8 Unique Hungarian Words That Don’t Exist In English
Hungarian is quite a unique language that’s similar to none of the other languages spoken in Europe. It’s a very distant relative of Finnish and Estonian. They say it’s hard to learn and sounds strange. Well, as Hungarians we know that. 😀 And this time we show you some exciting stuff from our language: words that are so uniquely Hungarian that you can’t even translate them into English. Because they don’t exist in English.
A gentle warning: these words are definitely not part of the basic Hungarian vocabulary that you learn if you want to be polite when greeting someone or saying thank you in Hungarian. We’ll guarantee though that using them would put a big smile on any Hungarian face – whether you use it in the correct situation or not.
It’s probably the strangest one. It sounds like pussy in English, but don’t think of a woman’s genitals when you hear Hungarians saying puszi. It has nothing to do with that. Puszi is a kiss on the check. Friends and relatives often give puszi to each other or use this word when saying goodbye on the phone. It’s not a romantic kiss though, we have the word csók for kissing someone on the mouth.
Sample usage: Szia! Puszi! (Bye! Kiss-kiss!)
We don’t only differentiate kisses, but also the different kinds of love. While szeretet means love in general, szerelem is the word for romantic love.
Sample usage: Szerelmes vagyok. (I’m in love.)
Have you ever felt secretly happy when something bad happened to someone else? There’s a word for it in Hungarian: káröröm. Literally it means “damage-joy”. When you feel káröröm, you often also feel envy, too.
Sample usage: Legszebb öröm a káröröm. (The best kind of joy is “damage-joy”. – It’s actually a proverb. Well, to each his own… 😀 )
Báty, öcs, nővér and húg
We don’t say elder or younger brother or sister in Hungarian, we have four different words for the different kinds of relationships. If your brother is older, he’s a “báty”, if he’s younger, he’s an “öcs”. If your sister is older, she’s a “nővér”, if she’s younger, she’s a “húg”. Simple and straightforward, right?
Sample usage: Van egy bátyám, egy öcsém, egy nővérem és egy húgom. (I have an older brother, a younger brother, an older sister and a younger sister.)
Such a typical Hungarian word! It means walking slowly with no specific destination. And why is it so typical? Let’s take a look at what it means literally. Kolbász means sausage – a very typical and popular Hungarian food. Kolbászolni is the verb form which means something like “to be sausaging around”.
Sample usage: Ma a városközpontban kolbászoltam. (I was wandering around in the city center.)
Similarly amusing as kolbászol, tököl refers to another food – though not so typically Hungarian: tök means pumpkin. Logically, tököl means “to be pumpkining”. And what does it really mean? It’s a slang word for wasting time.
Sample usage: Ne tökölj! (Don’t waste your time, hurry up!)
Do you have that colleague who spends half of his working hours reading social media and the other half being busy but not actually productive? That’s what he/she does: piszmog. It means to work only seemingly without a real purpose; doing something but accomplishing almost nothing. People don’t always piszmog on purpose, some of them just get distracted or get lost in unimportant details too easily.
Sample usage: Ne piszmogj már annyit! (Oh, come on, don’t piszmog. – We can’t translate it, I told you. 🙂 )
It’s the Hungarian name of the touch-me-not plant, but that’s what we call overly sensitive people who are easy to offend, as well. This person is a nebáncsvirág – literally, a hurt-me-not-flower.
Sample usage: Ne légy már olyan nebáncsvirág! (Don’t be such a hurt-me-not-flower!)
Any Hungarian word that you find unique or especially like?