9 foreign words that should be in your vocabulary.

9 foreign words that should be in your vocabulary

Travel – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a story teller (Ibn Battuta). But sometimes when you’re travelling, there really are no words in English that can seem to quite sum up a moment. Know the feeling?

Here are 9 foreign words that have no exact translation in English, that will help to describe those moments. You’ll want to add them to your vocabulary, before your next trip!

9 foreign words that should be in your vocabulary.

1. Fernweh (German)

A crave for travel; being homesick for a place you’ve never been. An ache for distant places. Literally “farsickness,” or “longing for far-off places,” as contrasted with heimweh: “homesickness,” longing for home.”

9 foreign words that should be in your vocabulary.

2. Resfeber (Swedish)

The restless race of the traveller’s heart before the journey begins, when anxiety and anticipation are tangled together. A travel ‘fever’ that can manifest as an illness.

9 foreign words that should be in your vocabulary

3. Nefelibata (Spanish)

One who lives in the clouds of their own imagination or dreams, or one who does not obey the conventions of society, literature, or art. Literally, ‘cloud walker.’

9 foreign words that should be in your vocabulary

4. Metanoia (Greek)

Changing one’s mind, heart, self, or way of life; a profound, usually spiritual transformation or conversion.

9 foreign words that should be in your vocabulary

5. Toska (Russian)

Longing with nothing to long for; a vague restlessness, yearning.

9 foreign words that should be in your vocabulary

6. Dépaysement (French)

The feeling that comes from not being in one’s home country. Of being a foreigner, or an immigrant, of being somewhat displaced from your origin.

9 foreign words that should be in your vocabulary

7. Rasasvada (Sanskrit)

The taste of bliss in the absence of all thoughts.

9 foreign words that should be in your vocabulary

8. Saudade (Portuguese)

The state of nostalgic, profound longing for an absent something; the love that remains for something that you know will never exist again. It conjures both sadness for the missing, and happiness for having experienced the memory.

9 foreign words that should be in your vocabulary

9. Wabi-Sabi (Japanese)

A world view or aesthetic, centred on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. sometimes described as one of beauty that is imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete.


Do you know any words in other languages that describe what English cannot? What’s your favourite word of all time, in any language?

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    Pushkar Dey
    April 14, 2016 at 8:42 pm

    Hi, Awesome post, really loved the words here, will commit them to memory for sure. Since, I have learned something new, I wish to gift you a word. The word is “Lyadh”, pronounced “Lyaa-dh”, its a word from Bengali Language, world 4th largest spoken and little know language. However, you will not find this word in a Dictionary, coz Lyadh is more of a way of life, culture than a word. The word basically refers to a state of being Content and One with your surrounding and just being there, not doing or thinking anything. Its close to meditation and laziness, not quite either. Its a verb but we eat it (not literally, its just said in such a way). “Ami lyadh khachi” (literally means “I am eating lyadh”) actually means I am doing nothing and wont do anything constructive in the near future or until i get out of this state. Tells you a lot about the people who invented this word.

    John Gentry
    November 20, 2015 at 3:19 pm

    I like your writing style, and was able to learn something new. Nice Job!

    November 7, 2015 at 6:13 am

    Fernweh is very similar to the world hiraeth

    September 14, 2015 at 3:43 am

    You should really add BANJARA to the list of your words! It’s in Hindi, Indians often use that word to describe people who love to wander, nomads , etc..

    August 24, 2015 at 4:26 am

    Nice and warm story about words. An I’m not an native English speaker, my favorite English word is “serendipity”. And from the text above – rasasvada. 🙂

    Lauren | a tipsy gypsy life
    August 19, 2015 at 10:45 pm

    I definitely thought this was going to be what phrases you should learn before visiting a country haha. This is much better though, wordnerd over hurrr. Thanks!


    August 17, 2015 at 6:06 am

    i love all of them so much! thank you for sharing them

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    Mayara Moreira
    August 14, 2015 at 9:14 am

    Absolutely loved reading this! Finally I have found explanations for all I constantly feel and could never find a word to describe. Plus, I’m glad I saw “saudade” on the list! One of my favorites!

    Saakshi Kumar
    August 14, 2015 at 12:11 am

    “Nefelibata” and “Fernweh” are definitely my favorite words. 🙂

    Jennifer Stevens | Adventurous Appetite
    August 13, 2015 at 4:08 pm

    Cute post. Love these words!

    August 13, 2015 at 7:59 am

    I knew German would be in here, such an amazing language with so many words that don’t exist in English. Wonderful and creative post, I absolutely loved reading this! 🙂


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    August 13, 2015 at 4:54 am

    Great list! Nefelibata is definitely my favourite, and I plan on using it often while in Spain this year 🙂

    August 13, 2015 at 2:37 am

    Actually, the word Toska in Russian can be translated as ‘to long for something/somebody’, ‘to miss something’ or ‘to be sad about something missing’. Usually it’s always translated as ‘to long for smth’, so I’m a bit surprised to find this word defined as ‘untranslatable’ – I always thought it was pretty easy!

    And oh, I’m Russian myself, haha 😀

    August 12, 2015 at 9:18 pm

    I’m so pleased that you included “saudade”. When I started reading the post that was the word that immediatly pop into my head. As portuguese, that word is one of my favourite, even though feeling it isn’t that good. I loved to learn new words! 🙂

    August 12, 2015 at 8:44 pm

    I wouldn’t, I’m Spanish, and I’ve never heard that word!!! It’s listed on the dictionary, but it’s too cult, practically nobody would understand that, haha.

    August 12, 2015 at 8:19 pm

    Good post but your translation for french ‘dépaysement’ is not good.
    It’s an emotion felt when you change your habits or environments.
    It can just be from going to the city where you live to the country side nearby.

    August 12, 2015 at 8:14 pm

    The Welsh word ‘Hiraeth’ – Welsh is a strange language in that one word can hold several different meanings, and also unique in that sometimes the complete and true contextual meaning of the word is lost in translation, or it has no translation at all. Hiraeth is a word used to describe a type of home sickness that is unique to Welsh culture – a longing so deep for a home that you can never return to or that never existed, tinged with grief for the lost or departed. It has not direct English translation and is prounounced ‘heer-aith’.

    August 12, 2015 at 7:41 pm

    This is a really interesting post! I’m fascinated by words that have no english translation! They often express an emotion or feeling so much better more than my english could!

    Alexandra Chirila
    August 12, 2015 at 4:19 pm

    In Romanian we have the word ‘dor’ which has the same meaning of saudade in Portuguese. As fas as I know these are the only two languages in the world that have such a word.

    August 12, 2015 at 3:46 pm

    The Norwegian Word “Koselig” should be on your list 🙂

    This is a common feature of all the Scandinavian countries: We have a word to describe the feeling of warmth and friendliness that arises from sharing simple pleasures of life with people you like.

    Danish hygge, Swedish mys, and Norwegian kos all describe roughly the same thing. We often try to translate it into words such as “nice” or “cozy,” but those only describe parts of what is “kos” or “koselig.” Kos means cuddling with your friend. Kos means being snowed in at your cabin in the mountains, in front of a roaring fire with cocoa, pastries, and a good crime novel.

    Kos is a nice lunch in your school cafeteria. Kos is meeting someone you haven’t seen in ages. Kos is a good party. I have even heard people describe their sex life as “kos.” Our lives revolve around “kos.” Even working hard can be koselig, if you’re doing it with people you like.

    August 12, 2015 at 1:14 pm

    Nefelibata… that’s me!! Love, love, love <3 <3

    August 12, 2015 at 3:40 am

    Absolutely love this post! (I am such a sucker for languages), it’s so interesting when there’s a word that had no translation, theyre all so beautiful

    August 12, 2015 at 2:27 am

    My husband is of Japanese decent, thus I am familiar with Wabi-Sabi. Nice to see it on this list 🙂 Thanks for a great list.

    August 12, 2015 at 2:12 am

    Awesome post – very creative and curious 🙂 the photos are stunning

    August 12, 2015 at 1:44 am

    this was great! new words are always awesome no matter what language so with your explanation they definitely will be used!

    August 11, 2015 at 11:45 pm

    Wow Emma, this is a great post! Such a cool concept, and it’s so nice to think English doesn’t always cover everything we need (despite the fact we often think it does).
    I was wondering if you’d like to check out my vegan travel blog? It’s a bit different to other blogs out there, but I think you’d love it! Let me know? :)!

    August 11, 2015 at 11:45 pm

    Wow, these words really got to me. I particularly like Fernweh and Nefelibata, they sorta define a whole lot of my life that I could never put into words before. I would love to make/buy some hand drawn prints with these words!

  • Faye
    August 11, 2015 at 10:29 pm

    Emma – I love this post so much! Such a wonderful idea – you ought to do something similar based on English words as well – although I bet you’ve already though of that 🙂

    Rebecca Standridge
    August 11, 2015 at 10:22 pm

    Love this post! The words and pictures are wonderful!

    August 11, 2015 at 10:03 pm

    This is such a cool post, I love it! Nefelibata is my new favorite word!

    August 11, 2015 at 9:21 pm

    All of these ignite my wanderlust, and can be used to I hope actively describe me. The history of language and words is so interesting. How can one thing convey so much!


    August 11, 2015 at 9:18 pm

    I absolutely love you photography and these words all have such beautiful meanings I will definitely be using them when I manage to travel the world one day!

    Leesa & Kate
    August 11, 2015 at 8:51 pm

    Great roundup!

    xx Leesa & Kate
    Travel inspo?

    August 11, 2015 at 8:01 pm

    This post was so nice to read! I’ve never really been bitten by the travel ‘bug’ until a couple of months ago…but now my boyfriend and I are looking forward to our first big adventure next year, literally coming home after work every day saying “weve just earned X dollars for our trip!” to perpetuate the excitement!

    I think ‘Resfeber’ is the one with the most significance for me…it’s exactly how I’ll feel stepping on the plane at Gatwick next year! 🙂


    August 11, 2015 at 7:59 pm

    Lovely! Still, wanderlust speaks to me the most.. to bad that word is so ‘commercial’ nowadays.

    August 11, 2015 at 7:50 pm

    These are great words! Probably my favorite part of learning a second language (Japanese) is that I can express myself differently and I find myself frustrated when I can’t express certain ideas in English that I can in Japanese.

    PS. Wabi-sabi is my favorite Japanese word! It’s why they love sakura trees!!!

    Katharina @ Kate goes Global
    August 11, 2015 at 6:50 pm

    I love the word Metanoia – had never heard it before but it does speak to me a lot 🙂

    August 11, 2015 at 6:10 pm

    Words are the key to my heart Emma! Absolutely gorgeous post – to learn a bit about other languages is to learn about other cultures, which in turn broadens our minds xx

    Cody Deegan
    August 11, 2015 at 6:04 pm

    I find this post really fancy and informative because who knew those words associated with travelling would exist and I think it is working perfectly with describing how you’re feeling towards travelling. The compilation of words is beautiful in which my brain permits those words to be registered in my vocabulary words.

    Susan Williams
    August 11, 2015 at 5:48 pm

    Yes, great post. A word I particularly adore is ‘Xenofilia’ Greek for kindness to strangers . I’ve certainly experienced that in my travels to Greece.

    August 11, 2015 at 5:08 pm

    Great list! I think every language should have a word for all these feelings. Fernweh and rasasvada are my absolute favourites 🙂

    August 11, 2015 at 4:55 pm

    What a beautiful post!

    I love learning new words and pieces of foreign language.

    Miss Sophie
    August 11, 2015 at 4:20 pm

    Hey Brooke,
    I love that post, it was a very nice idea and I haven’t seen anything similar yet.
    I thought about the German word wanderlust – which I think you are quite familiar with 😉
    I just wanted to tell you that I really really like your blog. You are such an inspiration and it is because of you that I finally set up my blog for my upcoming year abroad.
    Have a lovely day. 🙂

    August 11, 2015 at 3:51 pm

    Love this list: I loved the word “Amoulek”, which is only used in Brazil, when something is totally amazing!
    Also, I love the word “Wanderlust”, which is a German word but received different meaning over the time. I think,you like it too ;).
    Happy travels,

    Deepti @ Endless Postcards
    August 11, 2015 at 3:36 pm

    I wrote a university admissions essay on wabisabi — the school is #4 in America and I’m super unqualified for it, but I think my essay was what got me waitlisted for that school. Love foreign words — so cool and interesting to take a peek into other cultures and their views of life!


    Clipping Path Outsource
    August 11, 2015 at 3:32 pm

    Amazing! So why can’t we learn some of them 🙂 🙂

    August 11, 2015 at 3:23 pm

    Love this post! So many amazing words – I especially love “Saudade”.

    Patricia Farwell
    August 11, 2015 at 2:31 pm

    Wow–these words describe me and my feelings about travel perfectly. Thank you so much for putting it so beautifully!–especially #8.

    August 11, 2015 at 1:59 pm

    There is a Norwegian word that doesn’t translate to English – ‘kos’. It is used to described that warm, happy feeling you have when you are truly enjoying yourself! It can be a great party, reading a good book, lighting a fire, going for a walk with a friend, or spending a summer night drinking wine with your family! 🙂 The nearest English translation is ‘cozy’, but it doesn’t quite do the word justise! 🙂

    August 11, 2015 at 12:56 pm

    This list is awesome! I’m always happy to add new words from other languages into my vocabulary!

    I’ve encountered quite a few beautiful words and expressions in French that just don’t translate the same way into English and vice versa. Sometimes the attempted translation actually winds up being funny.


    August 11, 2015 at 11:38 am

    Great post. Language is so powerful- it’s beautiful to see that they have these words that represent an entire collection of feelings in our language.

    August 11, 2015 at 11:18 am

    number 3 is Portuguese not Spanish 🙂

    Lauren Meshkin @BonVoyageLauren
    August 11, 2015 at 10:53 am

    Really clever post! I’ll try and use nefelibata when I’m in Spain in a few months.

    Thanks for sharing! Happy travels 🙂

    Amanda | Chasing My Sunshine
    August 11, 2015 at 10:12 am

    I love, love, love looking at words in other languages. My cousins and I actually sat down today and picked Swedish to learn on Duolingo. Resfeber is such a wonderful word! Thanks for sharing, Emma.

    August 11, 2015 at 10:12 am

    What a nice post! 3. sounds really nice 😀

    August 11, 2015 at 10:02 am

    This is so cool! Learn something new everyday!

    Ashleigh // Lust Creative
    August 11, 2015 at 9:16 am

    I loved this post! I can relate to so many of those words.
    Another I love is ‘Hygge’ (Danish) which means creating a warm, cosy atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people.
    Pretty cool. Xx

    August 11, 2015 at 9:07 am

    I love the word Fernweh! Hence my websites name 😀

    Rachel Oliver
    August 11, 2015 at 8:34 am

    aw wow such an interesting post, love that they don’t have exact word translations in english!


    Stephen & Jess
    August 11, 2015 at 8:29 am

    Ooh I love this article Emma 🙂 – I came in here expecting something different, learnt 9 new things today.