Non-Existent English Words That Are Hard to Translate


There are a few words that don’t exist in English that could help making communicating a lot easier. These non-existent English words convey information quickly, or get an emotion across without a long and wordy explanation. Take a look at some of these fascinating words.

For example, the feeling you get after something has happened and you think of all the things you could have said but didn’t. If you were reading this in French, L’esprit de l’escalier would have delivered the same message.

Now imagine a situation where you have someone who is doing an act for you, that you really didn’t want them to do and did all you could do to avoid them doing it, but they still insisted to do this favour for you out of determination which then resulted in you having to thank them out of politeness even though it got you into trouble. That entire scenario is simply Arigata-meiwaku in Japanese which simply means something like unwelcomed kindness.

As you can see, some of the words that don’t exist in English can actually help you improve communication. But what about non-existent English words that convey emotions derived from certain situations?


Forelsket in Norwegian is the euphoric feeling of falling in love at the start of the relationship, while Mamihlapinatapai in Yaghan would suggest that the people meeting have a shared, yet unspoken desire for each other.

Gigil in Filipino is the feeling when you see a baby that is so cute and you just want to pinch their cheeks.

As you can see there are quite a few words in English that if they existed, would help to make conversation a little easier. Here is a list of some more great words that you should know.


Age-otori (Japanese)

A person looking worse after a haircut than he did before.


Schadenfreude (German)

The pleasure you get from seeing someone else’s pain or suffering.


Kulseyo 글쎄요 (Korean)

It’s a very polite way of expressing doubt about what’s being said, much more polite than saying “whatever” or “yeah, right”. It’s more like ‘‘hmm, I’ll think about that.”


Ilunga (Tshiluba language from Congo)

When a person forgives abuse the first time, becomes tolerant to it the next time, but doesn’t accept it a third time.


Manja (Malay)

The childlike behavior of a woman in order to get pampering and sympathy.


Meraki (Greek)

When you put your heart and soul into your craft and fill it with love.


Cafuné (Portuguese)

The act of tenderly running one’s fingers through someone’s hair.


Jayus (Indonesian)

A joke that is so badly told and unfunny that you can’t help yourself from laughing and finding it funny.


Wabi-Sabi (Japanese)

It is a way of living or lifestyle that emphasizes finding beauty in imperfection, and accepting the natural cycle of growth and decay.


Duende (Spanish)

The mysterious power a piece of art has in order to deeply move a person.


Saudade (Spanish)

It refers to the feeling of longing for something or someone that you love and which is lost. It is sometimes also translated as “the love that remains” after someone is gone.


Geisterfahrer (German)

Literally ‘ghost driver’, is a word used for someone who’s driving on the wrong side of the road.


Torschlusspanik (German)

Literally means “gate-closing panic” Describe the fear of diminishing opportunities as one gets older.


Prozvonit (Czech and Slovak) and Wangiri (Japanese)

To call a mobile phone and let it ring only once so that the other person would call back which would save the initial caller some money.


La Douleur Exquisite (French)

The heart-wrenching painful feeling of wanting someone you can’t have or who is unattainable.


Razbliuto (Russian)

The sentimental feeling you have about someone you once loved but no longer do.


Kummerspeck (German)

Literally grief-fat, is the weight that you gained due to eating excessively because of a depression.


心疼: Xinteng  (Mandarin Chinese)

A feeling somewhere between sympathy and empathy when you see the suffering of loved ones.


Tocka (Russian)

A longing with nothing to long for, or a spiritual anguish that is felt often without knowing the cause.


豁达: Huoda (Mandarin Chinese)

Optimistic, generous and easy going with a relaxed attitude towards everything and accepting things how they are.


Tell us some more non-existent English words that are hard to translate in the comments section below