From My Commonplace Book - 53

from The Meaning of Tingo: And Other Extraordinary Words from Around the World

by Adam Jacot de Boinod

tingo (Pascunese, Easter Island) to take all the objects one desires from the house of a friend, one at a time, by borrowing them

neko-neko (Indonesian) one who has a creative idea that only makes things worse

Scheissenbedauern (German) the disappointment one feels when something turns out not nearly as badly as one had hoped

uitwaaien (Dutch) to walk in windy weather for fun

in boca al lupo (Italian) good luck (literally, into the mouth of the wolf)

plimpplamppletteren (Dutch) skimming a flat stone as many times as possible across the surface of water

wabi (Japanese) a flawed detail that enhances the elegance of a whole work of art

merripen (Romany) life and death

sucre les fraises (French) to pass on (literally, to sugar the strawberries)

British lexicographer Adam Jacot de Boinod got the idea for The Meaning of Tingo while working as a researcher for the BBC quiz show QI. His second book of words with no equivalent in English was Toujours Tingo. The Wonder of Wiffling, his third, is about unusual words in English. His interest in languages began early. At age seven he took up the study of Latin and by age eleven was learning Ancient Greek.


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