Top Five Words/Phrases Missing From English That We Really Need

The number one word missing from English that we truly need a name for is undoubtedly “schadenfreude”. This handy-dandy term is German, and is defined by Webster’s as “satisfaction or pleasure felt at someone else’s misfortune.” The Dutch and Norwegians borrowed the word to express it (“skadefryd”), while the Swedes already had the word “skadegladje”. So what’s with the lack of a term in English for this delightful concept? Admit it, you’ve felt it before. If you’ve ever secretly (or not-so-secretly) experienced even just a flicker of amusement or joy over that promotion your mean co-worker didn’t get, a supermodel falling down on the runway, or your terrible neighbor being foreclosed on, you’ve felt schadenfreude. And if you haven’t, maybe you’re just a tad too nice.

2. Belle Laide
You meet a new person and there’s just something about their face you can’t quite put your finger on. They’re almost extremely beautiful or handsome, but not quite. Maybe a feature or two is out of whack or they have some other physical trait that makes them just short of conventionally gorgeous. Still, they’re super attractive to most people while a few may find them downright unappealing. The French call this “Belle Laide” or literally “Beautiful Ugly”. Picasso would certainly understand, and this concept could apply to many of his renderings of women, with a good example being his work “Donna con Cappello Verde”.

3. Iktsuarpok
Have you ever been waiting for a pizza and every time you hear a car drive by, you jump up and look outside to see if it’s arrived? Or been expecting someone at your house and kept going outside to see if they’ve come? Have you ever then tried to explain that state of being to someone else? Some folks call it “the pizza paranoia” but the Inuit have one handy term for it: “Itsuarpok”. Translated, it means “going outside to see if anyone is coming or has already arrived.” Isn’t that easier than calling your friend and saying “Last night I had that thing where, you know how when you’re waiting for a food delivery and every time you hear anything, you jump up off the sofa and race to the door to see if it got there yet?” Whew! The Inuits sure have an easier time with that concept!

If you’re under 40, this word may not apply to you, but for folks who have hit the big 4-0 and beyond, this word could literally be a lifesaver. Translated from German, it means “a sense of alarm or anxiety caused by the feeling that life’s opportunities are passing (or have passed) one by; specifically that manifested in an aging woman who longs to discover the excitement of youth, and who fears being left ‘on the shelf.” Instead of trying to explain to your therapist why you need extra sessions or anti-depressants, you could simply say “I have a bad case of torschlusspanik” and he or she would know exactly what you mean!

5. Mamihlapinatapai
When the Guinness Book of World Records gives it the nod as “the most succinct word” and it’s widely considered to be the most difficult word in the world to properly translate, you know you’ve got something special. It originates from the Chilean Yanghan language and it means “A look shared by two people with each wishing that the other will initiate something that both desire but which neither one wants to start.” Many shining examples of this word can be found in the film “The Remains of The Day” starring Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson. When Sir Hopkins got through waxing poetic about fava beans and chianti to Jodi Foster in The Silence of the Lambs, he practiced his best “Mamihlapinatapai” on Emma Thompson in “Remains of the Day” to the point where the viewer wants to smack them both upside the head and scream “Get it on, already! Sheesh!” Next time you find yourself pulling that look on someone, try asking them out instead.