Words we need in English

Words we need in English

Posted by Clare Dodd Picture of Clare Dodd on 18 July 2013

As a writer, I inevitably enjoy the specificity of language. I can still remember the etymological discovery that 'fabula' is the Latin word for story, and what a very particular word 'fabulous' is as a result.

Despite the wonder of the English language, however, there are still some words that we simply don't have. So, here are some international wonders that express something beautifully in a single word, and which the English can only utter in an inelegant attempt at translation:

  • Cwtch. This Welsh word means hug or snuggle, but a lot more besides. It also means a safe place, it's an intimate and protective hug, and in 2007 it was voted the favourite word of the Welsh.

  • Gezellig. A Dutch word meaning homely, cosy, friendly, warm, comfortable and familiar, amongst other things. (The noun is gezelligheid.)

  • Kummerspeck. A personal favourite, this German word literally translates as 'grief bacon', meaning the excess weight gained from emotional overeating.

  • Desenrascanco. Sometimes I feel like I'm living by this Portuguese word meaning the improvisation of a haphazard but effective solution or plan at the last minute.

  • Tsundoku. The act of leaving a book unread after buying it. It seems the Japanese are a lot more honest about such things than us unexpressive (but equally guilty) Brits.

  • Tsujigiri. Ok, the Japanese can keep this one, meaning to test a new sword casually on a passerby. You know, as you do.

  • Iktsuarpok. An Inuit word encapsulating 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. Brilliant.

  • Slampadato. I can't quite believe that the Italians have actually come up with a word for someone who is addicted to the UV glow of tanning salons. Is there that much of a need for it?

Why not try adding one of these to your latest blog post, social media or, hell, press release? (Try to offer a definition, though!)

And if you're struggling to express how you feel about all these lovely words, you might want to have a look at Pei-Yin Ling's infographic of 19 emotions, which English has no words for.

Hat tip to Mental Floss and BuzzFeed for a few of these.New call-to-action