~ ”, ˁ  ‘ ( ¨– ¸

Some words I like or find interesting. I also have more in French on my blog.

acrasia : a lack of self-control, pushing one to act against their better judgement.

ambiphilia : attraction to both females/femininity and males/masculinity.
→ ambiphile. Compare: androphilia, gynephilia

androphilia : attraction to males or masculinity.
→ androphile. Compare: ambiphilia, gynephilia

aptonym : a proper name that reflects the person or thing's characteristics, often to a funny effect.

blue : English and most other languages usually group e.g. cyan and ultramarine together within the “blue” category, but Italian, Russian and Hebrew have separate words for them. (This is not the only cultural difference of course; see Wikipedia's article about colour terms.)

contranyms are words that can mean both one thing and its contrary (!), depending on the context.

cooties could be an untranslatable word; we simply don't have this (imaginary) concept in French! Foreign names designating foreign concepts often get borrowed, but wouldn't that sound awkward in this case? So I looked it up, and it seems translators often use “lice” instead, implying that American children believe the opposite gender has lice.

cryptomnesia : “When a forgotten memory returns without it being recognized as such by the subject, who believes it is something new and original. It is a memory bias whereby a person may falsely recall generating a thought, an idea, a tune, or a joke, not deliberately engaging in plagiarism but rather experiencing a memory as if it were a new inspiration.” — Wikipedia

dépaysement (French) : the pleasant feeling of being away from home, living something that's different from your daily routine.

dust bunnies are called dust sheep in French, wool mice in German, dust cats in Italian and Hungarian, dust rats in Swedish and wool poodles in Finnish!

gynephilia : attraction to females or femininity.
→ gynephile. Compare: ambiphilia, androphilia.

hurluberlu (French) : a weird person you can't take seriously.

hypocognition : the inability to articulate, identify, communicate and/or interpret something because one lacks the adequate vocabulary. (One of the reasons why I'm interested in words!)

Laádan is a feminist constructed language (conlang) invented by Suzette Haden Elgin; this list of Laádan vocabulary contains a lot of words that would be useful to have in other languages too!

or : such a simple word, but why is it that so few languages distinguish between the inclusive “or” and the exclusive “or”?

papillonner (French) : literally “to butterfly”; to go from one thing to another in a carefree manner, never settling down for long; perhaps changing subjects in a conversation, switching browser tabs, going from one painting to another in a museum, sleeping around etc. Not pejorative.

paralipomena : supplementary literary material (not very useful but I like how it sounds)

perfection seems to be a very misleading and artificial word to me. The idea of a perfect circle makes sense; the idea of a perfect person doesn't.

proprioception : the sense of knowing/feeling your own body and its position in space, e.g. where your legs are without touching them.

quale (plural : qualia) : a subjective, conscious experience — e.g. the experience of seeing the colour fuchsia, of touching a handkerchief, of feeling sad, etc.

same : this word is ambiguous in English (as is « même » in French). German differentiates between selbe (= the entity in question) and gleiche (= a different, though identical, entity).

sice, cinque, cater, trey, deuce, ace : respectively 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 on a die, card or domino; based on the French numbers six, cinq, quatre, trois, deux, un.

somehow is a word I miss not having in French. There are ways to say this of course, but they're usually much longer and awkward.

unununium : provisional name for chemical element no. 111, now properly named roentgenium.


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