Untranslatable Filipino Words And What They Mean

Aug 31, 2021 0 comments




Have you ever felt so gigil trying to figure out the English translations of some Filipino terms? Have you ever tried explaining these words to non-native speakers only to end up saying “Ah, basta!” feeling so frustrated and helpless? Well, don’t beat yourself up. Filipino is a diverse and beautiful language. We have lots of untranslatable words that even Google translate can’t handle. If you’re interested, take a look at our list of six Filipino words that are best used in their original form, untranslated.


Kilig

Kilig is one of the popular Filipino words that have no direct translation in English. In 2016, it was officially added to the Oxford English Dictionary defined as “exhilarated by an exciting or romantic experience; thrilled, elated, gratified”. 

To further elaborate, this could be something that you feel when you received a notification from your crush, or when a significant other made a romantic gesture, or when watching an exciting scene from a romantic movie. Words aren’t really enough to show how magical kilig can make you feel. But when you feel it, you’ll know.


Gigil

Imagine this, it’s 11 in the evening and you still can’t sleep because your neighbor has been singing the same three songs at the karaoke for almost 3 hours. What would you feel? Isn’t it nakakagigil? You would have an intense feeling of annoyance to your neighbor. But, the word gigil is not always a negative feeling, it could also mean the uncontrollable fondness of something or someone that you find cute, like babies and their plumpy cheeks!


Basta

Basta comes from a Spanish expression that simply means “enough”. In the Philippines, it has a different meaning. It can imply that what you said is final and you don’t want to explain your decision. So when you want no further questions asked, you can say basta as a response. 


Umay

The sickening and terrible feeling after pigging out on a buffet just to get your money’s worth is what Filipinos call “umay”. However, it is not just used in the context of food but also in doing repetitive tasks or going through the same things over and over again. Just like the Enhanced Community Quarantine guidelines, now on its third installment! Umay.


Tampo

When you’re not really angry, but you feel kinda sad and disappointed with someone, it might be tampo. It is a cold behavior in which we typically tend to be quiet and avoid the person who hurt our feelings.


Sayang

The Filipino expression, sayang, does not have a direct English counterpart however, it may be related to the phrase “what a waste”. It is a way of expressing discontent or frustration over a wasted chance or missed opportunity.




━━ Written By  Janella Samut
━━  Art By
 Gem (@puppygummy)


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