Ten Most Difficult Words to Translate

Sometimes even the finest translators come up against words that defy translation. Many languages include words that don’t have a simple counterpart in another language. When translators come across such a word, they usually describe it so that it makes sense in the target language. But some words pose more difficulty than others due to interesting cultural differences. Here are ten words that are particularly difficult to translate:

Mamihlapinatapei
From Yagan, the indigenous language of the Tierra del Fuego region of South America. This word has been translated in several ways in English, always implying a wordless yet meaningful look shared by two people who both desire to initiate something but are both reluctant to start.

Jayus
From Indonesian, meaning a joke so poorly told and so unfunny that one cannot help but laugh.

Prozvonit
In both Czech and Slovak language, this word means to call a mobile phone only to have it ring once so that the other person would call back, allowing the caller not to spend money on minutes.

Kyoikumama
In Japanese, this word refers to a mother who relentlessly pushes her children toward academic achievement.

Tartle
A Scottish verb meaning to hesitate while introducing someone due to having forgotten his/her name.

Iktsuarpok
From the Inuit, meaning to go outside to check if anyone is coming.

Cafuné
From Brazilian Portuguese, meaning to tenderly run one’s fingers through someone’s hair.

Torschlusspanik
From German, this word literally means “gate-closing panic” and is used to describe the fear of diminishing opportunities as one ages. This word is most frequently applied to women who race the “biological clock” to wed and bear children.

Tingo
From the Pascuense language of Easter Island, it is the act of taking objects one desires from the house of a friend by gradually borrowing all of them.

Ilunga
From the Tshiluba language spoken in south-eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, this word has been chosen by numerous translators as the world’s most untranslatable word. Ilunga indicates a person who is ready to forgive any abuse the first time it occurs, to tolerate it the second time, but to neither forgive nor tolerate a third offense.

Update!

Check out the new post: 5 More Difficult Words to Translate.

About the Author:
Maria is a true polyglot, translator, and contributing writer for ALTA, which offers translation services in over one hundred languages to government agencies, non-profit organizations, and businesses worldwide.

227 Comments
  • Benny Lewis
    Posted at 06:26h, 14 October Reply

    Nice list! Some of these correspond with the official list compiled by the BBC recently.

    Personally, I find “saudade” to be a tricky word to translate, and it would have more weight than a word like cafuné (both Brazilian Portuguese) simply because it’s used so much more frequently. I went out with a Brazilian girl for several months (speaking Portuguese together and in Brazil), and tenderly ran my fingers through her hair quite a lot of times, and today is the first time I’ve ever seen that word. Less common words shouldn’t really count… besides, if they really were that difficult to translate, you couldn’t actually compile a list like this to give such precise translations 😀

    • daniela
      Posted at 15:12h, 23 September Reply

      i believe that what is amazing about this list of words is that they don’t really have an equivalent; they speak so much of the places where they are used and the people who use them. They can be described with words in english or spanish or any other language but you won’t find a word that expresses the exact same thing… (i’m sorry if i didn’t make myself clear, english is my second language)

    • Poliana Hauptmann
      Posted at 20:50h, 03 December Reply

      I love the word cafune, and use it often, but whether or not a Brazilian uses the word regularly depends a lot on which state the person is from

    • dani
      Posted at 01:51h, 02 January Reply

      trust me cafune is common to hear if youre a child 🙂

  • Kelly
    Posted at 09:20h, 21 October Reply

    Is this a list of words that are hard to translate into English? Because in Spain they have a word with the same meaning as “prozvonit”. It’s “toque”, which literally means “touch” in English.

    • Anonymous
      Posted at 21:30h, 29 July Reply

      “Tocar” can also mean in Spanish “to play a musical instrument”. So in the context of a phone’s “toque” that word would be better translated as “ring”, as in “ringing”, instead of “touch”.

  • b
    Posted at 12:42h, 21 October Reply

    Heh, ilunga is kind of like my long-term life philosophy, “Try it twice (with exceptions).”

  • Hannes
    Posted at 19:30h, 21 October Reply

    Interisting list.

    The german word must be written like this: Torschlusspanik.

  • dian
    Posted at 21:52h, 21 October Reply

    Score on Jayus!!
    i’m an indonesian, i even cant articulate the right meaning for jayus sometimes, but you wrote it clearly. u can use the synonym “Garing” for Jayus term.

  • Igor Terzic
    Posted at 03:26h, 22 October Reply

    “Prozvonit” is common in many European languages, however it does not exist in the US because here unfortunately both the caller and the receiver share the cost of the call.

  • americanac
    Posted at 03:29h, 22 October Reply

    There are several untraslatable words in Balkans but one completly impossible is “Ćejf” 🙂 During the war tere was a joke when a UN guy asks Bosinan to explain him tat word so the BOsnian asks “Did you ever banged te goat?” Guy looks at him with his eyes wide open. “No”, he says. “So how do you expect me to explain it?” 😉

  • mem
    Posted at 04:39h, 22 October Reply

    It’s nice to compile such list by using as a source the great book The Meaning of Tingo by Adam Jacot de Boinod!

  • nadaespecial
    Posted at 07:02h, 22 October Reply

    in german Torschusspanik is not written with ü

  • Learn Spanish in Phoenix, AZ
    Posted at 13:44h, 22 October Reply

    Great list. There are so many words in each language that are hard to translate. Sometimes though certain things are easier to express in one language. That’s why I usually speak Franglais with other Franglaphones (English / French).

  • JayP
    Posted at 19:12h, 22 October Reply

    i think that SAUDADE is another word that hasn´t been translated. it’s a portuguese word that mean the felling of missing someone.

  • sars
    Posted at 01:46h, 23 October Reply

    Prozvonit is a great word!! I ‘prozvonit’ with my mother because she has a call plan and I don’t! We always just call it the “call me back code”

  • Serge
    Posted at 02:19h, 23 October Reply

    Prozvonit
    Isn’t it to make a missed call?

  • Mary
    Posted at 02:48h, 23 October Reply

    Prozvonit – Its easy to translate it on croatian, we also have the word that means the same “cimanje”

  • Rich
    Posted at 04:45h, 23 October Reply

    Any idea how to translate German “schmusen” into English? Schmusekätzchen?

  • Maria
    Posted at 08:55h, 23 October Reply

    To the best of my knowledge, “schmusen” is a sweet little word for cuddle/snuggle/kiss. Here’s a bit of etymology

  • KageTora
    Posted at 11:28h, 23 October Reply

    Japanese has ‘wangiri’ for the act of phoning someone and only letting it ring once before hanging up so they call you back, same as the Czech/Slovak word.

  • Gilles
    Posted at 11:53h, 23 October Reply

    In Brazilian Portuguese, I remember the word “Fushca”, that was used for breat implant surgery.
    It came from the fact that in the late 1970’s, VW Beetles (called “Fushca” in Brazil) saw their back lights increase in size.

  • coiote
    Posted at 11:56h, 23 October Reply

    Prozvonit

    In Brazil, this word would be perfectly translated as “toque”.

  • Hans Dirkse
    Posted at 12:40h, 23 October Reply

    A few years ago the Germans voted “Habseligkeiten” as (one of?) their most beautiful word(s).

    It refers to the (worthless?) stuff a poor person carries with him/her, eg a shopping cart full of plastic bags, empty cans and such.

    “Hab” comes from the verb “haben” (to have) and “selig” means something like blessed or blissful.

  • EB
    Posted at 23:08h, 23 October Reply

    Quote: “besides, if they really were that difficult to translate, you couldn%u2019t actually compile a list like this to give such precise translations”

    There’s a difference between defining the meaning of the word and translating it into English. There’s not a word-for-word translation for any of these concepts in English.

  • A
    Posted at 00:38h, 24 October Reply

    Prozvonit can be easily translated in Italian as well (squillo / literally ringtone). However it has an additional meaning: it’s a way to greet the receiver (usually a close one). One simply calls, waits for the first tone to be heard, then hangs up. The receiver hears the very short ringtone, sees the name of the caller and knows not to call back. Or just gives the ‘squillo’ back

  • That Guy
    Posted at 02:53h, 24 October Reply

    “Kyouikumama” is actually two words…kyouiku = education, mama = well, mama. It’s true that the two words together form a unique concept…but it’s also kind of like saying that “garbage day” is a difficult to translate word that means the designated weekday on which refuse is customarily removed from one’s home by large trucks.

    I think an even harder Japanese word to translate is “natsukashii,” which has stumped me every time I’ve tried to explain it succinctly. It’s an adjective that indicates that the speaker is experiencing a sudden euphoric wave of nostalgia triggered by experiencing something for the first time in years. English doesn’t have a convenient way of expressing that concept…the least awkward way to translate it is to say something like, “This reminds me of my childhood.”

  • Ellie
    Posted at 06:06h, 24 October Reply

    Prozvonit

    I’ve always known of this as a ‘drop-call’

  • Brendan
    Posted at 10:06h, 25 October Reply

    Indeed, I too know it as drop-call, as does everyone else I know.

  • Marie
    Posted at 14:52h, 25 October Reply

    I think that natsukashii would be like deja vu, which is a french term, but we say it in English to mean the same at natusukashii.
    Language is messed up, but the best.

  • Pat
    Posted at 15:28h, 25 October Reply

    At Gilles:
    We may pronounce it ‘fushca’, but it’s spelled fusca. sounds like you’ve been hanging with cariocas

    and i agree that saudade is a word i’ve had to explain to many new portuguese speakers, english’s closest equivalent is ‘nostalgia’ and that doesn’t come close to defining it

  • ianw
    Posted at 00:20h, 26 October Reply

    I’ve known Australians to say “prank me” to mean “call then hang up, and I’ll call you back”

  • Claire
    Posted at 08:12h, 26 October Reply

    “Prozvonit” translates directly into English as “Drop-calling”.

    e.g. “Oh, I don’t have enough credit left. I’ll drop call him.”

    At least it does in Northern Ireland anyway.

  • Maxine
    Posted at 17:30h, 26 October Reply

    The word drop-call has been used for the last few years in South-east England to describe when someone calls a mobile for one ring and hangs up so that the recipient calls back.

  • Matt
    Posted at 22:29h, 26 October Reply

    Ilunga – Three strikes and you’re out.

  • Adelle
    Posted at 22:39h, 26 October Reply

    Sigh

    I love cafune’. Seeing it written and the translation makes me Saudade, for the man who runs his hands tenderly through my hair.

  • sylv
    Posted at 02:49h, 27 October Reply

    haha kudos for explaining jayus! I agree it’s so hard to explain for non-Indonesian speaking people 😛

  • Jennifer
    Posted at 04:42h, 27 October Reply

    In Cameroon we called “Prozvonit” a “Beep.” Typical use would be “I’ll just beep you when I arrive.”

  • worldhate
    Posted at 06:46h, 27 October Reply

    In Serbian, “prozvonit” is equal to “cim”, which literally means “to zap” in English 🙂

  • Symber
    Posted at 13:10h, 27 October Reply

    It sounds like “natsukashii” in Japanese may not translate well into English, but that “saudade” might be a similar concept from what people described?

  • jimsmuse
    Posted at 15:48h, 27 October Reply

    What’s interesting to me is how words like those listed end up being assimilated into English. I remember reading a similar list as a teenager and loving the German word Schadenfreude — now I see it everywhere and most people seem to know what it means…

  • Glenn
    Posted at 16:35h, 27 October Reply

    Actually the word “cafuné” isn’t as rare as Benny Lewis suggests (at least not here in the poorer northeastern region of Brazil). It also isn’t quite as simple as “tenderly running one’s fingers through hair”… It comes from the slaves’ practice of grooming one another to remove nits and, done correctly–with or without the presence of said hair lice–produces a satisfying “crack”! It’s a beautiful and caring way of expressing affection to a loved one. Ask any chimpanzee. As Adelle, I’m full of saudade for my younger days!

  • Yaron
    Posted at 16:39h, 27 October Reply

    Absolutely Hilarious!

    In Hebrew we use the term “Tizntuk” or “Tzintzul” for the Czech term Prozvonit

    Actually they are both mixtures of 2 words

    Tzintuk – Derives from the words Tziltzul (Ringing) and Nituk (Hang-up)

    The other term is:
    Tzintzul – which is more sophisticated, this exact act is a typical act which usually performed by chipstakes so this term derives from another word instead of Nituk (the first word is the same – Tizltzul) but the second word is “Nitzul” (Abuse) which means that now the one you called will have to get back to you so you sort of “abused” him

    Very amusing indeed!
    I use them both actually!

  • Jenny
    Posted at 17:19h, 27 October Reply

    ‘Prozvonit’ in English is ‘one-bell’.

  • Arthur
    Posted at 18:20h, 27 October Reply

    How about “gatvol”? This is an Afrikaans expression that for every South African has the general meaning of “very frustrated”.

  • Goga Alexandru
    Posted at 03:15h, 28 October Reply

    DOR = Longing for someone you love very much, combined with sadness, and the need for singing sad songs (Romanian contemporary Language-Romania) -it’s etymology belongs to “dorinta” which means wish.
    It’s impossible to translate it. It conveys too much meaning, and feelings!

  • jim
    Posted at 08:12h, 28 October Reply

    I was surprised to see that there are no Korean words here, for they have many difficult to translate words. My favorite is “Kulseyo”, is extremely common. I’ve seen it translated as “Hmmmm…” It’s a very polite way of expressing doubt about what’s being said, much much more polite than saying “whatever” or “yeah, right”. It’s more like “I’ll think about that.” I’ve never heard anyone even try to dissect the actual word origin.

  • PB
    Posted at 17:14h, 28 October Reply

    Probably the most random assortment of words ever compiled haha

  • ken
    Posted at 21:28h, 29 October Reply

    If you gotten so far check this out.
    ”muvaffakiyetsizleştiricileştiriveremeyebileceklerimizdenmişsiniz”

    One word.It is Turkish.
    Roughly it translates into:You are one of those we could not render unsuccessful.

    binding diverse grammatical elements into a single word is a common operation in Turkish.

  • James
    Posted at 13:59h, 31 October Reply

    My portugese is VERY rusty but Saudade can be used as a noun or adjective right? Like sadness or sad respectively?

    As in, “I feel Saudade” or “I have Saudade.” (I would write both sentences in portugese but I am not going to even try to conjugate anything.) If the latter case is true (the noun part), could it not roughly be translated into “I have been missing…”?

    Or perhaps its more of a specific version of sad? “I feel sad that he/she is not here.”

    Anyone have thoughts on this?

  • James
    Posted at 14:12h, 31 October Reply

    (same guy as previous post)

    Actually, I just asked someone else about this and they suggested, ‘longing’

  • TVDinner
    Posted at 03:10h, 05 November Reply

    How about “plea agreement” in English? I have to translate it to Spanish as “declarase culpable de un delito menor a cambio de no ser acusado de un delito más serio.”

    Phew!

    Mind you, this doesn’t touch on emotional ground at all, but it is revealing about English speakers’ law, doesn’t it?

  • jonti
    Posted at 07:17h, 05 November Reply

    Australian english has “prank” for Prozvonit. Means the same thing.

    South African English has “scotch” which again is a direct translation.

  • roberto
    Posted at 23:07h, 05 November Reply

    In Eastern NC they have a word for “Jayus.” It is ignorant but it is pronounced “ignernt” and it actually means exactly the same thing.

  • luisa
    Posted at 09:57h, 06 November Reply

    be careful , becaus in portuguese the word fusca can also mean a gun in slang

  • luisa
    Posted at 10:03h, 06 November Reply

    depending on the context saudade can have the meaning of missing something. It doesn’t necessarily convey sadness. By the way saudade is not Brazilian Protuguese, it’s also B.P.

  • Ivana
    Posted at 12:12h, 06 November Reply

    In Serbian there is a word for Pozvonit too, it’s “cimnuti”, an in bosnian it’s “trznuti”… Both mean… hm… pull someone, but just for a second..

  • Paul
    Posted at 19:53h, 06 November Reply

    OBAMA WINS!

  • Sophie
    Posted at 07:50h, 07 November Reply

    Prozvonit exists in Greek also.
    %u039A%u03AC%u03BD%u03B5 %u03B1%u03BD%u03B1%u03C0%u03AC%u03BD%u03C4%u03B7%u03C4%u03B7.
    But I’m guessing the topic here is to translate some of these concepts into english…
    Try %u03C6%u03B9%u03BB%u03CC%u03C4%u03B9%u03BC%u03BF. It is a mixture of honour, honesty, pride and sense of justice… and a few more.

  • underexposed
    Posted at 09:49h, 07 November Reply

    it’s too freakin’ funny that “prozvoniti” is on this list 🙂 it’s just, that kind of manor is quite common and helpful, and not having such thing in english language, and taking the time to explain the same word, shows a lot about relationships and some kind of tradition of “warmth” between people. i feel now related to all of you who agree with me and find this funny too.

  • Anna Nak
    Posted at 21:36h, 08 November Reply

    the first word which means to let ring once and hang up is also an italian word “squillo”

    its also used to let someone know you are thinking of them =)

  • mb
    Posted at 01:16h, 09 November Reply

    There is a word in the English language for “prozvoniti”. To “flash” someone means exactly that. But that could be only in parts of Africa. At any rate, it wouldn’t hurt if it spread to the rest of the English=speaking world.

  • Pete
    Posted at 01:16h, 09 November Reply

    I am from Bristol in the sw of England. If a oerson wishes to make somebody call them back by calling them, ringing once and hanging up, you have pranked them, “it’s cool, I’ll prank him” also schmusen = Cwtch in Welsh

  • pt
    Posted at 12:57h, 09 November Reply

    saudade is the belief we will one day feel the same we felt before…

  • Casbot
    Posted at 14:34h, 09 November Reply

    I’m an Australian, and for Prozvonit we actually do use the term “prank me”. I guess people pranking just call and then hang up.

  • Jammy
    Posted at 17:46h, 09 November Reply

    Like some of the posters above, I have heard both drop-call and one-bell for prozvonit.

  • Sarah Palin
    Posted at 19:36h, 10 November Reply

    My favorite is “sarahpalin” which means a person who is totally unqualified for any elected position in the United States and who is mean, nasty, vengeful as well as incurious, unread, uneducated, but has decent boobs for an older woman.

  • michael
    Posted at 20:08h, 10 November Reply

    pardon my being glib, but what about the french ‘je ne sais quoi’ which literally means ‘difficult to express, define, or otherwise grasp’?

  • Brad
    Posted at 20:32h, 10 November Reply

    Forgive me the lack of certainty supporting this post, but I believe that the German compound noun(?) “schadenfraude” would be rendered into English along the lines of “the taking of pleasure in another’s misfortune”. Perhaps a more erudite polyglot has a better rendition, but I think it remarkable for such society to afford the a concept a linguistically efficient expression.

  • Patrick
    Posted at 06:33h, 11 November Reply

    Habseligkeiten does not mean the worthless stuff poor people carry with them. It is the stuff a child regards as treasures (but what might be junk in the eyes of adults). Another meaning are the goods that refugees were able to take with them, or that they still had after returning.

    • Keshawn
      Posted at 19:21h, 30 July Reply

      This site is like a classroom, except I don’t hate it. lol

  • Russ
    Posted at 15:10h, 11 November Reply

    Well, if you are former U.S. President Bill Clinton, the most difficult word to translate would be ‘is’…..lol

  • claire
    Posted at 16:49h, 11 November Reply

    cafunes… i thought it was spelled cafunhes? but one of my favorite words… my boyfriend is brasilien and i’m american, we met in paris and spoke together in french so we speak a sort of franglais portugues… but i love cafunhes et je suis plein de saudades!

  • Jami
    Posted at 00:55h, 12 November Reply

    In my part of the U.S. there really isn’t a word for “Prozvonit”. I don’t know of they do else where here, but I’ve never even heard of someone doing it really. Probably because you end up paying for the cal either way…

  • sam
    Posted at 04:43h, 12 November Reply

    this is insane.

    you have translated them all right here on the page.

    how on earth are they harder to translate than any other words? they all seem very easy to understand to me.

  • Sean
    Posted at 12:55h, 12 November Reply

    Prozvonit – most people I know use the word ‘prank’ for this.

    “Ah crap, I’m low on minutes – I’ll just prank them..”

    It’s context is rarely misunderstood as well.

  • oaki
    Posted at 14:11h, 12 November Reply

    There is one more.
    “Dor” in romanian, is the.. action, of missing someone. But it is a noun. There is no noun in english about missing someone.
    “miss” Doesn’t exist. Our national poet,Mihai Eminescu, wrote a lor of poems called “Dor”,that means Miss. There is the feeling of missing someone, that an’t be defined in one word in english.

  • Katherine
    Posted at 14:43h, 12 November Reply

    A lovely list. What a load of nitpickers.

    How about the danish word hyggelig? There’s a difficult word to translate…

    http://www.hackwriters.com/Denmark.htm

  • Mizio
    Posted at 19:34h, 13 November Reply

    Warmducher… someone that cannot even take a cold shower, a sissy…
    Fraureichtgebahr, he who always says a woman is right to avoid problems…

    Sorry for my german…

  • Igor
    Posted at 03:46h, 14 November Reply

    Prozvonit – In english I’ve frequently heard this referred to as pranking. “If you’re short of credit prank me, I’ll call you back.”

  • Lorenzo di Medici
    Posted at 08:53h, 14 November Reply

    German has a few fun words, too. My favorite is gemütlichkeit. That for me is a type of sensation of shared good times, such as times shared in highly satisfying experiences, as I first learned of it while skiing. I have that feeling during and after skiing with friends, perhaps including sharing a few après-ski beers and some food in the lodge. Native German speakers please weigh in with observations.

  • Bjarke
    Posted at 17:17h, 14 November Reply

    Try translating something like “Rødgrød” that’s a word most english speaking people can’t articulate right, and it is also a dish only found in Denmark it is a weird mix of a lot of sugar, strawberry’s, cream and rhubarb. Of course no one else than danes have the letter “ø” which doesn’t exactly make it easier…

  • David
    Posted at 04:40h, 15 November Reply

    Each laguage has its own descriptive words that others lack.
    In Afrikaans, the word “kuier” is superior to the word “visit” as it conveys the total social process.

  • martn thomas
    Posted at 05:23h, 15 November Reply

    Prozvonit
    Because we don’t really use Voicemail over here in UAE we widely call this “…sending a Missed Call…”. And every one uses it. Better than the waste of effort in leaving a voicemail that says “call me back”

  • John
    Posted at 12:24h, 15 November Reply

    English has its share of unique words that do not exist in many language: If you’ve ever taught English as a foreign language or spent lots of time with foreigners, you’ll know that one of the hardest to even explain is “cheesy”. Some others that come to mind: “sappy”; “tacky”; “sarcastic”; “coy”

  • tomiddes
    Posted at 14:16h, 15 November Reply

    Prozvonit – We don’t have a direct translation for this word in my part of the United States, and I’ve lived in quite a few places in the US. I haven’t heard a word for it. Now I’ve read through the comments and I’ve seen several translations for other English speaking parts of the world – “drop-call”, “prank me”, etc… but those mean something else here.

  • Jason
    Posted at 07:03h, 16 November Reply

    The most common South African synonym for prozvonit was originally “missed-call”, but I find it interesting that the verb form has become “misscall” since, in older English usage, that means “Wrongly describe”. Brings a smile to my face when I see characters in older written work saying things like “You misscalled me sir!”
    Also, how is no-one commenting on Mamihlapinatapei? I think that’s the most amazing word on the list, and love that there’s a language that recognises is as a discrete concept!

  • heaper
    Posted at 08:54h, 16 November Reply

    I second that %u201Cschmusen%u201D translates to Welsh as “cwtch” but confusingly, “cwtch” also means a variety of other things including a blackberry patch, the cupboard under the stairs, the place you keep your coal and a command to a dog to lie down!

    In Welsh, another word difficult to translate due to the passion invloved is “hiraethu” (verb, the noun being “hiraeth”) Like Saudade, it means missing someone but also (and more usually) missing some place, specifically your country. People who emigrate experience “hiraeth.”

    I know prozvnit simply as “a missed call.”

  • erinik
    Posted at 13:01h, 16 November Reply

    Im from the U.S. and we use “Stinging” instead of Prozvonit for when you want to let someone know to call you or that youve arrived to pick them up.

  • editec
    Posted at 13:24h, 16 November Reply

    prozvonit?

    What a practical word to have on hand

    Tartle?

    I’ve been doing that my whole life. What a joy to have a verb to explain it.

    Excuse me I’d introduce you, but I’m in full tartling mode, right now.

  • deutsch uebersetzerin
    Posted at 16:22h, 16 November Reply

    In American English, to “flash” someone is another word for three-way calling someone, so it’s not the same as prozvonit.

    Also, to the two people who suggested that this whole page is invalid because people are obviously explaining the words: if the word describes a human experience, it can always be explained. It just doesn’t necessarily have a one-word counterpart in all languages, and that’s what we’re discussing here. I don’t understand why you can’t see that and why you bother making negative comments like that on a page that other people are clearly enjoying.

    Also, I think the word warmduscher doesn’t really count because it’s easily translated as sissy or other synonyms of sissy. Pussy is also good, if you don’t mind being crass.

    to the person who said that the verb dor means to miss someone, yet there is no counterpart in english, why is the verb “miss” not a counterpart?

  • deutsch uebersetzerin
    Posted at 16:25h, 16 November Reply

    Also, i don’t think that food dishes really count either, like Rodgrod (that’s the best my keyboard is going to do), because if there’s no culinary counterpart, then there wouldn’t be a language counterpart

  • Tomas
    Posted at 16:29h, 16 November Reply

    I am Czech. ‘Prozvonit’ doesn’t always mean that you want the other person to call you back. You can agree on what it means first. For example, ‘I am ready, we can go’, or ‘I am OK’ etc. Or it can substitute a door bell. When I was going to Netherlands by car with friends, I had to ‘prozvonit’ my mom every hour to let her know I am OK.

  • Kacy
    Posted at 19:55h, 17 November Reply

    “There is a word in the English language for %u201Cprozvoniti%u201D. To %u201Cflash%u201D someone means exactly that. But that could be only in parts of Africa. At any rate, it wouldn%u2019t hurt if it spread to the rest of the English=speaking world.” HAH. In Kansas (the centralmost part of the US), “flash” that means show your breasts/bra to by lifting up your shirt quickly.

    We don’t have a prozvonit because all of our cell phone companies are awful and charge for everything except the ones that get terrible reception but are cheap.

  • Marc
    Posted at 23:02h, 17 November Reply

    In the Midlands of England we use the term ‘Prank’ for ‘Prozvonit’. Example: “I’ll prank you tomorrow”. It comes from the joke of calling someone’s phone and letting it ring once or twice so they answer to an empty call, of course in the ojke you disguise your number so that they don’t know it was you.

  • JustMe
    Posted at 06:20h, 18 November Reply

    I would like to propose the dutch word “gezellig” to be difficult to translate literally.

    It describes the feeling in a situation where a small number of people are having a good time, enjoy themselves and each other, the overall atmosphere is good without having too much of a big party.

  • annie Bimala
    Posted at 11:52h, 19 November Reply

    good collection

  • Kassandra Radar
    Posted at 19:40h, 20 November Reply

    I often struggle to find SUCCINCT translations even between English and German which do have something in common….
    How about :

    Sehnsucht for longing for Saudade….maybe?
    sehnen …verb…means to long
    (Sucht – addiction) suchen, verb…seeking/ searching…You can have Sehnsucht for about anything, btw…

    HEIMWEH! The feeling you experience in a foreign/strange country… away from home…it’s the longing back to your Homeground, everything familiar..

    FERNWEH! The opposite concept of the above… the longing for a far (fern) place/country… travel feaver ;)) – did i just invent this?

    WEH – ACHE… the opposite of
    WOHL – Well(/whole-being)
    …at least in my understanding..

    What about “Gestalt”….and all the different meanings of Geist or Spirit, Mind….

    Gemütlichkeit is a very sweet word, thanks for it!

    Oh, and in german the dutch gezellig is gesellig 😉

    …but that is not actually a translation per se, right?

  • Kassandra Radar
    Posted at 19:50h, 20 November Reply

    …to prank smo…in german is “anklingeln” (infinite form)
    Usage: Ich klingel dich an!…Klingel mich mal an! etc..I’ll prank You! Prank me once/then! Klingeln means to ring…an is a preposition usually meaning on(to)to(wards).

    There are so many dialect words in germany that are not even translatable into (high) german….and i guess, its the same in every language. Long live diversity !

  • guy inkognito
    Posted at 08:04h, 30 November Reply

    “Habseligkeiten” can simply be translated to “belongings”, although “Habseligkeiten” has a more specific meaning than “belongings” (meaning things that are very dear to someone, stuff you wouldn’t want to miss – things you would take with you when you have to leave home, …).

    “Prozvonit” in German would be “anklingeln” or “anläuten” (“klingeln” and “läuten” both mean “to ring”).

    Another interesting German word would be “mutterseelenallein”, a very strong expression for “all alone”. It literally translates as “without mother’s soul/spirit” (Mutter = mother, Seele = soul, allein = alone).

  • dhea
    Posted at 21:50h, 03 December Reply

    i’m indonesian .

    hahahaha.. i like that but i mean “jayus” like a joke that can’t make you laugh but it’ll make you angry buddy . because i do it everyday . hahaha

  • brett
    Posted at 22:51h, 06 December Reply

    nice see

  • That Guy
    Posted at 23:15h, 10 December Reply

    The adjective “natsukashii” is definitely not the same thing as “deja vu.” The Japanese actually use “deja vu” as a loanword to explain the concept.

    “Natsukashisa,” the noun form, means almost exactly the same thing as the English “nostalgia,” but what makes it hard to translate is that the Japanese typically use it in a short sentence like “natsukashii na,” which translates literally to “I feel nostalgic.” It’s a really awkward phrase to say in English, and you typically have to construct an entirely different sentence to explain that same feeling. For example, “I remember those high-tops being very popular in the 80s.”

  • neves
    Posted at 20:48h, 12 December Reply

    Can you translate to english the portuguese word “saudade”?

  • Ptolemy
    Posted at 05:28h, 13 December Reply

    Someone told me once about a German noun meaning “a pebble of such a size that it’s nice to hold in the hand”. I wish I could remember what it was.

  • Graycard
    Posted at 14:14h, 15 January Reply

    Someone above used “chipstake.” In the context it’s pretty clear what s/he meant, but cmon gang: if that word were English, what would it mean?

  • justincolorado
    Posted at 15:12h, 19 January Reply

    is there a book, of words that do not translate well?

    words like giest or duende where there is not a word in English or most other languages that fits, so a phrase needs to be used to get the essence or quality of the word?

  • andre
    Posted at 15:16h, 22 January Reply

    The term “cafuné” is a little bit more complex: comprehends run the fingers through someone’s hair WHILE massaging gently the scalp with the top of the fingers, often in an effort to put someone to take a nap beside you, in a result of the relaxing act.

  • Sergio Macedo Soares
    Posted at 21:57h, 29 January Reply

    The term saudade doesn’t mean just “longing” or “missing”. The difficulty in translating it comes from the fact that it conveys mixed feelings of pleasure in remembering the person/place/situation PLUS the sadness derived from the absence. It’s a mixture of feelings, and it can be said not only of persons but of places, situations, times in your life, etc. But I agree with Goga Alexandru, above, that Dor (Romanian) is a very good translation for saudade. I had some Romanian friends here in Brazil and they translated Saudade for Dor very appropriately. Heimweh and Sehensucht in German are also good translations, and I’ve heard there is a word in Japanese that fits for a good translation of the word.

  • ema
    Posted at 11:30h, 27 February Reply

    I would like to add another word that is used in my country (Macedonia) but is actually of Turkish origin. It is the word Seir or more so the phrase “Da gledas seir” and it is very difficult to find the exact words to explain its meaning. Basically it is a situation when somebody, witnesses a spectacle, often an embarrassing situation.This usually carries some sort of a negative mocking connotation from the side of the onlooker.The onlooker doesn’t interfere and finds the situation amusing.

  • dennisk
    Posted at 23:50h, 27 February Reply

    A well written and researched book that contains most of these is “They Have a Word for It: A Lighthearted Lexicon of Untranslatable Words and Phrases”

    Here’s the Amazon link

  • archie
    Posted at 07:06h, 12 March Reply

    Love the site. I’ll come here often.

    “Beware, I don’t give small talks. When I give, I give myself”

    -Hanna Arendt

  • Pingback:lost in translation « The having been. Having had.
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  • JP Varma
    Posted at 18:02h, 31 May Reply

    In India we will just say misscall for it.

    “Give me a misscall, and I will call you back”

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  • Marco
    Posted at 07:27h, 25 June Reply

    Cafuné is not only running your finger through someone’s hair. Its the repetitive process of doing so, usually touching one’s head with the nails.

    The word comes from a native-brazilian tribe and it literally means to “pretend you are looking for lice on someones hair”. It originally includes clicking your nails to imitate the sound of klling lice. My old gf used to do it perfectly and it really feels good, you can fall asleep easily while receiving a good cafuné.

  • bogdan
    Posted at 17:20h, 25 June Reply

    There is another word in romanian hardly translated into another language – is the word “dor” usually translated as miss

  • Les
    Posted at 06:26h, 23 July Reply

    Gezelligheid.

    The Dutch word “Gezelligheid” [is] a combination of coziness and conviviality.
    One of the most stereotypical and possibly overused words in Nederlands is gezelligheid.
    Despite its over-use, however, the word remains far from banal. Gezelligheid refers to the warmth one feels in the comfort of one’s own space and the company of close friends and acquaintances — a flush feeling of trust, security, and safety in the midst of a teeming larger society. Indeed, the Netherlands and Belgium are among the most densely populated states in the developed world and periodic enjoyment of gezelligheid is a key to sanity and survival. As distinct from the rugged individualism that many Americans claim to aspire to, Gezelligheid involves a retreat into immediate community rather than into monadic self-sufficiency. In gezelligheid, one transcends self by momentarily being part of a group of one’s choosing. Because the Netherlands is not only communal society but also a very successful commercial one as well, most Dutch-speakers know that all things have a price. The price of gezelligheid is continuous compromise, avoidance of conflict, and the acceptance of the presence and manifest self-interest of others.

  • firefliet
    Posted at 17:43h, 24 August Reply

    Japanese “Bakku-shan,” someone (usually a girl, I don’t think I’ve heard it applied to a man) who looks really good from behind but is ugly when they turn around.

  • %u5446
    Posted at 23:32h, 23 October Reply

    Coziness and longing are definitely the most untranslatable words. They are untranslatable in all languages.

    prozvonit = ping
    bakku-shan = butterface

  • Certified Russian translation
    Posted at 03:24h, 08 December Reply

    interesting list!this words r truely very tough to translate.

  • Peter Dräxler
    Posted at 10:18h, 14 December Reply

    I am from Slovak Republic. ‘prozvonit’ is in slovak ‘prezvoni%u0165’.

  • Peter Dräxler
    Posted at 10:20h, 14 December Reply

    Goto ‘prezvonit’

  • soca
    Posted at 02:09h, 16 December Reply

    Does anyone know the dutch word for prozvonit?

  • David
    Posted at 17:40h, 09 January Reply

    In czech we have many interesting words, which are sometimes truly hard to translate, ie. the longest czech word: nejneobhospoda%u0159ovávateln%u011Bj%u0161ími, which means roughly this: “(amongst)the least capable to be administrated”. Another gem is “tunelovat”, which is homonym of “to tunnel” in both languages, but it means “to siphon off funds from sth.”

  • sandra
    Posted at 10:35h, 27 January Reply

    where do you get those difficult words

  • Jirka
    Posted at 13:23h, 06 February Reply

    I’m surprised nobody suggested ‘page’ (as a verb) here for the Czech word ‘prozvonit’…

  • Krikri
    Posted at 13:17h, 12 February Reply

    I must note that in Czech if you “prozvonit” someone it also means to agree. Usually if you get a text and are lazy or do not want to spend money on texting back, then if the answer would be simply “ok” you just “prozvonit”.

  • Nyago
    Posted at 00:50h, 07 September Reply

    As many people stated here, “Prozvonit” is not really a difficult word to translate. It means purely “to miscall”… And furthermore its exact equivalent is present in almost all European languages (in all that I have heard of…) Please, changed it with some other 🙂

  • Pingback:Fun for Word Nerds
    Posted at 10:59h, 18 October Reply

    The list that includes the three above, here plus the original list of 10 here.

  • Andrea
    Posted at 20:04h, 26 October Reply

    You may want to contact Matador Network and claim ownership of your great article.

  • Kiki
    Posted at 23:06h, 28 October Reply

    Prozvonit in spanish we call it “repicar” but using it as a verb, like “repicame y te llamo”

  • george clooney
    Posted at 10:11h, 29 October Reply

    Prozvonit translates to Greek as “anapantiti,” a noun adapted from an adjective which means “not replied”

  • Ron
    Posted at 11:03h, 06 November Reply

    @ Nyago – distinct difference3 between prozvonit’ & misscall – misscall connotes hangingup as soon as you realize it was the wrong number you dialed “without expectation of a returned call”

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  • rob
    Posted at 08:13h, 09 November Reply

    In Malawi English is an official language and the translation for “prozvonit” is to “flash” someone. In order to give someone your cell phone number and not have to write it down they say “i’ll flash you” and that way the receiving phone saves the phone number. It’s used in the same way to get someone to call you back without using your minutes.

  • Pingback:Tuesday Tally: The Muppets and Other Celebrities
    Posted at 07:43h, 16 November Reply

    My favorites include Mamihlapinatapei and Jayus.

  • majda
    Posted at 11:16h, 22 November Reply

    ad “prozvonit” – slovaks write it and pronounce it a little bit differently than czechs.
    the word stated here is czech. but as has been said, it’s pretty easily translatable to English

  • Prevodi
    Posted at 18:02h, 22 November Reply

    In Serbia (and probably in whole of former Yugoslavia) we have a term matching “prozvonit” – “cimnuti”, and it could be literally translated as to “nudge” someone.

  • MB
    Posted at 06:09h, 25 November Reply

    ‘Prozvonit’ is similar to to “clickvam” in Bulgarian. Which means ‘to click’ or to call someone and hang up before they answer so they’ll call you back and you won’t spend minutes. It’s used like: ‘Click me later, and we’ll talk’

  • Milos
    Posted at 06:41h, 10 December Reply

    Very interesting indeed 🙂

  • Roxy Satarzadeh
    Posted at 19:30h, 19 December Reply

    In Persian culture, we have a word in Farsi pronounced “Ta-roff.”Translated, it is the act of insistently showing one’s hospitality and politeness by repeatedly offering gratis to guests or company.

    In all my years studying English, I have never encountered a word or phrase that describes the act of “Taroff.”

  • kunderemp
    Posted at 03:02h, 21 December Reply

    ‘Prozvonit’ is similar to miscall in Indonesia.

  • tymek
    Posted at 23:26h, 26 December Reply

    is saudade like bitter sweet in English and reminisce could that not be used for natsukashii

  • Joshua
    Posted at 18:49h, 28 December Reply

    i just realized that jayus include in lol.
    Jayus is similiar to unfunny joke/person. e.g “*boy:do you know what makes me love you?*girl:nope?*boy:because you blinking to me everyday*girl: ………… (silent) booooo you Jayus!”

    ha ha ha ha
    …………………………
    I know…im jayus…..

  • fsckit
    Posted at 17:50h, 06 January Reply

    >Prozvonit

    You mean ‘one-bell’?

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  • M.E.
    Posted at 16:54h, 27 January Reply

    I discovered so many interesting things in your blog particularly its discussion. From the tons of feedback in your articles, I assume I am not the one one getting all the enjoyment right here! keep up the good work.

  • mike
    Posted at 05:27h, 02 February Reply

    points to ponder

  • Tom
    Posted at 05:28h, 02 February Reply

    words

  • firebird
    Posted at 13:30h, 02 February Reply

    i think in english the word ‘prozvonit’ can be translated in to many coloquial words. in the northeast of england it would also be known as a dodgy [call].

  • Emma
    Posted at 10:23h, 07 February Reply

    Nice list, reckon some are misspelled, but still make sense, I’d love to give ye list myself, expect that they ain’t difficult to translate, but they have been misused in many ways:
    Penultimate
    Clandestine
    Visceral
    Xanthosis
    Infer
    Aufishant
    Splendorous
    Buoyant
    Penurious
    Penniless, oh, and I almost forgot, the expression ” Gay Party ” Always been used to refer to an amusin’, interestin’ or/and fun party, but; unfortunately, nowadays is used to refer to a homosexual or queer party… Knowin’ the usage of somethin’ is really helpful if the one could recall.

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  • Matthew Brzyski
    Posted at 20:53h, 25 April Reply

    Is there a word for this definition:

    Picking your friend%u2019s choice of boyfriend/girlfriend over your own choice because they are your friend and you feel you have to in order to show loyalty.

    Or something similar?
    Please e-mail me.
    Thank you so much

  • Ben
    Posted at 16:59h, 16 May Reply

    Kyouikumama is by no means difficult to translate. This author pretty much nailed it. I believe the term “Helicopter Parent” is often used in modern terminology as well.

    I’d like to see one of these articles explore the Japanese word “Shibui”.

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  • Sebastian
    Posted at 02:37h, 28 July Reply

    In Romania we also call %u201CProzvonit%u201D a “beep”

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  • Josh
    Posted at 03:15h, 15 September Reply

    About Prozvonit: well i think is not easy is the most easy to translate this, most probably in English will be: to give a beep.

  • Roman
    Posted at 16:59h, 20 September Reply

    Prozvonit means also to inform someone about something by one phone ring (agreed in advance)”I will prozvonit you when I arrive in front of your house”

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  • Jay
    Posted at 16:28h, 31 October Reply

    For Ilunga word, the french have an expression, that could be applied:”jamais 2 sans 3″.

  • Jay
    Posted at 16:38h, 31 October Reply

    I read lots of Brazilian saying saudade this and saudade that.. always being mistranslate etc. “Nostalgie” covers part of one sense and “Absence” convers the other one. I’m brazilian, b-t-way.
    The real brazilian word is “maracutaia”: the way to break the rules and none can say a word against – just accepts it. And don’t even try to mimic, it could not function for you.

  • Svetlin Simeonov
    Posted at 09:19h, 16 November Reply

    %u201CProzvonit%u201D is common in many European languages,for example the same word is used in Bulgarian “Prozvania” or “Prizvania” and again this word means to call a mobile phone only to have it ring once so that the other person would call back.

  • Pingback:hey you | somethinglikefernweh
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    Posted at 06:57h, 16 December Reply

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  • JBA
    Posted at 17:47h, 17 January Reply

    We have the word “lagom”in Swedish, could you guys help with a good translation for it? Let me put it in context. When something is not too cold nor too hot its “lagom” in swedish. Do you have a similar word for it?

  • Anon
    Posted at 00:25h, 18 January Reply

    Apparently translators haven’t heard of the term antijoke for jayus.

  • neil
    Posted at 16:03h, 18 January Reply

    These lists are stupid, particularly when accompanied with a list of succinct translations.

  • neil
    Posted at 16:04h, 18 January Reply

    ‘Zimkouf’ is any list of untranslatable words that doesn’t have ‘saudade’ on it.

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  • Constance Hale
    Posted at 15:27h, 19 January Reply

    Hawaiian has some pretty hard-to-translate words. Like “pono,” often translated as “righteousness,” but really meaning moral correctness, or right-doing, or deep respect.

  • Proxy List
    Posted at 22:13h, 20 January Reply

    Some words are so normal to me like prozvonit. I’m just wondering how this word doesn’t exist in English.

  • Bedd Gelert
    Posted at 15:24h, 23 January Reply

    I’ve always thought the Welsh word ‘cellwair’ a difficult verb to translate accurately.

    Some dictionaries give it as ‘jocose’ but it doesn’t really do it justice as it combines elements of blasphemy and tempting fate or providence.

    A ‘joke’ about not wishing to risk one’s life at the hands of a relative’s driving [or indeed any kind of mucking about while driving] might result in the admonishment ‘Paid a cellwair’.

    Tranlated as “Don’t, er, ‘cellwair’..”

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  • chanbaehhr
    Posted at 16:00h, 21 June Reply

    Great post! Thanks!

  • melkaoui hanane
    Posted at 03:50h, 13 July Reply

    salam, i didn’t understand most of the words mentioned here to be translated, but i know in translation we do not translate words we translate meanings and ideas. because language is not only words and meaning- it’s ideas, culture, etc. … so to translate from one language to another we must have an idea about the cultural situation in both countries.

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    Posted at 01:55h, 03 September Reply

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  • Meg
    Posted at 10:50h, 03 September Reply

    My friends and I have been using ‘Ping’ in English for about 15 years meaning the same as ‘Prozvonit’…I was under the impression it was fairly widely used!

  • Kate
    Posted at 17:09h, 15 September Reply

    in American English a dropped call is when you are in the middle of a conversation with someone (on a cell phone) and one of the people loses the signal from their cell phone provider causing the call to be abruptly ended or “dropped” mid-conversation. it is not the same as prozvonit. in the US both people are charged for the call so to “prozvonit” would be pointless.

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    Posted at 04:55h, 18 December Reply

    […] It is described by Jason Wire as: A word famous for its untranslatability, most professional translators pinpoint it as the stature of a person “who is ready to forgive and forget any first abuse, tolerate it the second time, but never forgive nor tolerate on the third offense. (Altalang.com) […]

  • s. krishnamurthy
    Posted at 06:05h, 07 January Reply

    i need more words every day to my email

  • Pingback:The 10 most depressing words in the world, illustrated by animals | Death and Taxes
    Posted at 14:38h, 17 January Reply

    […] Torschlusspanik (German)“‘Gate-closing panic,’ used to describe the fear of diminishing opportunities as one ages. This word is most frequently applied to women who race the “biological clock” to […]

  • Sonho
    Posted at 01:09h, 12 February Reply

    Great article!

  • M. R.
    Posted at 01:11h, 12 February Reply

    I would love ten more.

  • Marta Moreno
    Posted at 21:11h, 21 February Reply

    UBUNTU: Find it from Bishop Desmond Tutu in his articles in the Society of The Elders.

  • Richard
    Posted at 09:39h, 13 March Reply

    There is a perfectly good translation for “prozvonit” in UK English: to drop-call someone

  • Michal
    Posted at 15:32h, 29 March Reply

    As a Czech native, I have to say that the word “prozvonit” means not only to “drop-call” someone, but it´s always related to some action or some meaning which was told before – f.e.: “I will drop-call You when I´ll be in front of Your office” or “when my task will be done” etc.

  • Pingback:The Richness and Diversity of Language | TIDS and BITS
    Posted at 15:55h, 09 July Reply

    […] Yagan (indigenous language of Tierra del Fuego) – “the wordless, yet meaningful look shared by two people who both desire to initiate something but are both reluctant to start” (Altalang.com) […]

  • Pingback:Mind Your Language | whyareyoulikethis
    Posted at 12:11h, 20 August Reply

    […] what fascinates me too is the words that simply can’t be translated, full of the promises and shapes of hidden cultural structures, that have risen to the surface in […]

  • Fatou Fatou
    Posted at 19:41h, 10 September Reply

    In Cameroun we have the same thing as Prozvonit. We call it beeping. One could say: “Beep Fatou to have him call you back”

  • Chris
    Posted at 20:29h, 24 September Reply

    we in Nigeria have a word for Prozvonit, it’s called “flashing”.
    “to flash” someone means calling them and ending the call once the call connects or starts ringing, before it can be answered. some people became so good at ending the call almost immediately once connected that the recieving phone will only flash a screen notification, with out ringing at all. hence the name flashing.

  • N Desai
    Posted at 13:53h, 12 October Reply

    In Hinduism, the Indian religion, there is a type of ritual in which oblations are poured into a ceremonial fire. The essence of that fire—but not the fire itself—is called ब्रह्मन्, in the neuter. Simple enough. But in the Bhagavad Gita this ritual is described in extensive metaphorical detail, and ब्रह्मन् is used to refer to the essence of reality which pervades all beings, regardless of caste or species or living or non-living. The One, so to speak. Or perhaps it is better thought of as the Truth. The concept itself is hard to explain, as you can see, and can’t be understood without knowledge of the fire ritual. Yet its one of the most common and philosophically important words in the Gita.
    How do you translate that?

  • N Desai
    Posted at 13:54h, 12 October Reply

    also, in India Prozvonit is simply called a ‘missed call’, and the verb missed-call-मारना means to strike a missed call on someone’s phone.

  • Rachel K
    Posted at 14:17h, 04 November Reply

    In Venezuela we had a word for prozvonit, “repicar”, which for me can be easily translated as “ring”…

  • Pingback:A two month hiatus and all you get is a list? | pohltry
    Posted at 11:12h, 06 November Reply

    […] I’m afraid so, folks. But I saw this on another blog and it reminded me of grief-bacon. I think there may be some overlap, but it’s still a fabulous list. If there’s anyone out there reading this, maybe we can try our hand at translating/creating English equivalents?https://www.altalang.com/beyond-words/2008/10/12/ten-most-difficult-words-to-translate/ […]

  • Pingback:Some great words we should have in English | John McGanty – Random Musings
    Posted at 15:24h, 17 November Reply

    […] Read Post […]

  • Liada
    Posted at 22:51h, 08 December Reply

    These are the most mystrerious words.

  • Themistocles von Eckenbrecher
    Posted at 02:48h, 06 January Reply

    “Kyoikumama” is “Tigermom” in English. Easily translated.

  • Nigel Spencer
    Posted at 09:44h, 30 January Reply

    Fascinating and useful…in a challenging sort of way.

  • Pingback:20 Untranslatable Words | AUDREYMARISSA
    Posted at 20:13h, 31 January Reply

    […] “A joke so poorly told and so unfunny that one cannot help but laugh.” (Altalang.com) […]

  • g
    Posted at 03:00h, 07 April Reply

    great! thanks.

  • prince charles
    Posted at 01:20h, 20 June Reply

    wow… the first time that i encountered these very incomprehensible words… a kind of hifalutin jargon…

  • james williamson
    Posted at 11:25h, 23 August Reply

    Does anybody know of a Hindi word that is akin to “saudade” or “duende”? Thanks in advance.

  • Baumhouse
    Posted at 15:08h, 23 August Reply

    The correct word is Torschusspanik. There is no letter L inwards.

  • تور كيش
    Posted at 10:44h, 23 November Reply

    i like the word “Jayus”
    it was interesting

  • Kimchi
    Posted at 04:22h, 27 January Reply

    I think some of these words can be translated into English.
    Prozvonit = prank
    Kyoikumama = tiger mom

  • Haakon
    Posted at 02:56h, 02 October Reply

    The Check word Prozvonit is easy to translate into English. In Liberia and Ghana we use the word Flash. Like she/he flashed me.

  • CullumAnne
    Posted at 11:51h, 19 June Reply

    https://www.altalang.com/beyond-words/2008/10/12/ten-most-difficult-words-to-translate/
    Sometimes even the finest translators come up against words that defy translation. Many languages include words that don’t have a simple counterpart in another language.

  • Lazar Šaj
    Posted at 21:55h, 05 January Reply

    “Prozvonit
    In both Czech and Slovak language, this word means to call a mobile phone only to have it ring once so that the other person would call back, allowing the caller not to spend money on minutes.”
    ‘cimnuti’ in Serbian.

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