22 Untranslatable Words from Around the World That Convey Concepts You Need in Your Life Right Now

When English fails you, look to another language

Charlie Brown
6 min readJun 27, 2022

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Photo by Kenny Elshoff on Unsplash

When it comes to describing concepts in a single word, the English language is useless.

Think about “the day after tomorrow.” Could we not have thought of something…catchier?

Thankfully, us native English speakers are not afraid of stealing phrases from other languages and making them our own. Hygge is a good example, having entered the Oxford English dictionary in 2017.

But there are so, many more words out there with incredible meanings, some of which are relatively (or completely) unknown.

Expand your vocab (and ability to express yourself) with these 22 absolute bangers.

Food

Shemomechama (Georgian)

My favorite Georgian word and one I quickly learned when I lived there for 2 months earlier this year. Shemomenchama translates to that feeling when you’ve overeaten and you’re uncomfortably full but you can’t stop eating because everything is so delicious.

Georgia is well known for its incredibly long feasts called Supras, so it’s no surprise this word exists in their language.

There is even a restaurant in Tbilisi called Shemomenchama, and believe me, I felt the full brute force of the concept as I practically inhaled their homemade Khinkali (Georgian dumplings).

Utepils (Norweigan)

Ute means outdoor and pils refers to lager — Utepils literally means outdoor beers.

It’s that feeling of sitting in the sunshine, drinking a cold beer as you contemplate, people watch and feel generally pretty good about the world.

Abbioccio (Italian — Roman dialect)

In Rome, if you’ve entered a carb coma after eating, complete with drowsiness and an intense desire to lie down, you’re experiencing abbioccio.

It’s the after-dinner feeling, the snooze on the sofa after Christmas lunch, the slow, sleepy Sunday afternoons.

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Charlie Brown

Writer of opinions. Wine & food pro. Niche-avoidant. Also at thecapsulepantry.substack.com