Ever find yourself searching for the right word to express an emotion, but coming up short? That’s not surprising. English, while undoubtedly useful and beautiful in its own way, isn’t the be-all-end-all when it comes to self-expression. That’s why we love these Dutch words that have no English equivalent — we can draw on them when we have something to say but don’t have the right words to say it.
Whether you’re too full for your own good at the end of a meal (hi, Thanksgiving) or you want to describe the pleasant or fun feeling you get at a home, at an event, or while chatting with your friends, these Dutch words will be there for you.
Described as “a word that encompasses the heart of Dutch culture,” gezellig is untranslatable but describes the feeling of coziness and familiarity you experience in a warm home, or the joy of being with your friends, or the pleasant atmosphere at a party. Basically, it’s all good things.
2. Hè hè
This expression is essentially a sigh of relief at the end of a long day, or satisfaction at a difficult job completed, or the relief of sitting down and simply removing your shoes.
This word means to turn a blind eye to something, or to choose not to enforce certain laws — it’s a good descriptor for the Netherlands’ stance on drugs.
You’ll need this verb next week: It translates literally to “outbellying” (not a real English word, of course) and describes the act of sitting back after a long meal and letting your “belly out,” or giving yourself some room to digest.
This translates literally to “sicking it out,” but describes the act of waiting out an illness and fully recovering.
6. Lekker puh!
A teasing expression that essentially means “serves you right!” and is often used by children who have pulled one over on a peer.
This beautiful word describes the act of going for a walk (often by the coast) to clear your head “in the wind.”