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Words For Feelings We Don’t Have In English

Human beings a rainbow of emotions that we all may feel at some time or another. Despite that fact, many languages have their own special words for certain feelings. English, one of the most widely used languages on Earth, tends to have trouble describing many of these feelings.

Here is a list of word for which there is no English equivalent:

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1. L’appel du vide

If the name does not give it away, the origins of this word are French. Considered a ‘primal feeling’ by some, it is suggested as the driving force behind anyone courageous enough to climb a mountain, look over a bridge, or stand with your toes past the edge of a balcony.

In English, one would refer to it as “the call of the void.” This is probably a feeling the stuntman Even Keneval felt whenever he mounted up on his motorcycle.

2. Backpfeifengesicht

From German, the word is likely felt by millions upon millions of people about others. “Backpfeifengesicht” actually translates to “a punchable face.” Oh, the German language has such a way with words that English simply lacks the nuances to compare to.

You might have felt like this about a sibling, cousin, politician, or actor.

What a person said to you once may have put you off enough to feel they had a punchable face.

3. Boketto

This word hails from Japan and is “the act of staring at nothing without thinking of anything.” Some might confuse this with daydreaming, but it is actually no the same thing. When you daydream, there are many thoughts running through your head.

Another way to describe Boketto would be “lights are on, but nobody’s home,” meaning they’ve ‘checked out’ temporarily.

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4. Cafune

Cafune is a Portuguese word spoken in the Brazilian dialect of the language. There is an emotion behind the word that English cannot describe. Alone, the word would describe running fingers through someone’s hair.

Have you ever given your partner a kiss that warmed you in body and soul? That feeling when your significant gives you that smile you like or tells you a story with a simple touch to your neck? Cafune.

5. Iktsuarpok

From the Inuit language spoken by the Indigenous people of Alaska, this word describes “the feeling of anticipation you get when expecting someone, and you keep going outside to check to see if they’ve arrived.”

Have you ever agreed to meet someone at a place and checked the sidewalk every 2 minutes until they arrived? Iktsuarpok is what you are experiencing.

6. Inshallah

This is a word of Arabic origin and if you looked it up would be translated as “if God wills.” Because Arabic is a tonal language, the tone you say the word in changes what it means. Imagine a region that hasn’t had water in months and the residents saying, “The rain will come, Inshallah.

If you just had a night out with your friend and expect to see them the next day, you can say “I’ll see you tomorrow, Inshallah.”

7. Jayus

We all have a friend that has trouble with jokes. They make an effort to be humorous, but typically ruin the punch line well before they’ve gotten to the end of the joke. Perhaps you end up laughing, but not at the joke they told. You are laughing at how ridiculous things became, thanks to the terrible joke.

“Jayus” is an Indonesian word used to describe such a joke.

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8. Kummerspeck

Another word hailing from Germany, the literal translation of the word is “grief bacon.” Many of us cope with our feelings by eating food. Did your boyfriend or girlfriend just break up with you? You find something to eat and focus more on how good it tastes than how you’re feeling. Eventually, you come to a point where you gain weight you never intended to.

The weight gained from this type of overeating is referred to as Kummerspeck

9. Greng-jai

This word comes to use from the Thai language, and I’m sure I have experienced this feeling numerous times. If you have ever felt like the person going out of their way to help you felt like it was a hassle, Greng-jai described that uneasy feeling.

10. Pena Ajena

This is Spanish word I’m surprised I didn’t know, considering it is my first language. Pena Ajena refers to when you see someone experience an embarrassment and are simultaneously embarrassed for them.

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