Untranslatable words


Hi Spaneasiers! As language learners you have probably experienced interpreting or translation problems. The meaning of many words gets lost in translation, because words don’t always have an exact counterpart in other languages. In Spaneasy, we find this topic very interesting, so we want to share it with you, since you are probably interested in other languages as well as Spanish.  These are some of the untranslatable terms and expressions we have found:


Cheiro no cangote

MEANING: It literally means “smell in the neck”, but what this expression really refers to is running the nose over someone else’s neck as a caress. Lovely, isn’t it?

LANGUAGE: Portuguese.



MEANING: It refers to the feeling of euphoria when someone starts falling in love. The Spanish equivalent could be “tener mariposas en el estómago”.

LANGUAGE: Norwegian and Danish.



MEANING: Lack of appetite when someone falls in love.



L’esprit de l’escalier

MEANING: This word defines the moment when someone comes up with the perfect answer but it is already too late to answer. Has this happened to you?

LANGUAGE: Yes, it is French.



MEANING: Danish people use this term all the time to refer to a cozy and warm atmosphere. In order to really understand this word, you have to feel it!

LANGUAGE: Danish, but it is also used in Norwegian although it has a different nuance.


Wabi-sabi 侘・寂

MEANING: Beauty in imperfections. It is more than a word, it is actually a philosophy.

LANGUAGE: obviously Japanese.



MEANING: It refers to the act of tenderly running through loved one’s hair. Again it is another type of caress.

LANGUAGE: Portuguese (as could not be otherwise).


There are many other terms we wished existed in our mother tongue, but we will probably keep them for another post. If you enjoyed today’s post, take at look at 5 Curiosities of the Spanish Language.

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