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Love is a universal language — and while English has its own romantic vocabulary, languages around the world have unique expressions and terms that describe the intricacies of love. Here are nine romantic words from around the world that provide insight into the nuances of adoration and affection.
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Meaning: “The act of tenderly running your fingers through a loved one’s hair.”
Is there anything more intimate than caressing a loved one’s hair? This affectionate act conjures up a romantic image between two lovers, but the single word can encompass a mother’s bedtime routine with her child just as easily.
Meaning: “Love at first sight.”
In Spanish, flechazo is a feeling of intense chemistry with someone during a first meeting, similar to the idiom “love at first sight” in English. Flechazo translates to “arrow shot,” drawing a poetic parallel to Cupid's arrows and symbolizing the sharp impact of love.
Meaning: “To climb through a significant other’s window for a secret romantic rendezvous.”
In German, there seems to be a word for everything, including going through a window for a covert romantic encounter. Fensterln likely comes from the German term fenster, which means “window.” Try out a Babbel subscription to learn more unique German terminology.
Meaning: “Being lovestruck; the euphoric feeling of falling in love.”
New love is a beautiful thing. The Norwegian word forelsket describes the high that comes with the experience of falling in love. This word and many other Norwegian terms are closely related to Danish — learn about the language with a Babbel subscription.
Meaning: “The desire to pinch or squeeze something irresistibly cute.”
Have you ever seen a tiny baby with cheeks so chubby you just have to squeeze them? That’s the feeling gigil captures — the strong desire to hug something adorable. Think Agnes from Despicable Me with her unicorn stuffed animal that’s “so fluffy!”
Meaning: “Yearning for someone to visit you.”
In Inuit culture, the word iktsuarpok conveys the anticipation and eagerness felt while waiting for a loved one to come over. The Inuit word also contains the implication of going outside every once in a while to check if your guest has arrived.
Meaning: “The giddy rush experienced after something good happens, especially in love.”
When you bump into a crush or share a first kiss, those experiences might be followed up by kilig, which describes the exhilarating feeling one gets from positive romantic experiences. The term became widespread outside of the Philippines and was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2016.
Meaning: “Expressing the desire for a loved one to outlive you.”
In Arabic, ya'aburnee means “you bury me.” The word conveys the hope that the person you love will live longer than you, sparing you the pain of living without them. In 2021, Halsey released a love song titled “Ya'aburnee.”
Yuán fèn (Chinese)
Meaning: “A relationship by fate or destiny.”
The Buddhist principle of yuán fèn describes the force that draws two people together, emphasizing the idea of destiny playing a role in romantic connections. It’s similar to the concept of serendipity.
Featured image credit: kristinali/ Unsplash