The 10 Coolest Foreign Words The English Language Needs

Have you ever blurted out, "Wow, that guy is just so...so..." and then were left floundering with nothing to say? Well, it's not always your fault. English doesn't have words for every situation, or even the ones that happen every damned day.

Fortunately, other languages usually do. And since we already borrow words from them (just recently we've taken "schadenfreude," the German word for pleasure in someone else's misfortune) here's a few that we need to pick up right away:

#10.
Bakku-shan (Japanese)

Means:

A beautiful girl... as long as she's being viewed from behind.

Say you're in a bar, and you look over to see the most incredible sight you've ever seen: a tall, slim woman with a waterfall of dark copper hair, an ass like a fresh peach in shrinkwrap and legs all the way down to the floor. You saunter over, lean against the bar next to her and give her your best line: "I got a boner just looking at you, can I buy you a drink?"

That's when she turns to look at you.

Bile rises in your throat. It's hard to say which is worse--is it the mole sprouting hair on her cheek? The yellow tombstone teeth? The eyepatch? The wiry black hair sprouting out from between her breasts?

Congratulations, you have just been a victim of bakku-shan: a girl that looks attractive from behind, but not from the front. It's a more sophisticated variant of the American frat boy's butter-face (as in everything about her is hot, "but her face") that makes room for attractive women with weird neck tattoos, while at the same time allowing the speaker to avoid giving everyone within ear-shot douche-chills.

Truly the Japanese have a talent for coming up with words to describe common social situations so succinctly. Like they did with "bukkake."

#9.
Espirit d'escalier (French)

Means:

When you think of the perfect verbal comeback... much too late.

So you're at a social gathering and a friend, in front of your peers, points at your chest and says, "Good sir, is that your shirt, or did you just vomit on your torso?"

The sting of his insult renders you wordless. Then, mere moments later, just as you've exited the room to the cacophony of humiliating laughter that will be the soundtrack to the rest of your life, you come up with the perfect comeback. Only moments later, but still much, much too late (note, the correct comeback was, "Neither, this is a special shirt created by scientists at the FBI to identify pedophiles, as it is specifically designed to offend their sensibilities to the point that they must comment. You will now be added to a sex offender registry").


"Oh, excuse me, it looks like you dropped your pride. Better grab it."

The French have come up with a term for your belated wit, Esprit d'escalier. Literally "the wit of the staircase," meaning you couldn't think up anything sassy until walking down the stairs afterward.

#8.
Mamihlapinatapai (Yaghan)

Means:

A look between two people that suggests an unspoken, shared desire.

There are two types of people in this world. There are the go-getters, the ones who see what they want and go after it with both hands, whether it be the boobs of the girl at the bar or a half-eaten candy bar in the hands of a two-year-old child.


Or, for the more experienced go-getters, both.

Then there is the second group, the shy ones, the ones who cower, terrified of rejection, forever tormented that they don't have the things they want, primarily because they never get up the nerve to ask for them.

Get two of the latter together, and you get Mamihlapinatapai. It's 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."

It's the shy dude and the insecure girl, sitting there at each end of a park bench, perhaps glancing every now and then at the other and blushing whenever eye contact is made, forever making trivial conversation, each imagining the two of them fucking like wildcats.

#7.
Backpfeifengesicht (German)

Means:

A face badly in need of a fist.

Some people, we just suspect deep down that the only way to get through to them is by violence. Or perhaps the violence is the only thing that will make us feel better.

It's the friend who insists on telling racist jokes in front of your mixed-race girlfriend, a co-worker who's constantly sniveling about minor grammar issues on your post-it memos or any number of entertainers you see on magazine covers.

Courtesy of Germany, this nameless horror is in fact named backpfeifengesicht, a face that cries out for a fist in it. Everyone knows at least one of these people. If you don't, it might be you.

There are variations that definition, that claim it merely means the face needs to be "slapped" but this is Germany we're talking about here. We're going with fist, and further ask if we can modify the word to mean "A face that needs a crowbar." Because there's really another category that needs addressed there.

#6.
Nunchi (Korean)

Means:

The art of not becoming a Backpfeifengesicht.

Speaking of which, why is it some people just seem to have no idea what's going on in a social situation? They tell six jokes in a row without noticing no one is laughing, they smoke in a house that has clearly never been smoked in, they managed to always bring up the one subject you're sensitive about ("Hey, you know what's funny? The Holocaust!")

The Koreans would say they lack nunchi, the innate ability that lets you sense what would be the wrong thing to say in a situation (and presumably the ability to then not say it).


"And it went right up her butt. Swear to God. Hey, did you hear me?"

The boss character from The Office (both versions) is simply a guy who completely lacks nunchi. It goes beyond tact, or simple manners. It's the ability to read your audience and instinctively know, as soon as you see them, "here are people who will not enjoy my dildo anecdote."

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