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Foreign words that don't have direct translation into English

(38 Posts)
vampirequeen Mon 19-Oct-20 11:01:21


The other day I was talking to a friend about my upbringing and how it has left me with some (now odd/old fashioned) views about men and women. For example I still hide my sts in the back of my knicker drawer and I was horrified the other day when DH put some blood stained towels in the washing machine. She found it really funny but in an 'adorable' (her word) way. She said I was "frum" which in Yiddish technically means pious but is more about people like me who behave in slightly embarrassed ways about things that are perfectly normal.

Do you know any other words that have no single word equivalent?

vampirequeen Mon 19-Oct-20 11:05:04


A Japanese word. When you're not hungry but you eat because your mouth is lonely.

Marydoll Mon 19-Oct-20 11:05:20

There is a Scottish word scunnered, which doesn't quite translate into English. It however, sums up a feeling of being extremely fed up. In fact it describes my mood very accurately today.

Auntieflo Mon 19-Oct-20 11:55:15

Marydoll, {{{hugs}}}. and flowers

Marydoll Mon 19-Oct-20 11:56:49

Thanks Aggie. As my mother woukd say: It's a sair fecht!

Don'y worry, I will pull myself out of it. grin

Fennel Mon 19-Oct-20 12:09:18

There are loads in Geordie - mostly adapted from other languages.
eg 'gan', 'gannin' ='going' I think it comes from a german verb for 'go' eg 'entrance' 'way to go in' is 'eingang'.

Franbern Mon 19-Oct-20 12:12:31

Machatunim - not sure if proper spelling, but that is how it sounds. Yiddish word meaning close relatives, not directly related. Eg: the parents and.or siblings of my daughter's husband. Or my son's wifes parents/siblings.

It is such a useful word and nothing like it in English.

Frum - I have always understood as meaning Jewish people who stick very strictly to things like kosher rules.

Lots of lovelky Yiddish word, Meshinginnah - meaning someone who acts in a totally mad way, but not having any sort of mental health meaning. Often used very affectionaely.

Vampiequeen, I love that Japanese word, could have been invented for me!!!!!

Parsley3 Mon 19-Oct-20 12:12:58

The Gaelic word bourach describes a right shambles, I think. Very apt on occasion.

Grandma70s Mon 19-Oct-20 12:20:50

A favourite of mine is the German Weltschmerz, literally ‘world pain’, a sense of deep sadness at the state of the world,

Fennel Mon 19-Oct-20 12:22:56

Franbern - I was going to mention other yiddish words too.
Have you read 'The Joys of Yiddish' by Leo Rosten?
Not that I can speak yiddish, but I've read about it.
My favourite is nochschlepper - tagger on. Like us.

Lucca Mon 19-Oct-20 12:25:12


There is a Scottish word scunnered, which doesn't quite translate into English. It however, sums up a feeling of being extremely fed up. In fact it describes my mood very accurately today.

Is that because it’s a dreech day ? Ex Is Scottish and I picked up some useful words from him like describing someone as “fushionless “

Lucca Mon 19-Oct-20 12:29:11

Marydoll if you feel like that then today you can be a “pantofolaio”. Stay in wear your slippers (pantofole)and laze around

vampirequeen Mon 19-Oct-20 12:32:40're right about the accurate definition but it's also used colloquially in a more affectionate way for people like me grin

Witzend Mon 19-Oct-20 12:35:14

Schadenfreude - pleasure in someone else’s misfortune.

Illte Mon 19-Oct-20 12:45:19

I was writing a shirt story today to be translated into Italian (intermediate level).

I wanted to say she dropped the grapes, he fielded them.

In English it gave me the picture I wanted but what would fielding mean to an Italian?

merlotgran Mon 19-Oct-20 12:53:44

I have a fondness for Yiddish words as well.

Meshugana and Chutzpah (bare faced cheek!) being two of my favourites.

Marydoll Mon 19-Oct-20 12:59:36

Lucca, it certainly is dreich, but it's more Weltschmerze.

Parsley I wasn't familiar with bourach, but it's very appropriate to describe my experience of GN just now. wink

Curlywhirly Mon 19-Oct-20 13:12:31

Simpatico - an Italian word for someone who is likeable and easy to get along with.

Wheniwasyourage Mon 19-Oct-20 14:28:00

It's pretty dreich here today too, Marydoll, which doesn't help when you're feeling scunnered. Hope you feel better soon. flowers

Guddle is how I would describe my house at the moment, with stuff lying about in the middle of being sorted out but not quite getting there.

Franbern Mon 19-Oct-20 14:32:54

Fennel, No....I had nor read the Joys of Yiddish, but have now ordered the updated version.
My Dad did speak Yiddish, but refused ever to do so calling it the language of the Ghetto. My Mother, nor any of her very English Jewish family, never did, but some words just became part of the vocabulary. Some I would not ever now repeat, but different times, different attitudes.

Callistemon Mon 19-Oct-20 15:30:27

Hiraeth which is a Welsh word that means more than just a longing or homesickness.

Parsley3 Mon 19-Oct-20 15:40:27

Sorry that you have been scunnered today Marydoll. I hope the feeling has passed although the dreich weather hasn’t. The rain has turned to a smirr now which is a word that I am struggling to explain.

phoenix Mon 19-Oct-20 15:44:46

Ah but is there a difference between foreign words, and dialect words? Where is the line drawn?

Marydoll Mon 19-Oct-20 15:51:30

Is it a dialect word if it is used all over Scotland and not just one area, Phoenix?
Just asking. wink

lovebeigecardigans1955 Mon 19-Oct-20 15:54:02

There's a word which I've only heard in Nottingham, I've never seen it written down but it sounds like, "A-were" - the last part as in 'they were' is heavily stressed.

It expresses astonishment/disbelief if you hear something nonsensical, such as, "I'm going to paint my face bright blue" or "there's going to be a football match on the moon" or whatever. The response might be, "What? A-were!"