Skip to content

10 Words that Cannot be Easily Translated into English –

September 25, 2010

This post was taken from the website,  I’ve copied it on here because their web pages are full of adverts and flashing images!


We all love words – that is why we are here reading listverse. This list looks at some special words that are not from English and, furthermore, are untranslatable to English. These are words which have, for the most part, not become loan words, but describe concepts we generally understand in English, but need many more words to convey.

10 – Esprit d’Escalier


This is our warmup item as it has appeared on a previous list. Esprit d’Escalier (literally the spirit of the staircase) is that witty comeback that you think of moments after leaving the situation in which you might have been able to use it. The staircase is a reference to your departure from the scene. This is a dreadful thing to experience, and most of the time we don’t get a chance to say the clever thing we come up with. Now, someone just needs to coin a term for the person who is so clever that he always says the right thing, without fail.

9 – Hygge

Bliss Scenery, Mountain Lake

Hygge is something we all want all the time – but seldom have. It is a Danish word meaning a “complete absence of anything annoying, irritating or emotionally overwhelming, and the presence of and pleasure from comforting, gentle and soothing things”. It is especially associated with Christmas time, grilling Danish sausage on long summer evenings and sitting around lit candles on a rainy night. What an amazing word.

8 – Kyoikumama

Japanese Schoolchildren

No doubt we are all familiar with the stereotype of Japanese mothers who push their children far too hard when it comes to schoolwork. Well, so have the Japanese; they even have a word for it: kyoikumama. Literally translated this means “education mother”. Kuoikumama can be seen in many Japanese movies, literature and, despite western nations having similar parents these days, it does not have a word exactly like it in English.

Continue reading at »–›


Do you know any words in Korean that can’t be translated directly or easily into English? I’ve heard a few but I can’t remember what they are…

If you like looking at lists, why not check the full extent of this website’s work at

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: