"Untranslatable" words

Hey, Lingo community!

Have you guys ever heard of “untranslatable” words? These are words that don’t have an equivalent or direct translation into other languages. Sometimes, these words are super specific. I find them absolutely fascinating! I’ll share some of my favorites with you:

  • Cafuné (Portuguese): “The act of caressing or tenderly running fingers through a loved one’s hair” :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:
  • Pochemuchka (Russian): “A person who asks too many questions” :face_with_monocle:
  • Backpfeifengesicht (German): “A face in need of a slap” :joy:
  • Gattara (Italian): “An elderly woman who feeds stray cats and/or lives with multiple cats” (this is literally my future)
  • Koi No Yokan (Japanese): “The premonition of love; the feeling upon first meeting someone that you will inevitably fall in love with them” :cupid:

When I was a teenager, I used to have a little notebook where I would write all the untranslatable words I could find!

For the ones who speak these languages… do you actually use these words often?
And do you know any other untranslatable words? Share them here!


This is a super interesting question!
I am Italian, and yes absolutely, we use the word “gattara” quite often. Especially to tease someone!
Other words are:

  1. Spaghettata is also another untranslatable word. It means when you make a big batch of spaghetti, or linguine, for a big group of people. In few words it’s like saying “pasta party”.

  2. Meriggiare, which means a feeling of relaxation both physical and mental.

  3. Rimbeltempire (I have a hard time pronouncing it myself) it refers to the weather. When the sun comes back shining after the rain!

  4. And the Tagalog word kilig which refers to that feeling of happiness when something romantic is happening. For example being gifted a bouquet of flower!

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So many untranslatable words! No wonder every language is unique :wink:

I might add that Spanish also has some untranslatable words of its own, such as:

  • Concuñado: the spouse of your brother-in-law/sister-in-law (“cuñado” means brother/sister-in-law). It even has our beautiful “ñ”! :heart_eyes:
  • Tocayo : someone who has the same name as you. One of my best friends is actually my tocayo. We had to give him a nickname because we both turned around when they said our name, so it was pretty confusing :joy: :joy:
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