Welcome to the weird and wonderful world of languages. If you’re keen on learning some cool-sounding, strange, funny, silly, and downright outrageously hard to pronounce words, you’re in the right place. We’ve rounded up some of the weirdest words in the world!
Did You Know
Here’s a quick fact about languages: they’re all shaped by geography, by people’s experience, and by culture. And for that reason, every region has its own unique set of idioms and memorable phrases.
Non-English phrases that sound like weird words to you have deep meaning for someone from another culture. Conversely, some English words sound utterly senseless to them.
Many foreign languages contain weird words describing complex actions or emotions, and they have no English language equivalents. Others are straight out of the English dictionary, but they remain largely unheard of.
Roundup of the Weirdest Words From Around the Globe!
Vladimir Nabokov said that no English word renders all the shades of the Russian word “toska,” and he was right. At its deepest, the term refers to a sensation of spiritual anguish. It can also refer to a dull headache of the soul, mental throes, or missing something you don’t even know. It can also be a feeling of nostalgia, lovesickness, and even boredom.
Jayus is an Indonesian word that is used when a joke is so badly told and so utterly unfunny that one has no other choice but to laugh.
This Czech word was pinned by Milan Kundera, author of The Unbearable Lightness of Being. It relates to a state of agony and torment created by the sudden realization of one’s own misery.
In Japanese, Kyoikymama refers to a mother that relentlessly pushed her children toward academic achievement.
In Scotland, Tarle refers to the act of hesitating while you’re introducing someone because you’ve actually forgotten their name.
In Southwest Congo, Ilunga (which is a word from the Tshiluba language) is one of the most famous untranslatable words. Most professional translators translate it as the stature of a person that’s ready to forgive and forget any kind of abuse, tolerate it once more, but who will never forgive or tolerate a third offense.
Wabi-Sabi is a Japanese phrase that roughly translated to a way of living that focuses on finding the beauty within life’s imperfections and peacefully accepting the natural cycle of decay and growth in life.
Schadenfreude is a German word that describes the feelings of pleasure one gets by seeing another’s misfortune. It’s a lot like “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” but Schadenfreude probably just didn’t have the same ring to it.
Hyggelig is a Danish word that translates to connotations of a warm, friendly, cozy demeanor, but that’s just when it’s literally translated. The true meaning of the word is something that just has to be experienced to be understood.
L’appel du vide
In French, this means “the call of the void”. Of course, that’s when it’s translated literally to English. But more specifically, the French use this phrase to describe the instinctive urge for jumping from high places.
Ya’aburnee is an Arabic word that’s both morbid and beautiful at the same time. It means “you bury me”. In Arabic, they use it as a declaration of hope that you’ll die before someone you love because it would be too difficult to live without them.
Originally used to describe a mythical entity that possesses humans and creates a feeling of awe in nature, this Spanish term’s meaning has morphed into something more that now refers to the mysterious power a work of art can have on a person.
Saudade is one of the most beautiful Portuguese words of all time. Whether it’s translatable or not, it describes the feeling of longing for something or someone that you love deeply. But you lost that thing or person. Bittersweet memories are all you have left.
You can’t translate this Greek word. But it describes a brave and proud young man. The word is actually a noun that they use to describe the characteristics of a fearless young man. The word emerged during the Greek War of Independence between 1821 and 1829. In those times, a παλικάρι (palikári) fought in a group led by a captain.
Cabotage is a fancy word for coastal navigation. It’s also the exclusive right of a country to control the air traffic within its borders. There’s an ongoing debate about the origins of the word. What we do know is that it was popularized in the mid-19th century. It’s probably also a conjugation of the French language word “caboter” (sail along a coast) and the Spanish language word “cabo” (cape, headland).
Gardyloo was used in medieval Edinburgh as a warning cry. Back then, it was customary to throw slops from the windows into the streets.
A valetudinarian is a sickly or weak person. It also describes someone that is morbidly concerned with his or her health.
This is a Yagan word, and Yagan is the indigenous language of the Tierra del Fuego. It’s beautiful and describes the feeling of butterflies in one word. The meaning? The wordless but meaningful look two people share when they both want to initiate something but are both reluctant to start.
Torschlusspanik is a word that belongs to the German language. When you translate it literally, it means “gate-closing panic”. Contextually, however, it refers to the fear of diminishing opportunities as one ages. We think it’s one of the weirdest words to describe a midlife crisis.
The world is home to many fascinating languages, each with its own set of intriguing phrases and idioms. We’ve shared some of the weirdest words and most captivating phrases from around the world with you so you can delve a little deeper into the magical world of linguistics.
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