Unique Filipino Words With No Exact English Translations

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Most of us have probably been in a situation where we’re trying to explain a word to a foreigner but we don’t know its exact translation to English. How would you explain kilig, lihi, and usog without saying too many words? Filipinos are so creative, eh? We have words for everything. Just take a look at these unique Filipino words that don’t translate to English.

1. Ewan

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Ewan. A vague word. But that’s what makes it beautiful. It doesn’t give away anything. It can be a yes, no, I don’t know, I don’t care, anything.

So, mahal mo pa ba? Ewan.

2. Lihi

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It’s when a pregnant woman in her first trimester throws up in the morning, irritated most of the time, and craves for bizarre food in the middle of the night. No, it’s more than just a pregnancy sickness.

It is also believed that if a pregnant woman likes something cute or not-so-cute, her child would look like that.

3. Usog

image credit: Reader's Digest

This has happened to most of us. Either we’re the one having hexed by usog or the other way around. This usually happens when a person is new to a place and he noticed or complemented a child, and that child gets sick after the person leaves. How will the child feel better? The person who has hexed the child by usog has to put some of his saliva (seriously) on the child’s forehead, tummy, and feet and say “pwera usog”.

4. Sumbat

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It happens when the person you’re indebted to berates you about the favor he has done for you. It’s like he regrets helping you or wants you to remember the favor he has done for you.

5. Kilig

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The excitement and happiness that you feel when your crush approaches you. It’s the feeling of being sooo happy you almost peed your pants.

6. Baduy

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This word is used to describe someone who has bad taste in fashion, or is old-fashioned. Saying “ang baduy mo” is more of an insult to the person.”

7. Bangungot

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You might say it’s nightmare. But it isn’t. A nightmare is just a bad dream but doesn’t cause death. Bangungot is when a person never wakes up from sleep because he went to bed with full stomach and had bad dreams.

8. Kulit

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It can be persistent, pesky, pain in the ass. But kulit is not just a negative word. It can be positive, cute, or funny especially when kids are the ones being makulit. “Ang kulit kulit naman ng pamangkin ko. Pa-kiss nga!”

9. Sigurista

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A perfectionist? No, not really. You know a perfectionist is someone meticulous and wants to get every detail exactly right. While sigurista is a person who makes sure that everything goes according to plan. It’s like he won’t do something unless the outcome is exactly what he wants.

10. Alimpungat

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It’s when your sleep has been interrupted, and you’re half-asleep and half-awake.

Entertaining, right? Here are more untranslatable tagalog words:

  • lambing
  • umay
  • tampo
  • gigil
  • panghi
  • basta
  • libag
  • pasma
  • ngalay
  • ngilo
  • pikon

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