10 Beautiful, Untranslatable Words from the World’s Languages

Celebrating the wonder of positive language.


A beautiful summer day

Sólarfrí! The Icelandic word for a day off to enjoy the sunshine (Unsplash)

Although the written word has taken a backseat to modern catch phrases and text shorthand in recent years, there’s still beauty to be found by those literary romantics who still have a special affinity for words and their meanings. British psychology professor and PhD, Tim Lomas, has compiled a comprehensive list of positive lexicography that spans the world's languages - an evolving index of words related to wellbeing from around the world. The list makes for an especially insightful reference catalogue, paying tribute to the varied values of global cultures.

Here are a few of our favorites from the index:

1. Cafuné (Portuguese)

The act/gesture of tenderly running one’s fingers through a loved one’s hair.

2. Estrenar (Spanish)

To use or wear something for the first time.

3. Shemomechama (Georgian)

Eating past the point of satiety due to sheer enjoyment.

4. Nahat (Hebrew)

Contentment/satisfaction at someone's successes.

5. Inuuqatigiittiarniq (Inuit)

Being respectful of all people.

6. Gigil (Tagalog)

The irresistible urge to pinch/squeeze someone because they are loved or cherished.

Cute baby

Can't resist pinching cheeks like these? In Tagalog that's called Gigil (Siberian Photographer / Shutterstock.com)  

7. Fjellvant (Norwegian)

Being accustomed to walk in the mountains.

8. Flâneur (French)

Someone who wanders the streets to experience the city.

9. Forelsket (Norwegian)

The euphoric act/feeling of falling in love.

10. Sólarfrí (Icelandic)

Sun holiday, i.e., when workers are granted unexpected time off to enjoy a particularly sunny/warm day.