30 concise, useful words that do not exist in Spanish (Part II)

What follows is the continuation of a list of words that, as I already said, are great for me because of their ability to condense meaning. And most of them are almost impossible to translate. You can also see the first part. Simply, after continuing “collecting” them, I wanted to share them:

Horia Varlan

15. Komorebi (Japanese)

There is a word to refer to that play of light and shadow that occurs with the interaction of sunlight and the leaves of the trees. Pure poetry in four syllables.

16. Toska (Russian)

It is a high degree of distressing melancholy, although often without a specific reason or cause. Or if someone could define it, an “intense pain in the soul”, a sick longing that is felt even when there is nothing to long for.

17. Dohada (Sanskrit)

Strange longings of pregnant women (comparable to “craving”, although the craving is not of such a specific use).

18. Bilita mpatshi (Bantu, or Melano-African ethnic groups)

A dream with happy connotations, or what we all wish for before going to sleep.

19. Iktsuarpok (Inuit)

Just that feeling of anticipation that leads to “going out to see if someone is coming.” (And once again, I never would have thought of inventing a word for it.) In this case, I think it is something that is deeply related to the culture of the Eskimo peoples. I imagine that in such latitudes, waiting for someone who leaves for days in a hostile climate is something that must be an institution.

20. Tartle (Scottish)

That awkward moment where we forget someone’s name when introducing them. That’s what we’ve all been through at some point without knowing what to call it.

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21. Pana Po’o (in Hawaiian)

It’s even funny, an expression that serves to describe the act of scratching our heads when we try to remember something, although scratching has never been proven to help find something.

22. Ilunga. (Tshiluba, Bantu language, Southwest Congo).

In this case, the complexity of what is designated is as amazing as “a person who is ready to forgive and forget a first offense, tolerate the second, but not forgive or accept a third”… (or a version of “the third is the charm” adapted to the difficult art of social interaction between human beings)

23. Schadenfreude (German)

It is the art of feeling pleasure in the misfortune of others, something that in Spanish can come close to the meaning of gloating. And yes, that is very ugly.

24. Waldeinsamkeit (German)

Wald (forest) + einsamkeit (solitude). It would be something like the feeling of being alone in the forest. Beautiful word that perhaps sums up that art of doing nothing that I was able to experience in a Finnish cabin.

25. Mangata (Swedish)

A word that designates the bright reflection of the moon in the water (of a lake or the sea). Pure poetry.

26. Torschlusspanik (German)

It is an intuitive fear that opportunities will diminish as time passes and we get older. It makes me depressed just reading it.

27. Hyggelig (Danish)

Feeling comfortable in a cozy place, or a climate of cordiality and warmth among friends. (Or what usually happens when we are traveling in a comfortable place in the place of our dreams)

28. Gaman (Japanese)

A concept that when you know it, you understand the reason why it comes from Japan and its culture: “endure something apparently unbearable with patience and dignity”, a word that could be translated as perseverance, although gaman designates a more complex concept. This word is of Zen-Buddhist origin.

29. Ayurnamat (Inuit)

It describes that philosophy or attitude in which there is no reason to worry about things that cannot be changed.

30. Gheegle (Filipino)

The translation would be: the urge to pinch or squeeze something because it is unbearably cute. Or what happens to most people when they see a cute kitty.

All the words were extracted from different lists and related texts, as well as personal notes.

– 20 Great Words That Have No Translation (at MatadorNetWork)

– Book review on words that might be useful, but not always (in NYT)

– 11 untranslatable words from other cultures (

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