6 Feelings We Have no English Words For

Untranslatable Words in Languages other than English, v.s. Parrott's Classification   by   Pei-Ying Lin   

Untranslatable Words in Languages other than English, v.s. Parrott's Classification by Pei-Ying Lin 

It's estimated that we have 3,000 words to describe emotional states in the English language. Yet there are some very familiar feelings that we just don't have a word for - often those more abstract ones which leave us a bit tongue-tied.  Here are my 6 favourites...

  1. Hygge.  A Danish word articulating the complete absence of anything annoying, irritating or emotionally overwhelming.  And the presence of and pleasure from comforting, gentle and soothing things.  My favourite feeling of all, the nearest we have is 'cosy'
  2. Torschlusspanik.  A german word literally meaning ‘gate-closing panic’  but contextually meaning the panic of diminishing opportunities with age.  Increasingly familiar.
  3. Sehnsucht.  A German word expressing an inconsolable longing, a search for happiness while coping with the reality of unattainable wishes.  A feeling about what is unfinished and imperfect paired with a yearning for an ideal alternative.  We say it in 4 words: The grass is greener.
  4. Tocka.  A Russian word to describe that painful feeling of great anguish with no specific cause.  That's a middle of the night one.
  5. Tartle.  A Scottish word describing the panicky hesitation just before you have to introduce someone whose name you can't remember. We've all been there.
  6. Boketto.  A Japanese word to describe the act of gazing vacantly into the distance without thinking. Bliss.

It's unlikely that you'll find a way to drop these words into conversation, and no-one but a native speaker would understand anyway.  But its not a bad talking point, and when the other person undoubtedly says 'me too' you'll get that good feeling we call 'connected'.

And any ideas for English equivalents of the above let me know...  


Alice HaddonFeelingsComment