World Wide Weird Words: Lost in Translation


What do you think the word crêpe hanger means? Crêpe is that delicious French pancake smothered in Nutella, and hanger is where you ‘hang’ your coat (not to be confused with ‘hangar’, as in aircraft hangar). So, that leaves us with ‘Pancake hanger’. Doesn’t make sense, does it?

Well, you’d be surprised about the meaning. The word is closely related to its German counterpart Schadenfreude, which means pleasure derived from another person’s misfortune. A crêpe hanger is the ultimate pessimist. You could use it in a sentence like “You hang black crêpe on everything” or “Oh gee, that Scrooge McDuck is such an old crêpe hanger”.

Age-otori (Japanese): To look worse after a haircut.

Cafuné (Brazilian Portuguese): The act of tenderly running one’s fingers through another person’s hair.

Duende (Spanish): The emotions one feels when they are deeply moved by art.

Geborgenheit (German): A feeling of complete safety and contentment, like nothing could ever harm you.

Gigl (Filipino): The urge to pinch or squeeze something that is unbearable cute such as a kitten or a beautiful girl.

Kyoikumama (Japanese): A mother who relentlessly pushes her children toward academic achievement.

Lagom (Swedish): Everything in moderation. “Just right”. Not too much, not too little.

L’esprit de l’escalier (French):  Translated as ‘staircase wit’, the act of thinking of a clever comeback when it is too late to deliver it.

Mamihlapinatapai: (Yaghan, southern Chile): A look between two people suggesting an unspoken desire.

Pochemuchka (Russian): A person who asks a lot of questions.

Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz (German): Cattle marking and beef labeling supervision duties delegation law (see Wikipedia).

Schadenfreude (German) & Skadeglädje (Swedish): To gain happiness from another’s misfortune.

Sgriob (Gaelic): The itchiness that overcomes the upper lip just before taking a sip of whiskey.

Tingo (Pascuense language of Easter Island): To borrow objects one by one from a neighbour’s house until there is nothing left in it.

Toska (Russian): The feeling of a restless soul, an existential ache. The desire to be passionate about something when one is totally apathetic.

Waldeinsamkeit (German): The feeling of being alone in the woods.

Ya’aburnee (Arabic): Literally meaning “you bury me,” signifying that the speaker wants to die before the person he or she is speaking to does because living without them would be too difficult.