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The Top 10 Untranslatable Hungarian Words

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No matter how long you’ve been studying a language, it’s always fun to flaunt your speaking skills now and again. While learning how to introduce yourself, order pizza, or even go through a job interview are all impressive feats, you’ll eventually need to add some flair to your language skills! And what better way than by learning how to use that language’s most common untranslatable words?

Each language is unique, having at least a few words that don’t translate well into other languages. Yes, even Hungarian! 

In this article, you’ll learn the most common untranslatable Hungarian words. These are terms that have no direct equivalent in English (though we wish they did!). The best part? You probably haven’t even heard of them yet! 

Here at HungarianPod101, it’s our goal to help you improve your Hungarian skills and increase your knowledge of the language and culture. We want you to thrive and succeed on your language learning journey, mastering each of the key skills along the way: speaking, listening, reading, and writing

Learning Hungarian words that don’t exist in English will take you one step closer to native-like fluency—and using them in the right context is sure to impress any native speaker (not to mention your friends and family). When you’ve finished reading, make sure to let us know in the comments which one is your favorite! 

Let’s get started.

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Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Hungarian Table of Contents
  1. Lébecol
  2. Kacskaringós
  3. Mézeskalácssütés
  4. Mártírkodni
  5. Pampogni
  6. Hórukk!
  7. Fogócskázni
  8. Lebzsel
  9. Cuccolni
  10. Lacafacázni
  11. How HungarianPod101 Can Help You Improve Your Hungarian

1. Lébecol

Literally
[No literal meaning]

Meaning
To live carefree without any problems or troubles

Context
This untranslatable word in the Hungarian language is normally used to criticize young people. For example, a parent may say that their child is lébecol or the elderly might use this term to describe youngsters.

Example

A: 
Mit dolgozik? Vagy még mindig egyetemen tanul?
“What does he do? Or does he still study at university?”

B:
Istenem, egyik sem! Éppen lébecol.
“Oh my God, neither! He is currently living without any problems, carefree.”

Note
As we touched on above, this Hungarian verb denotes criticism. You might want to be cautious about when you use it and to whom you apply it.

2. Kacskaringós

Literally
[No literal meaning]

Meaning
Having many turns, as though going in a zigzag pattern

Context
This untranslatable Hungarian word is used to describe roads, typically those on a hill or mountain.

Example

A: 
Szerintem mindjárt kidobom a taccsot. Nem bírom tovább. Ez az út túl kacskaringós.
“I think I’m going to throw up. I can’t take it anymore. This road is going in too much of a zigzag.”

B:
Tartsd vissza még egy kicsit! Mindjárt ott vagyunk.
“Just hold it in for a little longer. We’re almost there.”

A Close-up of a Car’s Rear View Mirror Showing Nature and a Road

3. Mézeskalácssütés

This is probably our favorite one of the Hungarian words you can’t translate into English. And no, it’s not only because it involves gingerbread. Or is it…? In either case, we’ve gotten in the mood for baking gingerbread now, so here’s a recipe for you

Literally
“Gingerbread baking”

Meaning
The act of making gingerbread

Context
This is the kind of word you would likely use around the holidays, and probably while in the kitchen. But nobody ever said you couldn’t have a little fun all year round, right?

Example

A:
Mit terveztetek az ünnepekre? Egy kis nyaralás vagy valami?
“What did you plan for the holidays? A little vacation or something?”

B:
Á, nem. Nem megyünk sehova, viszont terveztünk mézeskalácssütést.
“Ah, no. We’re not going anywhere, but planning to make gingerbread.”


4. Mártírkodni

Literally
“Playing the martyr”

Meaning
This term refers to pitying oneself so obviously that it hurts, or to play the victim in cases where it’s not appropriate. People who do this only like to complain and do not care about changing their situation for the better.

Context
While most people view a martyr as being a hero, this term has a negative connotation. It describes people who act like victims, but who are really just dramatizing the situation.

Example

A:
Miért én? Miért mindig velem történik ez? Olyan igazságtalan!
“Why me? Why does it always have to happen to me? It is so unfair!”

B:
Ó, ne mártírkodj már! Nem olyan rettenetes hiba ez, és bárkivel megtörténhet.
“Oh, stop playing the martyr! It is not such a terrible mistake, and it could happen to anybody.”

A Little Girl in a Yellow Dress being Scolded by a Parent

5. Pampogni

Literally
[No literal meaning]

Meaning
To explain something or speak in an indifferent, monotonous way without getting to the point (in other words, “beating around the bush”)

Context
This Hungarian word with no English equivalent is most likely to be used when receiving a sermon from a parent or arguing with someone, for example. However, parents aren’t always nagging us. Check out this lesson to read a few phrases a Hungarian parent might say.

Example

Nem fogod elhinni. Olyan hegyi beszédet kaptam anyámtól tegnap… Arról pampogott, hogy sosem takarítom ki a szobámat vagy mosogatok el.

“You won’t believe it. I received such a sermon from my mom yesterday… She was talking about how I never clean my room or do the dishes.”

Note
This Hungarian word should not be used when you mean well. It denotes an action that you perceived negatively.

6. Hórukk!

Literally
[No literal meaning]

Meaning
A sound usually made when great force is being exerted

Context
This sound is used when several people are getting ready to lift something heavy or are trying to swing that something over to another spot. It serves as encouragement or as an indication of when exactly the “lifting” should happen. Think of the English expression “on the count of three.” Here, “three” would be Hórukk! (or more precisely, -rukk).

Example

Oké, figyelj! Fogom a kezedet, úgyhogy csak leugrasz erről a kőről, és én elkaplak. Kész vagy? Hórukk!

“Okay, listen. I’m holding your hand, so you just jump off this rock and I’ll catch you. Ready? Hórukk!”

Note
The first syllable (hó-) is usually prolonged: Hóóó-rukk! Parents often use this untranslatable Hungarian word when lifting up their children, swinging them, or helping them jump onto or off of something.

A Group of Friends Helping Each Other Carry a Heavy Box

7. Fogócskázni

Literally
“Playing tag”

Meaning
This is the verb form of the noun fogócska, which refers to the game “tag” in English.

Context
This is a common game among children, usually played outdoors in kindergarten or at school (often during P.E. classes).

Example

A:
Szeretnél fogócskázni? Megkérdezhetnénk a többieket, hogy még viccesebb legyen.
“Would you like to play tag? We could ask the others too, so it would be even more fun!”

B:
Jó ötlet! Kérdezzük meg az egész osztályt, hogy akarnak-e csatlakozni hozzánk!
“Good idea! Let’s ask the whole class if they want to join us.”

8. Lebzsel

Literally
[No literal meaning]

Meaning
To spend the day doing nothing meaningful or productive

Context
This one is a true gem. Hungarians use it often, usually in reference to teens or spouses who do little around the house (or in general).

Example

A:
Miért lebzselsz annyit? Gyerünk, segíts be nekem a ház körül vagy menj és találj munkát!
“Why do you spend your days doing nothing meaningful? Come on, help me do something around the house or go find work!”

B:
Istenem, egy kicsit pihennie sem lehet az embernek?
“My God, can’t one even rest a little?”

A Guy in a Green T-shirt Sleeping on the Couch with Pizza Boxes and Beer Bottles around Him

9. Cuccolni

Literally
“To stuff”

Meaning
To move personal things around (even from Point A to Point B) in order to pack them (összecuccolni).

Context
You could use this untranslatable Hungarian word when asking friends to help you during a move, for example, or when you need help with the groceries. You could also use this Hungarian expression to say that you’re packing something up; just add the prefix össze- to the word.

Example

Tudnál segíteni nekem cuccolni ezen a hétvégén? Tudod, új helyre költözöm.
“Could you help me move my stuff this weekend? You know I’m moving to a new place.”

Csak összecuccolok és mehetünk is.
“I’m going to pack my stuff and we can go.”

10. Lacafacázni

Literally
[No literal meaning]

Meaning
This Hungarian word with no English equivalent refers to approaching things with difficulty and getting hung up on small things (as in, being indecisive in a given matter). In other words, to waste time.

Context
This is one of the more difficult Hungarian words for non-native speakers due to its length as well as the alternation of vowels and consonants. Nonetheless, if you learn how to pronounce it—practice makes perfect—you could use it in situations where someone is supposed to make a decision but can’t seem to make up their mind.

Example

A:
Szerinted ez a szín jó lesz a prezentációhoz? Nem tudok dönteni.
“Do you think this color will be good for the presentation? I can’t decide.”

B:
Ne lacafacázzunk! Délig készen kell lennünk ezzel.
“Let’s not waste more time. We need to get this done by noon.”

A Close-up of a Man Thinking with His Index Finger on His Chin

11. How HungarianPod101 Can Help You Improve Your Hungarian

This marks the end of today’s lesson. We hope you enjoyed learning these untranslatable Hungarian words and that we were able to show you a few you hadn’t encountered before. 

Which of these Hungarian words with no English equivalent was your favorite? If you happen to know some more words we didn’t cover here, please share with us in the comments! Our community is about helping each other out and learning from one another. 

If you found this list fun and helpful, remember that you’ll find many similar articles on HungarianPod101.com. Just visit our blog and browse through our articles to discover even more about the Hungarian language and culture. 

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We promise you’ll love this community.

Happy language learning!

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