10 of the best: Funny words from around the world

There are many fundamental differences between me and my big brother Gary; he’s a good foot taller than me, he’s naturally dark and I’m naturally blonde, but most importantly, he’s numbers and I’m words. And we’ve always been that way. He’s the king of quick maths and I use 20 words when only 5 would do. This is going somewhere I promise…That little factoid does make me think about how much I’ve always loved words and after a lunchtime conversation at work about the word schadenfreude, we all got talking about funny words from around the world and the fact that there are some quite specific activities or feelings you would never know there was a word for. Until now!

Here’s what we came up with:

Backpfeifengesicht  (Germany)


I promise you, we all know someone with a Backpfeifengesicht. It could be someone at work, it could be that mate with the other half you just can’t quite get along with, it could be a family member, or it could be a celebrity like, oh, I don’t know, Chris Martin. It’s the German word for a face the should be slapped.

Bakku-shan (Japan)

BSB funny face

What other cultures would refer to as a ‘Monet’ (pretty from far away but a bit of a mess up close) or a BOBFOC (Body Off Baywatch, Face Off Crimewatch). It’s essentially a woman with a nice arse but an ugly face. Their charmers those Japanese.

Kaelling (Denmark)

Brian apron

I’ve always thought those Scandinavian countries were a quiet, civilised bunch, but apparently there are enough women who stand on their doorsteps in their aprons screaming obscenities at their kids to warrant the word Kaelling. In Geordie it would simply be a Fish Wife

Kummerspeck (Germany)


Pretty much the German word for the freshman 15, the heartbreak diet, or as I would call it – ‘Helen’s time of the month’. It’s the weight you gain from being an emotional eater.

Pelinti (Ghana)


You know when you eat something really hot, like a slice of pizza or a baked tomato that when it pops in your mouth it’s hotter than the sun? You make that ‘ah ah ah’ sound because you don’t want to swallow it and burn your oesophagus, but similarly you can’t spit it out? That specific noise is called Petini in Ghana

Physiggoomai (Ancient Greek)


We’ve all seen the documentaries about people who’ve married their dogs or like a bit of sexy time with their cars. A physiggoomai is someone who gets turned on by garlic. Weird.


The word that kicked off the conversation. Schadenfreude is the German word for taking pleasure in someone else pain or misfortune. So, laughing when someone gets kicked in the nads, really.

Tartle (Scotland)


Dave is the world’s biggest tartler. I’m not so much of a tartler because I can pretty much talk my way into, or out of anything. Can you guess what it is yet? It’s the word for the moment of hesitation/blind panic you feel when you’re introducing someone to someone whose name you’ve forgotten.

Utepils (Norway)

Howie drinking

A Norwegian word that literally translates to ‘outdoor lager’ but is a word used to describe the first beer garden beer of the year. You can imagine how desperate I was for the weather to warm up to get visual representation of this one.

Pantsdrunk (Finland)


Forget hygge. Pantsdrunk is the new cosy pastime for the winter. The Finnish path to happiness is being pantsdrunk and literally means drinking at home, alone in your underwear. Which is a pretty average night for me if Dave’s away.

What are your favourite funny words from around the world….?


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