Culture

16 Brilliant Nepali Words You Can’t Translate In English!

Himshikha Dhamala
16th June 2022 Read time: 3 mins

Studying in a Nepali school meant you had to squeeze out every little English word you knew, since speaking in Nepali was a crime. But isn't keeping us from truly expressing ourselves the biggest crime of all? Speaking in Nepali is the only way we can express every emotion we might feel at any point of time. What expression does the Nepali dictionary not have?  Some words are so specific that we can’t even translate it to English. 

 

Even if you start every sentence you speak with ‘like’, you need these Nepali words to make your life easier. Here are 16 Nepali words that have no real translations in English. 

 

1. Jutho 

 

At some point, all Nepalis have the profound realization that the word jutho doesn't have an English translation. Who would want to live in a world where you can’t even say “jutho khaye maya badcha” everytime you steal someone else’s food?

 

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2. Jhanakka

 

The word jhanakka perfectly describes the feeling of having a scrunched up face and a palm ready to meet someone’s cheeks. You could never find an English word this specific. 

 

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3. Fanana

 

Nepali people seem to be way too observant about the world and its rhythms. Our deep understanding of dance and motion is also expressed in our language! Which is why a word exists to describe the motion of twirling too. 

 

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4. Aman (अमन)

 

Aman is the feeling of getting sick from something, especially food. But not just sick — it is a combination of feeling gutted, disgusted, and strangely unwell. When you are feeling aman, you feel a vague but extremely clear sense of being unwell — it’s a word that is so much more meaningful than ‘nausea’. We’re blessed to have all of this collected in one simple word!

 

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5. Haskine (हस्किने)

 

You know how when you have too much oily food  — your head feels heavy, your stomach feels sick, your mouth feels sticky? Weirdly specific, you say? Nepali language has a word for it too, it’s called haskine!

 

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6. Lyang Lyang

 

Your annoying Nepali friend won’t stop doing that annoying thing until they hear the sentence “hya lyang lyang nagar”. Try to call someone a dickhead and see if it elicits the same response. Between lyang lyang and dickhead, we choose lyang lyang every time!

 

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7. Muji

 

It’s every Nepali’s favorite word. You pass a test? Muji pass bhaye! You failed? Muji fail bhaye. It’s short enough, slips right off the tongue, and can adjust in any situation — is it the perfect word to ever exist? 

 

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8. Taa (तँ)

 

Taa is a perfect pronoun to use for someone you hate, or for someone you love too much. The satisfaction you get from simply referring to someone as ‘tyo’ is exceptional. In front of taa, the phrase ‘that guy’ sounds way too bland. 

 

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9. Alter 

 

Haters will say this is an English word. Well, the feeling it holds is Nepali! How else are you to describe someone or something unusual, weird and annoying at the same time?

 

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10. Torilaure

 

From the heaps of ruthless curse words Nepal has, you never want to be called a Torilaure, ever! It’s basically someone unemployed, but goes on giving business and life advice. Isn’t that the worst way someone can view you? 

 

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11. Birakta 

 

If you’re sad, don’t be. If you’re biraktiyeko, come on, you need a hug. The misery this word holds is too much for the world to handle. 

 

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12. Birangana 

 

While mythologies and folk tales of other countries may be full of monochromatic male heroes, Nepal was two steps ahead all this time and already had a word for female warriors! 

 

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13. Audaa

 

Audaa is a shapeshifting word, it can be used according to context and every Nepali mind will receive the information as intended. Aauda can be used when you find something annoying, bizarre, awkward, or any combination of the three. It’s audaa! And even the writers of the Oxford English Dictionary will have a hard time giving an exact definition to this word. 

 

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14. Sak sak lagdo (सक्-सक् लाग्दो)

 

Sometimes you just feel icky, irritated, and grimy which Nepali people call ‘sak sak lagnu’. But this phrase can also perfectly describe other unpleasant feelings like the screeching sound of a chalk against the blackboard.

 

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15. Guhaar

 

Google translate might give you the english translation as ‘help’, but we beg to differ. Help just doesn’t portray the sheer amount of panic that a hearty guhaarrr seems to convey. And yeah, you ask someone for help, but you never ask someone for a guhaar. It's a word that our ancestors have thoughtfully preserved just for that once-in-a-lifetime moment of life-and-death panic.

 

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16. Thego

 

The biggest unsolved mysteries of Nepal includes the obsession Nepali people have with the thego. Why do every Nepali parent have a classic catchphrase passed down for generations, more precious than any heirloom? Why does every friends’ circle in his Himalayan country have a friend who is defined by his irreplaceable thego? Go and ask these questions to a native English speaker, and you will return with no answers. An English-speaking human simply isn’t privy to these deep mysteries of life. 

 

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Read Also: Here's How To Say 'I Love You' In 10 Languages Of Nepal!

 

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