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14 Unique Phrases & Hindi Words with No English Equivalent

Every language has a flavor of its own and it comes from the colloquial expressions that the native speakers of that language use. For instance, while telling a joke, snapping at someone out of anger, or during a witty banter among friends.

The words, phrases, and way of putting things used in such informal conversations among locals don’t lend themselves to translation. You won’t find a word that does the same job in another language.

This is why, in your efforts to learn Hindi, you’ll often stumble upon quite a few Hindi words with no English equivalent. The elements of humor, sadness, or disappointment are reflected best through the use of native expressions only. These may include popular Hindi idioms, common phrases, or regional slang.

That said, let’s look further at why these untranslatable words in learning Hindi are so important.

Table of Contents

  1. Why the Intactness of Some Local Phrases is Important!
  2. Commonly Used Irreplaceable Phrases in Hindi
  3. Turn Hindi Learning into Child’s Play with HindiPod101

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1. Why the Intactness of Some Local Phrases is Important!

  • The sheer beauty of these expressions lies in the fact that they cannot be exactly deduced into English. Imposing a conversion would most likely distort their essence.
  • To keep that native soul intact, it’s important to learn how to use them in their original forms rather than trying to use them any other way. Here’s a list of English words with Hindi-Urdu origin to show how terms from a source language transfuse into the target language.
  • These beautiful untranslatable Hindi words brew life into our Hindi language and give you an opportunity to talk and sound like a local. Learning them will add fluency to your Hindi and bring you closer to the Indian culture.

Native Expressions to Greet Each Other

  • Locals prefer to use the colloquial words they’ve grown up with. In a way, these local expressions are more than just words to the common folks.
  • You may find most of the Hindi-Urdu words intricate to the ears, while some of these happen to sound a little coarse. But in the end, these phrases leave an unforgettable impression on people.
  • At times, the untranslatable words (Hindi) are so accurately apt, funny, and beautiful that even non-natives fall in love with them. Often, to be able to feel a language in its truest spirit, suffusing in the colloquialisms is necessary.

So, are you ready to set out on this linguistic journey with HindiPod101 and learn some of the best untranslatable Hindi words with us? Here we go!


2. Commonly Used Irreplaceable Phrases in Hindi

This section covers a list of untranslatable Hindi words. You’ll find here a couple of untranslatable Hindi idioms and other Hindi words with no English translation.

1- जिगर का टुकड़ा (jigar kaa tukadaa)

1. Literal Translation

  • “A piece of the liver.”

2. Meaning

  • The most precious person.

3. Example Situation

  • If you’re the sweetest person in the life of your partner or parents, you’re their jigar kaa tukadaa.

4. Usage in a Sentence

  • मेरी बेटी मेरा जिगर का टुकड़ा है।
  • (merii betii meraa jigar ka tukadaa hai.)
  • My daughter is my jigar kaa tukadaa.

5. Additional Notes

  • This is a phrase used to call loved ones out of affection. It’s mostly used by parents for their children.

2- बिंदी (biNDii)

The Red-Colored Bindi Worn by a Woman

1. Literal Translation

  • “A dot.”

2. Meaning

  • Colored dot Hindu women wear on their foreheads.

3. Example Situation

  • You can see Hindu women wearing biNDii’ (the colored dot) in everyday life, at weddings, at temple rituals, etc. They come in almost every color.

4. Usage in a Sentence

  • हिंदू औरतें शादी के बाद बिंदी लगाती हैं।
  • (hiNDuu auraTen saaDii ke baaD biNDii LagaaTii hain.)
  • Hindu women wear biNDii after their marriage.

5. Additional Notes

  • In the exquisite Indian culture, it’s a religious ornamental, colored dot, specifically worn by Hindu and Jain women.

3- उल्लू का पट्ठा (uLLuu kaa patthaa)

1. Literal Translation

  • “Young one of an owl.”

2. Meaning

  • A fool/idiot.

3. Example Situation

  • It’s a slang used to call a person who always does something foolish or who deserves scolding.

4. Usage in a Sentence

  • रोहन को कोई काम ठीक से नहीं आता। वह एकदम उल्लू का पट्ठा है।
  • (rohaN ko koii kaam thiik se nahiin aaTaa. vah ekaDam uLLuu kaa patthaa hai.)
  • Rohan can’t do anything properly. He is a damn uLLuu kaa patthaa.

5. Additional Notes

  • This is a kind of slang people use when they’re frustrated with someone’s stupidity. Although it qualifies as one of the funny untranslatable Hindi words, you’re not supposed to say it in front of that person.

4- दाना-पानी (DaaNaa-paaNii)

1. Literal Translation

  • “Grain and water.”

2. Meaning

  • Earning to compensate for basic amenities or survival.

3. Example Situation

  • It’s another local phrase for the source of fulfilling basic necessities of life such as rations, etc.

4. Usage in a Sentence

  • ज़्यादा झगड़ा करोगे तो तुम्हारा दाना-पानी बंद हो जाएगा।
  • (zyaaDaa jhagadaa karoge To Tumhaaraa DaaNaa-paaNii baND ho jaayegaa.)
  • If you keep quarreling like this, you will lose your DaaNaa-paaNii.

5. Additional Notes

  • This phrase falls in the category of Hindi untranslatable words school of life that points toward the fight for survival amongst the poor and lower middle-class of the Indian society. However, with blurring economic disparities, nowadays it’s used by the upper-class as well.

5- दिन रात एक करना (DiN raaT ek karaNaa)

A Hard-Working Person

1. Literal Translation

  • “To make day and night into one.”

2. Meaning

  • To work very hard.

3. Example Situation

  • When a person is working so hard that he/she loses track of time while achieving a goal.

4. Usage in a Sentence

  • कठिन परीक्षा पास करने के लिए दिन रात एक करना पड़ता है।
  • (kathiN pariiksaa paaS karaNe ke Liye DiN raaT ek karaNaa padaTaa hai.)
  • In order to pass a tough exam, what you need to do is DiN raaT ek karaNaa.

6- लंगर (LaNgar)

1. Literal Translation

  • “Community kitchen.”

2. Meaning

  • Free meal prepared for the masses by Sikhs. Anyone is welcome to join it.

3. Example Situation

  • If you happen to visit a Gurudwara (a religious place of Sikhs), you can see a large group sitting in rows and being served a fresh hot meal for free. It’s called LaNgar. LaNgar can also be organized outside the Gurudwara.

4. Usage in a Sentence

  • स्वर्ण मंदिर में रोज़ लंगर खिलाया जाता है।
  • (Svarn maNDir me roz LaNgar khiLaayaa jaaTaa hai.)
  • The Golden Temple serves LaNgar every day.

5. Additional Notes

  • Other untranslatable Hindi terms with a similar meaning are भंडारा (bhaNdaaraa), पंगत (paNgaT), and भोज (bhoj).

Some of these phrases may sound too difficult to pronounce. But don’t lose heart yet. With these amazing lessons on Hindi pronunciation, you’ll be able to speak in Hindi confidently.

7- माई-बाप (maaii-baap)

1. Literal Translation

  • “Mother-father.”

2. Meaning

  • A person on whom your livelihood depends.

3. Example Situation

  • When your source of income and life is completely in somebody else’s hand, that person is like your maaii-baap.

4. Usage in a Sentence

  • इस दुकान के मालिक ही अब मेरे माई-बाप हैं।
  • (iS DukaaN ke maaLik hii ab mere maaii-baap hain.)
  • The owner of this shop is like maaii-baap to me now.

8- तमाशा (Tamaasaa)

To Make a Fuss about Little Things

1. Literal Translation

  • “Drama/Play.”

2. Meaning

  • To create a scene.

3. Example Situation

  • Small issues are a part of our everyday life. Instead of ignoring them, some people make a Tamaasaa (huge scene) out of it.

4. Usage in a Sentence

  • छोटी-सी बात का तमाशा मत बनाओ।
  • (chotii-Sii baaT ka Tamaasaa maT baNaao.)
  • Don’t make such a Tamaasaa out of a pity thing.

9- चुगलख़ोर (cugaLakhor)

1. Literal Translation

  • “A person who bad-mouths/gossips behind others backs.”

2. Meaning

  • This untranslatable phrase in Hindi is a noun for someone who bad-mouths/gossips behind someone’s back.

3. Example Situation

  • You may have a colleague who talks bad to the boss about every other employee just to gain his trust, or who eavesdrops on conversations and then gossips about it. He/she is a cugaLakhor.

4. Usage in a Sentence

  • शीला पीठ पीछे सबकी बुराई करती रहती है। वह पक्की चुगलख़ोर है।
  • (siiLaa piith piiche sabakii buraaii karaTii rehaTii hai. vah pakkii cugaLakhor hai.)
  • Sheila bad-mouths everyone behind their back. She is really a cugaLakhor.

5. Additional Notes

  • It’s not to be said in front of that particular person.

10- पूजा (puujaa)

Puujaa

1. Literal Translation

  • “Praying to God.”

2. Meaning

  • A term used by Hindus for the act of worshipping their gods.

3. Example Situation

  • Hindus often go to temples or create a small place for their daily puujaa (worshipping) in their homes. It’s also an essential ritual on any auspicious day or before beginning something new.

4. Usage in a Sentence

  • कल दुकान का उद्घाटन है। हम सबको वहाँ पर होने वाली पूजा में ज़रूर चलना है।
  • (kaL DukaaN ka uDghaataN hai. ham sabako vahaan par hoNe vaaLi puujaa men zaruur caLaNaa hai.)
  • Tomorrow is the inauguration ceremony of the shop. All of us must attend the puujaa there.

11- ईद का चाँद (iiD kaa caaND)

1. Literal Translation

  • “Thinnest moon visible on Eid night.”

2. Meaning

  • A person who is rarely seen.

3. Example Situation

  • The Eid moon is quite difficult to see; anyone who’s visible only after being away a long time is compared to that.

4. Usage in a Sentence

  • टीना तो बहुत दिन से दिखाई नहीं दी। वह बिलकुल ईद का चाँद हो गयी है।
  • (tiiNaa To bahuT DiN Se Dikhaaii nahiin Dii. vah biLkuL iiD kaa caaND ho gayii hai.)
  • Teena hasn’t been around for such a long time. She has become iiD kaa caaND.

12- ढाबा (dhaabaa)

Famous Indian Cuisine Served at Dhaabaa

1. Literal Translation

  • “Roadside restaurant.”

2. Meaning

  • A roadside eating place with fresh and relatively cheaper food.

3. Example Situation

  • On a highway or other outer roads, many eateries/dhaabaa can be seen. They’re open most of the time and serve economical food almost anyone can afford.

4. Usage in a Sentence

  • चलो, आज ढाबे पर चाय पीते हैं।
  • (caLo, aaj dhaabe par caay piiTe hain.)
  • Come on! Let’s have tea at a dhaabaa today.

13- मंत्र (maNTr)

1. Literal Translation

  • “Vedic hymn.”

2. Meaning

  • The key to achieving something big.

3. Example Situation

  • For instance, in today’s life, couples fight a lot. But some couples are exceptions. They manage to spend a loving and peaceful life. One might wonder what their maNTr is to such a blissful marital life.

4. Usage in a Sentence

  • आपके सुखी जीवन का मंत्र क्या है?
  • (aapake Sukhii jiivaN kaa maNTr kyaa hai?)
  • What’s the maNTr to your happy life?

5. Additional Notes

  • maNTr is one of the untranslatable Hindi phrases that’s also used in the English language on several occasions.

14- घपला (ghapaLaa)

1. Literal Translation

  • “Fraud.”

2. Meaning

  • Proven scandal or a situation which smells fishy.

3. Example Situation

  • We hear about all the scandals/ghapaLaa caused by politicians.

4. Usage in a Sentence

  • ऑफ़िस में कोई बड़ा घपला हुआ है।
  • (aufiS men koii badaa ghapaLaa huaa hai.)
  • There has been some huge ghapaLaa in the office.

5. Additional Notes

  • ghapaLaa is another one of the untranslatable terms in Hindi that may sometimes sound serious. However, as mentioned in the example, it may not always refer to something serious. Many times, the elders in the family use this phrase at home for the innocent mischiefs of the kids as well.

For those who wish to explore Hindi on a deeper level and are interested in learning some untranslatable sad Hindi words, the World of Shayari (Urdu poetry) will definitely quench your thirst.


3. Turn Hindi Learning into Child’s Play with HindiPod101

Loving it so far? Then don’t think about taking a pause here. Visit us at HindiPod101.com and traverse the whole new world of the Hindi language. We understand how tricky language-learning can be! And that’s why we make it a point to start with the basics.

Interesting Podcasts to Learn from

Our aim is to ease the whole process for you, even if you’re a complete beginner. At HindiPod101, you’ll find everything necessary to learning native-level Hindi. From Hindi alphabets to grammar rules, cultural aspects of India to most common key phrases in Hindi, no matter what your reason for learning, we’ve got it covered.

For more detailed information, visit the My Teacher section on our website. Start right away by downloading our app on your smartphone and learn Hindi anywhere, anytime.

In the meantime, continue practicing these untranslatable words in Hindi language learning. With enough practice, you’ll really start to sound like a native! Start with a bonus, and download the Must-Know Beginner Vocabulary PDF for FREE! (Logged-In Member Only)

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Hindi