Saturday, October 19, 2013

There’s a Word for That

Image courtesy of
photostock /
We’ve all heard of the German word schadenfreude, meaning “feeling pleasure because of someone
else’s misfortune.”

That’s cool.

But there are many other equally cool words (found on Google here and here and here and here and here). For example, there’s cafuné, Brazilian Portuguese for the act of running your fingers tenderly through someone’s hair, and there’s kaelling, the Danish word for a mother who curses and screams at her children in public.

Drachenfutter, a German word (The Germans do seem to have a knack for cool words) which translates to “dragon fodder,” means the gifts a husband brings his wife when he knows he’s misbehaved.

Have you ever eaten an entire bag of potato chips without realizing till the bag is empty? The word for that, in Georgian, is shemomedjamo, meaning, “Oops, I ate the whole thing.”

L’espirit de l’escalier, a French phrase which translates as “wit on the stairs,” refers to coming up with a great comeback – too late.

Sanpaku means “crazy eyes” in Japanese. If you can see the whites of someone’s eyes on three sides of their irises, they are, judging from that facial expression, probably crazy.

Schlemiel and schlimazel (Remember from the “Laverne & Shirley theme song?) both mean “klutz” in Yiddish, but the schlemiel is the guy who trips and the schlimazel is the guy he falls on.

You know when you’ve had a nice dinner and everyone’s having a nice conversation – until someone jumps up and insists on clearing the dishes? That person has just ruined the sobremesa, the Spanish word for that nice after-meal interlude.

Tartle in Scotland is when you pause as you’re making introductions because you’ve forgotten someone’s name and jayus in Indonesia is a joke so bad and so badly told that it’s funny.

These words make me happy.


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