7 Untranslatable Words From Around the World

These magical words evoke beauty and delight from afar.

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Words are powerful. They capture feelings, emotions, and elicit a culture’s passion. Many words are so fitting for a certain people, they are simply untranslatable to another language. However, living in a global village, these words can now be shared and savored.

Each culture cherishes unique moments and inspirations. Here are seven poignant words from around the world to cherish. These sweet words can be adapted to your own experiences, and if you can pronounce them, added to your lexicon!


This word is from Yagán, an indigenous language from Tierra del Fuego. The Yaghan people use Mamihlapinatapei to describe a feeling that takes many words to describe in English! It is also listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the most succinct and hardest word to translate in the world. 

This word describes a look shared by two people who want to interact and are waiting for the other to initiate, yet neither do. Understood in a romantic setting, this is the meaningful, longing silence shared by a couple who are thinking of a private time they have had together. It is satisfying to know there is one word that captures this universal moment so beautifully!


This Inuit word Iktsuarpok expresses the feeling of anticipation before a visitor arrives, according to the blog Nunawhaa. As he is excited, the host goes outside to check if his friend has arrived yet.

In a more urban, technological setting, this word can be adapted to several situations. Imagine having somewhere fun to go and calling a taxi. You keep glancing out the window to see if it has arrived. Or, how about checking your inbox every few minutes for an important email? Both of these are the modern equivalent of iktsuarpok.


This Japanese word Komorebi describes sunlight peeking through trees, according to Tokyo Weekender. Its very essence connotes those dappling shades and shadows glinting as sun rays filter through a forest’s branches.  

The word is a combination of three components: ko is the Japanese character for tree; more represents leaking; and bi represents sunlight or day. When this is all put together, a beautiful vision of the sunlight shining through the trees is created.

The Japanese are so precise when describing nature, they even have a word, hamorebi, for sunlight peeking through leaves as opposed to branches.

Sunlight filtering through a forest.

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This tree-laden word from Germany roughly translates as solitude of the forest. This is a feeling of enlightenment when one is truly alone in the woods, according to BBC Travel.

Due to coronavirus, this word had become very popular, with Germans flocking to forests in search of fresh air, contemplation, and tranquility. In fact, forest researcher Jeanne-Lazya Roux told BBC Travel, “There is a renaissance in valuing forests for their spiritual attributes, or re-spiritualisation of the forest, as we call it.”

Looking for an uplifting experience? Head to a forest for some waldeinsamkeit, and be sure to observe the komorebi!

A woman sits on a moss-covered rock enjoying solitude in the forest.

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Here is another magical word that captures the sublimity of nature. Mångata is the Swedish word for the reflection of the moon as it glimmers on the surface of the water. The word focuses on the path the moon traces across the water.

This portmanteau combines måne, which means moon, and gata, which means road. Put together, you get the roadlike reflection of the moon on the water. Conveying such powerful beauty in one word is sheer poetry!

A full moon shines across the sea, creating a reflection on the water that looks like a road.

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This is a verb that is found in Danish and in Norwegian. It describes a euphoria that is felt when one falls in love. It is about feeling blissful and excited all at once. Forelsket means the desire that this feeling will last forever and also the fact that you cannot think of anything else!

A young couple falling in love.

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Now that people are starting to mingle again and go out to eat, this Spanish word can be truly relished. Sobremesa literally means “upon the table.” It is the Spanish tradition of relaxing after a meal, lingering with friends over coffee or a liqueur, and appreciating life.

Sobremesa is when one catches up with friends, tells stories, laughs, and values connection. “As a chef, when I see people spending time at the table after lunch, I feel that it’s a sign that everything has gone well, but oftentimes people enjoy themselves even more than during the meal itself. The sobremesa can be magical,” Chef Dani Carnero told BBC Travel.

The Spanish may love their food, but they truly appreciate the time spent around the table after they have eaten.

Friends sipping coffee and chatting after a meal.

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