I was so happy to discover this community! I discovered my interest in untranslatable words when I visited Germany and learned about German's abundance of beautiful compound words
, and since then I've been asking non-English speakers I meet to share words or phrases that there are no English equivalents for. Here's my list, apologies for the poor formatting and possible duplicates!
🇩🇪 German 🇩🇪
Zielwasser - “water that helps you aim” = alcohol
Egal wie dicht du bist, Goethe var dichter - “no matter how drunk you are, Goethe was drunkea poet”
Das leben ist kein ponyhof - “life is not a pony ride” - life’s not easy
Innerer Schweinehund - the devil on your shoulder
Arschgeige - “ass violin” - a heavy insult
“Ich fress einen Besen” - “I will devour a broom” - I am surprised
Erker - oriel/bay window
Zwei Fliegen mit einer Klatsche - “two flies with one flyswatter” the equivalent of two birds with one stone
Treulose Tomate - “faithless tomato” a person who is bad at keeping appointments
Lebensabschnittsgefährte - “life section partner” - a romantic connection who is just for a certain period of your life
Achtsamkeit - mindfulness
Verdauungsspaziergang - “digestion walk” a walk to help you digest
Schnappsidee - an idea that sounds great when you’re drunk
Sitzfleisch (sitting meat) - a character trait of endurance and fortitude
Treppenwitz (stairs joke) - the smart line or comeback that appears to you after the conversation is over
Lebensmüde (life tired) - a very strong gloomy feeling that nothing will ever work out, an occasional longing to give up on existence
Mumpitz - a nice way of saying bullshit (old fashioned way of saying it)
Nachäffen — the mocking tone you use to make fun of something someone says
Hoch die Hände, Wochenende! - “hold your hands up, it’s the weekend” - work’s done, time to have fun
Sturmfrei: “storm free” when you’re home alone and your parents are gone and you invite friends over
"Sticks to your heart" - you really like it
Feierabend — “celebratory evening” when you finish work
Durch die Blume sagen - "saying it through the flower" saying something in a polite and friendly and inoffensive way so as not to hurt someone's feeling
Tüddeln - the way you play with a young child or animal, "who's a good boy"
Necken - a playful, flirty teasing
Moin moin (Hamburg) - "hi"
Trostpflaster - "consoling plaster," someone or something that's used for comforting
Knarzig - the sound of creaking wood
Du gehst mir tierisch auf den Keks - you go me animally on the cookie
Quasselstrippe - "chatting cord" someone who is talking and taking, can't stop chatting
Toleranzschwelle - a certain limit that you have
Laub - pile of leaves
Hemmschwelle - "hemm" is something that holds you back; the level of freedom of action you feel (often used negative; like a drunk person)
"I threw an eye at X" -- I like X/want to have X
Torschlusspanik - "gate closing panic;" the claustrophobic fear of an opportunity or option shutting down; you have missed the boat, you are getting old.
"Raisin shitter"= someone anal retentive (in Danish: "fly fucker")
"Sweating blood and water"= German way of saying sweating bullets
Heimat - home, your origins, where you feel safe
"You shouldn't eat cherries with this person" means he's not a good person to get along with
"Bumblebees in your butt" = being restless
"Pack me in cotton/velvet"=treat me carefully
Scherzkeks"You joke cookie!"= a joker, someone silly
"The cook is in love"=say this when a dish is too salty
"Got up with the wrong foot"= got up on the wrong side of bed
-chen: suffix that means little and cute; e.g babies have händchen, not hands (if there's and "a" you change it to "ä")
Pendel: the German word for pendulum; someone who commutes to and from work/school
Entschleunigung: the act of slowing down, relaxing, taking your time
Fernweh - "far away hurt/pain"
Erklärungsnot- "explanation distress" not being able to explain
Futterneid- "food envy"
“I think my pig whistles” - I can’t believe it
Ich weiß nicht wo mir der Kopf steht- I don’t know where me the head stands (being stressed/ overwhelmed)
Luftschloss- "air castle"; an unattainable dream, a white whale, a chimera, gatsbys green light
Winterschlaf: stores at summer resorts close during winter, go into "wintersleep"
"It's not the yellow in the egg:" it's not perfect
Vorfreude — when you know there’s an event that you like; when you’re excited for a trip
"That is me sausage" - I don't care
"Ordnungszwang" - orderly duty; the duty to be orderly
Rheinische Frohnatur — Rhein cheerfulness
"I would steal horses with this person" this person is trustworthy and loyal
Now you have the salad - now you've fucked it up
Now you see how the bunny runs - here, now you understand this
I have everything on my umbrella/parasol - I have my shit together
When two are arguing, the third wins
"What you can't see isn't making you hot (angry)"
(Swiss German): Angst bz"fear pee"
"Fusspils" - "foot beer," a pun on the German word for athlete's foot
"Schadenfreude" - when you enjoy someone else's suffering
"Do you live behind the moon?" -- German equivalent of under a rock
Fremdschämen: "foreign embarrassed" being embarrassed for someone else.
Schwamm drüber - "put a sponge on it" = forget about it, no big deal
This makes you so fast nobody after -- a hard act to follow
No one can reach me the water -- no one can match me
Da wird ja der Hund in der Pfanne verrückt — That’s outrageous
Hast du Tomaten auf den Augen? — Are you blind?
Sehnsucht — longing
Griabig (Bavarian) - a situation where you are comfortable
Selbstaufgabe — self-surrender
Na schnitte, bist du schon belegt - (pick-up line) hey sandwich (also: hot chick), do you have a topping?
Na, Praline, bist du schon gefüllt? - (pick-up line) Hey praline, do you have a filling?
Ich habe eine Hosenschlange!
Hey Kirsche, hier Kern.
Hast du Schwein gehabt Oder hast du ein schwein gehabt? - do you have luck or do you have a pig?
Grün hinter den ohren - “green behind the ears” - young and naive
(Zurich) Diä würi nöd vodä bettkantä stossä = I wouldn't push her off of my bed edge
Chuchichäschtli = kitchen cabinet
Läck mer am tschööpli = "lick my jacket" = fuck off
Jetzt Weiss ich wo de Bartli de Moscht holt = "now I know where the bearded man gets his apple juice from" = now I understand
Etz ischs füfi abägheit= "now the 5 rappen fell down" = now I understand
Blas mer is schuäh = blow me in the shoes = fuck off
Borrás: the dress of a coffee or tea cup; the last bit of liquid with the coffee grounds or tea leaves
🇸🇪 Swedish: 🇸🇪
Skällde ut/på mig- ”barked at me” - to chew someone out
Sumpan: the leftovers of a coffee cup, the dregs
(Skåne) Rama - verb; the act of having someone ride on the back of your bike. “Rama mig!”
Hockeyfrilla - hockey mullet
Vettit: “that makes sense.” Adjective form: vettiga
Ute och cyklar - “out biking” - making no sense, way off the mark, not understanding
Fubbick - “idiot” in Skånska
Ditt jävla ålahuvud - ”Your fucking eel head” in Skånska
Skräckblandad förtjusning - “delighted panic” - you’re terrified, but you’re also excited for it.
Arbetsskadad - ”Work hurt” - you carry your work life into your personal life
Rubban och stubban - the works (like for ordering a sandwich)
Husmor - a sturdy woman who cooks for her family or the whole village
Vända kappen efter vinden: att man ändrar åsikt och viljor utefter hur andra tänker och beter sig
Vemod: like a light depression, melancholy but not devastating; something you can live, an undertone. Gloominess; when summer ends and autumn begins.
"Snuskhummer" = naughty lobster; someone dirty, a pervert
"Palla" - like "orkar inte"; a kinda rude way to say you have no interest in doing something
"Raka puckar" - straight shooting, no messing around
"Smultron stället" - literally "small wild strawberry place"; means something more like "my own little slice of heaven"
"Fina fisken": "fine fish"; everything's good. First swedish astronaut on ISS said it
"Mycket vill har mer" - much wants more; hedonistic treadmill
”Ingen ko på isen” - no Cow on the ice - don’t worry, it’s not super important
Rund om/under fötterna - round under the feet - tipsy
Mångatan - the moon street when the moon is setting and leaves a little reflection on the water
Hinner inte: (verb) want to but don't have time to
Salongsberusad - the perfect level of drunk "jag är salongsberusad"
"Slide in on a banana peel" -- something happening randomly
Tjena pudding, står du här och dallrar? — hey pudding, are you standing here wobbling?
Kattelåda - literally a cat litter box; figuratively means “chaotic”
Blodad tand - “bloody tooth”, used as “I got a bloody tooth for this.” When you do something once and take a liking to it.
🇫🇮 Finnish: 🇫🇮
"There will be neither children nor shits" - when you're trying hard and can't accomplish something
"Morkkis" - moral hangover
"Raining out of Esther's ass" = raining a lot
Kalsarikännit - drinking beer in your underwear
Pussikaljat - bag beer
"Ti voglio bene:" (something like) I wish you happiness, I care about you
"If you're unlucky in games you're lucky in love"
"You should drink coffee sour like life" - il caffè si beve amaro, come la vita
"Swedes are cold like their country" - gli svedesi sono freddi come il loro paese
"I'm shitting in my hand" - when you are really scared
-- "the shit is kissing my pants" - Italian equivalent of "prairie doggin' it"
"You are lost in a water glass" = you are having trouble doing something simple
(More of an observation of interesting syntax): "how the hell I'm supposed to know?"
-- "Amaro come la vita" - bitter like life
🇵🇹 Portuguese 🇵🇹
"Saudade" - to long/miss something, nostalgia
"Tira o cavalinho da chuva" - when someone is too cocky about something"
"Pjusk" - running your hands over someone; not super intimate, just friendly; "pjusk meg"
"I'm not here to put boots on caterpillars" -- don't beat around the bush
"Nanar" - a movie that's so bad it's still fun to watch with friends ("navet" is a movie that's so bad it's not even fun to watch with friends)
"Chambrer" - when you're comfortable enough with someone that you can tease them in a friendly way
"Je pense donc [sp?] je suis" - I think, therefore I am
Struck by lightning - an instant attraction to someone
"Lendamain" - day after tomorrow
Phonetic: "sal tan pour le go" which means "it's a bad time for fat people", which you say when it's really hot out
"Tarab" - a kind of pleasure associated with food, music, and sex
"Na'ameen" - what you say when someone just got a haircut or took a shower and is looking fresh
Gezellig - coziness
Lekkerding - "tasty thing"
Mierenneuker "Ant fucker" - a nitpicker
Flikker op - “fuck off”
Epibreren - fake working
Op een oude fiets moet je het leren — “You have to learn it on an old bike” — you should date an old woman
Schatje in elk stadje - Sweetheart in every city
Wil je mijn schatje worden in dit stadje? - Do you want to be my honey from this city?
“A cookie from your own dough” - a taste of your own medicine
“I see it through the fingers” - I’ll let it slide/turn a blind eye
“It’s always the same song” - it’s always the same thing
“It’s raining steel pipes” - it’s raining cats and dogs
“I fell with the door in the house” - I barged in
“There’s nothing in the hand” - everything’s fine
“Making an elephant out of a mosquito” - a mountain out of a molehill
🇯🇵 Japanese: 🇯🇵
Tsondoku - the act of buying books you don’t end up reading
Amae - comfort in another person’s complete acceptance; belonging
🇿🇦 South Africa (Xhosa) 🇿🇦
Kwetsa - the burn you feel from ginger