10 Spanish Words That Have No English Translation

05/27/2014 05:31 pm ET | Updated Nov 11, 2014
  • Ana Benedetti The Huffington Post
kaan tanman via Getty Images

Ever get that annoying feeling that you can't find the exact word to describe something? You may not be thinking in the right language. Here are 10 very specific words in Spanish that don't quite have an English counterpart.

1. Sobremesa



dinner friends

That moment after eating a meal when the food is gone but the conversation is still flowing at the table.

Llegué tarde porque la sobremesa del almuerzo se alargó. Rough translation: I was late because the time spent talking after eating went long.

2. Estrenar

new clothes

To wear or use something for the first time.

¿Te gustan mis zapatos nuevos? Me los estoy estrenando. Rough translation: Do you like my new shoes? I'm wearing them for the first time.

3. Pena Ajena/Verguenza Ajena

embarrassment

To be ashamed or embarrassed on behalf of someone else, even if they don't share the feeling.

Me dio pena ajena cuando le botó todo el vino encima a su suegra. Rough translation: I was really embarrassed for her when she spilled wine on her mother-in-law.

4. Antier/Anteayer

calendar

A one-word way of saying the day before yesterday. A shorter version of "antes de ayer."

Ella llegó de viaje antier. Rough translation: She got back from her trip the day before yesterday.

5. Desvelado

alarm clock

Unable to sleep or to be sleep deprived.

Estuve desvelado porque el perro no paró de ladrar toda la noche. Rough translation: I didn't get any sleep last night because the dog wouldn't stop barking.

6. Tuerto

pirate

A man with only one eye.

El pirata es tuerto. Rough translation: The pirate only has one eye.

7. Friolento/Friolero

cold

Someone who is very sensitive to cold.

Él es muy friolento y siempre pide que apaguen el ventilador. Since the cold affects him so much, he always asks them to turn off the fan.

8. Te quiero

happy couple

A way to tell someone you care about them. Particularly when romance is involved, more meaningful than an "I like you" but less meaningful than an "I love you." May be used as "I love you" in non-romantic relationships.

Te quiero. Rough translation: I really care for you but don't quite love you.

9. Merendar

tea friends

To have a snack or to go out for an afternoon snack.

Invita a merendar a tus amigas la casa esta tarde. Rough translation: Invite your friends over to the house for an afternoon snack.

10. Tutear

respect

To treat someone informally by addressing them as "tú" instead of the more formal "usted."

No vayas a tutear a tu suegra cuando la conozcas. Rough translation: Don't treat your mother-in-law informally when you meet her.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story had the word "tocayo" which was too similar in meaning to namesake so it was taken out, as well as "empalagoso" which was too similar to cloy.

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