9 Foreign Words the English Language Desperately Needs

The English language has some grievous holes in it. We’re talking about everyday phenomena that we have all noticed, yet don’t have terms for.

Fortunately, while we were busy fumbling with hand gestures and illustrations like cavemen, other cultures just made up the perfect words and phrases to encapsulate those little everyday moments filled with … uh … je ne sais quoi.

#9. Shemomedjamo (Georgian)



To eat past the point of being full just because the food tastes good.

Here is a word that describes such a quintessentially American phenomenon it’s shocking that another culture came up with it first. After all, there are entire civilizations that have never heard of “never-ending pasta bowls” or “dessert pizzas.” Fortunately, the Georgians (the European Georgians, that is) devised a word to describe it exactly. “Shemomedjamo” is the act of eating to the point where your body says, “OK, we did it! We’re all done now,” and then muscling through another three steaks.

#8. Kummerspeck (German)



Excess weight gained from emotional overeating.

Kummerspeck” translates to “grief bacon,” a word that finally acknowledges that when we are under a crushing weight of sadness or stress, many of us skip alcohol and narcotics in favor of delicious fried meats.


#7. Hikikomori (Japanese)



A teenager or 20-something who has withdrawn from social life, often obsessed with TV and video games.

We need this word because we badly need to draw a distinction here. After all, we’re long past the “If you play video games, you’re a virgin who lives in your parents’ basement” stereotype. Pretty much everyone under the age of 40 owns at least one game machine. And these days, “geek” basically refers to the 80 percent of people who like video games, sci-fi or comics. “Nerd” just means somebody who’s really smart. So what’s the term for, say, MMORPG players who get so sucked into their game that they just withdraw from life?


#6. Gadrii Nombor Shulen Jongu (Tibetan)



Giving an answer that is unrelated to the question.

Gadrii nombor shulen jongu” translates literally to “giving a green answer to a blue question,” and you won’t find a gushier spring of it than in political debates. It sounds like this:

Moderator: How do you respond to allegations that you funneled federal grant money into your string of underground toddler fighting arenas?

Candidate: You know, I really can’t believe we’re focusing on this silly “scandal” when what Americans are really worried about is jobs.


#5. Iktsuarpok (Inuit)



To go outside to check if an expected visitor has arrived, over and over again.

For lonely people eager to find new ways to express their loneliness, there is a new word that perfectly sums up the feeling of waiting for someone who, as time goes on, you realize probably isn’t coming. We’ve all been guilty of “iktsuarpok” at one point or another, whether it’s waiting for a prom date or waiting for a concealed-weapons permit in the mail after that prom fiasco. Time can seem to stretch on for eternity in moments that require you to wait on someone else, glancing out the window again and again, waiting for their car to pull into the driveway. The Inuit know the feeling so well they developed a word for it.


#4. Kaelling (Danish)



An ugly, miserable woman who yells obscenities at her kids.

If you claim to have never seen one of these, go to the laundromat. Or Walmart. Or maybe it’s the woman who lives down the street and offers a Master’s class in parenting to everyone in earshot. Their calls are unmistakable, from “Get your asses in this house” to “Clean up your mess” and even “I’ll beat the crap out of you in front of the whole goddamn neighborhood.”


#3. Neidbau (German)



A building (often of little or no value to the proprietor) constructed with the sole purpose of harassing or inconveniencing his neighbor in some way.

Neidbau” is a word that translates to “envy building,” and, honestly, if a guy constructs an entire building just to say “Screw you,” how can you not be flattered by that?


#2. Pochemuchka (Russian)



A person who asks too many questions.

So, your class/work meeting/couples therapy session is dragging on and you are just barely containing a hangover that’s making your internal organs try to crawl out of your mouth. Just when you think everybody has finally shut the hell up, it happens.

Everything was all wrapped and couldn’t have been clearer. But not for this guy. He wants times, dates, definitions, measurements. The endless stream of questions begins. And they are all staggeringly boring.


#1. Pilkunnussija (Finnish)



A person who believes it is their destiny to stamp out all spelling and punctuation mistakes at the cost of popularity, self-esteem and mental well-being.

They’re out there. They’re reading this right now. Judging, smirking, analyzing. They care nothing about the actual meaning or fun of writing, but care everything about whether you used that semi-colon correctly. While we — perhaps inappropriately — call them Grammar Nazis, the Finns have a much more fitting name: “pilkunnussija.”

Or literally, “comma fuckers.”

This article originally appeared on Cracked.


Bree is a recent college graduate from NYC who excels in writing, social media, music-listening, and pizza pie-eating.