Filipino Words with No English Equivalent

We dare you to translate the following sentences.

When translating from Filipino to English, you will learn that there are some Filipino words that are best left alone. They simply have no direct translation in English and are better preserved in their form, untranslated, and provided with footnotes explaining the context behind them. The following are some examples of such words. 


1|  Kilig

Kilig is the positive feeling you get when you see couples enjoying a romantic moment or when you experience one. Literally, kilig means to move as if shuddering or shaking as if doused with cold water.

Untranslatable sentence: Kinilig ka sa Crash Landing on You?


2|  Tampo

Tampo is the withdrawal of your affection for someone because of hurt feelings, typically nuanced by your silence and avoidance of others. It is not quite along the angry or sad emotional spectrum. You typically undergo tampo when you think you should have been treated a certain way by someone you care for but you weren’t.

Untranslatable sentence: Ba’t tahimik ka? May tampo ka ‘no?


3|  Sama ng loob

Sama ng loob is an idiomatic expression that literally means bad inside. It is an unpleasant or unsettled feeling toward someone or something. When a person has sama ng loob, he is neither angry nor sad, but definitely harbors negative emotion.  


Untranslatable sentence: Hindi ako galit sa’yo, masama lang loob ko sa’yo.


4|  Gigil

Gigil is the overwhelming feeling that you suppress, such as eagerness fondness, or anger, typically marked by gritting of teeth.  You feel gigil when you see something adorable such as a puppy. You also feel gigil when you see an enemy you have been longing to crush for a long time but couldn’t.


Untranslatable sentence: Nakakagigil ka.


5|  Alimpungatan

Alimpungat is the disoriented feeling you get when you are suddenly wakened from deep sleep.


Untranslatable sentence: Ang sama ng gising ko kanina, naalimpungatan ako.


6|  Pasalubong

Pasalubong is anything you give to someone anticipating your arrival. It could be food or a small present. People usually expect bigger or more special pasalubong from you the farther the place you come from.


Untranslatable sentence: Uy, nakakahiya, wala tayong pasalubong na dala.


7|  Umay

Umay is the feeling of having had too much of the same food over and over again that you feel like you can no longer take a bite of the same stuff again.


Untranslatable sentence: Nauumay na ako sa ulam na ’to.



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Mario Alvaro Limos
Features Editor, Esquire Philippines
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