We Translate On Time

Untranslatable Emotions

June 27th, 2019

Although, English is said to have one of the largest vocabularies in the world, it still lacks many words that can be found in other languages. Often, words within a language reflect the culture of the language; therefore, the words that can be found in one language show the general sentiments or ideas of the people. Hence, there are many untranslatable foreign emotion words with no English equivalent. Perhaps, there has been a time when you have wanted to explain a feeling, but you were not able to do so; thus, you had to use a cumbersome sentence to describe a very specific feeling. It is possible that the emotion word you were thinking about might not be in English, but exists in another language. Here are 12 foreign emotion words with no English equivalent you did not know existed. 


  1. Gigil (Tagalog) – the irresistible urge to pinch or squeeze someone because they are cute or cherished
  2. Iktsuarpok (Inuit) – the anticipation you feel when waiting for someone, and you keep going outside to check if they have arrived
  3. Natsukashii (Japanese) – a nostalgic longing for the past, with happiness for the fond memory, yet sadness that it is no longer
  4. Sehnsucht (German) – a desire for alternative states and realisations of life, even if they are unattainable
  5. Greng-jai (Thai) – the uneasy feeling you get when someone goes out of their way to help you, but you know it is a hassle
  6. Wabi-sabi (Japanese) – a “dark, desolate sublimity” centred on the state of lasting only for a short time and imperfection in beauty
  7. Saudade (Portuguese) – nostalgia for a person, place or thing that is far away
  8. Tocka (Russian): a great spiritual anguish, often with no cause. A longing with nothing to long for
  9. Litost (Czech): a state of torment created by the sudden sight of one's own misery
  10. Schadenfreude (German): pleasure derived by someone from another person's misfortune
  11. Hygge (Danish): an intimate, feeling associated with sitting around a fire in the winter with close friends
  12. Waldeinsamkeit (German): the feeling of solitude, being alone in the woods and a connectedness to nautre
by Joshua Binfor