Eight words or phrases we need in English

There are over 170,000 words in the English language but have you ever struggled to find a way to express something? How can you describe just how incredibly spicy your takeaway was? Or what's that feeling of needing a nap immediately after eating it called?

Worry not - these words from languages across the world will sort you out.

1. Innerer schweinehund

A pig's head on a dog's body, depicting a 'schweinhund'
Try and un-see this. I dare you.

We’ve all been there - your alarm goes off and all you want to do is stay in bed all day. You keep on pressing snooze until the absolute last minute, and you start debating whether or not your plans are even worth getting up for. The inner voice that encourages you to be lazy is called your innerer schweinehund in German, which literally means ‘inner pig-dog’.

2. 麻辣 (MÁ LÀ)

A man in a shop buying some spices
"Will this give my meal a subtle kick or will it burn a hole through my tongue?"

In Mandarin, there’s a phrase to describe the numb feeling you get when a spicy meal knocks you off your feet. It’s má là, and it comes in handy when trying to describe how you feel after eating that vindaloo you confidently ordered.

3. Yaourt

Child singing loudly in the back of a car
You may have heard of singing something cheesy, but there's another dairy product to describe your wailing.

You know you’ve done it. You’re singing along to a song on the radio, and you realise too late that you don’t know the words to the next verse. But you carry on anyway, with some very questionable made up words. Someone in France may say tu chantes du yaourt to you when this happens, which literally translates to ‘you sing yoghurt’. It means that you use fake words or sounds - and you aren't fooling anyone.

4. Friolera/friolero

Woman looking grumpy in some snow
Parts of the UK reached 33°C this summer, and yet some people will still have been wearing their big coat.

Winter is coming, but there are some people that absolutely can’t stand cold weather - everyone knows that one person who wears a roll neck in mid-July. These people are called friolera or friolero in Spanish, and it just means someone who is particularly sensitive to cold.

5. Hiraeth

Mr Blobby in 1993 on Noel's House Party
Mr Blobby certainly wishes it was still 1993.

Homesickness is a familiar feeling for most of us, but sometimes that feeling of longing can extend to a time in your life as well as a place. The word homesickness doesn’t quite seem to describe it. Luckily, the Welsh language has us covered. Hiraeth describes a deep longing for a place as you remember it, but which has probably changed significantly. Think parents who constantly yearn for their university days.

6. Craic

3 tourists at Temple Bar in Dublin, Ireland
The word is used in Scotland as well as Ireland.

Craic is an Irish noun used to describe a really good time with other people, particularly when you just can't stop laughing. An example of this in a sentence would be: “I went round to my best friend Niamh’s house yesterday and couldn’t stop laughing - it was great craic”. It can also be used to talk about plans: "what's the craic tonight?" Very efficient.

7. Abbiocco

Boy napping at the table after a meal
Some people don't even wait until their meal's finished before sleeping.

Have you ever had a huge Sunday roast and immediately needed a nap afterwards? Well, in Italy, there’s a word for that: abbiocco. It’s the particular kind of sleepiness you feel after a big meal.

8. Hygge

Two children drinking hot chocolate on the sofa with a dog
The word, whilst now a central part of Danish culture, actually originates from Norway.

With winter on its way, it’s prime time for toasting your toes by the fire with your family and friends, and feeling all warm and snuggly. In Danish, there’s a word for a moment that feels particularly cosy and comfortable, and that’s hygge. It’s best used to describe how you feel settling down to watch the Christmas Strictly episode in your warmest socks with a huge mug of hot chocolate.

GCSE French
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