Language lessons across the UK & Ireland

Call us! 0203 650 19 50 / +353 (0) 1 440 3978

The 13 Most Untranslatable Words – Voted by You!

Listen & Learn has had a long-standing obsession with those tricky foreign words that refuse to be translated. So, instead of the usual research one would do to find new ones, we decided to ask redditors for their opinions on the most difficult word in their native language to translate into English:

1. Lagom – Swedish

adjective - enough to satisfy you, but not too much.

Lagom. A Swedish word which roughly translates to "enough to satisfy you"

2 & 3. Gezellig  & Beleg – Dutch

adjective – a friendly ambience; a cozy atmosphere

noun – a bread topping

Gezellig is a kind of cozy, beleg is nondescriptive term for anything on a sandwich.

Photo by Austin Kirk

4. Sijuiak – Bidayuh

adjective – the feeling that describes not feeling like eating anymore, even though you are not quite full yet

The word sijuiak means you're sick of the food. Meaning, "I just don't feel like eating it anymore though even though I'm not exactly full"

Photo by Dennis Wong

5. Dépaysement  - French

noun – a change of scenery

adjective – the feeling that is accompanied with this change of scenery      

Dépaysement: it's a french word that describes the feeling you have when you travel away and feel different from home

Photo by Ignacio Sanz


6. Lummert – Norwegian

adjective – the feeling that a storm is brewing

Lummert means, "When you can feel storm/rain coming"

photo by Saperaud

7. Goesting - Flemish

adjective – a want, or need for something

8. Attpåklatt - Norwegian

 noun – a much younger sibling


9. Jayus – Indonesian

noun ­– a poorly told joke that still manages to be funny, however, only because it’s so bad


10. Schadenfreude – German

noun – a feeling of pleasure at another’s misfortune


11. Yakamoz – Turkish

noun – the reflection of moonlight on the water

From Turkish, the word yakamoz. It means the reflection of the moon in water.

photo by Serge


12.  L’tzantek – Hebrew

verb – the act of giving someone a ‘missed call’ in order for them to know to call you back

13.  Gjennomslagskraft – Norwegian

adjective – having the willpower or force to push through an obstacle, or get a message across

Gjennomslagkraft literally means the force to punch through something

photo by theaucitron

It would seem that Norway wins the award for the country with the trickiest untranslatable words! If you’d like to learn more about the language, send us an enquiry, or test your current Norwegian level!

Do you have any quirky words from your own language you’d like to see added to the list? Send them to us in the comments section below!