16 Beautiful Untranslatable Words From Around The World

1 October 2023
By Sarah Angela Almaden
Japanese House
Unsplash: Noah Silliman

To some people, the idea of waking up very early in the morning for an early morning walk is a very annoying thing to do. Like why would you want to wake up really early just to go for an outdoor stroll when you can sleep in for fifteen more minutes before you start a long day? Well, that’s a good and fair point, as getting those extra minutes of sleep is always needed.

However, there is something poetic about waking up early in the morning to go for an early morning walk, while the rest of the world is still asleep (at least that’s what I’d like to think, just to be a bit dramatic). It’s as if everything around you is still and peaceful and so beautiful. And you’re there to see the sunrise, hear the birds sing their first song. Oh, witnessing all this really sounds like a one-of-a-kind, magical experience.

Crazily enough, there is a Swedish word for this experience and it’s known as “gökotta.” Gökotta is only one of the many words out there that don’t really have a direct translation into the English language. I mean you could probably explain the word further to emphasize its depth and meaning. But, again, it is one of those untranslatable words that makes learning a new language something special.

  1. Gökotta
    Language: Swedish
    Meaning: to wake up early in the morning so you can go outside and experience the stillness of your surroundings, appreciate the beauty of nature, hear the birds sing, and see the sun
  2. Fjaka
    Language: Croatian
    Meaning: the sweetness of doing nothing
  3. Shinrin-yoku
    Language: Japanese
    Meaning: forest-bathing; spending time in the forest for relaxation
  4. Sprezzatura
    Language: Italian
    Meaning: to make something look effortlessly nice
  5. Sisu
    Language: Finnish
    Meaning: the ability to stay strong and courageous in difficult times
  6. Mbuki-mvuki
    Language: Swahili
    Meaning: to take off one’s clothes and dance happily
  7. Tarab
    Language: Arabic
    Meaning: enchantment through art; losing track of time when listening to music
  8. Utepils
    Language: Norwegian
    Meaning: to drink and enjoy beer outdoors on a sunny day
  9. Sobremesa
    Language: Spanish
    Meaning: the time you spend at the table chatting, laughing, connecting, and interacting with the people you just shared a meal with
  10. Mamihlapinatapai
    Language: Yagán or Yaghan
    Meaning: a look shared between people without words in the hopes that one of them will start doing something they both want to do but are reluctant to do
  11. Queesting
    Language: Dutch
    Meaning: to invite your lover for a quick chat in bed
  12. Sólarfrí
    Language: Icelandic
    Meaning: sun holiday; an unexpected day off to enjoy a nice, warm day under the sun
  13. Aubade
    Language: French
    Meaning: dawn serenade; a love song sung in the early morning or at dawn
  14. Kalon
    Language: Greek
    Meaning: the ideal and perfect form of beauty in the physical and moral sense
  15. Cwtch
    Language: Welsh
    Meaning: a special and warm hug or embrace or cuddle that feels like home; a tiny space to store things or a cupboard
  16. Feierabend
    Language: German
    Meaning: that joyous, celebratory feeling after a work day