submitted by Stu Johnson
Posted: January 27, 2020
…that take a whole sentence to convey in English…
Did you ever, like me, find yourself in a moment of panic when you can't come up with the name of a person you're supposed to introduce. The Scots call that moment a "tartle." There are dozens of other situations that take a whole sentence to describe in English, but need only one word in other languages. On his Mental Floss blog a few years ago, Bill DeMain came up with "38 Wonderful Words with No English Equivalent." I'll give ten of them here and then a link to the whole list.
1. Kummerspeck (German)
Excess weight gained from emotional overeating. Literally, grief bacon.
2. Shemomedjamo (Georgian)
You know when you’re really full, but your meal is just so delicious, you can’t stop eating it? The Georgians feel your pain. This word means, “I accidentally ate the whole thing."
3. Tartle (Scots)
The nearly onomatopoeic word for that panicky hesitation just before you have to introduce someone whose name you can't quite remember.
4. Mamihlapinatapai (Yaghan language of Tierra del Fuego)
This word captures that special look shared between two people, when both are wishing that the other would do something that they both want, but neither want to do.
5. Backpfeifengesicht (German)
A face badly in need of a fist.
6. Iktsuarpok (Inuit)
You know that feeling of anticipation when you’re waiting for someone to show up at your house and you keep going outside to see if they’re there yet? This is the word for it.
7. Pelinti (Buli, Ghana
Your friend bites into a piece of piping hot pizza, then opens his mouth and sort of tilts his head around while making an “aaaarrrahh” noise. The Ghanaians have a word for that. More specifically, it means “to move hot food around in your mouth.”
8. Greng-jai (Thai)
That feeling you get when you don't want someone to do something for you because it would be a pain for them.
9. Mencolek (Indonesian)
You know that old trick where you tap someone lightly on the opposite shoulder from behind to fool them? The Indonesians have a word for it.
10. Faamiti (Samoan)
To make a squeaking sound by sucking air past the lips in order to gain the attention of a dog or child.
See the rest of the list on
This article was also published on Stu's blog.
Stu Johnson is principal of Stuart Johnson & Associates, a communications consultancy in Wheaton, Illinois. He is publisher and editor of SeniorLifestyle, writes the InfoMatters blog on his own website and contributes articles for SeniorLifestyle.• Author bio (website*) • E-mail the author (moc.setaicossajs@uts*) • Author's website (personal or primary**)
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