Fifteen ‘untranslatable’ emotions you never knew you had

emotion.jpg

In Finland, the word ‘sisu’ is used to describe a kind of extraordinary determination in the face of adversity. Though only four letters, according to Finnish speakers, it encapsulates something that words like ‘perseverance’ or ‘resilience’ in English don’t quite do justice. But just because English doesn’t have a word for these emotions, it doesn’t mean we don’t experience them.
 
Tim Lomas, a PhD lecturer in positive psychology at the University of East London, runs an index of such words called The Positive Lexicography Project
 
We agree with him when he says that these words “offer a very different way of seeing the world” and give us a chance to develop a richer and more nuanced understanding of ourselves.
 
We’ve picked fifteen of our favourite words from the site but there are hundreds more to explore.

Ramé noun
Something at once chaotic and joyful.
Balinese

Beschaulich adjective, adverb
Quiet, pensive; living a simple life; pleasantly contemplative, unhurried in a fashion that inspires mental well-being.
German

Sirva vigad verb
Lit. weeping feasting/having fun; taking one's pleasures tearfully; a melancholic intermingling of joy and sorrow.
Hungarian

Njuta verb
To deeply enjoy, to profoundly appreciate.
Swedish

Harikoa noun
Joyful, euphoric, delighted, exuberant, elated, thrilled, ecstatic, jubilant.
Māori

Ânanda (आनन्द) noun
Bliss, lasting contentment; spiritual, ‘unconditional’ happiness.
Sanskrit

Fjaka noun
Relaxation of body and mind; sleepiness, drowsiness; the ‘sweetness of doing nothing’.
Croatian

Ayurnamat noun
Stoicism; the possibility or approach of not worrying about things that cannot be changed.
Inuktitut

Seijaku (静寂) noun
Quiet (sei) tranquillity (jaku); silence, calm, serenity (especially in the midst of activity or chaos).
Japanese

Hygge noun
A deep sense of place, warmth, friendship, and contentment.
Danish/Norwegian

Xìngfú (幸福) noun
Fortunate (xìng) blessing (fú); contentment; deep happiness.
Chinese

Morriña noun
Longing; homesickness; notalgia.
Galician

Saudade noun
Melancholic longing, nostalgia, dreaming wistfulness.
Portuguese

Iktsuarpok noun
Anticipation one feels when waiting for someone, and keeps checking if they're arriving.
Inuit

Qarrtsiluni verb
Sitting together in the darkness, perhaps expectantly (e.g., waiting for something to happen or to ‘burst forth’); the strange quiet before a momentous event.
Inuit, Iñupiaq

Tizita (ትዝታ) noun
A bittersweet remembrance and longing for a time, person, thing gone by.
Amharic

Eleutheromania (ελευθερομανία) noun
An intense, irrepressible desire for freedom.
Greek

If you check out The Positive Lexicography Project, let us know which word is your favourite!