Favourite words

This is a collection of words in various languages that appeal to me for their sound and/or meaning.


– zarra-marra, n. = rubblish
– zurru-murru, n. = whisper (also txutxu-mutxu)
– zirrimarra, n. = scribbling

Cornish (Kernewek)

– bulhorn, n. [bɤlˈhɔrn] = snail
– solempnya v. [sɔˈlɛmpnja] = to celebrate

Czech (čeština)

– šňůrka, n. [ˈʃnuːrka] = string (from the German Schnur)
– zmrzlina, n. [zmr̩z.lɪ.na] = icecream


– bosky adj. [ˈbɒski] – consisting of or covered with bushes; full of thickets, bushy
– hornswoggle, v. – to get the better of; to cheat, swindle, hoodwink, humbug, bamboozle.
– hullabaloo, n. [ˌhʌl.ə.bəˈluː] = uproar, fuss
kerfuffle, n. [kəˈfʌf.əl] = a commotion or fuss
– misodoctakleidist, n. = someone who hates practising the piano
– murmuration, a. [ˌmɜː.məˈreɪ.ʃən] – a flock (of starlings)
– never-thriving, a. [ˈnev.ər ˈθraɪ.vɪŋ] – collective noun for jugglers
– purfle, v. [ˈpəːfəl] = to decorate the surface of a violin
– shenanigans, n. [ʃəˈnænɪgənz] = mischievous play, especially by children; deceitful trick(s); trickery, games

Estonian (eesti)

– jäääär, n. = the edge of the ice

e.g. Kuuuurijate töööö jäääärel = A moon researchers’ work-night at the edge of the ice

– õueaiaäär, n. = the edge of the fence surrounding a yard

French (français)

– ouistiti, n. [wi.sti.ti] = marmoset

German (Deutsch)

– Erbsenzähler = “pea counter” – control freak [source]
– Frühjahrsmüdigkeit = “springtime lethargy” – a general sense of weariness in the springtime [source]
– mampfen v. = to munch
– quatschen v. = to gab; to piffle; to talk rubbish; to chew the fat; to shoot the breeze; to blab; to yak; to squelch; to squidge
– schrumpfen v. = to shrink
– schnalzlaut, n. = (linguistic) click
– schnalzen = to snap/click one’s fingers
– Schnalzer = click, snap, crack

Irish (Gaeilge)

– smugairle róin, n. = jellyfish (lit. “seal snot”)
– sceallógaí, n. = chips

Italian (italiano)

– zanzara, n. [d͡zanˈd͡za.ra] – mosquito

Manx (Gaelg)

– dramane / drapane n. = misty rain
– neusloateil n. = non-stop rain (sloateil = cessation of rain)
– smooidraght n. = a little rain
– smoogh, n. = a playful kiss
– smittag, n. = a playful kiss / dark-looking girl
– ee, v. = to eat – e.g. Eeee ee – She will eat

Scots (Scoats leid)

– dreich, a. [driːç] = extensive, lasting, tedious, tiresome, slow
– gandaguster / gandiegow, a. = strong, sudden gust or a storm of short duration
– rumballiach, a. = tempestuous
– smirr, n. = light rain
– tirry-wirry, a. = cross, petulant, peevish
– wirry-boggle = a rogue, a rascal

Orkney dialect (source)
– ugsome = threatening, awe-inspiring (of weather). From Old Norse uggr, apprehension
– skuther / skwither = a sharp breeze of short duration
– skreever = a very strong gale

Shetland dialect
– plink = to play a string instrument; to twinkle – Gie wis a wee plink apo dee fiddle afore we gang hame
– scobbins = porridge/cereal stuck to a pan; scrapings from a pan
– smuksin = shuffling about in clumsy footwear
– smush = fine drizzle
– twartle = to contradict

Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig)

– smùid [smuːdʲ], n. = steam, vapour, fumes, smoke, a state of drunkenness (steaming/smashed), e.g. tha smùid orra = they’re drunk
– snog [sn̪ˠog] = nice, pleasant

Spanish (español)

– susurro, n. [suˈsurːoː] = whisper

Welsh (Cymraeg)

– bochgoch, n. [ˈboːχgoːχ] = rosy-cheeked; poppy
– mwnwgl, n. [ˈmʊnʊgl] = neck (also gwddf, mŵn)
– mympwy, n. [ˈməmpʊɨ̯] = whim, fad
– mympwyol, adj. [məmˈpʊɨ̯ol] = whimsical, arbitary
– mympwywr, n. [məmˈpʊɨ̯ʊr] = faddist
– odl, n. [ɔdl] = rhyme – odli = to rhyme – odliad = rhymning
– rhygyngog a. [rəˈgəŋɔg] = ambling
– slefren fôr, n. [ˈslɛvrɛn voːr] = jellyfish (lit. “sea slime”)
– sglodion, n. [ˈsg̊lɔdɪɔn] = chips
– smwc, n. [smuːk] = drizzle
– treigloffobia, n. [trəɨglɔˈfɔbɪa] = fear of treigladau (mutations)


Quotations and other snippets that appeal to me.

– Braille – something about it gives me the bumps.
– Vietnamese looks like an explosion in a diacritics factory.
– English is a relatively simple language, absurdly spelled.
– Be firmly convinced you are a linguistic genius. (Kató Lomb)

7 Responses to Favourite words

  1. So many languages but do you speak Dutch too?

  2. Simon says:

    Ja, Ik leer nederlands op het moment.

  3. Jane Blacksmith says:

    One of my favorite English word is “flimflam.” (n., deception, dishonest behavior).

    One of my favorite Scottish words is “hootenanny” (n. social gathering, party, celebration)

  4. Vavva says:

    A favourite of mine from Danish is “ruskomsnusk” (stew, approx. /ˈʁuskʌmsnusk/), the name bearing connotations to something jumbled together in a hurry with little attention to the ingredients. Literal translation would be a mess, but it goes somewhat like “small debris [floating] about/around [rhyming, similar-meaning word]”. The Norwegian variety of the dish, with a slightly tamer name of “lapskaus” has given Liverpudlians their demonym of Scouse (-skaus).

  5. Calixta says:

    I love this, thank you for the list 🙂

  6. John Ty'n y Coed says:

    I love this Welsh word because it is so descriptive “dwr poeth” heart burn, literally “hot water”.

  7. John Ty'n y Coed says:

    I love this Welsh phrase for it’s descriptivenes: “dwr poeth” literally hot water it means heartburn.

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