The Language of Love

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Here are some great foreign words about love and relationships that the English language lacks.

  • Ya’arburnee (Arabic)
    Translation: may you bury me. The wish that you will die before someone you love deeply, because you cannot bear to live without them. 
  • Koi No Yokan (Japanese)
    The intuition upon first meeting somone that you are going to fall in love with each other.
  • Hygge (Danish)
    The pleasant, genial, and intimate feeling associated with sitting around a fire in the winter with good friends.
  • Gigil (Filipino)
    The urge to pinch/squeeze/kiss/hug something that is irresistibly adorable. Like a puppy. Or a Prada handbag.
  • Cafune (Brazilian Portuguese)
    Tenderly running your fingers through your lover’s hair. Semi-eww.
  • Mamihlapinatapai (Yaghan)
    A wistful look between two people, when both are wishing that the other would do something that they both want, but neither want to do. Most often seen right before the two lead characters kiss for the first time in every rom-com ever made.

For the less happy times:

  • Kummerspeck (German)
    Translation: grief bacon. Excess weight gained from emotional overeating. My favorite word from this list!
  • Backpfeifengesicht (German)
    A face badly in need of a fist, i.e. someone who really needs to be punched. Now.
  • Layogenic (Tagalog)
    Something that looks good from a distance, but not up close. As Spouse once said of someone who worked at the end of his assembly line during a college-era summer job in a factory, “She looked good from far, but she was far from good.” Ouch.
  • L’esprit de l’escalier (French)
    Translation: stairwell wit. The perfect comeback or retort thought of only after you’ve left.
  • Litost (Czech)
    A little difficult to describe, but this is a state of torment created by the sudden realization of one’s own misery.
  • Cavoli Riscaldati (Italian)
    Translation: reheated cabbage. Trying to resuscitate an unworkable relationship.

Like what you see? Consider checking out this book of German words describing the human condition by Ben Schott:


(Schadenfreude – an Anglicized spelling – is one of my favorite words. Yes, this is further proof I am awful).

P.S. Thanks to this site and this one for helping me compile the list.

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