Favourite words

Basque

  • 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

English

  • 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
  • huffkin, n. – a traditional type of bread roll from Kent
  • 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)

  • õueaiaäär, n. = the edge of the fence surrounding a yard
  • jäääär, n. = the edge of the ice. e.g. Kuuuurijate töööö jäääärel = A moon researchers’ work-night at the edge of the ice

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”)
  • sceallóga, 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
  • pingle, v. [pɪŋl] = to trifle, dabble or meddle with (esp. food)
  • 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

Swedish

  • snigelhus [ˈsniːgɛl.hʉːs], n. = shell (snail-house)
  • snilleblixt [ˈsnɪlə.blɪkst], n. = brainwave; a great idea; serendipity (genius-flash)
  • snö [snøː], n. = snow
  • snöby [snøːbʏ], n. = flurry
  • snögubbe [snøːˈɡɵˌbɛ], n. = snowman
  • snömos [snøːmɔs], n. = slush, empty talk

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, fancy
  • 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)

Quotes

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)

More sayings and proverbs about language

6 thoughts on “Favourite words

  1. 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)

  2. 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).

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

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