Original image
Macall B. Polay/HBO

20 Fierce Dothraki Terms to Know for Game of Thrones

Original image
Macall B. Polay/HBO
Daenerys Targaryen is back with the Dothraki this season on Game of Thrones. What better time to brush up on your favorite conlang east of Westeros? Start with these 20 fierce terms and soon you'll be to ready to vasterat with Khaleesi, Khal Moro, and the rest of the horselord gang.


As a nomadic horse people, it makes sense that their name comes from a word that means “to ride a horse." (Dothraki literally means “men who ride.”) A related term is addothralat, which means to transport someone by horse. (Dothrlalat, by the way, also means “to have an erection.”


Hrazef is Dothraki for “horse.” A hrazef chafi is a feral horse that was once tame, while hrazefeser refers to a herd of wild horses, the Dothraki version of “traffic.”


Fredri is a great Dothraki “untranslatable” that means the sound of a horse’s hooves on dirt. It probably comes from fredrilat, “to run."


fredrik is an overly talkative person, imitative of the sound of horse’s hooves.


Slang for an annoying woman, vikeesi might be related to vik, “chin,” perhaps with the idea of too much chin-wagging.


Chiftik is another gibe that means “cricket man”—in other words, someone who's small, weak, and noisy. Chifti, which might be imitative in origin, is a cricket, while a chiftikh is a lame blow with a sword.


While translated as “a respectful person” when used to refer to another Dothraki, chomak is considered an insult. Not surprising for a language in which there’s no word for “thank you.”


Oh, those crazy Dothrakis. Dozgosor is used to refer to an enemy khalasar, but can jokingly mean one’s own horde. Dozgo means “enemy” and dozgikh means “animal carcass.”


Vezhof, or the Great Stallion, is the horse god that’s central to Dothraki religion. The Vezhof's khalasar is believed to be the stars in the night sky.


While the Vezhof is the horse god, a veshak is a horse lord, another term for a Dothraki warrior. Vezh translates as “stallion” and might also give us vezhven, “great”; athvezhvenar, an exclamation expressing greatness; ivezh, “wild”; ivezho, “beast”; and ivezholat, “to grow fierce.”

11., 12., AND 13. HOSH, SOROH, AND AFFA

Hosh, soroh, and affa are all horse commands. Hosh is the equivalent of "giddyup" while soroh means “halt.” Affa means “whoa!” but is also used to calm a fitful horse or a fitful child.


To javrathat a horse means to rein it in. Javrath translates as “reins.”


To break a horse or domesticate an animal is vishaferat. The word also refers to making a first kill with a new weapon.


These terms describe horse gaits of varying speeds, with each gait corresponding to a degree of distance. Onqothat means to walk while an onqotha equals approximately one-eighth of a mile. Irvosat is to trot while irvosa is a quarter of a mile.

To canter is chetirat. A chetira is half a mile. Finally, karlinat means to gallop. A karilna is one mile, or the distance traveled in a leshitof, which is about two minutes. So the length of a karlina may differ depending on the speed and size of the horse and rider.


Karlinqoyi means to gallop at lightning speed—fast enough to kill a horse.

Reference: The Dothraki Language Dictionary

Original image
ANTTI T. NISSINEN, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Big Questions
Why Does Japan Have Blue Traffic Lights Instead of Green?
Original image
ANTTI T. NISSINEN, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

In Japan, a game of Red Light, Green Light might be more like Red Light, Blue Light. Because of a linguistic quirk of Japanese, some of the country’s street lights feature "go" signals that are distinctly more blue than green, as Atlas Obscura alerts us, making the country an outlier in international road design.

Different languages refer to colors very differently. For instance, some languages, like Russian and Japanese, have different words for light blue and dark blue, treating them as two distinct colors. And some languages lump colors English speakers see as distinct together under the same umbrella, using the same word for green and blue, for instance. Again, Japanese is one of those languages. While there are now separate terms for blue and green, in Old Japanese, the word ao was used for both colors—what English-speaking scholars label grue.

In modern Japanese, ao refers to blue, while the word midori means green, but you can see the overlap culturally, including at traffic intersections. Officially, the “go” color in traffic lights is called ao, even though traffic lights used to be a regular green, Reader’s Digest says. This posed a linguistic conundrum: How can bureaucrats call the lights ao in official literature if they're really midori?

Since it was written in 1968, dozens of countries around the world have signed the Vienna Convention on Road Signs and Signals, an international treaty aimed at standardizing traffic signals. Japan hasn’t signed (neither has the U.S.), but the country has nevertheless moved toward more internationalized signals.

They ended up splitting the difference between international law and linguists' outcry. Since 1973, the Japanese government has decreed that traffic lights should be green—but that they be the bluest shade of green. They can still qualify as ao, but they're also green enough to mean go to foreigners. But, as Atlas Obscura points out, when drivers take their licensing test, they have to go through a vision test that includes the ability to distinguish between red, yellow, and blue—not green.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at

Original image
Using Words Like 'Really' A Lot Could Mean You're Really Stressed
Original image

Are you feeling really exhausted? Or have you noticed that it's incredibly hot out today?

If you recognize the adverbs above as appearing frequently in your own speech, it could be a sign that you're stressed. At least, those are the findings in a recent study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. As Nature reports, researchers found that peppering our speech with "function words" is a pretty accurate indicator of our anxiety levels.

Function words differ from verbs and nouns in that they don't mean much on their own and mostly serve to clarify the words around them. Included in this group are pronouns, adverbs, and adjectives. A team of American researchers suspected that people use these words more frequently when they're stressed, so to test their hypothesis, they hooked up recording devices to 143 volunteers.

After transcribing and analyzing audio clips recorded periodically over the course of two days, the researchers compared subjects' speech patterns to the gene expressions of certain white blood cells in their bodies that are susceptible to stress. They found that people exhibiting the biological symptoms of stress talked less overall, but when they did speak up they were more likely to use words like really and incredibly.

They also preferred the pronouns me and mine over them and their, possibly indicating their self-absorbed world view when under pressure. The appearance of these trends predicted stress in the volunteers' genes more accurately than their own self-assessments. As study co-author Matthias Mehl told Nature, this could be a reason for doctors to "listen beyond the content" of the symptoms their patients report and pay greater attention "to the way it is expressed" in the future.

One reason function words are such a great indicator of stress is that we often insert them into our sentences unconsciously, while our choice of words like nouns and verbs is more deliberate. Anxiety isn't the only thing that influences our speech without us realizing it. Hearing ideas we agree with also has a way of shaping our syntax.

[h/t Nature]


More from mental floss studios