Original image

10 Foreign Words We Need in English—Illustrated!

Original image

Sometimes you just don't have the word you need to describe a feeling or an event. Lucky for us, there are plenty of other languages to borrow from. For her new book Lost in Translation, illustrator Ella Frances Sanders picked 50 foreign words that will help you better describe extremely specific incidents, and she brought them to life with delightful artistic renderings. Here are some of our favorites. 

1. Commuovere (Italian)

v. To be moved in a heartwarming way, usually relating to a story that moved you to tears.

2. Tretår (Swedish) 

n. On its own, "tår" means a cup of coffee and "patår" is the refill of said coffee. A "tretar" is therefore a second refill, or a "threefill."

3. Akihi (Hawaiian)

n. Listening to directions and then walking off and promptly forgetting them means that you've gone "akihi."

4. Wabi-sabi (Japanese)

n. Finding beauty in the imperfections, an acceptance of the cycle of life and death.

5. Mangata (Swedish)

n. The road-like reflection of the moon in the water

6. Luftmensch (Yiddish)

n. Refers to someone who is a bit of a dreamer and literally means "air person."

7. Tsundoko (Japanese)

n. Leaving a book unread after buying it, typically piling up together with other unread books.

8. Kilig (Tagalog) 

n. The feeling of butterflies in your stomach, usually when something romantic or cute takes place.

9. Glas wen (Welsh) 

n. This literally means a "blue smile"; one that is sarcastic or mocking.

10. Komorebi (Japanese) 

n. The sunlight that filters through the leaves of the trees.

Reprinted with permission from Lost in Translation by Ella Frances Sanders, copyright (c) 2014. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Random House LLC.

Original image
'Froyo,' 'Troll,' and 'Sriracha' Added to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary
Original image

Looking for the right word to describe the time you spend drinking before heading out to a party, or a faster way to say “frozen yogurt?" Merriam-Webster is here to help. The 189-year-old English vocabulary giant has just added 250 new words and definitions to their online dictionary, including pregame and froyo.

New words come and go quickly, and it’s Merriam-Webster’s job to keep tabs on the terms that have staying power. “As always, the expansion of the dictionary mirrors the expansion of the language, and reaches into all the various cubbies and corners of the lexicon,” they wrote in their announcement.

Froyo is just one of the recent additions to come from the culinary world. Bibimbap, a Korean rice dish; choux pastry, a type of dough; and sriracha, a Thai chili sauce that’s been around for decades but has just recently exploded in the U.S., are now all listed on Merriam-Webster's website.

Of course, the internet was once again a major contributor to this most recent batch of words. Some new terms, like ransomware (“malware that requires the victim to pay a ransom to access encrypted files”) come from the tech world, while words like troll ("to harass, criticize, or antagonize [someone] especially by provocatively disparaging or mocking public statements, postings, or acts”) were born on social media. Then there’s the Internet of Things, a concept that shifts the web off our phones and computers and into our appliances.

Hive mind, dog whistle, and working memory are just a few of the new entries to receive the Merriam-Webster stamp of approval. To learn more about how some words make it into the dictionary while others get left out, check these behind-the-scenes secrets of dictionary editors.

Original image
How New Words Become Mainstream
Original image

If you used the words jeggings, muggle, or binge-watch in a sentence 30 years ago, you would have likely been met with stares of confusion. But today these words are common enough to hold spots in the Oxford English Dictionary. Such lingo is a sign that English, as well as any other modern language, is constantly evolving. But the path a word takes to enter the general lexicon isn’t always a straightforward one.

In the video below, TED-Ed lays out how some new words become part of our everyday speech while others fade into obscurity. Some words used by English speakers are borrowed from other languages, like mosquito (Spanish), avatar (Sanskrit), and prairie (French). Other “new” words are actually old ones that have developed different meanings over time. Nice, for example, used to only mean silly, foolish, or ignorant, and meat was used as blanket term to describe any solid food given to livestock.

The internet alone is responsible for a whole new section of our vocabulary, but even the words most exclusive to the web aren’t always original. For instance, the word meme was first used by Richard Dawkins in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene.

To learn more about the true origins of the words we use on a regular basis, check out the full story from TED-Ed below.

[h/t TED-Ed]


More from mental floss studios