Foreign Words That Don’t Exist In English: The Food Edition

These words just don’t exist in English, and yet they perfectly capture moments or phenomena that we’ve all experienced! This week, we’re looking at words that could really come in handy at the dinner table.

Pelinti – Buli, Ghana

hot food

You know that thing you do when you bite into hot food and your tongue does a little dance because it’s just too hot? Ghana has a word for this. Pelinti literally means “to move hot food around in your mouth.”

Sobremesa – Spanish

conservation at dinner table

This beautiful word captures those lingering moments after dinner when all the food is gone but the conversation luxuriously trails on. Sobremesa is not just a word, but also a tradition: in Spain, meals are often followed by lounging and a good chat over the table.

Pålegg – Norwegian


Can you put it on a sandwich? Then it’s probably pålegg. Linguists say there is no direct translation for this word, but it roughly means anything that you can fit on a slice of bread. That includes cold cuts, sauces, butter, veggies, and cheese.

Kuidaore – Japan

money and check for dinner

Kuidaore means “to go broke from eating” or “to ruin oneself with extravagant food.” Kuidaore has often been used to describe Osaka’s excessive foodie culture. But spending too much on food isn’t geographically specific. Most of know someone who tends to rack up the dinner bill at a restaurant.

Shemomedjamo – Georgian

empty plate

This word means, “I accidentally ate the whole thing.” It’s used for when you ate until you were full and then kept on eating anyway. Who hasn’t done that?