"Gigil" & 15 More Untranslatable Filipino Words

20 September 2023
By Sarah Angela Almaden
Japanese House

Unsplash: Humphrey Muleba

There are ten thousand and nine hundred and fifty-six Filipino words out there… well, actually scratch that. I really don’t know how many Filipino words are out there. However, one thing I know for sure is that there are plenty of Filipino words that just cannot be translated properly into English. In fact, not every single word has to have a direct English translation or any direct translation in other languages at all. And that is not a bad thing. In a way, that adds an extra layer of depth and meaning and beauty to the diversity of the Filipino language and culture. At the same time, this reminds you of how versatile words can be and how their definitions extend beyond the translations you’ve been given

  1. Gigil (gi-gil): that uncontrollable feeling to squeeze something very, very cute
  2. Kilig (kee-lig): that giddy, butterfly-in-your-stomach romantic feeling
  3. Muni-muni (moo-nee moo-nee): to ponder or to meditate about something
  4. Sinta (sin-tah): an old-fashioned term endearment for darling
  5. Kalipungawan (kah-li-pu-nga-wan): loneliness from an isolated place
  6. Kundiman (kun-di-man): a love song; a traditional Filipino love song
  7. Takipsilim (tah-kip-si-lim): sunset; when the sky is just getting dark
  8. Tadhana (tad-ha-na): destiny; something meant to happen that is beyond your control
  9. Kulit (koo-lit): playful or mischievous; stubborn; persistent; annoying; naughty
  10. Harana (ha-ra-na): to serenade; a traditional way of serenading someone at night
  11. Lambing (lam-bing): that sweet, tender affection
  12. Basta (bas-tah): that’s it; enough; I don’t want to; just because
  13. Paraluman (pa-ra-lu-man): a muse; a charming woman with goddess-like features
  14. Umay (oo-may): fed up; sickening feeling after eating the same food
  15. Tampo (tam-poh): a light resentment feeling; feeling slightly mad but not totally mad
  16. Bangungot (bah-ngu-ngot): a very, very, very terrible nightmare that’s meant to wake you up in the middle of your sleep