Words that don't have translations in English


Ad Honoris
Jul 2013
San Antonio, Tx
Thank you :cool:
The Swedish language has several such words, perhaps most famous among them being "lagom". It is most often translated as "just enough", "in moderation", "average" or "sufficient", but none of these words are quite right as they suggest that something is lacking. "Lagom" means that something is appropriately sufficient and just the right amount, lacking nothing but also not achieving perfection. Not too much, not too little. For us Swedes, it is often seen as the ideal state of things, from food (most would prefer "lagom" seasoning, and nothing too spicy nor mild, or a "lagom" amount of food so they are no longer hungry but also do not feel too full) to one's personal finances (most prefer having a "lagom" amount of money, meaning enough to pay for their needs with a bit to spare, but no excessive wealth nor any degree of poverty).
Sounds like word ”sufficient” would cover it.


Forum Staff
Apr 2010
T'Republic of Yorkshire
In Yorkshire, you often hear (for example) "I lent a book" to mean "I borrowed a book".


Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
Chalfont, Pennsylvania
Translation or rather interpretation of an idiom from one language to another. There are numerous examples in every language. For example we have an idiom which literal translation into English is 'to make an elephant out of a fly' and its meaning is 'to exaggerate' ...'
A similar English phrase is "making a mountain out of a molehill".

I am a native English speaker, and as a kid I noticed that English doesn't have a simple common single word to describe neutral feelings about someone, even though every English speaking person has neutral feelings about thousands or millions of persons for every one person they have positive or negative feelings about.

So someone has to say "I don't hate you" or "I don't dislike you" in order to reassure someone that they don't, instead of having a single word word for lack of negative feelings.

And it is even worse the other way. "I don't like you" means literally "I do not have feelings of liking for you." And "I do not have feelings of liking for you" seems like a perfectly neutral statement to me. I am fine with billions of people not having feelings of liking for me and me not having feelings of liking for them.

But telling someone you don't like them is considered equivalent to saying you dislike or even hate them.

Even telling someone you don't care about them is considered an insult, even though not caring about someone is the default emotional relationship until one meets them or at least learns that they exist.

So it seems to me that English speakers arrogantly assume and/or demand that everyone who meets them should like them, and are angered if that is not the case.

So I wonder if other languages have the same quirk.
Last edited: