10 Beautiful Words About Love That Don’t Exist in English

mamihlapinatapei

1. Mamihlapinatapei (Yagan, an indigenous language of Tierra del Fuego): The wordless yet meaningful look shared by two people who desire to initiate something, but are both reluctant to start.

yuanfen

2. Yuanfen (Chinese): A relationship by fate or destiny. This is a complex concept. It draws on principles of predetermination in Chinese culture, which dictate relationships, encounters and affinities, mostly among lovers and friends.

cafune

3. Cafuné (Brazilian Portuguese): The act of tenderly running your fingers through someone’s hair.

retrouvailles

4. Retrouvailles (French):  The happiness of meeting again after a long time.

ilunga

5. Ilunga (Bantu): A person who is willing to forgive abuse the first time; tolerate it the second time, but never a third time.

la douleur exquise

6. La Douleur Exquise (French): The heart-wrenching pain of wanting someone you can’t have.

koi no yokan

7. Koi No Yokan (Japanese): The sense upon first meeting a person that the two of you are going to fall into love.

ya aburnee

8. Ya’aburnee(Arabic): “You bury me.” It’s a declaration of one’s hope that they’ll die before another person, because of how difficult it would be to live without them.

forelsket

9. Forelsket: (Norwegian):  The euphoria you experience when you’re first falling in love.

Saudade

10. Saudade (Portuguese): The feeling of longing for someone that you love and is lost. Another linguist describes it as a “vague and constant desire for something that does not and probably cannot exist.”

 

Repost from 10 Beautiful Words About Love That Don’t Exist in English 

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126 thoughts on “10 Beautiful Words About Love That Don’t Exist in English

    • really makes you want to illustrate each of these feelings … I also only have experience in “Cafuné” and “Saudade
      .” Two things here in Brazil is super natural. kiss

    • Alix says:

      Not quite…
      Koi No Yokan doesn’t necessarily state that it’s an immediate infatuation but rather the feeling that love will grow eventually.
      Yuanfen is similar, but not quite. Yuanfen is a more of a pre-destined love whereas a soulmate is one of two halves of a single soul. It’s the difference between finding two halves that are a part of one thing and two separate entities destined to find one another.
      Forelsket refers to the euphoria of falling in love, not the very act of being in a superficial romance.

      • Joey says:

        Yeah, I agree. Especially in Japanese, they already have a word for “love at first sight (Hitomebore).

    • godenzoon says:

      Yuánfèn is more complex, and it is definitely not soul mate. It draws on Confucian/Daoism/Buddhism concepts. It is a Chinese concept that explains fate/destiny decreed we share a special connection and will meet each other at the right time, right place. It could also be used to explain even though we would be perfect friend/lover, but fate decreed we meet at the wrong time, wrong place, and could never be together.

    • Joshua says:

      Exactly. These three (at least) do have words or phrases to express them in the English language.

    • J K says:

      mm about Yuanfen: Soul mate is the closest word, I guess, but it doesn’t take into account the before-life that ‘yuanfen’ does. In East Asian philosophy/culture, there’s a belief that there’s a BEFORE-life, whatever you do in that life determine who/what you’re in your current life. Yuanfen are two people who were a couple in before-life and have found each other in current life.
      Again, yuanfen and soulmate are more or less the same thing, but the former has the sense of continuance therefore more permanence.

  1. erin says:

    I hope that its not all done for me yet? is there a word that describes the long and perpetual relationship called marriage that you cannot let go of but have tried to re-kindle that ‘kilig’ feeling?

    • Yes! I call that word “hope!”

      Some books I like: “The Five Love Languages” and “Passionate Monogamy.” If you are truly having trouble and feel like you’re on the rocks see also “Divorce Busters.” It’s never too late!

      Bless you ! I wish for ‘kilig’ and more in your marriage. I think marriage rocks, at least it certainly can. My husband and I practice a type of spiritual healing where we deal with any upset that comes between us with the help of the Divine. It has worked wonders and continually transforms us into a stronger couple of beautiful people more able to love. (If you’d like more info about this just ask.)

      Again, blessings, Erin.

  2. Gilles Engo says:

    Bantu is a bit vague to be honest…Ilunga sounds Tshiluba to me… I’m from the DR Congo and all people named Ilunga I’ve met are Luba people

    • Perfide says:

      Not quite. La douler exquise refers to the pain caused by unrequited love, not to the love itself.

      The unrequited love is one thing, the pain it causes is another thing.

  3. gvgeyui = Loosely translated from the Cherokee as “I love you,” but it really means “I am being selfish with you and not sharing you with anyone else.”

  4. Now that I have read this, there is not one word here that I can do without. What a fabulous post.

    With your permission, I would like to post it here:

    http://intothebardo.wordpress.com/

    All links, credit, and copyright as appropriate.
    I’ll come back for your response.

    Thank you! You put another smile on my day, Abet.

    Warmest regards,
    jamie

    • Ah, I’m sorry. I just noted that this is the work of another gentleman, so I will go to him for permissions. Nonetheless, how grateful I am to you for having reblogged this or I wouldn’t have found it or your fun blog.

      Be well and blog on …
      Jamie

  5. CJ says:

    The Arabic is terribly muddled. The ‘ should be a q, it is only pronounced as a ‘ in the Levant and Egypt. يقبرني “yaqburnee” means he will bury me, not you will bury me, that would be تقبرني “taqburnee” and this would also be different if talking to a girl. Honestly this also seems to me like a typically Lebanese expression, though I am not a native speaker of Arabic so I can’t really say definitively from my limited experience with the language.

  6. George from Georgia says:

    Georgian words “Genatsvale”, “Shemogevle”, and “Sheni chirime”.
    The most common Georgian term of endearment is “genatsvale”. Pretty untranslatable, it literally means ‘me instead of you’. I always imagine it as if there were a bullet fired towards me, the person who said it would jump in front of me to take it.
    Another one is “Shemogevle”, which literally means ‘I encircled you’. Again, maybe too much imagination, but I see it as if someone put an invisible shield that will protect me from all the bad stuff. Or maybe it just means a big bear-like hug.
    One more I can think of is “Sheni chirime” — ‘your troubles upon me’, as if ‘let me take your troubles from you’.

  7. Forelsket (“Förälskad” in Swedish) is a really powerful word and powerful emotion – it’s the first month or so of love when you’re tripping about on pink fluffy loveclouds and forget about friends, family, work, school, everything else. Understanding friends will say “he/she is just förälskad (or even NY-förälskad, “newly” such) – he/she will be back in three weeks or so”.

  8. Mimi says:

    Your french expressions are not really right! Retrouvailles is just meeting again after a long time, it can be sad or happy, with friends or family as well. Douleur exquise is either a medical term or a litterary expression, no one uses that except poets and writers…

  9. Duck of Darkness says:

    11. Ikea. (Contemporary). The point in a relationship where you realise that love has led you to places you never wanted to go or thought you’d end up in, but now that you’re in that situation you find it virtually impossible to extricate yourself.

  10. Little Miss says:

    This is really lovely… but the definition of saudade is a little off. You don’t have to have lost that person to feel saudade. It’s a longing for someone, something or some place. It can be something that you will have again…

  11. Reblogged this on lookinbeyondthereal and commented:
    Languages are a beautiful thing. Anthropologists like the master storyteller Wade Davis call for a wider understanding of humans in all their diversity through concepts like enthodiversity, because a language does not only consists of words and gramatical rules. Its an actual living record of a way of understanding, in Wade’s world ‘an old growth forest of the mind’ thus languages are much like ecological families the richness of the world including much of our collective histories. Only this time it captures the diversity of human understandings. Ask humanity a question and it will answer in a thousand languages. The same goes for the question ´What is love?´ this article selected ten words from different languages in order for us to make a beginning with finding out what those thousand voices would have to say.

  12. tavi says:

    I loved the post. Thanks for sharing :)

    Just a comment about word #10.
    “10. Saudade (Portuguese): The feeling of longing for someone that you love and is lost. Another linguist describes it as a “vague and constant desire for something that does not and probably cannot exist.” —

    The concept of “saudade” is abstract and obviously really hard to explain, however the description is a little bit inaccurate.

    Saudade is a deep feeling of longing for someone that is lost (or hasnt been around for a long time or lives too far and you can´t see her/him oftenly) and also a deep nostalgic feeling for situations that are over or will likely never happen again. That is correct.

    However, the other part – that saudade is a desire for something that doesn´t or can´t exist – is a misinterpretation because saudade has to do with nostalgia, that is, you can’t feel “saudade” of something that does not exist. Unless it´s poetry and you intentionally deviate from the original meaning of the word :)

  13. Natália Pinho says:

    “Saudade” also means the feeling of emptiness you feel when somebody is away from you (traveled, died…).

  14. “Retrouvailles” isn’t right. It refers to the act of meeting again after a long time, but it is not exclusively love-related. It’s used a lot when family members find each other after losing sight of each other for many years.

  15. Eduardo says:

    The definition for “cafuné” is a bit off. It is actually “caressing someone’s scalp if one’s fingertips”…

  16. The United Nations notes that a language is currently being lost every 15 days on the planet. This will only accelerate as many older people die over the next 1/2 century. Our 2 million languages of 2000 years ago is down to less than 6000 – and will be less than 2000 by 2100 – we see our world through our languages – we are losing one of our great cultural/spiritual resources…

  17. they do now….

    “The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don’t just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and riffle their pockets for new vocabulary.” -James Davis Nicoll

  18. Joy says:

    Yuanfen! This one is my favorite, especially with the clarification added earlier in the comments. When I first met my current partner, long before we became romantically involved, I had this deep, powerful feeling– my heart immediately recognized him, even though he was a stranger. We had lots of little fate coincidences and chance meetings after that, until we ended up living in the same city. I wish I’d had a word for this sooner!

  19. Quimbundo says:

    Interesting that two of the words are in portuguese. Cafuné is brazilian portuguese. It originated (as many, many other words in brazilian portuguese) from an Angolan dialect spoken by the african slaves in Brazil.

  20. Pingback: EL REPORTER PLUS
  21. lanimom says:

    It would be nice to have the pronunciation of each word. I can butcher French fairly well, but Chinese and Norwegian can be tricky.

  22. We have a word for saudade, kaipuu. On the other hand, we have words for shadenfreude = vahingonilo (joy over mistake/accident) and wanderlust= matkakuume (travel fever). I think words say a lot about the culture.

  23. The languages of the world are all so amazing in their own way. The beauty of each of these words, describing the most beautiful experience any one of us can have–love. Each so subtle, and pure in its intention. I wish I had a word to share how I feel about it…wait, I do. Gratitude.

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