12 Words From Around The World For Things You've Felt But Couldn't Name

TFW you wish your crush would admit their feelings first? There’s a word for that.

Remember that feeling of absolute freedom you’d get as a kid when, for the first time ever, your parents trusted you to hang out at the house alone, without a sibling or babysitter breathing down your neck?

Maybe you watched cartoons with abandon. Maybe you rummaged through your parents’ wardrobes. Maybe, if you were a contemplative child, you wondered whether there was a word for the pure glee you were experiencing.

It turns out, there is ― in German. “Sturmfrei” is an adjective literally translating to “stormfree,” or “the freedom of not being watched by a parent or superior; being alone at home and having the ability to do what you want.” And what about the divine activity all children and adequately-dressed adults love to indulge in: jumping in puddles? There’s a word for that, too ― in Icelandic. “Hoppípolla” isn’t just a popular Sigur Rós song. It’s a whimsical verb. 

Fascinated by these holes in the English language, and the lovely words on offer around the world, Yee-Lum Mak started a blog called Other Wordly, which was recently published as a book illustrated by Kelsey Garrity-Riley. Below is a short excerpt courtesy of Chronicle Books:

1. Nefelibata (noun, male and female, Spanish and Portuguese)

“Cloud-walker”; (literary) one who lives in the clouds of their own imagination, or one who does not obey the conventions of society, literature or art 

2. Hoppípolla (verb phrase, Icelandic)

Jumping into puddles

3. Tatemae (noun, Japanese)

What a person pretends to believe; the behavior and opinions one must display to satisfy society’s demands

4. Honne (noun, Japanese)

What a person truly believes; the behavior and opinions that are often kept hidden and only displayed with one’s closest confidants

5. Brumous (adjective, English)

Of gray skies and winter days; filled with heavy clouds or fog; relating to winter or cold, sunless weather

6. Brontide (noun, English)

The low rumble, as of distant thunder

7. Mamihlapinatapai (noun, Yaghan)

The look shared by two people who have reached an unspoken understanding or who desire the same thing but each wish that the other would offer it first

8. Sturmfrei (adjective, German)

“Stormfree”; (literary) the freedom of not being watched by a parent or superior; being alone at home and having the ability to do what you want

9. Cwtch (noun, Welsh)

A hug or cuddle; a safe place; the space or cupboard under the stairs

10. Abditory (noun, English)

A place into which you can disappear; a hiding place to preserve the things that are most valued

11. Resfeber (noun, collective, Swedish)

The restless race of the traveler’s heart before the journey begins, when anxiety and anticipation are tangled together; a “travel fever” that can manifest as illness

12. Fernweh (noun, neuter, German)

An ache for distant places; the craving for travel



11 Untranslatable Words From Other Languages