Unique words

In most languages you will find words that are unique to that language and/or culture. 

Czech

  • prozvonit to call someone's mobile from your own without the other person picking up with the intention of leaving your number in their phone's memory

Norwegian

  • kram snø snow which is sticky (excellent for making snow-balls and snowmen)
  • fiskevaer good weather for fishing
  • sjøstygg being so ugly that the tide won’t come in, if you’re on the shore (literally, sea ugly)
  • giftekniv a person trying to get two people married

Greek

  • kamáki the young local guys strolling up and down beaches hunting for female tourists (literally, harpoons)
  • meraki doing something with soul, creativity, or love: putting something of yourself into what you're doing
  • filotimo 

    the intense feeling of personal honour and dignity

Swedish

  • lappsjuka a melancholy through being so isolated
  • fika coffee-break or an overall word for buns and other snacks that you eat on coffee-breaks
  • lagom not too little or not too big, just right

Finnish

  • hiukaista to feel hungry for something salty 
  • poronkusema the distance equal to how far a reindeer can travel without a comfort break (about 5 kilometres) (literally, reindeer’s piss)
  • kuunsilta the long reflection of the moon when it is low in the sky and shining on the calm surface of a lake (literally, moon bridge)

Hungarian

  • csókolgat to shower with kisses
  • verbunkos a dance performed to persuade people to enlist in the army     

Icelandic

  • eldhus-fifi (Old Icelandic) an idiot who sits all day by the fire
  • af-vegar (Old Icelandic) fallen on the back and unable to rise
  • féauðnu-maðr (Old Icelandic) a man lucky with his sheep

Albanian

  • hundekuq a bulbous nose, red at the tip 
  • kacadre a moustache with turned-up ends
  • vetullhen an eyebrow arched like the crescent moon
  • pagezuar the state of dying before enjoying the happiness that comes with being married or seeing one’s children married

Spanish

  • chupotero a person who works little but has several salaries
  • piropo a compliment paid on the street (which ranges from polite to raunchy)
  • verguenza ajena feeling of shame on behalf of someone else
  • sobremesa sitting on after a meal
  • malaje s

    aying of a person: Disagreeable, that has bad(wrong) shade 

  • jajajear to laugh in a mocking way 
  • repeío a person who is very pompous and considers others in a lower level than him/her

Russian

  • zastrich to cut one’s nails too short 
  • deryabnut’  to drink quickly in order to warm up
  • dakat’ to keep saying yes
  • teplushka heated goods van used for carrying people
  • zakurit’sya to make oneself ill by excessive smoking

Italian

  • mammismo maternal control and interference that continues into adulthood
  • abiocco deriva dal verbo abioccare, abiocarsi, nella maggioranza dei casi definisce lo stato di sonnolenza, di affaticamento.

German

  • Zechpreller someone who leaves without paying the bill 
  • Ohrwurm a catchy tune that gets stuck in the brain or a tune that rapidly obsesses an entire population (literally, an ear worm) 
  • Torschlusspanik the fear of diminishing opportunities as one gets older, especially the fear of not having a relationship or becoming too old for a baby.
  • Gemütlichkeit feeeling comfortable, like in one's home

French

  • yaourt English pop music sung without any understanding of the meaning; singing to create something that sounds like English pop music but actually isn’t (literally, yoghurt)
  • metro-boulot-dodo the daily grind (literally, ‘tube-work-sleep’)

Latvian

  • vientulība loneliness, solitude

Lithuanian

  • žlugtas laundry which is watered before washing
  • brėkšti a verb which is used to describe a moment between the night and the dawn
  • rymoti to lean on something (arms, fence, etc.) for some time
  • brukti to suggest something in a very annoying and irksome way
  • davatka a person who is too pious and likes to gossip

Portuguese

  • chico-esperto used to describe someone who is smart enough to take advantage of situations even if damaging someone else's interests
  • lesma used to characterise someone who is slow at doing things (literally, the name of an animal "slug"
  • coscuvilhice / cusquice gossiping and/or trying to malitiously enter one's privacy to get to know and speculate about private life specially of socialites
  • saudade homesickness, longing, missing, heartache, nostalgia
  • desenrascanço capacity to get oneself out of trouble or one who is clever enough to improvise creative solutions to seemingly impossible situations. The closest English equivalents are the colloquial "hack" or "MacGyver". 

Dutch
  • Gezellig depending on context, can be translated as convivial, cosy, fun, quaint, or nice atmosphere, but can also connote belonging, time spent with loved ones, the fact of seeing a friend after a long absence, or general togetherness. The word is considered to be an example of untranslatability, and is one of the hardest words to translate to English.
  • Broodje-aap 

    An awful, often invented story that is told as being true, thus becoming a myth. Literally: a monkey-meat sandwich 

  • Regelneef A person who loves organizing even without being asked to


Irish
  • plubairnigh a verb specifically used to describe that distinctive thick, bubbling sound that porridge makes when it is boiling. "Bhí an leite ag plubairnigh sa phota" translation "The porridge was 'plubairnigh-ing' in the pot".

English

  • higgledy-piggledy Disordered, jumbled, not neat and tidy. According to Oxford Dictionary, probably used initially with reference to the disordered herding together of pigs.

Romanian

  • dor 

    a feeling of melancholy as a result of the desire to see someone or something you love.

Russian

  • zalipat 

    stand at gaze.


Catalan

  • Seny A combination of well-pondered perception of situations, level-headedness, awareness, integrity and right action.



            The concept and original examples featured on this page have been provided by
            Adam Jacot de Boinod

            Do you know a unique word that should be on this page? Please send it to us!


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