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As a little girl I was always obsessed with words and still to this day, I keep a journal full of words I love. These 25 incredible foreign words you have to know are just the start of my list.

Through traveling, I’ve heard so many words that we don’t have in the English language, that don’t translate to a direct word. Each of these words encompass a bigger feeling, an action or emotion, in a way we can’t. Take a peak at…

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25 Incredible Foreign Words You Have to Know


1. Bilita Mpash (Bantu)

It means an amazing dream and quite literally the opposite of a nightmare.

2. L’esprit de l’escalier (French)

It means the spirit of the stairs when you leave a conversation thinking about everything you could have said.

25 Incredible Foreign Words You Have to Know

3. Koi No Yokan (Japanese)

A feeling when you meet someone for the first time and you know you will fall in love.

25 Incredible Foreign Words You Have to Know

4. Pana Po’o (Hawaiian)

The word that describes the moment when you scratch your head when you’ve forgotten something.

5. Gigil (Filipino)

When you want to squeeze something that is so cute.

6. Jayus (Indonesian)

When someone poorly tells a joke so bad that you can’t help but laugh.

25 Incredible Foreign Words You Have to Know

7. Komorebi (Japanese)

When the sun goes through the trees and the leaves filter the light.

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8. Fernweh (German)

When you are homesick for somewhere you’ve never been.

9. Meraki (Greek)

To do something with love or soul, or equivalently, to put something of yourself into your work.

25 Incredible Foreign Words You Have to Know

10. La douleur exquise (French)

A pain felt only when you crave affection from someone you know you can never have.

11. Zhaghzhagh (Farsi)

The chattering of teeth from either anger or the cold.

12. Slampadato (Italian)

A word made only for those who are addicted to tanning salons.

25 Incredible Foreign Words You Have to Know

13. Resfeber (Swedish)

When your heart races before the beginning of a trip, when anxiety sets in.

25 Incredible Foreign Words You Have to Know

14. Nefelibata (Portuguese)

A cloud-walker, someone who lives in their own dreams and not in conventional society.

15. Wabi-sabi (Japanese)

Often described as a beauty that is imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete.

16. Saudade (Portuguese)

A nostalgic state of longing for something or someone absent.

17. Seigneur des terrasses (French)

A word that describes those who stay at a coffee shop for a long time but spend little money.

18. Solivagant (Latin)

To wander alone in solitude around the world.

19. Metanoia (Greek)

To change one’s way of life in normally a transformational way.

20. Schwellenangst (German)

The fear of beginning a new chapter.

21. Hygge (Danish)

The warm feeling you have when enjoying great company.

25 Incredible Foreign Words You Have to Know

22. Vagary (Latin)

A whimsical journey.

23. Yoko meshi (Japanese)

The stress of speaking a foreign language.

24. Livsnjutare (Swedish)

Someone who enjoys life and lives life to the extreme.

25. Le Pays de Cocagne (French)

A place that is imaginary based on luxury and idleness.

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25 Incredible Foreign Words You Have to Know

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Xx,
Jessica

20 Comments

  1. This is a great post. Thank you! Komorebi is poetic and inspiring.

    Btw, Nefelibata is Portuguese.

  2. 🙂 That was a very charming list. I appreciate having read it.

  3. Love this list! I knew many of the words, but not others. I especially love “komorebi.”

  4. Love these words! And agree about the Swedish, those are good ones. Another Swedish favorite of my [American] husband is snörök – it describes the snow swirling around when you drive on a snow covered road.

  5. Here’s one more too add: pena ajena – Spanish – the feeling you get when you’re embarrassed on somebody else’s behalf 🙂

  6. Thank you for sharing! this post is a proof, that every language has his own beauty… ❤️ my fav is #3 😊

    • Jessica Wright Reply

      Your welcome! Every language is so beautiful!

  7. OK, I don’t mean to spam this with comments, but I read through the list again, and isn’t it funny how the words somehow go with each culture? Like #10 La douleur exquise, that is SO French!

    • Jessica Wright Reply

      It’s so true! Each word is very close to it’s culture!!

  8. I love foreign languages… I keep meaning to sign up for a Mandarin class but then I think about driving to the university in the snow after work and lose all my motivation!

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