12 Awesome Foreign Words We Need In English



While we do have some great English words; the language is one of the most comprehensive, after all. But, after you read about these foreign words, you’ll see just how limited English is. Surely there are times you’re trying to explain a situation, or find yourself at a loss for words while expressing yourself. Check out these words below and see just how awesome it would be to have some of these to choose from!

Age-Otori (Japan)

If you’ve just visited the hair salon and then meet up with your friends for lunch, and they say “age-otori” when you see them, it is not a compliment. Age-otori means one who looks worse after a haircut. Unfortunately, you’ve probably been in the wrong salon chair at the wrong time and know all too well how this feels.

Kummerspeck (German)

Ever been dumped and sat home and cried with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s on a Saturday night? Then repeated for a few months and woke up carrying around an extra 10 pounds? Then you’ve had kummerspeck, which literally translates as ‘bacon grief’, the weight gained from emotional eating. Ha!

Pelinti (Buli, Ghana)

Have you ever accidentally taken a bite of scorching hot food, yelped, then viciously bounced the food around your mouth to keep from burning yourself while it cooled? If so, then you’ve experienced ‘pelinti’, a word the Ghanians from Buli use to describe just that!

Tsundoku (Japanese)

There is a name for your bookshelf of unread good intentions. Tsundoku is just that: the act of leaving a book unread after buying it. But hey, the good news is that at least your bookshelf makes you look smart!

Cavoli Riscaldati (Italian)

Have you ever had that talk with someone about your relationship because you’ve tried again, and again, and again to make it work, but it just won’t? Well the Italians have a brilliant word to describe this: cavoli riscaldati, which literally means ‘reheated cabbage’ and the result of trying to make an unworkable relationship work. So hey, sometimes we have to quit reheating the cabbage and just move on.

Spirit d’ Escalier (French)

You know that moment when you’ve been in a confrontation with someone, then left the conversation when suddenly you think of a bunch of things you ‘wished you would have said’? Well in France, they have a word for it: spirit d’escalier, which literally means ‘the wit of the staircase’, or the moment you realize what you could have said but it’s too late.

Tartle (Scottish)

Ever walked up to someone you’ve met previously and realized you don’t remember their name? The Scottish have a name for that embarrassing moment: tartle.

Shemomedjamo (Georgian)

You’ve probably experienced shemomedjamo, which is a Georgian word that literally translates as “I ate the whole thing.” This is the moment when you’re full, but you keep stuffing your face past the point of no return. In other words, you eat for taste and not for need.

Pena Ajena (Mexican Spanish)

If you’ve ever watched reality TV, then you’ve experienced ‘pena ajena’. This brilliant word from Mexico is used to describe the embarrassing discomfort you feel when watching someone else embarrass or humiliate themselves.

Backpfeifengesicht (German)

Why-oh-why don’t we have this word in English. Backpfeifengesicht literally translates as ‘a face that wants to be slapped’ and surely you’re already thinking of the many people with backpfeifengesicht.

Tatemae and Honne (Japanese)

Thinking one thing and saying something else? Then you’re just being a ‘tatemae and honne’, which is what you pretend to think (tatemae) and what you actually think (honne). The closest think we have to it is the ‘little white lie’, but those could be told for many reasons, while tatemae and honne is specific to the feelings of the person telling the lie.

Sitzpinkler (German)

Well we do have the word ‘wimp’ in the English language, but isn’t ‘sitzpinkler’ so much better? Not just because of how it sounds, but also because its literal translation is ‘a man who sits to pee’. Awesome.