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Over the last few years, I’ve collected a handful of beautiful untranslatable words from around the world.  Although each is packed with powerful wisdom, none have direct english translations.  You can find yourself spending months chewing on a single word or phrase on its own.  If you can incorporate a few of these concepts, they can make a big impact in the quality of your life.  Enjoy.

13 UNTRANSLATABLE WORDS FROM AROUND THE WORLD

Kodawari

Japanese
Definition:  Kodawari is a Japanese word that means to obsess with the details. It refers to the “uncompromising and relentless pursuit of perfection,” of viewing everything through the lens of perfection, not just the sum of their parts.

Meraki

Greek
Definition:  The soul, creativity, or love put into something; the essence of yourself that is put into your work.

Lagom

Swedish
Definition:  Just the right amount.  Exactly enough.  Not too much or too little.  According to Andrew Weil, “Contentment, serenity, comfort, balance, and resilience, together constitute a lagom version of positive emotionality.”

Areté

Greek
Definition:  In its earliest appearance in Greek, this notion of excellence was ultimately bound up with the fulfillment of purpose or function: the act of living up to one’s full potential.

Fargin

Yiddish
Definition:  To wholeheartedly appreciate the successes of others.

Amor Fati

Latin
Definition: Loosely translated as “love of fate” or “love of one’s fate”. It is used to describe an attitude in which one sees everything that happens in one’s life, including suffering and loss, as good or, at the very least, necessary, in that they are among the facts of one’s life and existence, so they are always necessarily there whether one likes them or not.

Read Warrior’s article including a further explanation of Amor Fati:  6 Powerful Insights To Have When Your World Is Falling Apart

Yugen

Japanese
Definition:  Pertaining to a profound awareness of the universe which evokes feelings that are inexplicably deep and too mysterious for words

Maitri

Sanskrit
Definition:  Unconditional friendship / acceptance with oneself.

Read Warrior’s in-depth article on Maitri:  Maitri: The Art of Unconditional Friendship Towards Oneself

Ikigai

Japanese
Definition:  A reason for being. Everyone, according to the Japanese, has an ikigai. Finding it requires a deep and often lengthy search of self. Such a search is regarded as being very important, since it is believed that discovery of one’s ikigai brings satisfaction and meaning to life.

Wu-wei

Chinese
Definition:  “Non-doing” or “non-action.” The state of being in which our actions are quite effortlessly in alignment with the ebb and flow of the elemental cycles of the natural world.  t is a kind of “going with the flow” that is characterized by great ease and awakeness, in which – without even trying – we’re able to respond perfectly to whatever situations arise.

Read Warrior’s in-depth article on Wu-wei:  Wu-Wei: The Art of Riding The Waves of Life

Mushin

Japanese
Definition:  A Zen expression meaning the mind without mind, and is also referred to as the state of “no-mindness”. That is, a mind not fixed or occupied by thought or emotion and thus open to everything.

Kintsugi

Japanese
Definition:  The Japanese art of fixing broken pottery with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum, a method similar to the maki-e technique.  As a philosophy, it means embracing the flawed or imperfect.

Nullius In Verba

Latin
Definition:  Latin for “on the word of no one” or “Take nobody’s word for it”.  To question authority.  Find out what is empirically true, not on the bias of authority.

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Do you know any other badass untranslatable words?  Share your favorite in the comments below.


About Tony Balbin

Founder of warrior.do. Creator. Digital Nomad. Learn more about my store here.