Beyond Words - Language Blog

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.

Comments

  1. 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 😀

    • 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)

  2. 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.

    • “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”.

  3. 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.

  4. “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.

  5. 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?” 😉

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

  7. 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”

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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

  13. “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.”

  14. 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.

  15. 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

  16. “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.

  17. 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.

  18. Sigh

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

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

  20. 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…

  21. 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!

  22. 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!

  23. 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!

  24. 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.

  25. 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.

  26. 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?

  27. 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?

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

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

  29. 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.

  30. 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.

  31. 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..

  32. 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.

  33. 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.

  34. 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 =)

  35. 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.

  36. 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

  37. 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.

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

  39. 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.

  40. 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.

  41. 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!

  42. 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…

  43. 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.

  44. 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.

  45. 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.

  46. 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…

  47. 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.”

  48. 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.

  49. 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…

  50. 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.

  51. 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”

  52. 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”

  53. 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.

  54. 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!

  55. 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.”

  56. 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.

  57. 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.

  58. 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?

  59. 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

  60. 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.

  61. “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.

  62. 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.

  63. 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.

  64. 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?

  65. …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 !

  66. “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).

  67. 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

  68. 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.”

  69. 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.

  70. 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?

  71. 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?

  72. 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.

  73. 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.

  74. 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.

  75. 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

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  78. 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.

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

  80. 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.

  81. 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.

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

    prozvonit = ping
    bakku-shan = butterface

  83. 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.”

  84. 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”.

  85. 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 🙂

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  87. @ 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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  89. 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.

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  91. 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

  92. 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.

  93. ‘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’

  94. 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.”

  95. 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…..

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  98. 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.

  99. 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].

  100. 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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  105. 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

  106. 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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  110. 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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  112. 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.

  113. %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.

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  118. 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?

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  122. 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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  129. 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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  132. 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!

  133. 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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  137. 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.

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

  141. 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.

  142. 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?

  143. 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.

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

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

  150. “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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