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15 English Words With No Translation

In: How to

There are hundreds of words in the English language that have no equivalent in other languages and are simply hard to explain or translate. In this essay, we will take a look at the most common of them.

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Googly

Googly is a word used in cricket and means a special way of delivering a ball given by a bowler. It is known to be a bowler’s weapon and can be very effective at taking balls. To achieve the spin the bowler needs to be in the break delivery position and bend his wrist really sharply. Googly is not used a lot elsewhere and it has no meaning in any other languages.

Serendipity

A British translation agency put serendipity in the list of ten words that are the hardest to translate. The meaning of it is simple – it is an unexpected, but fortunate discovery, often called as a lucky coincidence or find. The word was invented in 1754 by a famous at that time writer and politician named Horace Walpole as a hint to the old name of Sri Lanka – Serendip. The word is quite often being chosen by Brits as their favorite word in the English language. Nowadays, people try to add serendipity into different languages.

 Gobbledygook

The word was created by Maury Maverick, who was US Representative, in 1944. It means jargon that is hard or even impossible to understand. The word is more often describes the nonsense in writing than speaking, whilst gibberish, which is the term with the same meaning, is used to describe the same thing in informal speech.

Kitsch

The word can be used to describe any type of art that is of low quality using popular icons in culture, but which a lot of people find enjoyable. Kitsch originally comes from Munich in Germany and has no translation in other languages. Arising in 60th as a way to describe popular, cheap and commercial art, the term has a lot of irony and humor in its nature.

Facepalm

Very popular word commonly used in English and English only. Facepalm describes a gesture when you cover your face with a palm of your hand or lower your head to your hands and closing or covering your eyes in order to show desperation, disappointment, embarrassment, shock, surprise or sarcasm. The word firstly appeared in 2006, although some people say it was already used in 2001 and was added to Oxford Dictionary in 2011.

Bromance

This word appeared in 90’s and was widely used for a very long time. Now it is considered to be retro, but some people still use it. It has a very simple meaning, which is a relationship or bond with a high level of intimacy between two or more men without romantic or sexual context. In 2005 the term was very conspicuous in the motion picture industry.

Spam

A quite famous word that has been adapted to other languages as well. However, it doesn’t have a single meaning anywhere, except in English-speaking countries. Spam is explained as unwanted emails containing mostly advertisements sent by email to a lot of people, as well as unwanted messages in other media, like online spam, wiki spam, mobile phone spam, blog spam and others. Also, spam has another meaning, which is a canned “fake” meat.

Trade-off

This word is particularly hard to explain in short, without telling the whole scenario. The trade-off is a situation in which you have to exchange something in order to get what you want. When making a decision you need to understand all of the advantages and disadvantages of the situation.

Auto-tuned

Auto-tuned describes a singer, whose mistakes were disguised digitally, which makes him or her sound perfect. The word can be considered relatively new and that is why it has no explanation in other languages.

Pimp

The word pimp as a verb means to decorate something. Even though pimp is widely used in a street culture, it is now quite common in commercials.

Cogent

Cogent describes something that is very clear and easy to accept, something convincing and persuasive.  The word arrived from the Latin verb cogere, which means compelling, in mid 17th century.

Flabbergasted

Being flabbergasted means being very shocked or surprised by something. Even though the word is considered to be a part of slang, flabbergasted was firstly used in 1772, but the origins of it are unknown.

Insight

The world is a pain for all translators. The meaning of it is to have an ability or understanding of everything in a clear way. Insight firstly appeared in 1200, describing understanding from within or mental vision, but in 1580 it also started to be used as a way to describe an understanding of the hidden nature.

Stuff

The word stuff means a collection or group of miscellaneous things, objects or materials that can’t be specifically described. Now used as a way to generalize something, stuff came from old English word stuffen, which means to furnish.

Crush

In a way of having a crush on someone, this word can’t be described in other languages. Having a crush on someone means to be secretly in love or infatuated with someone, it usually describes a short-leaving feeling. The romantic sense of the word appeared in 1884.

We have to remember that language is a very interesting thing and many words can be lost in translation. I hope this essay will help you to explain or translate those untranslatable words more precisely and accurately.

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