English lacks some words that other languages pack with meaning.
There's a Word for Today
Iktsuarpok. If you’ve ever called in a pizza order and then stepped out the door a couple of times to see if the delivery guy was there yet, well, you’ve experienced iktsuarpok. It’s an Inuit word that “refers to the anticipation one feels when waiting for someone, whereby one keeps going outside to check if they have arrived.” That’s what University of East London psychologist Tim Lomas wrote in 2016 in the Journal of Positive Psychology.
Iktsuarpok was just one entry in his paper, titled “Towards a Positive Cross-Cultural Lexicography: Enriching Our Emotional Landscape through 216 ‘Untranslatable’ Words Pertaining to Well-Being.” Untranslatable as single words in English, that is.
Other examples include the Georgian word shemomedjamo, meaning to be full but to keep eating because the food is so good; Bantu’s mbuki-mvuki, whipping off your clothes to dance; and Waldeinsamkeit—that’s a German word for the mysterious, and possibly slightly creepy, solitude you may feel when you’re in the woods by yourself.
Early this morning, Lomas tweeted another such single word that covers a lot of meaning: Jayus. It’s Indonesian, and it means “a joke so unfunny (or told so badly) that you just have to laugh.” Why did he tweet that today? Check the calendar. And be filled with melancholy and world-weariness. You know. Weltschmertz.
(The above text is a transcript of this podcast)