16 Filipino Words We Cannot Translate into English Words

Learning Filipino has been a struggle for me ever since we moved here. However, there are times when someone struggles to explain a word to me – and those happen to be the ones I love the most. Why? Because they are distinctly Filipino and make life oh-so-much easier. Who would’ve thought that a feeling you have only experienced and which used to take more than one word to explain actually exists in a single word in Filipino? Here are some of my favorites in alphabetical order.

(Please feel to correct me if I got some of the explanations slightly/completely wrong… I’m a work in progress.)

16 Filipino Words We Cannot Translate into English Words

16. Alimpungat

alimpungatan

Those moments when all you want to do is take a nap or sleep and someone suddenly barges in and talks to you about something you can’t even process coz you’re still half-asleep/half-awake.  That half-asleep/half-awake state? That’s alimpungat.

15. Bangungot

bangungot

Bangungot isn’t a nightmare. It’s more than a nightmare. It’s falling asleep, having a nightmare and then not being able to wake up. Think Freddy Krueger.

14. Daw

daw

This counts as a word, right? I think the meme says it all. It’s kind of like “allegedly”, but more of an “or so she says”, though sometimes people use it when you didn’t hear someone and they repeat what they said to you, as well.

13. Diskarte

diskarte

Pulling something off through all sorts of different means.

12. Gigil

gigil

You know that feeling that you get when you see an extremely cute baby and all you want to do is pinch his/her cheeks? That’s gigil. Although I have recently heard it being used in different contexts, as well, like when people are angry and want to punch someone rather than pinch their cheeks or when people find someone so hot, they wanna jump them. So I guess it’s a feeling that you get when you see an extremely >insert-adjective-here< person and all you want to do is >insert-verb-here< them?

11. Kilig

kilig

This is the first untranslatable Filipino word I came across and it’s still my favorite one to this day. It’s more than just happiness and butterflies in your stomach. It’s that stupid grin you get in your face while you’re on cloud 9, or how your heart starts to beat a million beats per second because you’re so over-the-moon happy, you can’t explain it. Stuff like that.

10. Kulit

kulit

Kulit can sometimes translate to annoying, but sometimes, kulit is used on a positive note, too, like when someone is being funny or when something is cool or when someone keeps asking you to see them.

9. Lambing

lambing

It took me a while to understand how this was used. What I’ve learned is that people use it when they want someone to shower them with affection (“Lambingin mo ako!”). However, it is also the word used when someone is being sweet (“Ang lambing mo!”) It’s a two-way thing for affectionate and sweet.

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