Find Out What These 16 Wonderful Untranslatable Words Mean


Untranslatable words

There are about 6500 languages spoken around the world. Of those, about 2000 are spoken by less than 1000 people, including busuu, which is spoken by just a handful of people in Cameroon. The most widely spoken language is Chinese, with over 1 billion speakers worldwide.

With so many languages it’s hardly a surprise that some words are untranslatable. Whichever language you’re learning, you might come across words that can’t be translated into your native language.

Here are some of our favourite untranslatable words:

  1. Akimbo – English

The position of standing with your hands on your hips and your elbows pointing outwards.

  1. Friolero – Spanish

Someone who is especially sensitive to cold weather and low temperatures.

  1. Dépaysement – French 

The feeling you get when you’re not in your own country.

  1. Schnapsidee – German

An idea that sounds so crazy you’d think someone had it while they were drunk.

  1. Schilderwald – German

A street that’s got so many street signs on it you get lost.

  1. Culaccino – Italian

Sounds like a coffee but it actually means the mark a wet glass leaves on a table.

  1. Saudade – Portuguese

A sad yearning or pining for something that probably doesn’t exist, a bit like nostalgia in English.

  1. Tosca – Russian

Longing, restlessness, anguish or boredom – when you ache for something.

  1. Pochemuchka – Russian

Someone who asks too many questions.

  1. Zalatwic – Polish

Working for cash but also using bribery, your charm, friends, connections or family to get something done.

  1. Yakamoz – Turkish

The luminescence a certain sea creature creates on the surface of the water.

  1. Inshallah – Arabic

Literally translated into Enlglish it means, “if Allah wills it”, but in Arabic its meaning differs depending on slight changes in tone. It can also mean that something is unlikely to happen.

  1. Kyoikumama – Japanese

A mother who pushes her child to achieve academically.

  1. Tsundoku – Japanese

The act of buying a book and then not reading it and adding it to a pile of other un-read books.

  1. Shān zhài – Chinese

Innovative businesses that can be very successful and are based on fake or pirated goods.

  1. Shàng huŏ – Chinese

A term used in Traditional Chinese Medicine, it means having too much internal heat.

Those are our favourites, what are yours? Let us know by commenting..

Continue your language learning today!

Learning a language makes your travel experiences so much better


Learning a language makes your travel experiences so much better

Even a little knowledge of a foreign language can help you make a good impression when you meet people from other countries.

You will never truly experience the local culture if you limit yourself to interacting on a touristic level alone. A deeper level of communication will help you fully immerse yourself in the culture.

In other words, speaking another language helps to break down barriers.

Learning a foreign language can enrich your travel experience

Of course, nowadays you can travel anywhere and everywhere without speaking any other languages, but the experience can be completely different!

Learning a foreign language can help you become a more confident traveller, but also it will give you the opportunity to meet local people, explore different places off the beaten track, and learn more about the culture and cuisine of the place you are visiting…

Particularly if you are travelling alone, speaking a foreign language can make your trip so much easier, and more enjoyable too: for social reasons when meeting new people and discovering cool new places; or for personal safety reasons, like when asking for help in case of emergencies (obviously, we hope the former would be more relevant, but it’s better to be safe than sorry!).

There are plenty of good reasons to learn a foreign language and can help you to enjoy the process of learning a new language using our app and website!

Continue your language learning today!

BusuuGO! A motivational month



A whole month of motivational ideas, tips, activities and discounts

During our busuuGO campaign we want to help you love language learning even more, get motivation from the community, set yourself targets and make the most out of busuu’s features.

20% discount during busuuGo!

And to offer you a little bit of an extra incentive, during the whole month of the busuuGo month of motivation, we’re offering you a 20% discount on all our premium subscriptions on web but also on our iOS app (iOS prices you see already include discount and will go up after 18 Jan)

This will allow you to access all the features of busuu and maximise your language learning in 2015.

And with more new features being launched soon, we’re sure you’re going to love busuu more than ever.

What happens in the brain when you learn a language?

People who speak more than one language fluently have better memories and are more cognitively creative and mentally flexible than monolingual people.

It’s not only speaking a second language that can exercise the brain; the learning process is also beneficial.


Crazy New Year’s Eve traditions from around the world



The Italians bring in the New Year with red underwear, the Spaniards with grapes, the Scots

with a fruitcake and a piece of coal: all of these customs are said to bring good luck. The

online language learning community at has been exploring traditional and

unusual New Year’s customs from countries where the world’s five most widespread

languages are spoken: English, Spanish, French, Italian and Portuguese. This is how the

world celebrates New Year’s Eve!

Happy New Year!

All over the world, people wish each other “Happy New Year”, as English is the main

language in more than two dozen countries, as well as an official language in another 30.

New Year’s Eve traditions, however, vary considerably within the English-speaking world. It is

common for many English-native speakers to raise a glass at midnight and sing “Auld Lang

Syne”: whether it’s on London’s Trafalgar Square, the New Year’s ball drop in New York’s

Times Square or in a small New Zealand town. The Scottish ballad is probably the world’s

most famous song sung at the stroke of midnight.

However, there is also a lesser-known Scottish tradition: it is said that the first visitor after

the New Year brings luck into the house (especially if he is tall and handsome). Therefore,

after midnight young Scottish men go door to door of friends and relatives wearing a

traditional kilt, carrying a bottle of whiskey, lump of coal and armed with a black bun – a

fruit cake with raisins, citrus peel and almonds.

Feliz Año Nuevo!

While the Scots wait for New Year’s luck to come knocking at their door, the Spaniards must

demonstrate their own “skills” at midnight. A widely practiced Spanish New Year’s tradition

is to shove twelve grapes in your mouth in the twelve seconds after midnight. Spaniards

gather for the grape feast on marketplaces such as Madrid’s Puerta del Sol. A grape is then

eaten and a secret wish is made for each chime of the clock tower. Those without a church

clock nearby, gather together and listen to the bells on television. If a person looses count or

swallows their grapes whole, then the wishes will not come true. The highest level of

concentration is required for this custom.

The Argentineans practice the New Year’s Eve tradition of getting rid of last year’s baggage,

especially in Buenos Aires, where people shred papers and documents from the previous

year on December 31 and then throw them out the window. This tradition not only cleans

out last year’s trash, but also allows children to enjoy a “White New Year’s Day” in

summertime temperatures.

Bonne Année!

The French celebrate the new year rather calmly and quietly, surrounded by friends and

family (of course, there will always be good food). The French eat very well on New Year’s

Eve: smoked salmon, famous goose liver pâté (foie gras), snails as well as oysters, lobster

and caviar are all poplular. These delicacies are then carefully arranged into a three (or

more) course meal. At midnight, champagne corks pop across France. Private fireworks are

prohibited for safety reasons in many places, but instead, champagne glasses clink and

kisses are exchanged under mistletoe to deliver good wishes.

Buon Anno Nuovo!

Italian men give red underwear to their girlfriends, wives and even mothers on New Year’s

Eve. The tradition says that slipping into a pair of red panties for New Year’s brings good

cheer and happiness. In Italy, there is less emphasis on fine dining – unlike in neighboring

France – and more emphasis on achieving goals. Pig’s feet and lentils are placed on the

dinner table of many Italian families for New Year’s Eve. This is a traditional peasant dish

meant to represent saving money, as the lentils represent coins. As they swell whilst

cooking, the this signifies wealth in the new year.

Feliz Ano Novo!

In Brazil the New Year’s Eve menu is comparatively modest: the traditional bean stew

‘Feijoada’ is much like the lentils offered in Italy’s financial blessing. As for their choice in

underwear, the Brazilians differ from the Italians yet again. If you are still searching for love,

a pair of red undies should be worn. However, those who already have a partner and wish

for a harmonious year together should put on a pair of white underwear. Many Brazilians

dress in all white on New Year’s Eve as a symbol of purity, innocence and peace, but also for

fertility. Of course, the biggest and best New Year’s Eve parties in Brazil are on beaches like

Copacabana or Ipanema. Even the sea “dresses up” to welcome in the New Year: colourful

flowers are thrown into the water in honor of Yemanjá, Goddess of the Ocean.

Prosit Neujahr!

“Prosit Neujahr“ is wished throughout Germany at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve.

“Prosit” actually comes from Latin and means: may it benefit! No matter whether you’re in

South America, Northern Europe or in New Zealand, people all around the world associate a

new year with a fresh start. Across the globe, people raise their glasses and wish each other

a happy new year at midnight.

We wish you well!

Goodbye to one of the best years for busuu!



What have we done to improve your experience with busuu?

We have been working to create a better user experience for you and to make your language learning easier and more enjoyable.

Here are some of examples

  • We launched a brand new learning platform with:
  1. New content – our language experts have created new English and Spanish vocabulary and grammar units. The new Grammar units are designed to develop your skills in an intuitive and natural way, while keeping you motivated.
  2. Digestible learning units and activities – It is easier to complete shorter lessons while keeping you more motivated
  3. Objective based content - each lesson will help you achieve a specific objective.
  • We are delighted to be partnering with Pearson English to bring you a new online language test, GSET (Global Scale of English Test)

This is a brand new test that will revolutionise the way your level of English is measured! busuu is currently the only place where you can take this test and get your certificate, so you will be one of the first people in the world to benefit from it!

  • New mobile apps

Our apps have been radically re-designed to improve the user experience, while still providing free access to engaging content and courses. The new release features more interactive exercises, an attractive fresh design and improved navigation to make your language learning experience easier and even more fun!

All of these improvements have been recognised several times throughout the year:

EdTech Innovator Award 2014

busuu has reached the short-list for the EdTech Innovator Award 2014, an award set up by Edmix to reward the world’s hottest education tech start-ups and highlight innovation in the education sector.

Best App 2014

At the end of every year Apple releases a list of its best Apps.

And this year our busuu app is featured on the list of the Best of 2014 in Switzerland.

We are included in the “MUST HAVE APPS”

Our Android app has been selected by Google among the 127 best Android apps in the world, These “Must have apps” will be featured in the Google play store.

Busuu is joining Tech City UK’s Future Fifty Programme

We’re delighted to be joining Tech City UK‘s Future Fifty programme, alongside companies such as Onefinestay,, Skyscanner and many others. As a fast-growth UK-based business, we’re looking forward to being a part of this exciting network of peers, as well as getting support from the Future Fifty’s private sector partners.


But our best award is our global community of language learners!

In 2014, busuu reached the milestone of 50 million users worldwide!

It’s a pretty amazing achievement given that busuu was only set up six years ago and it is now the largest online language-learning platform on the planet!

Up to 40,000 users join busuu every single day!

We want to thank all of our users for their continued support.

Busuu would not be what it is today without its global community of language learners!

Thank you!