there are a quarter of a million words in the oxford english dictionary. but there are some things that not even words can describe, or at least not in english in anyway. here’s just a few:

mamihlapinatapei – yagan (indigenous language of tierra del fuego) – “the wordless, yet meaningful look shared by two people who both desire to initiate something but are both reluctant to start.”

tartle – scottish – the act of hestitating while introducing someone because you’ve forgotten their name.

cafunébrazilian portuguese – “the act of tenderly running one’s fingers through someone’s hair.”

torschlusspanikgerman – translated literally, this word means “gate-closing panic,” but its contextual meaning refers to “the fear of diminishing opportunities as one ages.”

hyggeligdanish – its “literal” translation into english gives connotations of a warm, friendly, cozy demeanor, but it’s unlikely that these words truly capture the essence of a hyggelig; it’s likely something that must be experienced to be known.

wabi-sabijapanese – much has been written on this japanese concept, but in a sentence, you might be able to understand it as “a way of living that focuses on finding beauty within the imperfections of life and accepting peacefully the natural cycle of growth.

saudade – portuguese – one of the most beautiful of all words, translatable or not, this word “refers to the feeling of longing for something or someone that you love and which is lost.” fado music, a type of mournful singing, relates to saudade.



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