Words You’ve Been Writing Without- Maggie Herring

In the midst of the really picturesque and bittersweet moments in my life, I often fail to find the words to truly express myself. Of course I could cut my sidetracked mind off and be present, but I’m an English nerd and these moments make for great material. Lately I’ve found that other languages have perfectly described the moments I replay in my head over and over again, and try to recreate on a page in just one word. Here are a few of my favorites that seem to define the difficult and charming moments in life:

(Definitions from Lost in Translation: An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words from Around the World by Ella Frances Sanders)


Commuovere (Italian, verb):
“To be moved in a heartwarming way, usually relating to a story that moved you to tears”

Mångata (Swedish, noun):
“The road-like reflection of the moon in the water”

Gezellig (Dutch, adjective):
“Describes much more than just coziness – a positive warm emotion or feeling rather than just something physical – and connotes time spent with loved ones, togetherness”

Meraki (Greek, adjective):
“Pouring yourself wholeheartedly into something, such as cooking, and doing so with soul, creativity, and love”

Kilig (Tagalog, noun):
“The feeling of butterflies in your stomach, usually when something romantic or cute takes place”

Hiraeth (Welsh, noun):
“A homesickness for somewhere you cannot return to, the nostalgia and the grief for the lost places of your past, places that never were”

Razliubit (Russian, verb)
“To fall out of love, a bittersweet feeling”

Karelu (Tulu, noun):
“The mark left on the skin by wearing something tight”

Ubuntu (Nguni Bantu, noun):
“Essentially meaning ‘I find my worth in you, and you find your worth in me.’ Can be (very) roughly translated as human kindness”

Wabi-Sabi (Japanese, noun):
“Finding beauty in the imperfections, an acceptance of the cycle of life and death”

Tiám (Farsi, noun):
“The twinkle in your eye when you first meet someone”

Nunchi (Korean, noun):
“The subtle, often unnoticed art of listening and gauging another’s mood”

Saudade (Portuguese, noun):
“A vague, constant desire for something that does not and probably cannot exist, a nostalgic longing for someone or something loved and then lost”

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