Enhance Your Writing With These Great Descriptive Foreign Words

06 Aug 2019


Language is a fascinating and beautiful thing.

As a writer with a passion for learning foreign languages, I am always on the hunt for perfect descriptive words in any language. Throughout my many travels, and attempts to learn languages along the way, I have found that there are some great words and phrases in other languages that simply have no equivalent in English.

Take the Spanish phrase “verguenza ajena” for example. Its literal translation is “foreign shame.” The phrase is used to describe the feeling of being ashamed or embarrassed on the behalf of another person, even if they don’t share the feeling.

Another great example is the Italian word “magari.” This wonderful word has many meanings, but is most often used to describe the feeling of longing and wishful thinking. For example, if someone were to ask you if you’d like to go to Italy (ti piacerrebe andare in Italia?), you might respond with “magari.”

And, of course, there is my personal favorite: the German word “wanderlust,” which describes the strong, overwhelming desire to travel.

It seems that there are actually a lot of examples of these kinds of words in other languages, too. This great article from getpocket.com highlights 38 wonderful words with no English equivalent.  

From the Thai word “Greng-jai” (That feeling you get when you don’t want someone to do something for you because it would be a pain for them) to the Filipino “Gigil” (The urge to pinch or squeeze something that is irresistibly cute), these fantastic words are sure to delight and entertain! And, who knows, you may even find yourself adopting some of them into your own vocabulary.

Jennifer Rizzo 
Jennifer Rizzo is a Denver based writer with a background in Healthcare, International Tour Management, Genealogical Research, and a passion for travel and languages. She studied Spanish at the University of Guadalajara in Guadalajara, Mexico and also lived and studied in Ancona, Italy. After spending nearly a decade working in the health care field, Jennifer has a well-rounded knowledge of hospital functionality, medical terminology, and disease processes. She has extended work experience with government medical benefits as well as Social Security law, which has allowed her to fine-tune her ability to sort through large amounts of medical records, research, and data, and turn that information into well written reports and case briefs. Since joining The Writers for Hire, Jennifer has written on vast array of topics and has done many in-depth ancestry research and family tree projects. She has worked as Project Manager for various client websites and RFPs, as well as other projects. She enjoys working closely with clients, and loves any opportunity that allows her to indulge her creative side.

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