What We Can’t Express, We Can’t Feel, Right?

Science has shown that there are certain universal emotions we tend to experience regardless of what culture, country, or background we hail from. Emotions like anger, sadness, happiness, and disgust are experienced by humanity as a whole, even if we have different ways of expressing them. Our emotions, however, are much more complex and varied beyond these four and we are more than capable of feeling a wide mix of emotions all in the span of a single second. English can sometimes be limiting when we’re looking for words to express what we’re feeling, but luckily there are plenty of phrases and words from languages around the world that we can borrow! So read on to discover 8 emotional words and phrases for which there is no English equivalent:

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  •  Tocka (Russian) = To experience great spiritual anguish, often without a specific cause. An ache of the soul, a longing with nothing to long for.

Ever felt that strange ache in your soul but you don’t really know what you’re aching for? Well, Russians have a word for that. Pronounced tosca, this word is best used while mulling over the meaning of life with shots of vodka.

  •  Forelsket (Norwegian) = The feeling of first falling in love. A euphoria. The feeling that comes at the beginning of love.

Remember that moment when you were hanging out with your crush and you first realized you might just be in love with them? The Norweigian word forelsket is the perfect way to express that emotion! Best used while snacking on chocolate covered strawberries and drinking champagne with that special someone.

  •  忐忑 (Chinese) = A mixture of feeling uneasy or worried, as if you can feel your own heartbeat.

Waiting to hear about a job interview? Wondering why your date from last night hasn’t messaged you back? Well, the Chinese have a word for that feeling of waiting on pins and needles. Pronounced as tan (3rd tone) te (4th tone), it is best used while drinking hot tea to soothe your nerves.

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  • Memento mori (Latin) = Remembering that you have to die. The moment in which you accept your own mortality.

Yep, we’re all going to die someday, and that feeling you have when you realize your life is really just a tiny blip on the tapestry of humanity can be expressed with this phrase. So pour yourself a whiskey and ponder the futility of life while muttering memento mori again and again.

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  • Gezelligheid (Dutch) = A feeling of togetherness. The cozy, comforting feeling of being with friends or loved ones.

That feeling you get when you’re home for the holidays or having a nice evening out with your closest friends is gezelligheid (pronounced foo-ze-luh-hide). Best used while wearing warm sweaters and consuming hot holiday beverages.

  • 懐かしい (Japanese) = A sense of longing or missing something. Feeling nostalgic for a person, a place, or a thing.

Pronounced as natsukashi, this phrase perfectly captures the nostalgia you might feel when thinking back to those days you used to spend at your granny’s house. Best used while drinking copious amounts of hot cocoa and reminiscing about days gone by.

  • Schadenfreude (German) = the pleasure you might derive from seeing another person experience misfortune.

Although we hate to admit it, we’ve probably all felt schadenfreude (pronounced sha-den-froid) at some point or another. We’re only human after all! It’s usually the pleasure you get from seeing karma come back around to give someone a bite in the derriere. Best used while eating a large serving of humble pie.

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  • Razliubit (Russian) = the emotion or melancholic pang of falling out of love.

If there’s a word for that moment when you first fall in love, then there’s also a word for that feeling of falling out of love. While falling in love can be very sudden, falling out of love is the gradual process of drifting apart so you may be using razliubit for a while. Best put to use while watching a rom-com and diving into a bucket of your favorite ice-cream.

One of the greatest things about living on a planet where so many varied and beautiful languages are spoken is that you can find a word for almost anything. So, if you ever discover that you’re overwhelmed with some sort of emotion that you can’t express in English, remember, there’s a word for that, if you just know where to look!

Can you think of any other words or phrases which don’t exist in the English language but can be used to express certain emotions? Share them with us!