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Speaking the Language of Love

Valentine’s Day is a day when we show our loved ones how we feel and express our deepest emotions. But if you’re tired of the same old clichés or struggling to find the words to describe your current romantic situation, we’re here to help! Take a look at our list of love-related words and phrases from around the world that can’t be expressed quite as succinctly in English…

Tiám – This is a word in Farsi that describes the twinkle in your eye when you meet someone for the first time, someone you know is going to play a huge part in your life

Cavoli riscaldati – This Italian phrase actually translates as ‘reheated cabbage’ – not exactly an aphrodisiac… but it refers to an attempt to restart a failed relationship, something that might not always end well!

Ya’arburnee – This Arabic noun translates directly into English as ‘you bury me’… it’s not used to express murderous intentions though, it actually describes the feeling of hope that you will die before your partner because living without them would be just too painful – romantic yet slightly morbid!

Forelsket – Back to the more positive side of romance, this Norwegian word is used to refer to the indescribable joy we feel when we fall in love!

Gruchać jak dwa gołąbki – This Polish expression translates literally as ‘to coo like two pigeons’. It’s used to describe two people who are very much in love and not afraid to show it. Think two lovebirds still in the honeymoon period…

Naz – This Urdu word describes the pride and reassurance that we feel to know that we are loved unconditionally by someone

Cafuné – You might be doing this a lot on Valentine’s Day, this is a Brazilian Portuguese word that refers to the act of running your fingers softly through the hair of your loved one – watch out for the grease! 

Razliubit – Slightly more depressing, this Russian verb describes the act of falling out of love with your partner. The awful feeling of knowing you don’t feel the same way about them as you once did, but also knowing that there’s no way of stopping it… Actually this might be a word to avoid using on Valentine’s Day!

Kilig – This Tagalog word describes the butterflies you feel after something good happens in your love life, like kissing someone for the first time or bumping into the person you fancy!

Koi No Yokan – This Japanese expression describes the feeling you have when you first meet someone who you know you are going to fall in love with – pretty intense!

La douleur exquise – And to end on a happy note, this French expression describes the unbearable pain of wanting someone you know you can’t have…

Do you speak the language of love? If you know of any other untranslatable words or expressions of romance, we’d love to hear them!

Lost in Translation: An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words from Around the World by Ellen Frances Sanders


Isabella Fink

Isabella Fink

I am native Austrian and studied Linguistics and Literature at the University of Innsbruck and in Manchester, so language and translation has always been a passion of mine. Before joining Tongue Tied, I have worked as a Translation Assistant and in Customer Services and Purchasing.

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