanks.

    • El Duende

      Dear Pauli:
      Eres un contribuyente ignorante, arrogante y totalmente inepto para sugerir nada sobre el idioma que nos pertenece a tantos millones de terrícolas. Si tienes un tiempecito, leete la accepción segunda de la palabra duende en el Diccionario de la R.A.E.

  • I would contribute the word to be “dus” (pronounced “deuce”)with, from Danish which means that you are more than just an acquaintance. It comes from the familiar address “du,” which means “you” as opposed to the more formal address “De” (also means “you”). So if you are “dus” with someone or something, you know them or the subject pretty well. Also there is the verb “at dusse” which means to address someone familiarly.

  • bea

    Hi, I would like to tell you that there is a kind of misunderstanding in regards to duende .. though it does have a translation, a duende in Spanish is = elf, goblin, leprechaun, a magical creature, in the case of a work of art, as saying it has duende, referres as its got some magic, is enchanting, is sometimes so well achieved that you could think somebody else (in this case a duende) helped the artist, which by the way could also be offensive .. Best Regards, Bea

  • catherine

    prozvonit in Czech mean ping in English

  • catherine

    L’appel du vide means the call of the void translate in english

  • catherine

    lagom means occasionally in English.