noun: that sleepy feeling you get after a big meal
Everyone has succumbed to drowsiness after a meal at one time or another, but only the Italians have enshrined the phenomenon in a single word. When you wish you could take a nap after lunch, you’re “having the abbiocco” (avere l’abbiocco).
noun: the ability to improvise a quick solution
Desenrascanço is the M.O. of any high-functioning procrastinator. Not only does it mean to solve a problem or complete a task, it means doing so with a completely improvised solution. TV’s MacGyverutilized this skill every time he averted disaster with nothing but a bent paper clip and a chewing gum wrapper.
adj: comfy, cozy; intimate; contented
Do you ever wish there was one word to combine everything snuggly, safe, friendly and caring? The Danes have you covered with hyggelig. The word is used so often in daily life that many Danes consider it part of the national character.
noun: after-lunch conversation around the table
The Spanish are known for enjoying long meals together, but eating isn’t just about food. When you stay at the table after lunch in order to savor a final course of stimulating conversation, you are indulging in sobremesa.
noun: a beer you drink outside
Norwegians must endure a long, dark winter before they can enjoy the brilliant, but brief, summer. So a beer that you can drink outside, while absorbing the sun’s glorious rays, is not just any old beer.
verb: to make something worse when trying to improve it
We’ve all done this before: by trying to fix a small problem we create a bigger problem. Perhaps you tried to repair a flat tire on your bike, and now the wheel won’t turn? Or after reinstalling Windows your laptop freezes every time you boot up? Oh no, don’t tell me you tried to fix that bad haircut yourself!
yakamoz (Turkish) and mångata (Swedish)
noun: the reflection of moonlight on water
No matter which language you speak, from time to time you probably admire the moon’s reflection on a body of water. But unless you’re Turkish or Swedish it’s impossible to describe this beauty with a single word. The Swedish mångata literally translates to “moon-road”, an aptly poetic description.
Turkish also has a very specific word, gümüşservi, but it’s not really used in everyday speech. It’s far more common to call the moon’s reflection on water yakamoz, which can be used to describe any kind of light reflecting on water, or even the sparkle of fish.
Can you think of any totally unique words from your native language? Share them with us and we’ll compile the best in our ongoing video series!