32 Words for Positive Phenomena That Don’t Have an English Equivalent

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English isn’t always the most expressive language in the world. For instance, we don’t have a one-word term for the weight you gain from emotional eating, as German does. Nor do we have a word to describe that super awkward moment when you go to introduce someone whose name you don’t actually remember, as the Scots language does. While English speakers may be most familiar with those super expressive German terms for cynical feelings like schadenfreude, English is missing out on plenty of words to describe the wonderful aspects of life, too.

In the Journal of Positive Psychology, University of East London psychologist Tim Lomas catalogues untranslatable terms to describe feelings or states of well-being. Lomas undertook the project in order to correct for the often Western-centric nature of positive psychology research by providing terms from all over the world for positive emotions. He searched through blogs on untranslatable words, Googled for concepts of well-being specific to different languages, and crowd-sourced from his friends and colleagues to come up with an extensive (if non-comprehensive) set of terms from all over the world.

Lomas has an ongoing list of these words on his website, which you can view by alphabetical order, by theme, or by language of origin. We sifted through four of Lomas' theme-based categories for the words that make us most jealous of foreign language speakers. Here are 32 of the fascinating, useful terms he’s collected, with his definitions of their approximate meaning in English.

WORDS FOR PARTYING

1. Desbundar (Portuguese): "shedding one’s inhibitions in having fun."

2. Feestvarken (Dutch): "party pig, i.e., someone in whose honor a party is thrown."

3. Feierabend (German): "festive mood at the end of a working day."

4. Mbuki-mvuki (Bantu): "to shed clothes to dance uninhibited."

5. Ramé (Balinese): "something at once chaotic and joyful."

6. Sobremesa (Spanish): "when the food has finished but the conversation is still flowing."

7. Sólarfrí (Icelandic) (noun): "sun holiday, i.e., when workers are granted unexpected time off to enjoy a particularly sunny/warm day."

8. Utepils (Norwegian): "drinking beer outside on a hot day."

WORDS TO DESCRIBE COZY FEELINGS

9. Cwtch (Welsh): "to hug, a safe welcoming place."

10. Geborgenheit (German): "feeling protected and safe from harm."

11. Peiskos (Norwegian): "sitting in front of a crackling fireplace enjoying the warmth."

WORDS OF APPRECIATION

12. Fjellvant (Norwegian) (adj.): "being accustomed to walk in the mountains."

13. Gökotta (Swedish): "waking up early to hear the first birds sing."

14. Gula (Spanish): "the desire to eat simply for the taste."

15. Habseligkeiten (German): "blessed, precious belongings (as in one's most treasured possessions)."

16. Lehizdangef (להזדנגף) (Hebrew): "to stroll/promenade along Tel Aviv's Dizengoff (street), i.e., to have carefree fun."

17. Lekker (Dutch/Norwegian): "tasty (food), relaxed, comfortable, pleasurable, sexy."

18. Otsukaresama (お疲れ様) (Japanese): "gratitude or appreciation for others' hard work."

19. Sabsung (Thai): "being revitalized through something that livens up one’s life."

20. Shemomedjamo (Georgian): "eating past the point of satiety due to sheer enjoyment."

21. Shinrin-yoku (森林浴) (Japanese): "'bathing' in the forest (literally and/or metaphorically)."

22. Tyvsmake (Norwegian) (verb): "to taste or eat small pieces of the food when you think nobody is watching, especially when cooking."

23. Uitwaaien (Dutch): "walking in the wind for fun or exercise."

24. Ullassa (उल्लास) (Sanskrit): "feelings of pleasantness associated with natural beauty."

WORDS OF AFFECTION

25. Cafune (Portuguese): "tenderly running one’s fingers through a loved one’s hair."

26. Colo (Portuguese): "area of body formed by chest and arms, referring to embracing/comforting someone."

27. Famn (Swedish): "the area/space within two embracing arms."

28. Gigil (Tagalog): "the irresistible urge to pinch someone because they are loved or cherished."

29. Gjensynsglede (Norwegian) (noun): "the joy of meeting someone you haven't seen in a long time."

30. Kanyininpa (Pintupi): "intimate and active relationship between carer and caree."

31. Queesting (Dutch): "to allow a lover access to one’s bed for chitchat."

32. Retrouvailles (French): "the joy people feel after meeting loved ones again after a long time apart."

See the rest of the list here

[h/t BPS Research Digest]

Wayfair’s Fourth of July Clearance Sale Takes Up to 60 Percent Off Grills and Outdoor Furniture

Wayfair/Weber
Wayfair/Weber

This Fourth of July, Wayfair is making sure you can turn your backyard into an oasis while keeping your bank account intact with a clearance sale that features savings of up to 60 percent on essentials like chairs, hammocks, games, and grills. Take a look at some of the highlights below.

Outdoor Furniture

Brisbane bench from Wayfair
Brisbane/Wayfair

- Jericho 9-Foot Market Umbrella $92 (Save 15 percent)
- Woodstock Patio Chairs (Set of Two) $310 (Save 54 percent)
- Brisbane Wooden Storage Bench $243 (Save 62 percent)
- Kordell Nine-Piece Rattan Sectional Seating Group with Cushions $1800 (Save 27 percent)
- Nelsonville 12-Piece Multiple Chairs Seating Group $1860 (Save 56 percent)
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Grills and Accessories

Dyna-Glo electric smoker.
Dyna-Glo/Wayfair

- Spirit® II E-310 Gas Grill $479 (Save 17 percent)
- Portable Three-Burner Propane Gas Grill $104 (Save 20 percent)
- Digital Bluetooth Electric Smoker $224 (Save 25 percent)
- Cuisinart Grilling Tool Set $38 (Save 5 percent)

Outdoor games

American flag cornhole game.
GoSports

- American Flag Cornhole Board $57 (Save 19 percent)
- Giant Four in a Row Game $30 (Save 6 percent)
- Giant Jenga Game $119 (Save 30 percent)

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

10 Words With Difficult-to-Remember Meanings

Can you keep the definitions of these words straight?
Can you keep the definitions of these words straight?
Satenik_Guzhanina/iStock via Getty Images Plus

Sometimes there are words that you've seen, read, and maybe even used in conversation whose meaning you can never keep straight. Even after looking it up, the right definition doesn't stick. From our friends at Vocabulary.com, here are 10 words with definitions that can be difficult to remember. Some look like they have a negative element in them, but either because their positive counterpoint has fallen out of use or because it never existed in the first place, the word doesn't really have a negative sense. Other words below are often confused for their opposite or have come to have connotations not quite reflected in their dictionary definitions.

1. Nonplussed

The Definition: “Filled with bewilderment”

If it looks like there's a negative at the beginning of this word, it's because etymologically speaking, there is—it's from Latin non plus, "no more, no further." Still, there is no word plussed, and that can get confusing.

2. Inchoate

The Definition: “Only partly in existence; imperfectly formed”

It may look like the in- at the start of this word would be the same as the one at the start of words like incomplete or inadequate. Although that may be a good way to remember it, the first letters of this word are not a negative. The word comes from Latin inchoare, which meant "to begin." Inchoate things are often just beginning.

3. and 4. Cachet and Panache

The Definitions: “an indication of approved or superior status”; “distinctive and stylish elegance,” respectively

Shades of meaning between cachet and panache are often confused. Cachet is more about prestige, and panache is more about style. Having high tea at Buckingham Palace can have a lot of cachet in your social circle, but the genteel way you sip your tea can have a lot of panache.

5. Indefatigable

The Definition: “Showing sustained enthusiastic action with unflagging vitality”

In Latin, it was possible to defatigare, or "to tire out," but only the negative version prefixed with in- survived the journey into English (via French). Indefatigable is a word you almost have to say quickly, and if you get through all those syllables, it's almost as if you've proven the definition: It takes "unflagging vitality" to reach the end.

6. Uncanny

The Definition: “Surpassing the ordinary or normal”

The word canny is rare but not unknown as a word that means "cunning" or "sly." The only problem is that that's not the meaning of canny contained in uncanny. Canny used to mean "knowing and careful," and therefore uncanny meant "mischievous," coming to refer to supernatural spirits who toyed with mortals. Comic book fans have a huge head start with this word, having grown up with the Uncanny X-Men, who all have supernatural powers.

7. Unabashed

The Definition: “Not embarrassed”

This word is one where the positive version did exist but has fallen out of use. Abash meant "perplex, embarrass, lose one's composure" in the late 14th and early 15th centuries, so unabashed means "not embarrassed."

8. Dilatory

The Definition: “Wasting time”

This word is confusing because it sounds like it's potentially related to words like dilate or even depilatory. It's not related to either of those words, but luckily there are ways to remember what dilatory actually means—the word almost sounds like delay or dilly dally, both of which relate to the word's definition.

9. Martinet

The Definition: “Someone who demands exact conformity to rules and forms”

This word looks and sounds like marionette, the stringed puppet, which is a pitfall to avoid, because it can lead you to believe that martinet means the exact opposite of what it actually means. A martinet has some power, and no one is pulling their strings.

10. Hoi Polloi

The Definition: “The common people generally”

This is confusing because it's an obscure word for the common folk, and sometimes it's hard to keep straight whether the upper or lower crust is being discussed. Hoi polloi literally means "the many," with polloi being the plural of the well-known Greek prefix poly.

To see more words with difficult-to-remember meanings, and to add them to your vocabulary-learning program, see the full list at Vocabulary.com.