Don’t let the title fool you. ‘Untranslatable words’ is just an easier way of saying ‘words that don’t have a direct equivalent in another language’. But that doesn’t roll of your tongue as much.
Untranslatable Words: Arigata-meiwaku – Japanese
This could be translated as unwanted kindness. Specifically, it describes a situation in which someone tries to do you a favor, despite you not wanting it, and consequently causing you additional trouble or just not helping you at all, but you are expected to express gratitude nevertheless due to social conventions. A truly Japanese word in every sense.
Untranslatable Words: Sobremesa – Spanish
This word literally means ‘over the table’, but it signifies the period after a meal when the people sitting at the table continue to talk and enjoy each other’s company. Not an important word if you have no friends.
Sobremesa can also mean tablecloth.
Untranslatable Words: Zapoi – Russian
This Russian word is used to express continuous drinking for several days, so much so that the person withdraws from their normal social life. Sounds fun.
Untranslatable Words: Handschuhschneeballwerfer – German
Used metaphorically to describe a person who acts like a coward by criticizing and attacking only from a safe distance. Literally, it means a person throwing snowballs while wearing their gloves. In both cases – a pansy.
Untranslatable Words: Utepils – Norwegian
Everything feels much better when you have a word for what you're doing. Since utepils means enjoying a cold beer outside on a sunny day, our non-working weekends during the bright and warm days can feel much more meaningful.
Untranslatable Words: Trepverter – Yiddish
Another one of those words we absolutely need in our language. This one, particularly, signifies a witty comeback that you think of when it’s already too late. It literally means ‘staircase words’.
Untranslatable Words: Gökotta – Swedish
One of those words we didn’t know we need in our lives. Gökotta is used in Swedish to express the action of rising at dawn to listen to the birds sing. I don’t like to wake up early for anything, but you go Swedes.
Untranslatable Words: Gattara – Italian
We would translate it as ‘(crazy) cat lady’, that is, a woman who owns many cats or devotedly feeds stray cats.
Untranslatable Words: Gigil – Filipino
You know that feeling you get when you see a puppy or a baby so cute you want to pinch it? Well, that’s gigil. Now you know. It can be anything adorable, not just those two things. You’re welcome.
Untranslatable Words: Mencolek – Indonesian
Practically everyone tried to pull this trick on their friends when they were kids, we just didn’t have a name for it. The trick when you tap someone in front of you on the opposite shoulder than the one you intend to approach them from. A simple, yet effective way to humiliate your buddy.
Untranslatable Words: Tingo – Pascuense (Easter Island)
This one is my favorite. It means to continuously borrow stuff from a friend without returning it, until the friend is left with nothing. The fascinating thing about it is that it obviously happens so often there that they need a word for it.
You know what’s awful? Having to spend your money on things you want. Why not just find a friend and take their belongings? Profit.
There you go. A bunch of untranslatable words you will never use, apart from maybe saying ‘do you know there is a word in ___ meaning____’ in order to sound smarter. +100 Intelligence.