By Julia Pond, Managing Editor, and Becky Mahan, Editor
Traveling can be super awkward. Not only are you trying to navigate your way around an unknown place, probably in desperate need of a shower, but you're also trying to navigate a new culture and language. And more often than not, hilarity ensues when it turns out that a word with a perfectly innocent meaning in your language has a ridiculously dirty or rude cognate in the place you're visiting. Have you ever asked if food had any "preservatives" in Spanish or Italian? If so, congratulations! You actually asked if there were any condoms in it.
Here are more of our favorite examples of hilarious double entendres:
English vs. English
In the U.S., this is the item of clothing you wear on your bottom half.
But in the U.K., it's your underwear (as in, the clothing beneath the clothing you - hopefully - wear on your bottom half.) You can also say something is "pants," to mean it sucks. Upshot: the 'no pants' subway ride, pictured above, would be way, way more intense in London.
In the good ol' US of A, a thong is a piece of butt cheek-revealing underwear (A.K.A. "butt floss.")
In Australia, your thongs are your flip-flops, you dirty Yanks.
Americans wear fanny packs (well, we used to) -- pouches worn around our waists to hold items. But when you're in the U.K., please make sure you say "bum bag," or you'll be referring to a woman's genitals!
In America, this means drinking two alcoholic drinks at the same time.
In the U.K., this is quite an uncomfortable-sounding sexual act.
Many's the American who casually blurts out at a party that they're double-fisting...to the shock and mortification of any Brits in the room.
In the U.K. you can ask to "nick a fag," which does not, thankfully, mean to cut a homosexual, but to bum a cigarette.
English vs. Other Languages
English: clean a floor.
Italian: to f***.
English: what you use to open the door.
Italian: to f***.
(Notice a pattern?)
English: drive very fast.
Swedish: to fart.
Wrong Words & Pronunciations
Trying to speak Italian?
Don't forget to drag out the ennn sound when you order penne pasta (the alternative is ordering penis pasta) -- or ask how many anni someone has (how old they are), or you might be asking them how many anuses they are endowed with.
A "pisolino" is a nap. Be sure to pronounce the long 'o' in the middle - if you get lazy and say "pisellino," you're using a slang term for a tiny penis.
Keep "fico" (fig) in the masculine form -- if you say "fica," it's a pretty vulgar term for a woman's nether regions. (Although, ironically, "figo" can be used to compliment a man's attractiveness...use with caution.)
Trying to speak Spanish?
Make sure as you yawn to say "cansado" - if you say "estoy casado," it means "I'm married."
Don't try to say you're "exitada" if you mean excited! That means I'm horny - you want to say "emocionada."
Likewise, don't say you're "embarazada" if you're humiliated -- everyone will congratulate you on your pregnancy. (And if you're a dude, this could get really awkward.) Say "avergonzada."
Trying to speak French?
Ordering beets at a restaurant? Don't try to be cute and add a French accent to the English word, or you'll have just told the table you want a man's appendage. The French word for the root vegetable is "betteraves."
Make sure you say "J'ai chaud" ("I'm warm") and not "Je suis chaud" ("I'm horny"). (Basically you're saying, "I have hot," not "I am hot!")
Likewise, "baisser" (to lower) should not be mistaken for "baiser" (to F***).
After all this, all we can think of to say is....good luck!
Feeling inspired to test out a new language? Explore your next destination on our mobile app.
(If you're now terrified to speak in any foreign language now, it's cool. You can still explore your next destination on our mobile app.)