Ever wondered about those Filipino words that need a direct English translation? Well, you’re in for a treat! In this article, we will dive into some fascinating examples of Filipino words that capture the essence of our culture and language.

Translating words from one language to another can be tricky, especially with capturing their true meaning. And that’s where these Filipino gems shine. They express sentiments and concepts that may have a different equivalent in English.

Buwan ng Wika

August is a month of celebration in the Philippines as it marks “Buwan ng Wika,”  or National Language Month. This annual observance aims to promote and honor our language.

During Buwan ng Wika, various activities are organized to highlight the richness and beauty of Filipino culture. Competitions include poetry recitals, essay writing contests, and speech contests in Filipino. Schools also hold cultural performances showcasing traditional dances and music.

The significance of Buwan ng Wika extends beyond just promoting language proficiency. It serves as a reminder for Filipinos to embrace their cultural heritage and appreciate their linguistic diversity.

Filipino Words That Do Not Have a Direct Translation

The Filipino language is filled with many distinct words that are combinations of languages and dialects. It has words that describe our feelings and exemplify our values well, to the point that it do not have any direct translation in the English language. Want to know some examples? See the list below:

  • Kilig – The word kilig can mean trembling, but it isn’t what Filipinos often use it for. Kilig, for us, means the butterfly feeling inside our stomachs when we get excited or receive something from our special someone. It is the feeling you get from watching romantic movies.
  • Gigil – The word gigil can mean different things. It can be from seeing someone or something cute that brings out an urge to squeeze or cuddle it. Or it can describe the urge to hit or punch someone because they’re annoying. 
  • Basta – Similar to gigil, “basta” can be used in different situations. We use it during arguments to say that the decision is final and nothing can change it. We use it when we do not want to explain our answers further. Another use for the word is when a condition needs to be met before acting on it.
  • Lihi – A word associated with our culture, lihi is heard when someone we know is pregnant. We often describe Lihi as a pregnant woman’s cravings, which can be for food, things, people, etc. 
  • Umay Umay is a phrase often used by people tired of the same daily routine. Most Filipinos use this phrase whenever they eat the same dish every day or when they see someone again. 
  • Pasalubong Pasalubong is a gift from the balikbayans or anyone coming back home from a trip. It is almost always expected to bring a gift.
  • Tampo Tampo is a mixture of emotions. Someone can be annoyed, displeased, or disappointed, combined with silence and avoidance. 
  • Ngalay Ngalay, in our terms, can be associated with different meanings. Its direct translation means numb, but it does not always mean being numb. Ngalay can be from staying still for a long time or doing strenuous activity for long periods.

What We Think

It’s a beautiful time to celebrate our rich linguistic heritage and promote the use of our national language, Filipino. On the whole, let’s embrace this opportunity to appreciate the beauty and uniqueness of Filipino words together!

Other than what we listed, do you know any Filipino words that do not have direct English translations? Share it with us!